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Clothing is part of every single person’s life. When your ESL students start their day, one of the first things they must address is what they will be wearing for the day. Clothing is also one of the ways humans express themselves and showcase who they are, how they’re feeling, and what they like. Because clothing is so essential, your ESL students must learn how to identify and describe apparel. By doing so, they will be able to discuss this important example of self-expression in everyday conversations. Or, at least, they will be able to compliment others on their sweaters.
What can be intimidating at first for your students is that there are so many different types of clothing! A good way to practice talking about clothing is to categorize the apparel by the season. In this blog post, I’ll discuss different activities you can do with your ESL students to teach them how to recognize and talk about cold-weather clothing.
In order to create a good foundation, your ESL students must be provided with the proper vocabulary, the building blocks of their language learning. The fun thing about clothing vocabulary is that each clothing item can have a visual example, one that you can find on the Internet or one you can model through video. First, gather all the cold weather clothing words you can think of. Try to write down as many as you can think of! Next, classify each clothing item by the following: hat, top, bottom, outerwear, shoes, accessory. One by one, you then introduce the clothing by their classification. The most diverse classification that your students will tackle will be accessory, so make sure you have visuals prepared! Something to also keep in mind about cold-weather clothing is that each item has a utility aspect about them. Make sure to point out to your students about why a certain item is ideal for chilly temperatures.
Create An Outfit
Now it’s time for your students to practice building outfits using cold-weather clothing. When you first try this activity, start very simple by establishing an outline template using the classifications from the vocabulary exercise. For your students to build an outfit, have your students pick one article of clothing from a wordbox for each classification. The only exception would be accessory, which may include as many accessories as you see fit. Make sure your students identify each clothing item they are using in the imaginary outfit they are building. It’s okay for your students to play around with this activity too. If they pick two bottom pieces and no top pieces, that’s an opportunity for you to address that and have your ESL students recognize the silliness of the outfit. Once your students get used to building outfits, then you can propose different scenarios that your students must “dress” for. For example, ask your students to build an outfit for ice skating! Or ask them to build an outfit for snowboarding. Don’t forget to ask them why they picked certain articles of clothing for their outfits. By making this exercise more specific, your students will be more adept in understanding context and explaining clothing within that context.
Another version of this exercise involves you being a little creative. Build a few outfits before showing your students and you may create outfits that are tailored for a specific activity or situation. Then, right before you show your outfit outline to your students, remove one item. The task your ESL students have to accomplish is identifying what aspect of the outfit is missing and filling in the missing piece with a clothing term of their choice.
These activities are designed more for beginners. For your more experienced learners, you may incorporate patterns and textiles.
Fashion can be a lot of fun! It can be engaging while also being a necessary topic to include while building your ESL students’ language fluency. Enjoy layering cold weather clothing with your students!