My first ever creative teaching idea: talking about food

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. Rainbow pasta

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 🙂

About BerLingo

My name is Rachel, I am 25 and I love Germany. I studied German, Spanish and Italian at Durham University for four years, one of which I spent living in Europe, and then worked at Routledge academic publishing house for almost 3 years. Towards the end of 2014, I decided it was time to finally fulfil a long-held ambition to live in Berlin, and so in April 2015 I completed the CELTA qualification (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, adminstered by Cambridge University) here in the German capital. Now qualified, my blog charts my experiences as a new English teacher in my favourite city... (More information about my plans can be found in my first ever blog post.)
This entry was posted in Berlin School of English, newbie, NQT, teaching ideas, Uncategorized, vocabulary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to My first ever creative teaching idea: talking about food

  1. Joanna Malefaki says:

    Thanks Rachel!

    Liked by 1 person

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