One of the best topics to teach as a language teacher is food. Language learners will use vocabulary and phrases related to food during their travels or while hosting guests from other countries.
Moreover, teachers can teach math, instructions, health, poverty, culture, etiquette, and more while teaching about food.
The activity ideas and resources below will help you have a successful food unit. Be sure to also check out ESL Library's Food & Dining collection.
"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
Activities and Ideas
- Group students and have them design a restaurant menu using a multimedia tool like Glogster. They will pick the restaurant theme and design the menu with images of the food and prices. Show them a variety of menus collected from restaurants or have them look at online examples.
- Read, Write, Web has created a free tool for students to learn about restaurants and design menus.
- Check out these Food & Drink flashcards.
Food and Culture
Students can learn about various cultures and traditions by studying various cuisines and the food within an area. Here are a few lesson ideas:
- Have students teach the class a food tradition or custom. This can be one they are familiar with, like making tea, or it can be one they research.
- Pair or group students and have them research the food manners or etiquette in a country. The students then role play in front of the class what they learned. You can have them use a multimedia tool like Voicethread to share these etiquette rules through images, audio, and doodling.
- Pair or group students and have them plan a trip to a different country. They must come up with a list of restaurants they would like to visit and detail what they would order. Students then role play being at the restaurant and ordering the menu items.
Recipes offer students a way to learn vocabulary in chunks through performing tasks and following instructions. Students learn about portion sizes, cooking tasks, ingredients, and cookware. Moreover, students are rewarded for their efforts by being able to taste what they cooked. Here are a few lesson ideas:
- Skype a local or famous chef, a student from a cooking school, a cookbook writer, or other food expert and have them teach the class how to prepare something simple
- Assign a project where students work in pairs or groups to teach the class how to cook a chosen recipe
- Have students create a short how-to video in which they teach others how to cook a meal or perform a cooking task like boiling an egg or chopping onions. They can upload these to Youtube. You can find several examples of these videos to show your students by doing a search on Youtube.
- Have students use a multimedia scrapbooking tool like Mixbook to share a few of their favorite recipes accompanied by pictures and memories.
- Create a class recipe ebook on Google Docs or BoomWriter in which each student submits a recipe and shows step by step instructions through pictures.
Digital Dialogues About Food
Students can create a video dialogue between 2 or more fictitious characters using digital storytelling tools like GoAnimate or Xtranormal. Students can also create a digital comic of a conversation involving food with tools like Make Beliefs Comix and Creaza.
Here are a few ideas of dialogues students can create:
- A conversation between a waiter and customer
- A customer complaining about the food
- A conversation between a couple on a date at a restaurant
- Parents with noisy children
- Students ordering food in a school cafeteria
- A conversation between two food critics who disagree
- A food fight
- People critiquing the food at a party or event
- Friends ordering at a food court
- A vegetarian and a non-vegetarian ordering food
- Friends shopping at the grocery store
- Friends shopping at a farmer’s market
More Great Websites and Resources
- Games, lesson ideas, and resources for teaching children about food by Teaching English
- Food Curriculum for Teens and Adults by Johns Hopkins
- Food History Lesson Plans
- 100s of Food Lesson Plans for K-12