Fashionable Words in the EFL Class

Daisy Boll, Osaka Jogakuin Junior College



  • Key Words: Vocabulary, Pair Work, Group Work
  • Learner English Level: Low Intermediate to Advanced Learner
  • Learner Maturity Level: Jr. High School and above
  • Preparation Time: About two hours
  • Activity Time: Three class hours

Learners require and respond to enjoyable contextualized situations. Appropriate contexts will often vary across cultural, age, level, and gender lines, and it is the role of the instructor to both understand the just-mentioned distinctions and to develop appropriate contextual materials. The following activity was used in an oral English class of approximately thirty female junior college students. The context of fashion was chosen as an area likely to interest and motivate these learners. The activity allowed for both pair and group work.


  • Color pictures cut out from fashion magazines or catalogs (One provided by each student; at least eight provided by the teacher.)
  • Three worksheets: Worksheet A--One for each student on which approximately fifty fashion related descriptive adjectives from such categories as patterns, shapes, styles, materials, color, and direction, are written with space between the words for the drawing of a small picture
  • Worksheet B--One for each student divided into six sections, each section large enough for a student's name and for writing a small descriptive paragraph
  • Worksheet C--One blank piece of paper B4 size or larger for each group of four to five students
  • Colored pencils
  • Procedure


Day One: Preparation and Setting the Schema

The teacher presents all the terms and their pronunciation on Worksheet A to the class and draws simple patterns and pictures on the board to illustrate each word. Students copy these drawings onto their worksheets. Then the teacher, using a picture of an outfit from a fashion magazine, describes it in detail using the words from Worksheet A. Students are instructed to bring to class a picture from a fashion magazine of an outfit they like.

Day Two: Pair Activity

Students are instructed to arrange their desks into two concentric circles in which the student in one circle would face the students in the other circle, thus forming pairs for the pair activity. The teacher then reviews the terms on Worksheet A and repeats the describing activity to remind students how it is done.

Students are then told to use their own pictures and perform the same describing activity in pairs, each student in the pair taking a turn. In the event of an odd number of students, the teacher would participate and fill out the last pair. As one student in the pair describes the outfit in his or her picture using the words in Worksheet A, the listener writes the description on Worksheet B, writing the speaker's name at the top of the description.

Approximately every five minutes, the students in one circle are told to move one seat to their right and work with a new partner. This pair activity is done six times so that all six sections of Worksheet B are filled in. The teacher then collects all the completed Worksheet Bs and instructs the students to bring colored pencils for the next class.

Day Three: Group Activity

Students are put into an even number of groups consisting of four to five students per group. Each group is given a copy of Worksheet C and a new fashion magazine picture provided by the teacher. The groups are paired off to engage in a describe-and-draw activity using the colored pencils. One student in each group is chosen as the designated artist. First Group 1 describes their picture while Group 2 draws the picture on Worksheet C, the blank B4-size paper. Then Group 2 describes and Group 1 draws.

When all the groups finish drawing their first picture and compare them with the original magazine picture, the magazine pictures are re-distributed so that each group gets new pictures. The paired groups then do a second describe-and-draw activity on a second sheet of B4 paper. At the end of class, a vote can be held to decide which student-drawn picture most closely resembles its original magazine picture.

Suggestions and Options

Students could use the Day Three activity as a basis for creating their own fashion magazine. A fashion show simulation could be set up, a discussion could be held on fashion trends and changes, or a debate could be held on fashion appropriateness.