English around you: T-shirts

There’s something about messages in English on T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, tote bags…that fascinates me. And I really believe you can use them in the English classroom. I love, for instance, puns and plays on words on T-shirts, like the ones I used for my #CLILphonetics courses some months ago (see below). The first examples are puns based on sounds and pronunciation; the last ones are related to semantics and double meanings.

Some months ago, I also found my friend Iván L.V. wearing this smashing sweatshirt:

 

 

On the other hand, you may also use T-shirts to help students spot mistakes. While browsing around in Zaragoza some weeks ago, I came across these T-shirts:

IMG_6542 IMG_6595

You will be able to spot the mistakes very easily. In the first case, there’s a pronunciation issue: you shouldn’t say “*an unicorn”, because you only use “an” before a vowel sound, and /ˈjuː.nɪ.kɔːn/ does not begin with a vowel sound, but with a semi-vowel. In the second case, the agreement between the plural subject (things) and the 3rd person singular verb (*happens) is not right (it should be “strange things happen”).

We might encourage our students to try and spot mistakes they might see in clothes, stickers, ads…Or maybe just find something that strikes them, to increase their awareness of English as a language that surrounds them!

 

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