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This lesson on English as a Second Language for ADULTS, involves shopping


Language Arts  




English as a Second Language – Shopping

by: Michelle Hoult

Content: 2 hour English as a Second Language lesson on purchasing clothing.

Students: Low intermediate (language level) adults.

Class Situation: The students this plan was written for are adult women living in Canada.

Lesson Objectives:

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

-use, in context, the following vocabulary words related to clothing: blouse, T-shirt, skirt, pants, dress, jacket;

-ask questions about clothing size, style, and price using at least two types of adjectives;

-refuse or agree to purchase an item of clothing after discussing the purchase with a “salesperson”.

Warm Up:

The teacher shows the blouse that Student A bought a few weeks ago. Because she did not understand Canadian sizes, she bought the wrong size. Since the blouse was on sale, it could not be returned. The teacher asks any other students who have had bad shopping experiences to discuss them. The teacher and students briefly review a previous discussion where the students expressed their desire to learn how to shop more successfully. The teacher explains that the students will practice asking for different sizes and colours of clothing, trying items of clothing to see if they fit, and deciding whether or not to make a purchase. Length of time: 5 minutes.

Main Activities:

1) Vocabulary (blouse, T-shirt, skirt, pants, dress, jacket)

Using clothing catalogues, the teacher introduces or reviews the vocabulary words with the students. The students listen to the teacher say each word. Then they repeat the word with the teacher, while looking at the picture. Finally, the teacher shows the catalogue pictures and students name the items themselves. (Assumption: While some of these words will be new to some of the students, all of the students will be familiar with a few of the terms.) Length of time: 5-10 minutes.

2) Student Groups – Writing

Using the clothing catalogues, the students find items they like and write down a list of items they want to purchase. These lists will be used in a later activity. During this activity, the teacher circulates around the classroom, encouraging discussion about the clothing and other matters that may arise. Length of time: 10-15 minutes.

3) Situation Demonstration – Speaking and Grammar

The teacher introduces the concept of going to a clothing store. With the aid of an assistant, or an advanced student, the teacher pretends that she wants to buy certain items of clothing. Actual clothing items will be brought into class for this activity. The teacher asks questions such as, “Do you have this in 10?” and, “Does this dress come in blue?” These questions provide a model that the students can use later in their own role plays and when they are shopping. If there is a particular area of concern, such as finding long skirts, the teacher will include these types of questions. Length of time: 10 minutes.

After completing a few demonstrations, the teacher repeats the final demonstration, leaving out a few key words. As a group, the students supply the missing words during the role play. Length of time: 10 minutes.

4) Worksheets – Dialogue Practice

The teacher hands out the dialogue worksheets. The teacher reads the worksheet while the students follow. The teacher will then assign one group to be the customer and one group to be the salesperson. The groups will then read the dialogue that goes with their character. Length of time: 5 minutes.

5) Writing Exercise – Questions

The students write two questions they would like to ask in a clothing store. The questions will be based on the above-mentioned worksheet and the teacher’s demonstration. A few students read their questions aloud while the teacher writes the question on the board. As a group, the students discuss whether there are any corrections or changes that need to be made to the questions. Length of time: 10 minutes.

6) Practical Experience

In pairs, the students complete a mock shopping exercise. Using the clothing props and the shopping lists from the earlier activities, the groups practice an exercise similar to the one demonstrated by the teacher earlier in the lesson. Students practice asking and answering questions about size and colour. Each student plays the role of the customer and the salesperson so that everyone gains the experience and can learn by watching and doing. The teacher circulates at this time, listening to conversations and giving suggestions.

After the students practice for awhile and feel comfortable with their roles, the group gets back together and the pair groups act out their role plays for the other students. Length of time: 30 minutes.

Follow Up:

In class, students write lists of some things they would like to purchase in a clothing store. They also retrieve their questions, from the earlier activity, to ask regarding the item (or write new questions). The teacher reviews the shopping lists and questions individually, before the students leave. During the week, the students will go to the clothing stores with their lists and look for the items they desire. They will ask the salespeople their questions and decide whether or not to purchase the item(s). The following week, the students will report back to class about whether or not their shopping trips were successful and the reason for their success or lack of success.

-clothing catalogues
-various articles of clothing
-paper and pens


Evaluation will be ongoing throughout the lesson. As the teacher observes the students, she will note their successes and difficulties. The lesson can be changed to focus on certain areas of concern. During the lesson, the teacher should also be observing whether or not the students are enjoying activities. The length of time spent on each activity can be adjusted accordingly.

Bibliography: Course Guide, TESL 31 course. Ruth Epstein, University of Saskatchewan


Dialogue Worksheet mentioned above:

Salesperson: Hi. Can I help you find anything?

Customer: Yes. I am looking for an outfit for a Christmas party.

S: Is it formal or informal?

C: It is pretty informal, I think.

S: Are you looking at pants or a dress?

C: I think a dress or a skirt. Preferably something in red.

S: We have some nice red dresses over in this area. They look very festive for the Christmas season.

S: What size are you looking for?

C: I think about a size 10.

S: Okay, here are a couple. Would you like to try them on?

C: Yes, please.

S: Sure, our fitting rooms are back here. (Customer tries on dress.)

S: How did you make out?

C: Good. The first one didn’t quite fit right but I really like the second one.

S: Great! Just to let you know, it’s on sale so there are no refunds or exchanges.

C: That’s fine. I know it will look great at the party.

S: Thank-you and come again.

E-Mail Michelle!

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