Tempting lesson ideas to teach food vocabulary

Яна Бойко

Food, restaurants, cooking, making ingredients’ lists, sharing recipes — all of these can become great exercises for engaging students with the English language at all levels. Food-related topics are easy to teach because there is a wealth of great visual material support available to spice up your lessons. They also provide eternally topical material that can be used for surveys, questionnaires and role-plays. As we have a limitless number of activities what should we start with?

Identify your desired outcome

Your lesson aim can vary from learning how to go grocery shopping or describing a cooking process to getting basic edible education and experiencing gastro diplomacy. As your choice has landed on one, you can start to branch out the food activities to cover the skills and vocabulary your students need to work on.

Here are some tried and true lesson ideas for different levels:

1. Gastrodiplomacy

ESLBrains prepared a great lesson plan about food cultures. This lesson plan is good for Intermediate and Upper-intermediate levels, especially in multinational classrooms. Working with this worksheet, students learn about the benefits which come with foodie culture. Lesson brings students to the debate about national cuisines and restaurants, students share experiences and learn new facts and numbers. If you like video-based lessons and flipped lesson plans you can watch and discuss the most popular Ted talks about food — Talks for Foodies

2. Pop-up lunches

This is a great idea to unite your students and to provide communicative skills training in a real-life situation. The organization of such practices will depend on your class, location and willingness. I learned French in mixed nationality classroom and our teacher used to take 30 minutes breaks just in our classroom to eat and talk together. We shifted our desks close to each other and shared ready-cooked shacks and desserts. The only condition was to cook ourselves our national and family food and bring it to the classroom. I learned a lot about Tunisian, Algerian, African and Spanish culture through these 30 minutes sessions and made some good friends while practising the new language. Your students may also enjoy eating out while having an English practice with you.

3. Food Idioms

Language needs idioms like food needs flavour. Idioms add colour and precise meaning to what we say. There are plenty of memorable food idioms your students must learn. But don’t turn sour, stay cool as a cucumber because your food idioms will be perceived by your students like hotcakes.

Find and choose your food idioms. There are plenty of applications for studying idioms, where the most popular ones are classified in topics like Food, Weather and so on.

Once you presented chosen Food Idioms to your students don’t forget to challenge them by asking idiomatic questions e.g. When was the last difficult situation you faced, but you were as cool as cucumber? Any exam or a difficult day at work? 

The best way to make your students speak idioms is to start using idioms regularly in your comments and fill-in questions throughout the course.

4. Food Quizzes

Taking quizzes is a great way to test your students’ knowledge and reinforce concepts, but making their own quizzes can be also a fantastic study technique. Create your matching definitions exercises, picture — words flashcards with Quizlet.

Don’t hesitate to take some ready-made ones:

5. Role-plays for all levels

A role-play is a fun and playful activity also it is a key component of learning and practising a new language. Authentic learning situations will engage and motivate your learners to use language. Here are some ready-made worksheets for the role-plays using Food Vocabulary.

  1. 10 food, eating and restaurant vocabulary and speaking exercises
  2. Chef interview roleplay
  3. Ordering food in a restaurant
  4. Ready-made Restaurant role-play waiter sheet
  5. Coffee shop role-play
  6. Fast food restaurant roleplay

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