A web site for the developing language teacher

Problems & Solutions - Lexis at
Pre-Intermediate Level
by Emma Worrall
- lesson plan 2


My students are quite a strong group at this level and I have started to introduce more challenging materials into the class. The book they are following (English File 2) is very controlled and gives the students security and guidance they need at this pre-intermediate level. However, for stronger students it is not challenging enough and the book and its structure become predictable. The students in this group are all planning to do the next level in the academy, which uses a different book (Cutting Edge Intermediate). I have used English File 2 with a semi-intensive group and then taken them through to the next level using the Cutting Edge course book and I found that there was a substantial jump between the two levels. Colleagues of mine have found the same and have advised me this year to push my students more towards the end of the File book. This is to prepare them for what is considered a fairly difficult change of levels. The Cutting Edge book is not as controlled and there is a lot more free practice with speaking activities and more difficult listenings. The students are often daunted by the new course book and the teacher of that level is often under more pressure to get the students up to the level. Phrasal verbs are a big part of the Cutting Edge vocabulary sections and in the next unit of English File 2 there is an introduction to some phrasal verbs. I wanted to introduce my students to multi-word verbs at this stage using a topic which I think they will be interested in i.e. the family.

I got my idea for the topic from Workout Pre-intermediate course book. At the end of the previous class we looked at family vocabulary and we have recently done a unit on describing people, using adjectives for personality. For this particular class, I wanted to provide realia for my students so I used photocopies of photos of my own family in the form of a family tree to make the task more personal for them. I also decided to use only transitive multi-word verbs so as not to confuse the students at this level. As the verb 'get on' is an intransitive verb I have decided to not give this explanation and use it as 'get on with + person' to avoid confusion. All the verbs take an object (pronouns and nouns) and are inseparable. I also added extra multi-word verbs (see appendices) because I did not want to use all of the verbs from the text in the course book (see appendix 9). I wanted to stage the introduction of the vocabulary very carefully without overloading the students with too much information and as the vocabulary has the added factor of being 'chunks' of vocabulary which follows a certain pattern I decided to limit the multi-word verbs to eight.

The practice stages (stages 8 and 10) do not really have much of a communicative purpose. I thought that the first practice stage (stage 8) is intended more for cohesive purposes; to allow the students to practice the form and pronunciation. I feel the students will naturally be curious about their classmates families, so they will be listening to their partners (in both stages) without the need to encourage them to listen for particular information. A quick feedback question "Whose family is most similar to yours?" should be sufficient to check the students were listening.

In previous classes we have often rushed through vocabulary due to the course book constraints and I feel that I have not guided my students enough for them to assimilate and use vocabulary confidently and in a meaningful way. I hope to encourage the students to see that these multi-word verbs are chunks of vocabulary which form a part of a lexical set (i.e. the family) and to encourage them to record multi-word verbs in context.


The students will be interested in the topic of the family as it is big part of their lives. They should be motivated by the pictures and information about my family as students often take an interest in their teachers' lives and the photos help provide a memorable reference for the vocabulary. The students will appreciate the introduction to multi-word verbs as they are often difficult for learners of English and their confidence will be boosted by their being able to produce the new vocabulary in talking about their family and the memorable reference of their family photos and the Royal family questionnaire (see appendix 7).

Problems and Solutions:

Problem: The students may get confused with question forms with multi-word verbs (where there is no object e.g. Who do you look up to?).
Solution: I am not planning to highlight question forms at this stage. The students will not be expected to reproduce questions but the students should have no problems encountering them receptively when I do feedback stages.

Problem: We will not get to the reproduction stage (stage 10)
Solution: As this is the first time the students will be introduced to a group of multi-word verbs I want to make the stages very clear and make sure they have a good grasp of the meaning and form. Therefore I am not prepared to rush the students to this stage. Using the photos will be a perfect warmer/consolidation activity for the follow-up class.

Problem: Students may forget to bring their family photos.
Solution: Students can use their circle diagrams again to show their partner.

Problem: The students may find the listening too difficult.
Solution: I will play the tape more times of the students need it so as to make sure that they have a good comprehension of the tape. Other stronger students can help those in the comparing stages and if necessary I will use the OHT of the tape script to go straight to the correction stage of the true/false questions.

Problem: Students may encounter other unkown vocabulary (especially those students with a low attendance).
Solution: I will use latinate words for definitions (for example, shy = timid) or, to speed things up and for clarity, I will ask the other students for the Spanish word.

Problem: The students might not understand the meanings through the Royal Family questionnaire.
Solution: I will ask more concept questions and use board diagrams/pictures to empasise the meaning.

Problem: Generally it is expected that meaning is highlighted before form when teaching vocabulary.
Solution: I will elicit the vocabulary meaning for just two of the multi-word verbs (stage 4). Then I will highlight form so the students can elicit more of the multi-word verbs from the text but they will have the meanings in the forms of definitions to lead them to the vocabulary.


White board, board pens (red, green, blue and black), teacher's family tree (including copies of family photos), students' family photos, Royal Family questionnaire, worksheet with circles, copy of teacher's family tape script for each student (with definition exercise), cards with family vocabulary and stress marked, tape cassette recorder, tape cassette, overhead projector, overhead transparencies.

To page 3 of 4 of the lesson plan

To the article

To the print friendly version

Back to the articles index

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing