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Friday, May 20, 2011

Baggy Trousers

How many of you teach teenage boys? Or lads in their early twenties?
For those of you that do, this may well be a common sight in or around your classroom:

By Lebatihem on Flickr
Always on the lookout for interesting and unusual non-coursebook topics to use with some of my teenage students, I was glad to find this article in The Guardian.

I will use the unmodified text with my advanced students, but may come up with a graded version for my younger teen group. Here are some quesions to get the discussion going before introducing the text, for Upper-Intermediate or Advanced learners:

Introduction to the topic
1) What kinds of clothes do you usually wear?
2) Do you wear the same style of clothes all the time? e.g. at school, hanging out with friends, at a disco etc
3) Do you prefer your clother to be tight and fitted or loose and baggy?
4) Does your style belong to a particular trend or group? e.g. emo, goth, mod, rocker, hippy, preppy, hip hop, gangster etc
5) Do your classmates wear the same types of clothes as you? If not, how would you describe their outfits?

After seeing the picture above:
6) Have you ever worn your trousers like this?
7) Would you consider dressing like this? Why (not)?
8) Why do you think some boys wear their trousers in this way?
9) Does this style say anything about their personality or views?
10) Should they be allowed to dress like this at school?

Tell the students that the council of Florida is considering banning men from wearing trousers that show their underpants.

11) What do you think about this proposal?
12) Why do you think they are considering making this law?
13) Do you think we should have the right to dress how we like? How important is this to you?
14) Do you think that some ways of dressing are unacceptable in public? If so, which?
15) In France, the wearing of a face-covering veil in public has been banned for Muslim women. What do you think about this law?
16) Can we compare Florida's law and France's law?

Students now read the article.

17) Are "saggy trousers" only worn by one group of people?
18) Where did the look originate?
19) Does "showing your pants" have the same consequences for girls and boys?
20) What do the "saggers" say are their reasons for dressing in this way?

With very small high level groups (at the moment I only have 2 or 3 in the class!) I tend to take a more relaxed approach and allow the discussion to move on in whatever way is appropriate in that lesson. These questions are just a guide to fall back on. With a larger group I would hand out the list of questions to students in groups of three or four. I would then look at any language that comes up in the text and any that emerges during the discussion. The text is used as a basis for discussion rather than a reading comprehension, as my students have more trouble speaking (and coming up with things to say) than reading and understanding a text.

You could do lots of other things with the article, or as a follow up. For example, you could create some rather interesting roleplay scenarios with a "sagger" and his grandmother! The students could write a composition about different styles and fashions, or they could write a diary entry for a boy who has been told he must not wear saggy trousers. If you have any more ideas, share them in the comments section.

I am now wondering if there are any "saggy-trousered" TEACHERS out there!
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