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Demystifying the ‘horrible phrasals’: a closer look
at learner problems and the ways of approaching
teaching multi-word verbs
by Małgorzata Bryndal
- 4

4. Conclusions

Teaching and learning MWVs do not have to be daunting. It is unrealistic to expect all students to change their fearful attitude towards these lexical items, but by choosing the appropriate approach and activities teachers can do quite a lot to lower this anxiety.

Having done the research for this paper I have realized that, to be effective, teaching MWVs must be systematic, conscious, and not random. I intend to approach it as a process in its own right, and not a mere add-on to my skills or grammar lessons. Remembering that vocabulary learning is item learning but also network building, I will try to develop students’ awareness of word-grammar and ability to notice multi-word items in discourse (i.e. meaningful chunking) by implementing contextualised teaching approach. I intend to allocate more time for vocabulary recycling, ensuring maximum exposure to vocabulary in question, and creative and personalised activities to help students memorise new lexis. I also plan to work on increasing my students’ autonomy and encourage them to take responsibility for vocabulary learning. I will introduce them to the idea of a lexical notebook and will help them organise it by suggesting possible recording formats.


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(2005) Phrasaled out? Don’t worry help is at hand. MED Magazine, Issue 32, July 2005. URL:

Marks, J.
(2005a) Phrasal verbs International. MED Magazine, Issue 33, September 2005. URL:

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(2005) Metaphor and phrasal verbs.MED Magazine, Issue 31, June 2005. URL:

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Reference books:
Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., Finegan, E.
(1999) Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Longman

Materials and resources focused on Multi-Word Verbs:
Allsop, J.
(2002) Test your phrasal verbs. Longman. Dainty, P. (2002) Timesaver Phrasal Verbs and Idioms: Pre-intermediate - Advanced (Timesaver). Mary Glasgow Magazines.      
Flower, J.
(2005) Phrasal Verb Organiser with Mini-Dictionary. London: Thomson.
Goodale, M.
(2002) Collins Cobuild: Phrasal Verbs Workbook. Collins Cobuild.
Hardinge, M. (
1998) Get ahead with phrasal verbs. Prentice Hall.
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(2004) English Phrasal Verbs in Use, CUP.
Morgan, J., Rinvolucri, M.
(1986) Vocabulary. Resource books for Teachers. OUP.
Parkinson, D. (Ed)
(2002) Really learn 100 phrasal verbs, OUP.
Root, C., Blanchard, K
. (2003) Zero In!: Phrasal verbs in context. Chicago, University of Michigan Press.
Rudzka-Ostyn, B., Ostyn, P.
(2003) Word Power: Phrasal Verbs and Compounds: A Cognitive Approach. Mouton de Gruyter.
Watcyn-Jones, P.(
2001) Penguin Quick Guides: English Phrasal Verbs (Penguin Quick Guides). Longman.


Małgorzata Bryndal has been involved in English language teaching for ten years.  She has taught in schools in Poland and the UK.  From 2005 she has been an Assistant Examiner for Cambridge ESOL upper main suite examinations and an Oral Assessor for Cambridge ESOL Skills for Life speaking and listening exam.  She is currently working for English in Chester and occasionally as freelance interpreter and translator.


Małgorzata’s qualifications include a PhD in Linguistics from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland; an MA in Linguistics and Information Science from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland, the RSA Cambridge Diploma (DELTA), and the RSA CELTA (A).
Her professional interests include teacher development and teacher training, L1& L2 phonology and idiomaticity.
You can contact Małgorzata at:

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