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Saturday, December 13, 2008

ESL Teacher Blog: Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice

‘Tis the season’ to discuss winter holidays traditions in our ESL classes. Somehow, I find that food occupies the central stage in those discussions. Students’ faces brighten up when they talk about traditional dishes on their holiday tables. Both women and men participate actively. From Italian panettone to Jewish jam-filled sufganiyot (doughnuts) and from Chinese pudding to Greek orange and brandy cake to local staples such as gingerbread cookies, there is a plenty recipes to share.

I find this is a perfect day to challenge the students with the names of the ingredients they’re less familiar with. We usually make a list of common names of the nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, etc.) dried fruit (prunes, raisins, dates, etc), spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, etc) and/or herbs (oregano, basil, mint, etc).  I think spices and herbs are crucial to describe authentic ethnic dishes!

This is also a good opportunity to review amounts (a pinch of salt, a handful of nuts, a few orange peels, a teaspoon of oil, some milk), different ways to prepare foods (cook, broil, steam, grill, etc), metric and imperial measurements (how many grams is three-quarters of a pound?) and many other food-related phrases (e. g.: roll/knead the dough, sprinkle with sugar, flip over with a spatula).

We always go home hungry, motivated to sample foods from other parts of the world and most importantly, with lots of new vocabulary!
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 9:50 PM
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