Learning English from Making Sushi

8 Nov 2016


Source: UM Reporters

If you love travelling and sharing homemade food with foreign friends, it would be a pity if you can’t describe the various ways of cooking and recipes in English. Constructive and learner-centred teaching approaches were used in a sushi-making workshop, one of the activities of this UM fall English festival, as a means to help students improve their spoken English skills outside the classroom.

The workshop began with English Language Teaching Assistants (ELTA) introducing the vocabulary of sushi and sashimi ingredients, such as seaweed, mackerel fillet, and smoked oyster. Then, the tutors brought up a challenge: different types of ingredient would go to those who first recalled their names in English. Every student strived to say the names in the hope of snapping up all the ingredients like a flash.

As most participants were new to sushi making, the ELTA guided them through the process step by step in English. This way, all participating students were exposed to a wide range of useful English words and expressions. ‘It was fun. We not only learnt to say many common food items in English, but also made delicious sushi rolls. A friendly English-speaking environment was built throughout the event,’ says one student.

Melody Xie, one of the ELTAs, pointed out that she chose to teach English via sushi making because she knows everyone loves cuisine. It is true. The event turned out to be a great success. Melody observed that the vocabulary game really helped the students to learn. ‘If they want to take an ingredient, they have to say the name. It’s a teaching strategy to engage students in practicing English,’ she says.

‘We hoped to establish a more engaging and productive language learning environment to boost learning outcomes,’ Melody says. ‘Unlike traditional classroom instruction that highly emphasizes academic English, what we did was let the students live English and practice key sentences and expressions for different scenarios in everyday life.’