Sunday, October 14, 2012

Noticed in Transit

I love these ads!  They're for, a social networking and news site that focuses on connecting people who live in the same neighborhood. *

The first picture indirectly defines the idiom.  Once you know what the web site is about, then you can figure out what "the word on the street" means.

The second one nails phrasal verbs.  To me, skillful use of phrasal verbs is more of an art than an algorithm.  There have been attempts to describe the process and these have their merits -- my higher level class keeps a copy of The Ultimate Phrasal Verb Book by Carl W. Hart handy, for example.  But learners will eventually need to let go of the books and understand phrasal verbs by feel.

Sure, "log in" will be found in a dictionary, but "neighbor up" never will.  Learners will know "pair up" from experience, since we use it in class all the time.  If I draw their attention to the meaning they know, they should be able to see a parallel with "neighbor up".  Someday, when they run into "buddy up" (perhaps when I deliberately introduce it in a week or so, *wink!*) maybe some of them will grok it right away.

So, how could I go about cultivating this feel for phrasal verbs?  Actually, I guess it's mostly about how the particle affects the meaning of the main word.  In this case, "up" has a sense to me of bringing things together, perhaps securely.  But I feel as if I don't want to try to define it explicitly.  Thinking out loud:  what if I had a lot of plastic food storage bags large enough to hold 3-1/2 X 5-1/2 inch index cards and whenever a phrasal verb cropped up, we made a card and discussed as a class which bag to store it in?  I think we should write the word in large letters on one side and the sentence we encountered it in on the back (no definitions).  The categorization would be by particle.  After a while, maybe we'd have a little group of words that seem to have a meaning relationship.  Would that meaning become clearer without us having to put it into words?  Personally, if I had a bag with pair up and buddy up in it, I might add link up and hook up.  What about zip up, tie up, pack up ... or shut up?  Yes?  No?  Why or why not?

I recognize that there will be more than one "up" bag.  And the same phrasal verb will likely find itself in several bags, depending on its context (the sentence of origin).  I have a feeling that cards may travel around from bag to bag.  Seems as if the contents of the bags don't matter so much as the discussions that produce them!

* This web site has potential as a way of allowing adult students to get better connected with their community, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment