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ESL Lesson Plans: Super-Duper - Talking About Fashion (based on the song “Putting on the Ritz”)

Level: ESL Advanced

Objectives: Discuss the fashion trends of the Western culture in the 20th century; introduce vocabulary associated with fashion; familiarize with some American fashion icons in the 1st half of the 20th century
Tell students the lesson will focus on a song written in the 1930s but still widely known and sung today. Originally recorded by Fred Astaire, an American most celebrated movie and stage dancer/singer, the song was remixed in 1980s and performed by Taco (Taco Ockerse). The song originated a number of expressions that firmly stay in public mind nowadays. It also mentions popular North American people and places linked to fashion and social status.
Warm-Up: Was Fashion Your Passion? Students reflect on the fashion in their late teens and early 20s. They list 3 items that were fashionable then. Help them with your own examples first to make the tasks easier (e.g.: big earrings, asymmetrical haircuts, parachute pants, denim jackets). Can they guess when these items were fashionable? (in the 80s)
Vocabulary: Let’s Go Retro - students identify fashionable clothes items of various decades in the 20th century. You may want to bring in old photographs, magazine clippings or images from the Internet to help visualize some of the items.
Pre-Listening: What’s in a Name? - students fill in the blanks the names of people and places from the song. Monitor as needed.
Listening 1: Paying Attention to Details - a) students circle articles of clothing as they listen to the song and b) explain the meaning of 4 items that were an indicator of high socio-economic status in the 1930s.
Listening 2: Context Clues - students guess what expressions (a-c) mean based on the lyrics of the song.
Vocabulary Extension: Conversation Questions - students discuss questions in small groups and share their views and experiences. Based on the level of your class, you may introduce more expressions:
make a comeback
all the rage
fashion trendsetter
everything old is new again
fashion/fly-by-night fads
Student Worksheet:

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ESL Lesson Plan Super-Duper - Talking About Fashion.pdf

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