How to Learn English Phrasal Verbs

English Teacher Online is proud to present our top tips on how to learn English phrasal verbs so you can become fluent in English. First, I will suggest different ways for you to memorize phrasal verbs in groups so you can pick up their meanings quickly. Next, we will look at different media sources that are useful for you to get examples of phrasal verbs from. Lastly, I will help you set up a schedule (to practice a few minutes a day) so you can soon be using phrasal verbs like a native English speaker.

Learn Phrasal Verbs in Groups

First, the most efficient way to learn anything is according to your own interests so choose a topic you wish to study and write it down. I am going to use the airport as my example. I will write sentences to describe something that is appropriate to my life. See if you can spot the phrasal verbs in each sentence.

The taxi pulled up outside the departure gate and dropped me off.

I picked up my baggage and set off for the check in desk.

I figured out which line to join so I could get away on holiday.

Our plane was due to take off in forty minutes.

Can you add some more sentences using phrasal verbs? Don’t worry if you can’t. You can find the top 200 phrasal verbs by following this link here. 

Do NOT try to learn them all at once. Look a just a few each day. Follow our tips below if you want to know how to learn English phrasal verbs the fun way.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Use your diary to write some phrasal verbs about your own experiences. Look back in your diary and try to find places where a phrasal verb will fit in. Did you call someone up on the telephone? Did you ask someone out on a date? Maybe you dropped someone off at the train station? Do you always mix up peoples’ names? Try to add some phrasal verbs to your diary entries every day. Even if you only learn one new phrasal verb a day and practice regularly, you will soon have a large vocabulary to draw on. Read your sentences aloud and practice using them so they become second nature to you.

Use Media According to Your Interests

Look for phrasal verbs in songs and other media. Type a phrasal verb into Google or YouTube. You will be amazed how often boring old phrasal verbs get used in the media. Shop around, washed up and get over it, are great phrasal verbs to get you started in this section. Songs are a fun way to learn and the news is useful for learning business English too. Phrasal verbs are everywhere!

A random way to learn phrasal verbs is to just go through the list from any point. Copy the phrasal verb into a journal. Check its meaning and write that down too. Finally, use it in a number of different sentences and write down the best ones. An example here would be;

Ask somebody out             invite on a date

John asked Judy out to dinner and the theatre.

Why don’t you just ask her out?

Pace Yourself

Learn one new phrasal verb every day AND practice all those you have learnt this week or this month. Do NOT try to learn them all too quickly or you may forget them. Using them in real life situations is the best way to remember the ones that will be useful in your life. You will be amazed at how quickly you can remember new phrasal verbs and start using them in your daily conversations if you pace yourself.

Finally, you should practice with a friend or a teacher. No matter what strategy you choose, it will become boring after a while if you don’t practice with real people. After all, communication is the purpose of language so please make it appropriate and useful.

Quick Recap of our Top Tips

(1) Learn phrasal verbs in groups (airport, office, social).

(2) Write them in sentences that are useful to YOUR life.

(3) Practice saying the sentences out loud.

(4) Learn a new phrase every day but practice the old ones too.

(5) Practice with a friend or a teacher.

Please follow this link if you would like to book a 45 minute Skype lesson with Teacher Steve.

Overcome Shyness in Business English

Many people have suffered from shyness at one time or another. Shyness is quite normal for those studying to become fluent in English. One of the most important things to remember is that shyness happens when we are aware of our own discomfort. Knowing your faults is a strength (not a weakness). Shyness can be defeated when we accept ourselves for who we are. Learning how to improve yourself will teach you how to overcome shyness in business English situations. This lesson focuses on opening lines, statements and questions that will help you get business conversations flowing.

Practice and Map for Confidence

In business we often meet strangers but it is interesting to know that successful business people talk in five key stages. If you practice these stages, you will build a library of conversation topics that will in turn increase your confidence. The five key stages that you will need to practice are; 1) opening lines; 2) introductions; 3) trying out topics; 4) exploring common ground; 5) closure, including the exchange of contact information. Once you can remember these stages, you will understand where you are in the conversation and what you need to do next.

