Work on Your Idioms/Phrasal Verbs

This morning, I received shiny new copies of two books I worked on at the beginning of the year; Work on Your Idioms and Work on Your Phrasal Verbs, both published by Collins.

They’re second editions of books originally written by Cheryl Pelteret, Jamie Flockhart and Sandra Anderson published back in 2012, suitable for either self study or classroom use. I was asked to work on new editions, together with Penny Hands, to add new material and make changes in two main areas.


Both books cover the most frequently-used idioms and phrasal verbs in English. So, one of the first questions we had to ask was whether the frequency lists that the first editions were based on might have changed in what was probably 10 years since the initial research. Working together with the in-house corpus team at Collins, we reviewed the lists for each book and identified a number of items that had declined in use (in some cases, quite dramatically) and found replacements that had pushed their way up the rankings.

We also cast an eye over all the material with a view to contemporary social norms and lifestyles, and Penny did a fantastic job of sourcing what we hope is an interesting, useful, and diverse set of new images.

Extending practice

Each of the titles is organized into 25 thematic units made up of 4 pages. In the first editions, the first two pages consisted of definitions and examples of the target phrasal verbs or idioms, followed by two pages of practice exercises. Feedback from users had suggested that they’d like more practice, so with some clever redesigning, the second edition has all the definitions in a neat table on the first page of each unit, freeing up an extra page per unit for more practice.

I was able to make use of this extra practice space to take learners beyond activities focusing predominantly on meaning and form. For the phrasal verbs, we added more work on things like collocations and grammar patterns, and for the collocations, we were able to give more space to looking at usage, context and connotation, and also variation in form.

Find out more …

I’ll be writing in more detail about the books, some of the research we did, and the changes we made in a couple of upcoming posts on the Collins ELT blog – so keep an eye out for those. Or take a look at the books on the Collins website here – Work on Your Phrasal Verbs and Work on Your Idioms.


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