FUMP it! (Real Good!)

When I think of the title to this post it is sung to the tune of “Push it” by Salt-n-Pepa. Now it is in your head too as a catchy little mnemonic to help you remember the important aspects of grammar and vocabulary. You’re welcome.

FUMP it real good!

So, what is FUMP? What am I talking about? Students should always fully encounter (meet) and clarify (get the details about) the Form, Use, Meaning and Pronunciation (FUMP) of new vocabulary and grammar. They need all 4, not only Form which tends to be the most popular because it encompasses the ‘rule’ part of the new target language.

Let me give you a quick break down (Disclaimer: Very quick breakdown. I am not going to put all the important aspects in here. This is just a jumping off point.) of what FUMP entails for grammar and vocabulary. Once you have the basic idea, you can check your lesson plan and make sure you are covering all of them when  teaching!



  • Part of speech
  • verb forms (tense forms, 1st person form, 2nd person form, etc…)
  • countable/uncountable
  • The chunk–What is typically collocated(is this a real word?) with the word? For example, if I teach ‘break up’, I teach ‘to break up (with someone)’ this way the student feels more confident to speak in complete sentences.


  • The general situation the word is used in. This could mean something as simple as using divorce to talk about married people not bfs and gfs, or a little deeper like when teaching food adjectives. With food adjectives students need to know which food a word can describe. Tender ice cream? Not likely. Tender steak? Absolutely.
  • Nuances that are connected to meaning that change the feeling of the word, for example, vomit and puke (formal like a word a doctor would use vs. very informal and just plain gross sounding). I break these down into a few pairs, there are more but here are a few: formal/informal, polite/rude, positive/negative


  • The definition


  • The individual sounds (IPA)
  • The stress of each syllable
  • The stress/intonation/rhythm of the whole chunk (see the last bullet of form)
  • The blended sounds in the chunk (not “break (pause) up”…we say “breakup” because the ‘k’ and ‘u’ are linked to each other)



  • The rules! I usually call it my ‘form-ula’ which is a sample sentence of the grammar with all the important rules of tense changes, word forms, and syntax highlighted. I have an example of this for ‘should have’ posted in a video on my YouTube page that you can check out here.


  • (Disclaimer: This is how I see it. If you have any suggestions or disagreements about this breakdown of the Use of grammar, please feel free to comment 🙂 ) I see the Use of the grammar as very connected to the function of the grammar: Why are you speaking? What is the subtext? What does this grammar communicate to the other speaker in addition to just the words? For example, in this sentence “If you wash the dishes, I’ll clean the bathroom” the Use is negotiation.In this sentence, “If we go camping this weekend, I’ll bring the marshmallows!”  the Use is  making tentative future plans. However here, “What will you do if you get lost when you visit NY? Well, if I get lost, I’ll ask a police officer for help.” the Use is troubleshooting possible problems.


  • (see disclaimer above!) Above with the first conditional, even though we have a few different ways to Use the grammar the basic meaning doesn’t change (possible result of a possible/realistic situation that has not happened yet, but could happen in the future). Sometimes though, I think the Meaning and Use are very connected to each other and don’t seem as distinct as with the example above. For example, I think that with  ‘used to’ the M and U are very similar and you can’t really have one without the other. So, when dissecting meaning, I usually ask my self these questions: What kind of action is it? (stative, active, finished, unfinished, continuing, habitual, one-time,  etc…) and What kind of time is it? (past, present, future, etc…). You may disagree with the words I use to describe actions and time. “Why is continuing for actions?” you might ask. Either way, this is the way I break it down, and in the end all of this stuff is important to include in the Meaning of your grammar.


  • The same stuff as above with vocabulary, but always focused on speaking in full sentences. So, I always teach my students about rhythm and linking sounds.

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