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 Us Show You How To Plan A Cooking With Languages Competition in Your Target Langauge
Learning about a country, its customs and its food is a fabulous way to motivate children to learn languages.
In previous posts, we have explained the many different skills children learn in the kitchen and how the kitchen is a great classroom for language learning.
Today, we are going to show you how to plan a Cooking With Languages competition in your place of learning.
Use Simple Bunting and Fun Food Facts for Decoration
Follow these Simple steps to plan a Cooking With Languages Competition in your Target Language (TL):
Select your target language (TL) e.g. English
List countries where your TL is spoken. E.g. England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, USA, Canada
Prepare templates for the flags for each of the countries
Research traditional and popular dishes for each country (Note: Keep it simple!) e.g. apple crumble, tatties, banoffee pie …
Invite your students to:
Choose a recipe (remember they can research their own too!) and prepare step by step instructions in the TL
Prepare photos or even a video in the TL demonstrating each step of the instructions
Invite one set of students each week to give a presentation and bring in a sample of their foods
Hold a Cooking With Languages Competition Day in your TL.
All students are invited to bring in their creations on a given day.
A panel of judges select the winning dishes.
Winners can be for specific age groups, food type or any other creative category you come up with.
Points are awarded for accuracy of TL, originality, taste and appearance.
Don’t forget to share pictures on your Cooking With Languages
If you would like templates of any materials, just email
firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send them to you 🙂
Download FREE materials and great gifts …
Most children would love the opportunity to be put in the spotlight with the chance to release their inner diva. Whether it’s singing a song or acting out parts of their favourite movie.
How To Help Your Bilingual Masterchef Shine!
Today, we want to share a winning formula to help your children, a future bilingual Masterchef, shine. They will improve their language skills by feeding their imagination as a contestant on a popular television show such as Junior MasterChef or Great British Bake Off – but with a twist.
The icing on the cake is that the show will be conducted in the language they are learning (target language). They could be cooking a paella in Spanish, a kartoffelpuffer in German or a creme brulee in French. It will be fun, competitive and educational as they get their head around a recipe in a foreign language.
Learning a language used to be as dry as day-old bread but not anymore. Children will enjoy cooking with languages, especially if they have the chance to win a prize and be a television star for a day.
Organising a Junior MasterChef or Bake Off is relatively straightforward and could be your party piece for a birthday get-together or for a sleepover.
Unless you have a large kitchen with more than one cooker, it is a good idea to get them all to work from the same recipe and make something that’s relatively quick to cook. With younger children, they could prepare the recipe and you put in the oven for them.
[bctt tweet=”Play the Mystery Box challenge in your Junior Bilingual MasterChef #languagelearning” username=”cooklanguage”]
It’s a mystery…
For Junior Bilingual MasterChef, you could play the Mystery Box challenge so they all have the same ingredients to start. They would then be given 10 minutes to find a recipe in the language they are learning to create a meal which symbolises that country.
For Spain, for example, they could be given the ingredients to make albondigas (meatballs), cocas (mini pizzas) or empanadas (little pasties). The cocas would be ideal for younger children as they could just be asked to decorate ready-made cocas.
The German students could try kasespatzle (similar to macaroni cheese), kartoffelsalat (potato salad) – good for the little ones – or Bavarian apple strudel cake.
In the French corner, we’d suggest cherry clafoutis (fresh fruit and custard dessert), mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse) or moules marinieres (mussels).
For younger children, we would suggest that you go through a recipe with them so they are copying what you are doing or ask them to do something simple like put the toppings on cocas or decorate cupcakes.
Download FREE materials and great gifts …
Older children can follow a recipe in a foreign language while undertaking the Mystery Box challenge. They can be encouraged to put their own twist to it by adding a special ingredient or making it look very special.
Icing on the cake …
In the Bake Off, depending on their age, you can encourage the children to make their own cakes or simply create colourful toppings for ready-made cakes. Again, they will have to use ingredients from their chosen country and follow recipes or instructions in this language too.
