This lesson plan looks at the relationship between fashion and politics and engages students in the discussion about our perception of public figures based on their appearance. The lesson involves speaking practice, a vocabulary section, and comes with a fun video activity. It is suitable for levels B2 and up. It takes between 45 and 60 minutes to complete.
To teach this class you are going to need this presentation.
Introduce the topic (slides 1-4)
The aim of this stage is to elicit from your students that famous people from the world of politics often appear on the covers of fashion magazines (such as Vogue). First, see what your students think of M. Obama’s media presence: how many different types of media that she appeared in can they list? You will also discuss the question whether we even need fashion.
Fashion and Politics (slides 5-12)
In this stage, your students will discuss a number of questions related to the perception of public figures in politics based on their appearance and gender. It also includes a tiny case study where students decided the person’s job and characteristics based on the two photos. Since the lesson was originally designed with the Polish learners in mind the two photos are of a Polish rapper-turned-politician, Liroy. If there are any celebrities who became politicians in your countries, it is a good idea to search for their pictures showing the change in their appearance (if there was any).
Decide on the best way to lead the discussion (pair work? whole class discussion? pyramid discussion?). I taught this class with fairly big groups so I chose to let my students discuss the questions in pairs and then we discussed together. For the statements part of the lesson, I put my students in the groups of 3.
Vocabulary (slides 13-17)
In this part of the lesson, your students will learn some synonyms for the often overused words “clothes” and “fashionable”. Even advanced students often struggle to find more words for simple concepts so you might show the slides after you ask your students to brainstorm some more vocabulary. This stage of the lesson comes with photos of James Bond (dressed to kill) and Jay-Z and Beyonce (dressed to the nines) when talking about dressing for special occasions and using these idiomatic expressions. See whether your students know any more idiomatic expressions that have to do with the way we dress (e.g. dress to impress, dress to success)
Trump Makeover Transition (slide 18)
The last slide in the presentation asks whether your students would like their president to be stylish. This question serves as a segue to the next part of the lesson. After you answer the question, ask your students whether they can think of any important political figures who have been heavily criticised for their appearance and fashion choices. Probably, the name of Donald Trump comes up without much further prompting.
Trump Makeover Vocabulary (worksheet, page 1)
Students identify various fashion problems later mentioned in the short video clip through matching adjectivess with nouns (giant tie, baggy pants etc.)
Trump Makeover Video (worksheet, page 2)
Before you watch you might want to find out whether your students are familiar with the concept of a makeover. Tell them they are about to watch a video where Trump gets a makeover from GQ, a magazine for men. Ask them to predict what problems with his appearance are going to get solved /tackled.
Then, ask your students to turn their worksheets over and try to complete the list of improvements while they watch the video. You might play the clip twice.
Finally, discuss whether the metamorphosis worked/ was necessary. This part of the lesson might also serve as a nice revision of such grammar structures as second conditional (If Trump wore a skinnier tie, he would look much better) or if only (If only Trump changed his hair, he would look more professional).
This class resulted in some lively discussion and a lot of humorous anecdotes about politicians’ wardrobe malfunctions, fashion fiascos and so on. I also noticed my students really needed it pointed out that “clothes” and “fashionable” are not the only words to be used when discussing a topic like that (even though they were all quite advanced).
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