Smile, be Friendly and be Natural

The golden rule is to be friendly with your opening line or introduction. Smile like you already know the person, be professional but don’t be too formal. A natural delivery to your opening line will put the other person at ease. It’s also fine to sometimes skip the opening line and jump straight in with a fantastic bit of business news!

Whatever you do, have a backup plan just in case your opening line flops. The classic example is when you ask someone, “Hello, my name is Steve. How are you?” and they reply, “Fine”. You need to be prepared to ask a follow up question, ask about another topic or make a new statement. In all cases, practice will build your library of conversations and give you a better chance to recover your business meeting.

Some good opening lines are.

“Hi, I’m Steve from English Teacher Online.” (offer to shake hands)

“Hello, I’m Steve. What’s your name?” (wait to see what they do)

Or if you want to jump straight in.

“I was really impressed by the speech you gave at [an event] last year.”

“I just tried [a starter] from the buffet table and I’m going to get another. Care to join me?”

Your list of backup questions and answers should expand as you practice to include things that will help you in various situations.

“How long have you been a member of [this organization]?”

“How long have you been working here?”

“What company are you from?”

Have some comments for the situations that apply to your business.

“This building is so modern and clean.”

“Amazing, there are so many customers here today.”

“This event is always popular, last year I ……………”

Have some questions for the situations that apply to you.

“Could you tell me where Teacher Steve’s office is please?”

“I missed the introduction. Did they hand out the agenda yet?”

“Do you know when we need to be back from the break?”

Ask questions about the other person.

“What do you do in the company?”

“Do you have any children?”

“What do you usually do [for fun] on the weekend?”

Make a positive statement about the other person.

“You look like you’re in a good mood today.”

“I like your tie. Where did you get it?”

Make a statement about yourself.

“I’m so happy right now. I’ve hit my sales target 12 months running.”

“So I just found out my boss wants me to work [on Saturday afternoon].”

“A friend of mine is still trying to decide whether to go on holiday [to Asia].”

If you know the person, ask for an update about what they’ve been doing.

“So how was your weekend [at the lake]?”

“How’s your son doing? Did he pass his test yet?”

“What have you been up to recently? Have you finished decorating [your kitchen]?”

Ask the other person to do something for you.

“Do you want to swap emails so we can finish this later?”

“Would you mind passing the salt and pepper please?”

“Could you save my chair for me? I’ll be back in one minute.”

Ask someone if they want to do an activity together.

“Do you want to be in my group?”

“Do you want to go check out the other exhibition room?”

“My golf club is membership by invite only. Would you like me to invite you?”

Practice For Personal Success

Practice giving your own personal answers to some of these questions. Write a few of your answers down in a journal. Pick one of your favourite questions and try to write a script, how do you think the conversation should go? Write one script where everything goes to plan. Write another script where everything goes wrong! When the conversation dies, add a new question or statement. How long can you keep your conversations going? Finally, practice your conversations with a study partner or teacher.

This is how you build a good foundation in your conversation library and start to overcome shyness in business English situations.

If like this lesson and want to expand your library of topics, please check out our IELTS speaking topics page.

How To Study For An IELTS Exam

IELTS is the most popular International English Language Testing System with more than two million IELTS taken last year. If you reside in East Asia* and have your IELTS score, you can enter the British Council’s  competition and win up to £40,000. The 2017 deadline has just been extended to the 28th of February. This review describes what IELTS is, how to study for an IELTS exam and links to enter the competition to win up to £40,000. We also trust this article will help you in your quest to become fluent in English.

Why are there two types of IELTS, Academic and General?

Academic IELTS is for people applying for university or professional registration. It tests some useful academic language and is used to determine whether you are ready to study in an English speaking country.

General IELTS is for people applying for secondary education, work experience or training programs and is required for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The general test focuses on survival skills in a variety of social and workplace scenarios.

What’s the difference and how long does IELTS take?

Listening and speaking tests are the same for both Academic and General IELTS. Reading and writing tests differ to reflect the specific requirements of either the Academic or General IELTS student’s needs.

Listening, reading and writing tests are completed on the same day with no breaks in between. You should contact your test center to ask about the speaking test which can usually be taken up to one week before or after the other tests. The total test time is two hours and forty-five minutes.

