Phrasal verbs are often claimed to be a stumbling block to learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). After examining the reasons why it may be so, we will see how the tools and techniques of corpus linguistics, and more precisely learner corpus research, can help shed light on EFL learners’ use of phrasal verbs with up. Drawing on data from the International Corpus of Learner English (ICLE) and the Louvain International Database of Spoken English Interlanguage (LINDSEI) and adopting the method of Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis, we will deal with both quantitative and qualitative aspects of the behaviour of phrasal verbs in learner English. The results will then be interpreted with reference to factors such as transfer from the mother tongue, sensitivity to register variation or ability to innovate. The presentation will end by considering some of the pedagogical implications of the findings.
Gaëtanelle Gilquin, Centre for English Corpus Linguistics, Université catholique de Louvain