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Figuring out phrasal verbs: An analysis of student use and fluency in Swedish upper secondary schools
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Phrasal verbs are said to be one of the greatest indicators of linguistic competence for speakers of English as a foreign language. A phrasal verb consists of a verb and a preposition, a verb and an adverb, or a verb and an adverb as well as a preposition. Multi-word phrases such as phrasal verbs are characterised by degrees of opacity of meaning, where some are quite literal and some are completely idiomatic. This can cause learners to avoid using phrasal verbs. Conflicting definitions of what  phrasal verbs are make them even harder to learn.

This study employs a combination of methods, which together are intended to shed light on the use, teaching, and perception of phrasal verbs through quantitative studies of student texts, the British National Corpus, teacher surveys, and textbooks of English as a foreign language (EFL). The primary sources for this study consisted of 30 national tests written by students in upper secondary school, five textbooks used in upper secondary school, and 33 survey replies from English teachers in upper secondary schools.

This study shows that phrasal verbs are only taught explicitly in one of the textbooks studied. Still, the essays written by the Swedish students show that they are quite commonly used. In fact, the frequency of use is quite near to that of native speakers, with a phrasal verb appearing almost twice a page. The students rarely use the phrasal verbs incorrectly in a grammatical sense; that is they usually conjugate them correctly. There are several instances, however, when the wrong phrasal verb is used, and particle movement is not as common in the Swedish text as in texts written by authors from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Phrasal verbs are used more often by students whose essays received a higher grade This can be seen both when looking at absolute numbers and when factoring in the length of the essays. The survey of the teachers, however, suggests that phrasal verbs themselves do not directly affect grading. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 69 p.
Keyword [en]
phrasal verbs, EFL, teacher assessment
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-24098OAI: diva2:603452
Subject / course
Educational program
Lärarprogrammet, inriktning mot verksamhet i grundskolans senare år och gymnasiet
2013-01-17, Växjö, 07:59 (English)
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2013-03-07 Created: 2013-02-06 Last updated: 2013-03-07Bibliographically approved

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Jacobsen, Heidi
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