Let them shine…
It is a fun idea to find a volunteer to film them while they’re baking. Then get them to introduce themselves and talk about their produce in Spanish, German or French. You can give score points for the best dish as well as the most authentic accent. If you want to be really clever, you could put these on a Facebook page or YouTube to ask their friends to vote on the best ones.
Don’t forget to share your pics with us on our Facebook Page
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What are the Best Foods to Feed Your Brain?
If you’re hungry for knowledge, then you are constantly researching and reading to get the information you crave. But you can help feed that hunger by eating the right brain foods. We all know about foods we should or shouldn’t eat if we want to stay fit and healthy. But did you know there are also certain products which help to boost your brain power?
When studying a language, you’ll want to stay alert so the information sticks in your head and so you can concentrate better. There’s nothing worse than feeling that your grey matter is like a sieve where information goes in but falls straight out again. We want that information to stick so that you are quickly conversing on holiday or your new life abroad.
Basically, you need to:
- get your five fruit and vegetables a day,
- avoid sugar,
- drink lots of water and
- make sure your meal is made up of many different colours.
You need to get at least seven hours’ sleep every night, eat well and live well if you want to be on top of your game.
To help you, here are some of the best foods to feed you brain, boost your memory and with a few ideas how to cook them:
1 egg / 1 huevo
Scramble eggs not your brain
One top tip is to go to work on an egg. Having an egg for breakfast is a healthy way to start the day as long as you don’t fry it. Either have a glass of milk or a milky hot chocolate or coffee with it because both are high in protein which boosts your brain power. Eggs are also rich in vitamins B6 and B12 to improve concentration and memory. You could try using free-range or organic eggs to make a quick omelette. Simply grease a frying pan, put in your beaten eggs, cook, add cheese or chopped herbs such as parsley or chives, fold your omelette and serve. Another favourite is scrambled eggs, or huevos revueltos as they are called in Spain. Again, beat the eggs – you can add milk if you wish – and cook in a small, greased pan. Stir the eggs so they scramble. You can add anything you wish such as tomatoes, cheese, mushrooms, or a little chilli if you want to spice it up a little.
Put fish on your dish
Oily fish is rich in omega-3 fats in the form of EPA (essential fatty acids) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) so include salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, herrings, sardines, pilchards and kippers in your diet. Low DHA levels have reportedly been linked to an increased risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s or memory loss. You could have a grilled kipper for breakfast or try tinned sardines in tomato sauce on toast for a snack, if you aren’t too keen on oily fish. Otherwise, just grill or pan-fry your fish and serve with salad or new potatoes and greens, especially spinach or broccoli to get even more brainy food inside you.
In Mediterranean countries fish cooked in vinegar or citrus juice with paprika or saffron is a popular and tasty way to eat fish. It’s called ‘escabeche’ and you can find it in restaurants or canned fish such as mackerel, tuna and sardines.
For non-fish eaters, we would suggest flaxseed, soya beans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, linseed and chia or take an omega-3 supplement.
Popeye knows best
Spinach doesn’t just give you muscles, it also boosts your brain-power. Dark-coloured vegetables like spinach, broccoli and beans are great for learning, concentration and memory. You can add them to stir-frys or they make great, warming soups.
Broad beans, which are found in abundance in Spain and the UK, are packed with nutrients including fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorus and folate. A lack of iron can lead to low productivity, poor memory and apathy so it’s advisable to tuck into broad beans. Habas con jamon (broad beans with ham) is a tasty tapas or side dish. Fry up chopped onion, add ham and garlic. Once the ham starts to brown, add the beans and a glass of white wine. Cook for 10 minutes, then add a large glass of vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes. This is lovely reheated the following day so you can make extra.
