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A Conceptual Approach to the Instruction of Phrasal Verbs



Phrasal verbs present numerous challenges to second language learners of English, who often view verb + particle combinations as random (Side, 1990). This article proposes a pedagogical approach that focuses on particles as a means of spotlighting systematicity within this traditionally problematic area of English vocabulary. Informed by cognitive linguistics and sociocultural theory, the approach encourages students to tap their own creativity in order to conceptually motivate (Kövecses & Szabó, 1996) student-collected examples of phrasal verbs. The article (a) presents the theoretical rationale for the approach, (b) reports an experiment in which the approach was implemented in two sections of an English as a Second Language course at the university level, and (c) discusses results of the experiment as well as potential pedagogical adaptations.

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