10 Fun Activities For Teaching Clothes Vocabulary
Ten entertaining ways to present and practise the names of clothes and ways of describing them, with activities for all ages and levels
1. Clothes search
The teacher shouts out an item of clothing and students try to find a picture of that thing as quickly as possible. This can be done with magazines (it also works if different people have different magazines), the textbook (if it has lots of pictures) or on the internet (e.g. on one internet shopping site). To make it more challenging and add more language, try describing the clothes in more detail, e.g. “A red hat” or “A smart shirt”.
2. Clothes search 2
This is similar to Clothes Search above, but students compete to find the best match to what the teacher says, e.g. “The shortest skirt”, “The biggest hat” or “A really tarty outfit”.
3. Clothes memory
Students close their eyes and are tested on what their teacher and classmates are wearing. This can be done with the questions being asked by the teacher, by other teams, or by their partner. If you can’t trust them to close their eyes, send one or two people outside the classroom, ask questions about those people’s clothes, and check the students’ answers when those people come back in.
4. Clothes memory 2
You can do something similar to Clothes Memory above with a picture. Students look at what the people in the picture are wearing, turn over the picture, and then are tested on it. This works best if it is a picture of a situation where they really might try to remember what people were wearing, e.g. just before a crime happened or a fashion show catwalk.
5. Clothes picture difference
Give students two similar pictures where some of the clothes, e.g. five items, are different. The differences could be colour, length, or item of clothing (e.g. the old man wearing a bowler hat in Picture A but a cap in Picture B). Each pair of students describes the clothes on their worksheets without showing their pictures to each other, continuing until they have found all the differences. The easiest way to create these kinds of worksheets is to take one picture and alter it to make the second version, e.g. changing colours etc with Photoshop or using a drawing and Tippex. If it is too obvious which bits have been changed on the pictures, change some more bits on both version in the same way as red herrings, e.g. drawing the same handbag on both versions. When students have finished the activity, they could discuss something such as which of the two outfits is better.
6. Clothes picture similarities
Students are given two very different pictures with people in them and must find as many similarities as they can by describing their pictures, without showing the picture to their partner. For example, they might be able to come up with similarities such as “There are people wearing skirts in both pictures”.
7. Incomplete pictures
Give students the same picture with different information or parts of the picture missing from each one. For example, Tippex out the handbag in Student A’s picture and the high heeled shoes in Student B’s picture. They then ask each other questions to fill in the gaps, e.g. “What is the tall woman wearing on her feet?” Other things that can be taken out and filled in by the students include people’s names (“What is the woman wearing dangly earrings called?”) and names of clothes in the pictures (e.g. “It’s like a skirt but the man is wearing it. What is it called?” “On my picture it says that it is a kilt”)
8. Real but absent pictures
A nice way of adding some personalisation to the use of pictures to practise clothes vocabulary is to ask students to describe a real photo in precise detail, including what people were wearing when it was taken. They can bring the photo into class (but not show it to their partner), just try to remember one, or even remember a real scene which they don’t have a photo of and describe it as if they did. As their partner is listening, they can draw what is being described or just ask as many extra questions as they can (e.g. “Was it a short-sleeved shirt?”).
9. Guess from the clothes
Another way to add personalisation is for a student to describe what they were wearing at one particular time (e.g. a graduation ceremony, a job interview, a ball or a first date) so that their partner can try and guess what the situation was. Students can also do the same thing with other people they know or have seen, e.g. the local milkman or bin man, for their partner to guess who they are talking about.
10. Decide on the clothes
Students are given a situation, e.g. television interview or graduation ball, and have to decide which clothes would be best. One way of adding more language to this activity is to only give them written descriptions of the clothes that they can choose from, showing them the pictures only after they have chosen the outfits. Alternatively, they can write down the choice of any clothes they like, so that the other teams can read all the descriptions and vote on the best. Another possibility is to give each Student A and Student B different worksheets with different pictures of clothes on from which they should describe the clothes as they decide which combinations are best, e.g. “My picture seven is a very narrow black skirt with a long slit. I think it would look good with your picture six, if I understood you correctly”.
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic blog.