Sage can be used as an essential oil or sprinkle some fresh sage to your savoury dishes. Just add it to the end of your cooking to protect the oils it contains. Sage, which means wise, improves memory and concentration. It has a strong flavour, so don’t go overboard. Sage and onion stuffing goes well with poultry such as turkey or chicken or you can add sage butter to gnocchi, pasta or fish. Otherwise freeze chopped sage in ice cubes for summer drinks, such as Pimms or sangria, or make sage tea.
Snack to it
If your energy levels are flagging, top snacking fruits to tuck into are apples, bananas, avocados and berries, especially blueberries. Nuts and seeds are great to munch on too as they are rich in different nutrients. You can wash it down with a cup of coffee as the Italian Longitudinal Study on Ageing found people who regularly drink one cup of coffee a day were in better mental shape than those with more erratic coffee habits.
What good food habits do you have to share with us? We’d love to hear your ideas!
Get your kids in the kitchen and watch them grow!
It’s time to get your kids in the kitchen!
Young children love to copy what other people are doing. They gain great pleasure out of helping their parents wash the car, tidy up or even put the shopping away. A positive way to put this curiosity to good use and satisfy their inquisitive minds is by teaching them a new language whilst performing theses activities.
Get your kids in the kitchen and they can bake cakes, make pasta or play with pastry dough while you feed their mind with new words.
By having fun getting messy in the kitchen, they won’t actually realise they are being taught a new language.
Learning a language often means learning by rote and repetition, as words and phrases need to be repeated to be remembered. But repetition does not have to be boring. Making the experience fun helps to keep young learners curious and keen to carry on.
[bctt tweet=”Repetition need not be boring! Make it fun and watch them learn #languagelearning” username=”cooklanguage”]
Children are sponges. They are easily excitable. When they are excited and interested in something they absorb more. They learn without realising.
No matter what age your child is, they can have fun learning languages through cooking or simply playing with food.
Children use all of their senses while cooking. By helping them learn to cook and to know about food, you help them to be more comfortable with different foods and can even make them healthier eaters.
Pressuring young children to eat vegetables at the dinner table is known to be counterproductive – it actually increases resistance to healthy foods.
Download FREE materials and great gifts …
In a nutshell, kids like what they know and they eat what they like. So, making food and cooking fun has many benefits.
In addition to using food and cooking for learning languages, you can use them to help with:
- Improving motor skills in younger children: start with soft foods that they can add/mix/grate/cut with plastic scissors or child-friendly knives …
- Mathematical skills: from number recognition, basic sums, to learning weights and measures,
- Reading and comprehension: encourage your child to read the recipe to you, ask them questions that spark their imagination eg. How do they think the food will look? Taste? smell?
- Telling the time and measuring time
- Boosting vocabulary: ingredients, using descriptive words to describe how food looks, smells and sounds while it’s cooking,
Children, of all ages, have fun while using all five senses which is why cooking is so entertaining. First, they’ll be using their eyes to find ingredients and read the recipe. Then they will be touching the food as they chop it or mix it. After that comes the sound of the cooking as the food sizzles, bubbles or makes a popping noise. This gives off the lovely smells which help to get the mouth watering as they finally get to taste their delicious dishes.
As well as new words, you can introduce some simple maths while you cook. Your children can weigh out ingredients on the scales or use measurements such as litres and grams. If rolling out pastry or pasta, they’ll need a ruler to measure the length too. They’ll be learning to tell the time as they stir the pot for two minutes or bake a cake for 40 minutes, for example.
Then there are the words they will use. It’s not just learning about ingredients but they will be boosting their vocabulary with new verbs such as basting, boiling, rolling or roasting; and adding adjectives like bitter, sweet, delicious, juicy, salty, smooth or lumpy. You can encourage them to communicate by asking them how the food feels or to describe how it tastes.
By getting children involved in the cooking process, it’s a sneaky way to get them to try new things. If they’ve cooked it, they’ll want to try it so think about introducing different ingredients or spices as you go along. Hopefully, this will encourage them to be more experimental with flavours. Most children go through a fussy eating stage but getting them to help prepare the family meals can be one way to get them to taste new foods. They’ll feel proud and excited at helping and should be more likely to eat something they’ve helped to make, especially if you say how yummy it looks.
