A teacher needs to make teaching materials to teach his students.

What is the difference between "He's working on his teaching material" and "He's working up his teaching material"?

According to my study, if the teacher is creating a new material, we say "He's working on his teaching material" because "to work on" means "to produce something".

However, if a teacher is improving his existing material, we say "He's working up his teaching material" because "to work up" means "to improve something".

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    Your research has led you to the "correct" conclusion, but note that to work up [some product, teaching aid, etc.] is an informal usage that has relatively limited currency (this specific highly limited meaning arises by extension from to work up a sweat or more metaphorical work up the courage [to do something]). Also note that in most contexts there's no real difference between working on / up [one's teaching materials] anyway. Dec 25, 2021 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


To work on the teaching material is to spend time and effort on the material, but it does not imply that the material has been completed or improved by that labour (though we normally expect it will be improved and closer to completion). To work up the teaching material is to produce it. (see Collins dictionary https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/work-up)

To work up teaching material can also mean to adapt it, for example a teacher might work up some teaching material into a text book. However your context makes it clear that this is not what the second sentence means.

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