Clothes

"Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who's wearing it."

Yves Saint-Laurent (1936 – 2008), French fashion designer
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This free ESL lesson plan on clothes has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Like it or not, we all (have to) wear clothes. Some clothes are functional and long-lasting; others we buy to satisfy short-term fashion trends. Clothes keep us warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. We wear different items of clothing for different occasions, or even depending on our mood. Most people have probably bought clothes then not used them, and the ever-decreasing cost of clothes makes this easier and easier. But what effect is this having on the environment? And what about the working conditions of the people who make our clothes at such a cheap cost? In this ESL lesson plan on clothes, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their favourite clothes, clothes shopping, and the social impact of buying clothes.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Fashion Revolution Day, which takes place in April, or Fashion Day, which takes place in July. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

BBC | The real price of buying cheap clothes

The article explains how some clothes are made so cheaply, the effect this has on the environment and on the workers making those clothes, and what governments, fashion companies and customers are doing in response to this. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. The questions for the video are styled in a way similar to an exam like the IELTS.

The video for this class is a called “What will people wear in the future?” by The Economist which looks at how technology will change the types of clothes we wear in the future, from synthetic material to smart clothes that can collect data from our bodies.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including why people wear clothes, the difference between clothes worn by men and women, and whether it is better to buy functional or fashionable clothes.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with clothes such as costume, look and dress code. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about political ideologies. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as traditional clothes from their countries, how buying cheap clothes affects the environment and workers’ rights, and what clothes people will wear in the future.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of clothes. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.

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