I typically kick off my lessons with a vocabulary review activity followed by a communicative goal to put the revised language into practice. As a big fan of dictations, I decided to try this activity out with my class of Upper-Intermediate students.
A couple of days before they had completed an activity from the textbook (expressions with take). There was a list of 6 expressions with the verb take (take care of, take advantage of, take part in, take place, take (your) time, take into account) and three phrasal verbs with take (take after, take off , take up). The first task required the students to match the expressions with the meanings. For the second task the students had to complete some conversation questions with a phrasal verb or expression and then ask and answer with a partner.
So here’s the review. I identified some categories or “meaning areas”: “family and friends”, “travelling”, “hobbies” and “work” and I asked the students to get a piece of paper and draw four columns and head each column with a different category. Then I announced that I was going to read out the expressions and phrasal verbs with take that we had seen the previous day and it was their job to write them under the corresponding column on their own judgement.
This is a great review activity because it allows for creative and critical thinking. The answers will vary from student to student and all of them are as equally valid as long as the students can substantiate them. For one student take care of might go under “family and friends”, as one may look after a younger sibling or his/her child but why not under “travelling” as in take care of yourself being said by someone seeing us off at the airport. How about under “hobbies”, as one needs to take care of an expensive musical instrument that they play for fun or even under “work”, as one needs to take care of customers or equipment they need to handle. In truth, all reviewed expressions can most likely fit any of the categories if you rack your brains a bit.
Have the students compare their dictations and justify their decisions and then invite them to come and write answers on the board and have them explain to the class. Better still, invite a student to come up to the board to write about five or six items and then have the class discuss why they think those items are listed where they are and finally let the student explain.
You may recycle this activity and bring other phrasal verbs or expressions into the picture with different categories from the ones used previously.