Saturday, 10/14/2023

Food Lesson for an ESL Learner

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Learning about food is an important part of any ESL or EFL class. This food lesson provides some fresh approaches to help students practice speaking, writing and dealing with everything related to food. Before using this lesson, it is a good idea to have students learn some basic food vocabulary including vocabulary related to different names of food, measurements, and containers, ordering food in restaurants, and preparing food. Once students are comfortable with this vocabulary, you can move on to some more inventive activities such as writing recipes in English and having students describe their favorite meals to each other in class.

Use this lesson as a way to review and expand all the various vocabulary and expressions related to food that you've explored with students in your class. The premise of this lesson is that students identify a new type of dish they'd like to prepare, research and write a recipe and make a list of ingredients. Finally, students make a trip to the supermarket - virtually or in the "real world" - to price items. You'll need access to computers to complete this lesson, or you can do the old fashioned way by actually going to the store with students. It makes a fun, if slightly chaotic, class excursion.


Researching a recipe from A to Z


Working in teams to identify, research, plan and shop for an exotic meal


Beginner to intermediate English learners


  • As a class, begin the discussion by describing a delicious meal you have had. Go into as much detail as you'd like, students will enjoy this unless it's dinner time!
  • Have students get in pairs or small groups of three or four. Each group should share their own experiences with great meals.
  • Once students have shared their experiences, ask them to decide on one of the meals that have been discussed.
  • Each group should then use a computer to find an image that fits one or more of the dishes in the chosen meal. Suggest students google the dish and click on 'images' to find the image. Each group should print out their chosen image.
  • Tape the image of each group to the wall.
  • Ask students to take a piece of paper and circulate around the room to choose a dish that looks tasty. Once they've chosen the dish, students should write down the ingredients they feel are necessary to make the dish.
  • When students have made their choice and written down the necessary ingredients, group students by who has chosen which image. Students should then compare notes on the necessary ingredients. Note that students should be taking down the ingredients for a new dish based on an image that appealed to them from another group.
  • Next, have students find a recipe for their chosen dish by using a cookbook (old school), or by choosing a recipe online.
  • Ask students to compare their list of ingredients to the recipe and make any changes or additions necessary.
  • Once students have created their list, it's time to go shopping. As a class, you can visit an online grocer such as Safeway, or you can take the class on a field trip to a local supermarket.
  • Students then go shopping. They take note of the products they need, the price, etc. I like to insist that students include the name of the container to help practice this type of vocabulary.
  • As a class, have each group report back on how many containers, boxes, heads of a certain produce item, etc. were bought and how much they paid including the total.
  • Optional: For truly adventurous classes - Ask students to actually go shopping and purchase, cook, and serve up the dish they have chosen. This would make a great pot-luck lesson for all to enjoy which would be tied into a specific learning objective.

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