…and the classroom stars aligned – in class use of the PHaVE dictionary

It was one of those lessons where things just seemed to flow smoothly and in this case from a routine exam revision session to using a program (the PHaVE dictionary) I had hacked up not too long ago (is my head getting too big?).

The class was TOEIC revision, and we were doing some exercises related to part 5 and part 6 of the exam (the grammar/vocab parts).

One of the exercises was on phrasal verbs and this expansion activity listed some phrasal verb headers and asked students to check a dictionary to pick some particles and write example sentences.

Since I had the PHaVE dictionary available on englishbox (pirate box) on my phone I asked the students to connect to it and use that instead.

I was really pleased that they had a relevant task to use the PHaVE dictionary with as I had only demoed the dictionary in a previous session (as a resource to use outside class) and so not made much use of it in class until now.

The advantage of using such a restricted list as the PhAVE instead of a full-blown dictionary is speed of use which means more focus on the task at hand instead of depending on dictionary skill use (which is not to say such skills should not be practised).

Thanks for reading.


Fav the PHaVE Pedagogical List for the New Year

Great New Year news for teachers, a new word list of phrasal verbs, the PHaVE List (Garnier & Schmitt, 2014) finds that of the top 150 most common verbs there are only 288 meanings in total. That is on average about 2 meanings a phrasal verb. Consider that some estimates of the total number of phrasal verbs number it at nearly 9000.

You can try out the PHaVE Dictionary yourself.

What you will see are the 150 verbs ranked from 1 to 150 and their most common meanings.

The study used the following criteria to include verbs and their meanings:

For the top 150 verbs, each occurs at least 10 times per million. For a meaning to be included it needed to have 75 percent coverage in COCA-BYU and if the primary meaning did not reach this then secondary meanings of at least 10 percent were added until either 75 percent was reached or all 10 percent meanings used.

Thus 6 verbs have 4 meanings, 34 verbs have 3 meanings, 52 verbs have two meanings and 58 have one meaning.

As the study notes, in the user manual for the list, some of the verbs may well be easier to understand than others i.e. be more semantically transparent. A reminder to users that the list is a general guide and teachers, as ever, need to exercise their judgement.

If you want the raw lists go check out the G+ Corpus Linguistics community.

So do go on and set about exploring the PHaVE pedagogical list for the new year.

A huge thanks to all the readers for your support of the blog these past couple of years, here’s to more and better for 2015.


Garnier, M., & Schmitt, N. (2014). The PHaVE List: A pedagogical list of phrasal verbs and their most frequent meaning senses. Language Teaching Research, 1362168814559798. Retrieved January 15 2016 http://www.norbertschmitt.co.uk/uploads/pdf-(418-kb).pdf