How To Study For An IELTS Exam!

Give yourself enough time and don’t leave it to the last minute. You still have plenty of time to take your IELTS exam before the competition deadline. Don’t rush, stay calm and breathe!

Organize your study space. Make sure you have room to spread out when you need to. Index your resources so you can find them easily, which means putting them back in the same place when you’ve finished using them! Make sure people know where and when you are studying. Put up a “STUDENT AT WORK” sign so they respect your space.

Practice with old test papers and questions to familiarize yourself with the language used. Just like driving a car, you are allowed to practice in real life situations. You can find sample questions to all sections of IELTS by clicking this link here.

Schedule your time properly. Don’t wait until the last minute to start preparing for a test. Commit to study times by writing them on a calendar, in a diary or PDA. Divide your study time into small manageable chunks throughout the week and take regular breaks. Check off these “study goals” as you go so you can see your progress and you’ll always know exactly where to start in your next study session.

Snack on brain foods such as berries, chocolate, cereal mix, peanut butter on toast, salsa, cheese, hummus and veggies. Don’t go crazy on just one type of food. Add variety to spice up your study time.

Organize study groups with friends and explain your answers to each other. This means you will actually use English to communicate your ideas in real life situations. After practicing an old test, write your answers down and talk to a friend to compare what you both think. You can even join our IELTS Study Partners Facebook group.

How Can I Win Up To £40,000?

Once you have your IELTS score, you will be able to apply to the British Council’s East Asia* competition and win up to £40,000 by following this link here. They have extended their deadline for 2017 applications until the 28th of February.

* East Asia region includes Hong Kong & Macau, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam

Are you aged between 16-19 and want to study in the United Kingdom? Teacher Steve personally recommends The College of Richard Collyer as one of the best places to study in the UK.

We suggest you get started by checking out our IELTS speaking topics and answers lesson. You can ask for additional help by writing in the comments section.



Learn English in 30 Minutes a Day

New to English Teacher Online this week, we look at the English in 30 Minutes program to check out their free lessons and rate how they could help students learn English in 30 minutes a day. You can get a free trial very easily by signing up with a valid email account. The course was created by Adrian several years ago to change the way we study English. He says that his ten to thirty minute lessons are the optimal study length for most learners.  There is a mature nature to some of the content so I would recommend this course to older students. There are lessons for learners of all levels, although the free lesson I reviewed is appropriate for pre-intermediate students and above to become fluent in English.

There are twenty-five units in the course and each has a theme of study ranging from Daily Life to Science and Technology. Each focus on different grammar topics such as Future Perfect Simple so you can easily choose to practice the areas that are of interest to you. Within each topic, there are thirteen lessons that are broken down into short ten to thirty minute lessons. These lessons focus on verbs, adjectives, antonyms (opposites), phrasal verbs, adding prepositions, idioms, listening, reading and much more. Each course has a handy interactive check box that helps you keep track of your progress.

Let’s start to Learn English in 30 Minutes a Day

I sign up for my free trial and go to Unit 5, Relationships. I am advised that the grammar focus is Present Perfect Simple and that I am going to learn a large range of words/phrases about love and relationships. The unit is separated into the thirteen lessons as described above. I can see the objectives of the unit which explain that I will be provided with practical examples and exercises to reinforce my learning.

Now I am inside the first lesson and I can clearly see that there are sub lessons which include at least nine videos, some flash card lessons and a review. The second lesson has at least five flashcard sections, two match up lessons and two videos. A variety of learning techniques are used and the lessons are short and sweet. I really like the way Adrian uses himself in the videos to thoroughly teach the Present Perfect Simple Tense.

Towards the end of the unit I am given a listening test. I listen to a four minute reading by Adrian from a classic novel. He has a nice reading voice which makes me want to listen to the extract. I notice that the text is available for me to read while listening so I can see that Adrian has really made a great effort to accommodate students of various levels.

