Food is one of my favourite themes in the ESL classroom. Everyone can relate to food and has some opinion about the topic. Talking about food, nutrition, and cooking is a great way to get the students interested.
Iron Chef was a famous cooking show that had two contestants in a cooking challenge. It can be adapted to the classroom for a fun activity.
Write the categories of food on the board. Decide with the students what foods from each category you would need for a good kitchen.
Place students in groups of 3 – 4. The teams take turns choosing the foods from the board until all the foods have been eliminated. With the foods they have chosen the teams plan together to make a full meal, with appetizer, salad, soup, main, desert, and drinks. They then present each course of their meal to the class and teacher can later decide on a winner in each category and overall.
The students can either discuss or present traditional recipes from thier countries. They enjoy telling the class about the food and why it is famous. Also, explaining the recipe is a great way to review giving directions.
Food labels provide a great vocabulary activity. Explain to the students the meaning of calories, carbohydrates, protein, etc.
Using their own food products, students can analyze the labels and discuss the similarities and differences.
Canada Food Guide
The Canada Food Guide is a great tool to teach vocabulary. Read the guide wih your students and be sure to discuss the meanings of words like dairy, meat and alternatives, fruits and vegebtables, and grain. This guide also leads to a great discussion of eating healthy and how to make good food choices.
With the explosion of the Food Network and cooking on television, there is plenty of material to show the students for listening exercises. One option is to show a video of someone cooking something and have the students write down the steps. An Internet video on a specific food can give you a chance to ask them comprehension questions.