Phrasal Verbs with Total Physical Response

Phrasal verbs, universally hated, but here are a few that can be taught using TPR as a start to give learners some kind of hook for retention. One for the kineasthetic learners.** For strong B1/B2 and above. olivia

Target vocab

screw up      turn over       pick up          put down

look down on               look up to           look up             hang up


  1. Print a copy of the TPR phrasals question sheet per student. You might want to edit the questions  for your own class.
  2. Have a piece of paper you can use to demo “screw up”.

Lesson plan

1.  Using TPR (total physical response) teach the literal meanings e.g. act them out and get the students to copy you whilst saying the words; mime and guess; Simon Says etc. Encourage the students to have a picture in their mind of the word at the same time as doing it so the words have a kind of anchor in the brain.

2. Go through the conversation questions on the handout, getting the student to infer meaning from context where possible. Explain where necessary and refer back to the literal actions where relevant.

3. Go through the questions at the end or as you finish each group and see if the students can substitute another word or expression for the phrasal.

4. If students record the phrasal verbs  in their notes, make sure they don’t list them out of context or just with definitions as they’ll mess up their usage when they try to use them again. Context is everything with phrasals.


**Only jesting. Of course there’s no such thing! But moving around is surprise, surprise good for everyone.


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