Some things do not depend on technology, but just on common sense. And when people panic, common sense goes out of the window.
Phrasal Verbs are one of the most ingenious and technologically advanced building blocks ever invented by English speakers. They are an acquired taste for me, and unlike many non-native speakers, I have come past the hate stage to actually loving them.
To love something you have to understand it, be it consciously or unconsciously. In every language, there are those expressions that almost define a whole culture. Using them gives you an edge, it makes you cross an uncharted frontier.
When I explain my students stuff about phrasal verbs I tell them what they are first.
Phrasal verbs are useful, convenient and often colourful shortcuts. They the brush strokes of masters who have often concentrated paragraph long explanations into a verb and one or two prepositions or particles. Speak about genius. If you use them fluently you should put “advanced summarizing skills” in your CV and linkedin profile?
I have my favourites, which I repeatedly use as examples. Above all, “pig out” stands out as an instant reminder of its biggest fan, Homer Simpson. But the most important thing is to let learners know what the key is to understanding them:
“Go for the particle! Go for the preposition.” It is no use learning them by heart and worst of all, to learn them by base verb. It is the particle that changes the meaning of a boring verb into something exciting and complex. And often, the base is not even a verb. See pig out above. Do you “pig” me?
One of the problems is that most books and dictionaries that I have come across which deal with phrasal verbs do it by alphabetical order of the verbs and not by particle. The only one I have found which does not follow that system is the wonderful “Collins Cobuild Phrasal Verbs Workbook” which ironically is out of print since 2002! (Note: if anybody wants to give me a present, I would love a copy).
So to wrap it up, phrasal verbs should be taught using common sense and not stubborness. Rubbing the dictionary against our heads will not help them get through our skulls by osmosis. Understanding them and using a sensible approach is the key to learning any vocabulary. Phrasal verbs are no exception.