This will, for once, be a short post, but I just wanted to share what could well be my first ever truly creative and own idea for teaching something (!)
It’s an idea for teaching adjectives of food, and I came up with it by accident in about 15 minutes when I was asked to cover a B2C (upper B2) class at short notice for a poorly colleague. I teach on intensive courses, and we follow a plan to give the students who stay for 4, 8, or even 12 weeks some semblance of structure. Luckily for me and my last-minute preparation (which I hate!), the lesson today was a vocabulary topic, which is normally a vocabulary section from one of the main coursebooks. Students are given a list of 6 – 10 at the start of each two-week course (higher levels get more choice) and they vote to choose which 4 will feature in lessons during those two weeks. Usually, these lessons are perceived to be fairly easy to teach, as it’s a question of copying a pre-made sheet from one of our many school binders.
Again, luckily for me, the topic I was due to teach was ‘talking about food and drink,’ and not ‘the vocabulary of contracts,’ which I could have ended up with! The worksheet (potentially from In Company) was an assortment of word-building exercises, like ‘salty’ from ‘salt’ or ‘tasty’ from ‘taste’ and other suffixes. Overall, it was adjective-tastic, and pretty easy for an very good B2 class. Sometimes these vocabulary topics can be last a whole 90-minute lesson, but sometimes they are over before you know it, leaving you to create some kind of practice activity – at least, that’s what I always try to do, which usually ends up being conversation questions to force the use of the new vocabulary.
Anyway, due to aforementioned lack of planning time, I didn’t have time to type up questions, however quick that might have been. Then, I had an epiphany! Very possibly my first real teaching epiphany since I started teaching properly after my CELTA in mid-May.
We had been talking about Christmas in the staff room earlier that morning, so my mind wandered to food…to Christmas food..and then, aha! To the Marks & Spencers Christmas food adverts! They are slightly sexualised, which the students found hilarious, and they are chock-a-block with juicy adjectives to give students a perfect model of how to use all their new vocabulary.
So, I went through the fairly dry worksheet, then played the advert basically cold and it got a laugh from even the weakest student. (I thought it was so much more recent than 2006!)
We talked a little bit about what they thought of it, and then I wrote the following on the board:
This is ………………… ………………. food; this is M&S ………………………….. ………………….
The second time round, they had to complete the gaps:
This is not just food; this is M&S Christmas food.
Then I read the students my version:
With freshly-podded, crisp green peas, oak-smoked back bacon and vine-ripened tomatoes, this is not just a pasta dish; this is Rachel’s mum’s magical rainbow pasta dish.
And then set them to work on creating their own such adverts…and they loved it 🙂 They all went way overboard and created some really fantastic pieces.
So there you have it, short and sweet, but hopefully a useful activity for anyone teaching chefs, people in the food industry…or just anyone who likes food (ie., everyone!)
PS. By some bizarre stroke of ELT fate, just after I started writing this and got distracted onto Facebook, an ELT Twitter friend / fellow teacher asked a question about teaching food vocabulary to more advanced students, so I shall suggest this as one of the ideas 🙂