After Adrian has finished reading to me, I press the next button and am directed to another page to take part in a multiple choice quiz. I can see all of the questions and am allowed to listen to the story clip again. I can pause, go back or forward and listen to the clip as many times as I wish. On this page, I am given ten questions and asked to choose from three multiple choice answers for each. I can check and change my answers while still in the test and I can see a submit answers button at the bottom of the page. Once I am happy with my answers, I press the submit button to get my score. I make some deliberate mistakes and score 7/10 so the test gives me a chance to go back and retake the test. I am also given an option to see the questions with the correct answers, very handy for people who keep giving the wrong answers! I take the test again and get 10/10. The test took just under thirty minutes and I am getting a real sense that this program could be a great tool for students to learn English in 30 minutes a day.

There is so much more in this free lesson and I have just reviewed a small part of it. What I really like is the opportunity Adrian gives students to listen to a native English voice, replay it and imitate it, all while studying a specific grammar point.

I gave Adrian a big 9/10 and highly recommend this site to all my older students. I think it’s a great plan to learn English in 30 minutes a day. Please visit English in 30 Minutes to get your free trial on love and relationships in the present perfect simple tense by clicking here.


Fluent English New Year Resolution

To become fluent in English is a great New Year’s resolution. If you made it your resolution this year then English Teacher Online wants to help you keep it. I hear that many people give up their New Year’s resolution before the end of January so I thought to myself, “How can I help my students keep going all year long?”

New Year Action Plan!

First, you have to remember why you want to become fluent in English. Do you need it for travel, business, to pass an exam or just so you can speak to a foreigner in your street? Maybe you are doing a number of different activities that require fluent English this year. Whatever the reasons, you need an ACTION PLAN and all good action plans need short, medium and long term goals so let’s start there!


Long Term Goal?

Your long term goal may be to become totally fluent in all forms of English but that’s a bit vague for this year’s resolution. Perhaps you just want to be fluent in conversational English or business English. Do you have a specific goal like wanting to pass an English exam or going on a trip to an English speaking country? Maybe you have suddenly realized that you need to refresh your English skills for a completely different reason. Whatever your long term goal is you should write it down at the top of your New Year’s Resolution Action Plan.


Medium Term Goals?

Next, try to make some smaller goals that you will be able to check off your list as you reach them throughout the year. This will help to give you a sense of achievement and stop you from feeling disheartened. Start with your plan for January and February. Make goals through to May and June. Also have goals for November and December. These will be your medium term goals and should be achievable over the next six months to a year. Medium term goals could include things like; be fluent in airport conversation English; write responses to customer questions in business English; or read the first 1,000 English sight words efficiently.


Short Term Goals?

Within your medium term plan you will also want weekly goals that you can check off when complete. These could include; asking for directions to the transfer lounge at the airport; writing polite English responses or writing in the present continuous tense. They could be simply checking off a number of sight words each week. These short term goals will help to keep you motivated because you can check them off on a regular basis and track your own improvement. Remember that you can become fluent in English if you are willing to put in the time.


Make Time!

Make a schedule and stick to it! It’s pretty obvious that the more you study and practice English the quicker you will become fluent in it. Be realistic and don’t over work yourself! If you can schedule 30 minutes a day for reading, writing, listening or speaking English then this can make a huge difference to your progress. As I wrote in Become Fluent English Speaking, keep learning according to your own interests. Maximize your time when studying for goals.

Short term goals are essential if you want to keep your New Year’s resolution going into February and beyond. Learning just two new vocabulary words a day (that’s 14 new words a week) is an excellent way to keep yourself on track and fully motivated.

Reading an English newspaper, book or internet article according to your own interests is also something you should be able to do for 10-15 minutes a day. Writing a short diary entry before you go to bed will help to keep you balanced between input and output skills.

Listen to the radio or watch English television programs. Copy the phrases that you think will be useful in your life. Whatever you do, try to do a little every day.

If you need me to write you a lesson, just email because if you need it, I promise you that others will use it too. I am always happy to write lessons for all my students.

Stick to Your Plan and Keep in Touch.

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive regular weekly updates to help you stay on track. Come back and visit English Teacher Online throughout the year to get even more ideas. Make a list of your long, medium and short term goals. Leave a brief summary of them in English in the comment section below.

Thanks, good luck and Happy New Year!