To sum up, children can learn new words, a new language, simple maths, the time and communication skills by helping prepare a meal. Bearing that in mind, we think cooking with children is a fun way to teach while you also get a little helper in the kitchen. Now, we just have to persuade them that washing up is a great game to play too!
Try these simple activities, in your target language, for starters…
(These ideas can be adapted to whatever language you are introducing.)
- Using your fruit bowl …
- Can you name the fruits in your bowl?
- What colour are they?
- How many are there?
- What do they smell like?
- What do they feel like?
- Open your cutlery drawer …
- Can you name each utensil?
- How many are there of each item?
- What is each item used for?
- Create stickies (and if you are artistic, add drawings too) of Kitchen items …
- E.g. fridge, freezer, sink, cupboard, drawer, tea towel, dishcloth …
4. Play the “hot/cold” game …
- The idea is that your child has to guess which word (in the target languages) is the correct name for the items in your kitchen. As they get closer to the item, you say “hotter” (in your target language) and as the move further away you say “colder” (in your target language)
5. Use out Activity Cookbook
- If your target language is Spanish or English, choose one of the recipes from our Activity Cookbook and work together with your child.
- Before you start cooking:
- Look at the ingredients, practice the words together (listen to the audio on our website for help)
- Make a shopping list together, for the required ingredients
- Visit the supermarket and purchase the ingredients, with your child, repeating the words and quantities as shown in our book
- When you are ready to cook:
- Tell your child (in the target language) what they need to get ready, item by item (using the book for reference)
- From the fridge, we need …..
- From the cupboard, we need …
- Follow the instructions, step by step and make the simple and scrummy recipes.
- Practice phrases and expressions to say what you love, like, don’t like …
There are so many ways how children learn a language in the kitchen, these are just a few simple ideas. We have many more to share with you!
Introducing Arthur Apple’s Pancake Challenge! Designed to get Kids in the Kitchen and Learning New Languages!
We have a simple and scrummy recipe to share with you. It is really easy to follow.
This is one of the recipes in our Activity Cookbook that we funded thanks to YOU on Crowdfunder.
125gr plain flour
Your favourite fillings: sugar, lemon, Nutella, fresh fruit, honey…
How to make the pancakes …
- Sieve the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl.
- Make a hole in the centre of the flour and add the egg and some milk.
- Whisk all the ingredients together until you have a smooth liquid.
- Add the remaining milk and whisk again.
How to cook the pancakes…
- Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan.
- Remove the excess oil before adding the pancake mix.
- Add a large spoon of mix to the frying pan and spread it over the base (the easiest way is to rotate the frying pan slowly).
- As the pancake sets, loosen it with a spatula and flip over (use a plate if you are not confident flipping).
Arthur’s Perfect Pancake Tips:
- For skinny French style pancakes, make sure your mixture is nice and runny.ie. add lots of the milk
- For fatter American style pancakes, use less milk to make a thicker mixture.
- BEFORE entering the Pancake Challenge, experiment with the mixture to get your best pancake.
- Loosen the pancake with a spatula before flipping.
- HAVE FUN!!!!
How Do You Enter Arthur Apple’s Pancake Challenge?
- Once you have perfected the art of making simple and scrummy pancakes, you need to practice flipping them.
- For the challenge, you can flip your pancakes wherever you like … in the kitchen, in your garden, on the beach, in the snow … let your imagination run wild!
- When you are ready, ask somebody to video you flipping your pancake, as many times as you can.
- At the start of your video, tell us your name, age and where you are from.
- Count out loud, in whatever language you can speak, whilst flipping your pancakes.
- Post your video to our Cooking with Languages Facebook Page (Pop over to the page and see the wonderful video Bodhi and Himani sent to us!)
What other ideas do you have for using food and cooking for introducing new languages?
We’d love to share your ideas on our Facebook page and here on our website.