Teaching English as a Foreign Language:
Speaking of Hamburgers
Insight into a Foreign Culture
One excellent insight into a foreign culture is through its foods. For example, ask almost any English as a foreign language learner, “What do Americans eat?” and their response is very likely to be, “hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries”. Certainly there’s far more to American food than that. (They left out the beer and soft pretzels.) Such sweeping generalizations are generally way wrong by a landslide.
It would most definitely be grossly incorrect to say that they eat only arepas, coffee and sancocho in Colombia or that Mexicans eat beans and tortillas or even that Germans drink beer, eat sausages and sauerkraut. How about saying that the Japanese consume mostly fish, rice and tea or that Jamaicans scarf down mostly Red Stripe beer, ackee, jerked pork and salt fish? While these and other typical food examples may be true to some small extent, they’re hardly gospel.
Speaking of Hamburgers …
But speaking of hamburgers, when John Chow posted on his blog that “Wally’s was Closing Its Doors” it flashed me back to the availability of hamburgers here in Cali, Colombia. Many major American fast food chains maintain a presence in Bogotá, Colombia’s capitol city. However, here in the south of the country, Cali has but a bare few.
Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin Donuts and Pizza Hut yet remain. When the three McDonald’s locations that were in Cali suddenly closed about three years ago, the Caleños were left without the benefit of that bastion of American fast food. You can still get a decent burger here and there at selected fast food locations with onions, tomato, lettuce, sauces and “the works”, but nothing like a Big Mac or its brethren. It was a blow to English language teaching Expats here in Cali, Colombia.
Losing an Institution
Although I have never tried a “Super Burger” at Top’s Restaurant or been to Wally’s (or Vancouver for that matter), I know how it feels to lose an institution you grew up with. For me it’s Nick’s foot-long submarines on Washington Boulevard in south Baltimore.
So while you or your English language learners are studying English, don’t forget to closely consider the food as part of the language and culture. The same holds true for other foreign languages as well. Just as with movies, songs and music, the study of its foods can surely be an excellent insight into English or another foreign language and its related culture.
What do people like to eat where YOU live?
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: firstname.lastname@example.org