Cooking with Languages: How Kids can Learn a Language in the Kitchen
Do you like to cook? Does your child love helping out in the kitchen? Along with the various skills your child can learn through cooking and preparing food, they can also learn a language!
Learning languages in the kitchen with your mini chefs
Children are easily excitable. When they are excited and interested in something they absorb more. They learn without realising. So learning a language matched with something they like to do, is a great way to help them improve their skills without them realising it.
Children use all of their senses while cooking. By helping them learn about food and cooking, you help them to become more comfortable with different foods, and can even make them healthier eaters. Pressuring young children to eat vegetables at the dinner table is known to be counterproductive – it actually increases resistance to healthy foods. In a nutshell, kids like what they know, and they eat what they like. So, making food and cooking fun has many benefits.
Cooking teaches children valuable skills
Motor Skills: Grating, mixing, and cutting with plastic scissors or child-friendly knives.
Mathematical Skills: Number recognition, basic sums, and practicing weights and measures
Reading and Comprehension: Reading the recipe and answering questions such as: How do you think the food will look? Taste? Smell? Etc.
Time and Measure: Telling and measuring time. Setting the timer.
Enhancing Vocabulary: Learning different ingredients, using descriptive words to describe how food looks, smells and sounds while it’s cooking
Tips for language learning in the kitchen.
These ideas can be adapted to whatever language you are introducing. Try these simple activities and questions in your target language
Using your fruit bowl
- Can you name the fruits in your bowl?
- What colour are they?
- How many are there?
- What do they smell like?
- What do they feel like?
Open your cutlery drawer
- Can you name each utensil?
- How many are there of each item?
- What is each item used for?
Create stickies (and if you are artistic, add drawings too) of Kitchen items
E.g. fridge, freezer, sink, cupboard, drawer, tea towel, dishcloth etc.
Play the “hot/cold” game. The idea is that your child has to guess which word (in the target languages) is the correct name for the items in your kitchen. As they get closer to the item, you say “hotter” (in your target language) and as the move further away you say “colder” (in your target language)
Choose a recipe together of a dish or desert that you would like to make.
If your target language is Spanish or English, you can choose one of the recipes from the Cooking with Languages Activity Cookbook and work together with your child.
Before you start cooking:
- Look at the ingredients, practice the words together (listen to the audio on our website for help)
- Make a shopping list together, for the required ingredients
- Visit the supermarket and purchase the ingredients with your child, repeating the words and quantities as shown in our book
When you are ready to cook:
Tell your child (in the target language) what they need to get ready, item by item (using the book for reference)
- From the fridge, we need…
- From the cupboard, we need…
- Follow the instructions, step by step and make the simple and scrummy recipes.
- Practice phrases and expressions to say what you love, like, don’t like.
We have a simple and scrummy recipe to share with you. It is really easy to follow.
Introducing Arthur Apple’s Pancakes!
This is one of the recipes in our Activity Cookbook:
125gr plain flour
Pinch of Salt
Your favourite fillings : sugar, lemon, nutella, fresh fruit, honey etc.
How to prepare your pancake mixture:
- Sieve the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl.
- Make a hole in the centre of the flour and add the egg and some milk.
- Whisk all the ingredients together until you have a smooth liquid.
- Add the remaining milk and whisk again.
How to cook your pancakes:
- Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan.
- Remove the excess oil before adding the pancake mix.
- Add a large spoon of mix to the frying pan and spread it over the base (the easiest way is to rotate the frying pan slowly).
- As the pancake sets, loosen it with a spatula and flip over (use a plate if you are not confident flipping).
Perfect Pancake Tips:
- For skinny French style pancakes, make sure your mixture is nice and runny.ie. add lots of the milk
- For fatter American style pancakes, use less milk to make a thicker mixture.
Cooking with Kids
There are so many ways how children learn a language in the kitchen. These are just a few simple ideas. We have many more to share with you! At Cooking with Languages, we are on a mission to create oodles of language-loving superheroes.
What other ideas do you have for using food and cooking for introducing new languages?
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Author: Lisa Sadleir from Cooking with Languages