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From Vogue to GQ to you

Writer(s): 
Dana Kampman, Al Yamamah University

Quick guide 

  • Key words: Writing, magazines, fashion
  • Learner English level: Low to intermediate
  • Learner maturity level: High school to university
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Activity time: 100minutes
  • Materials: Fashion magazines, tape, scissors, markers, colored pencils, A4-size paper

Introduction

From the catwalks of Milan to the streets of Harajuku, fashion unites and differentiates people. Fashion and clothing are a driving force in most young people’s lives. Many hours are spent rummaging through racks of clothes or flipping through the pages of the latest fashion magazine. This lesson capitalizes on that. It uses authentic and student-generated fashion material while integrating the four skills.

Preparation

Browse recent fashion magazines and cut out fashion articles and blurbs from them. Tape these around the classroom to create a gallery of fashion articles. As homework, ask students to bring in pictures that they have taken of fashionable clothing.

Procedure

Step 1: As students enter the classroom, they are also entering the world of fashion. Instruct students to find a partner and partake in a gallery walk. Ask the students to skim the texts and look at the pictures. Have them describe the fashions displayed around the room and discuss their preferences. Write the following questions on the board for the students to ask each other and answer:“How would you describe this fashion?”;“Do you like thisfashion?”;“Why or why not?”

Step 2:Come back together as a whole class and ask the students to share what they talked about during the gallery walk. Facilitate a discussion about fashion and fashion magazines.

Step 3:Explain to the students that they will be writing a fashion article or blurb for the photo that they brought in. To create a graffiti activity, tape the photos that the students brought to class around the room, along with a blank piece of paper next to each picture. Give each student a marker and instruct them to circulate around the room and write descriptive words about each photo on the accompanying blank paper. As the students build on each other’s comments, the papers will be filled with a description of the fashion.

Step 4: Give students back their pictures and the comments/descriptors that were compiled during the graffiti activity. On the table, lay out colored pencils, scissors,and A4-size paper. Using the descriptors generated from the graffiti activity as scaffolding, have students write and design a magazine article or blurb about their fashion pictures. They can use the examplesaround the room as models for their article or blurb if need be.

Step 5:Put students in pairs and have them share their creation with a partner. Inform the students that they will need to make an informal presentation about their partner’s magazine article. Allow time for the partners to discuss their work. Then bring the class back together and give each pair an opportunity to share each other’s work with the class. Finally, tape the final products on the walls of the classroom for everyone to see.

Extension

The final product of this lesson can also be used to initiate a cultural exchange between students in different countries. Ask students to make their articles digital by scanning them or digitally editingtheir photo. Have them email the article along with three questions regarding fashion to students in another class in a different country. This extension provides the students with an audience for their work and also creates an opportunity for intercultural learning.

Conclusion

From the beginning of the lesson to the end, students are actively involved and compelled to be creative with English. The students are initially catapulted through the world of fashion and then are taken into it as they themselves become fashion writers. The students start with GQ and Vogue, but finish with their own self-written magazine.

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