A language classroom is not just about learning the grammar and the vocabulary. It is also about learning the culture or cultures to better understand the language. We all know how food is a fabulous way to get to understand a culture and its people. So what better or more fun way to learn a language than through food?
Today, we share 5 simple and easy tips to incorporate a country or a language’s food culture into your language classroom, your homeschooling routine or your language learning experience.
The key here is the authenticity of the content. Every decent educator will know that to learn a language authentic materials work best and are the most useful. Nobody wants to learn about made-up artificial conversations between a French baker and a customer talking about bagels!
Here are our 5 authentic yet simple tips:
Design Your Own Food Packaging
In a globalised world, it is not difficult to find food packaging containing foreign languages. Just head to your local (ethnic) supermarket and pick something that fits your target language. You get to use the packaging to learn a few words (and taste whatever is inside if it is relevant). Alternatively, next time you are visiting your target language country, bring back food packaging.
Create A Menu
Once again, you don’t need to travel far to find menus written in a foreign language. Either visit your favourite restaurant or check out menus online from restaurants in your target country to get a taste of your favourite dishes.
As an activity, get your students to search for menus, study them and create a brand new one for their very own restaurant.
Role-play: At The Restaurant
You have created your very own menu, all you need to do now is to set up a little role-play with that menu: waiter and customers. Asking questions about the menu, ordering from it, paying the bill are all wonderful authentic practice situations for any language student. Food vocabulary is obviously important here too but you get to add much more to it.
Cook a Typical Dish
Of course, one of the most obvious things you can do to incorporate food into your language lessons is to cook a typical dish from your target country. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or complicated and if you have no cooking equipment, a salad could work too.
Write Your Own Recipe
If your students are up to it, you could even ask them to write or translate their very own recipe. Imagine you are to cook something typical from your own country for people who only speak your target language. You will need to translate the recipe for them. You could supply them with a recipe or they could make one up. Watch out for translation of weights and measure units! They need to be culturally appropriate too. This is a wonderful activity to do to practice cooking-related verbs too.
Have you got any other tips to add to this list? We would love to hear about the ways you do incorporate food into your language lessons or classroom.
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Let’s have a look at some Fun Food Phrases from around the world!
From angels tiddling on your tongue to sliding on a prawn sandwich, food has played a starring role in sayings around the world. No celebration is complete without food, so let’s play tribute to the wonderful way our cuisine helps to shape our culture and literature.
From the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland to the romantic film “Chocolat”, food has stirred the emotions from comic moments to sheer horror .(Can anyone hear the words liver and Chianti in the same sentence without conjuring up images of Hannibal Lecter?).
So it’s no wonder that food also features heavily in phrases and sayings around the world. We’ve heard some strange ones in our time and we’ve picked our top 10.
Here Are Our Top Ten Fun Food Phrases Which Get Lost In Translation
Saying it like it is
In France they say ‘les carottes sont cuites’ meaning ‘the carrots are cooked’. It’s a curious way of telling people to move on. What’s done is done, it cannot be changed so accept it. In English, we would say ‘there’s no use crying over spilt milk’ to indicate you can’t undo what’s happened.
‘Att glida in på en räkmacka’ is Swedish for ‘to slide on a prawn sandwich’. It refers to someone who’s lived on Easy Street making money and rewards without having to work for it. It reminds us of when former Manchester United captain Roy Keane hit out at the prawn sandwich brigade who turn up to football matches to sit in the corporate boxes, enjoy the hospitality but not get behind the team.
Food is often used to describe being in a crowded place – jam-packed or to be packed like sardines which are tightly squashed into those little tins. The Japanese turn to tubers to describe the sensation by saying ‘Imo wo arau y?’ – ‘like washing potatoes’.
The Spanish shrug
‘Me importa un pepino’ literally translates as ‘a cucumber is important to me’ but what someone actually means is ‘I couldn’t care less’. It’s similar to the English saying ‘I don’t give a fig’. We suggest when you try this in Spain, you shrug your shoulders for extra emphasis.
Landing butter side up
In Poland, they like their sayings short and sweet. ‘Bulka z maslem’ means ‘bread and butter’ and signifies easy work or a walk in the park as we’d say in Britain. I suppose it’s as easy as spreading butter on your bread.
If someone is not seeing what is plainly in front of them, they’re said to have tomatoes on their eyes in Germany – Tomaten auf den Augen haben. It means you’re not aware of a situation or paying attention.
It gets wurst!
Even stranger is the German saying, ‘alles hat ein ende, nur die wurst hat zwei’ – ‘everything has an end; only a sausage has two”. This is an old saying which became even more famous through a song by German musician Stephan Remmler in 1986. It means everything comes to an end (except the sausage of course).
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‘Iets voor een appel en een ei kopen’ translates from the Dutch as ‘buy something for an apple and egg’ to imply you’ve bagged yourself a bargain and bought cheaply.
Even more expressive is the Dutch phrase ‘alsof er een engeltje over je tong piest’ – as if an angel wees on your tongue. It’s a delightful way of saying the food tastes divine. We think this is a naughty but nice way to describe the sensation of eating quality food.
You would expect the Italians to have plenty of sayings referring to food – and you’d be right. A common saying is ‘in mezzo come il prezzemolo’ meaning ‘to be in the middle of everything, like parsley’. You would use it to describe someone who is always meddling or in the way. Parsley is sprinkled liberally over many dishes and is the top garnish in many restaurants, therefore it makes perfect sense to use this herb as a metaphor in this manner.
Learning about different countries, cultures and customs is a really fun way to help us learn languages.
What other fun food phrases do you know? Please share them with us!
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