“For many immigrants, coming to America is full of the unfamiliar — from the language to the food. In Philadelphia, a program aims to help these arrivals settle into their new country by folding English lessons into a cooking class. On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 20 recent immigrants and refugees to the United States streamed into a shiny commercial-size kitchen on the fourth floor of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s central branch. They were here to partake in the library’s take on teaching English as a second language.” N. Roshania, NPR
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: A Cooking Class…For English By Neema Roshania, NPR
“The program, dubbed Edible Alphabet, is run through the library and Nationalities Service Center, an organization that helps settle refugees when they arrive in Philadelphia. By offering English instruction in the form of a cooking lesson, organizers hope to provide a familiar setting for the students — who hail from over 10 different countries — to connect to each other.
It’s been great for us to sort of connect over, Here’s a can of chickpeas. What do you use chickpeas for in your meals? How would you do this differently at home? says the library’s program administrator, Liz Fitzgerald.
Each class is helmed by both a chef and an English-as-a-second-language instructor. The class starts off with an English lesson focusing on the day’s ingredients. Today, the students are spelling and sounding out words like onion, garlic, tomato and jalapeno.
After the language lesson is over, they’ll set out to make chana masala and roti together…This is about welcoming new Philadelphians to the city…”There is no better way to do that than to share a meal together.”
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Low Intermediate- High Intermediate
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.
While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The program is dubbed Edible Alphabet.
- The program helps settle refugees.
- Each class is helmed by both a chef and an ESL teacher.
- The program helps people adjust to life in America.
- Some students rolled out roti and chopped vegetables.
- Saleh was carefully documenting each step.
- Many students are sociable.
- All the recipes used in the class are pulled from the cookbook.
- Learning how to shop in an American grocery store on limited means is important.
- One students says he savors the choices of foods.
Directions: Students are to circle or underline the correct word or phrases from the article. This exercise reinforces students’ attention on words that have been introduced in the reading. Have them skim the article to check their responses. Students should also find the meanings for any unknown words.
“It’s the third/bird time the class has been caught/taught. And along the way, the instructors/instruct say they’ve learned/leaned some lessons of their own. For instance, Fitzgerald says in the first round of classes, they stated/started off by teaching recipes like quinoa salad. But, they quickly realized the students weren’t dig/digging the flavors. That’s when they started teaching/teach recipes that used flavors and ingredients more familiar to the students, who mostly come from Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.”
Using Adjectives to describe pictures
Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.
Click here for a review of Adjectives
III. Post Reading Tasks
Directions: Place students in groups and have them restate the following two statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.
- “Each class is helmed by both a chef and an English-as-a-second-language instructor. The class starts off with an English lesson focusing on the day’s ingredients. Today, the students are spelling and sounding out words like onion, garlic, tomato and jalapeno. After the language lesson is over, they’ll set out to make chana masala and roti together.”
- “…the class is about much more than just learning English…learning how to navigate an American grocery store on limited means is an important part of the class. Strawberries, for example, are available in America year-round, but will cost more and won’t taste as good in January.”
Extra: Web Search
Directions: In groups/partners have students “google” the topic and see what additional information they can find. Students can either have further discussions or write an essay about the subject.