Lesson Idea: “You are what you eat”

ELT teachers do seem to nurse a soft spot for fine cuisine – the eltpics set on flickr labelled “food” for example has by far the most entries of all sets uploaded. Food, of course, is not only a topic to nourish ELT-teachers’ culinary ambitions in their scarce free time, but also works well in the classroom. Here are two simple and very similar ideas for a lesson based on the phrase “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT”.


ACTIVITYI (requires you to print out a few photos of food to display in the classroom – the amount will depend on the size of your class) is inspired by ELTpics’ formidable “food” set:

step 1: Place different photos of food about the classroom (Just go to eltpics’ food set where you’ll find a plethora of beautiful pictures.). Let the students wander around the room and choose one of the photos.

step 2: Give the students time to talk to the others who chose the same photo.

step 3: Let ONE of the students of each group sum up their conversation.

step 4: Confront the students with the phrase “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT – What does your choice of food tell us about you?” Give them some time to think about it on their own (and write down some ideas) and then let them start a conversation to learn about the ideas of others. (You might want to divide them in new groups for that)

step 5: Focus on language that has emerged from the activity.

step 6: Have them write a short essay with the title “You Are What You Eat” (This part of the activity could work well as homework).

NB: Please notice the attribution section before using eltpics (Photos on this blog are my own – if not otherwise attributed).


ACTIVITY II (also requires you to print out some photos, the amount depending on the size of your class) is based on a wonderful photo series I discovered on Good.is. It shows the inside of fridges that belong to very different people in California. The pictures are beautiful and tell us a lot about their owners.

preparation: Go to http://www.good.is/posts/picture-show-you-are-what-you-eat/ and print out some of the photos of fridges. Then spread the photos around the classroom.

step 1: Give the students time to wander about the room, have a look at all of the photos and choose that speaks to them. Give them a small piece of paper each to write 100 words about the person they think owns the fridge (Results might vary from short essays to stories or plain analyses).

step 2: Have them read the texts of the students who chose the same photo. Let them give feedback in the form of questions (e.g. on small post-it notes to be attached to the texts). Give time for conversation afterwards.

step 3: Hang up all the texts on the walls of the classroom and have the students read through them.

step 4: Focus on language that has emerged from the activity.

Possible variations:

– What would be in YOUR fridge? Why? What does it tell us about you? – You could also let the students write about “their” fridges on an anonymous piece of paper, then collect them, hand them out in random order and let students find their respective owners by talking to them and asking questions.

– Print out the information about the real owners on small cards and have the students match them to the fridges.

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