Language at the Table

As a language teacher and student of languages, I am always thinking about how to learn languages in the fastest, most efficient and enjoyable way. I LOVE all that we have available to us now with the connections that the Internet offers. We can hear radio from all over the world, see television programs, listen to podcasts and hear news broadcasts from all over the world. We can read authentic materials like magazine articles, blog posts and advertisements online. We can even speak to native speakers online right from our homes. In addition to access to authentic language and culture, we also have tons of ways to study vocabulary on devices- apps flashcards, games. And while all of these materials add much to our experience and opportunities to learn new languages, they can never replace what real contact can do for a person learning a new language.

My most powerful language lessons as a teacher and as a student have taken place at the table. This is one place where one can learn culture, make connections, involve the community and make comparisons all in the context of real communication. Real conversations provide the opportunity to speak and get comprehensible input- the key to really learning to speak a new language. There is no better way to learn the vocabulary for food and gain real insight into the target language culture. It is the ideal language lesson. 

Here are some ways to make this happen in a school:

  1. You bring in a dish to share.
  2. You create an immersive, target language cooking lesson. You plan and purchase the materials via the school, and the students cook target language dishes. You share over target language conversations.
  3. Students bring in dishes to share.
  4. You get the funding from school. Parents volunteer, cook the dishes and you have your immersive lesson/meal.
  5. You have the students bring their lunch to your room instead of the lunch room.

Want some ideas for teaching languages at the table beyond food?  Here are a few:

  1. Card games
  2. Book club
  3. Board games
  4. Show and Tell
  5. Charades
  6. Pictionary
  7. Cranium
  8. Dominos

Language teaching at the table (food or not) creates confident communicators when done regularly.
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