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Everyday culture – interpreting dress

How does interpreting a way a character dresses support our language learning?
Old man character from the film *Szalontudo* playing the jam jars with drum sticks
© Gyorgy Palos
It’s a bit of a cliché that our clothes reveal a great deal about us – how we feel about ourselves, how we want others to see us.

In film, as in theatre, clothes, dress or costume are even more deliberately chosen to give audiences subtle, or not so subtle, indications as to a character’s place in society. Dress can also indicate levels of confidence, and relationships between characters.


Let’s look again at the stills from Szalontudo in the downloads section, and make some inferences, or educated guesses, about the men in the film. On the basis of just these images, are there characters who have more or less in common? Are there characters who stand out? Do the costumes they wear establish any particular social or group dynamic? Do they position characters in specific milieux, or social background? The director will have chosen the costumes of the characters very deliberately, so you won’t be noticing things that haven’t been put there by choice.

Teaching Idea

Attached in the downloads section is a classroom ready resource for you to use and adapt, based on the film Szalontudo. It introduces the use of comparative and superlative adjectives in language teaching with regard to interpreting dress in film. How might you adapt the resource included here for your own learners? What factors would you need to consider in using resources about dress in your language teaching context? Add your comments to the group discussion.

© British Film Institute
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Short Film in Language Teaching

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