The Classroom Restaurant ESL activity transforms your class into a dining experience, where your students can practise food vocabulary and ordering/serving.
Prepare a menu with a variety of drinks, starters, mains, sides and desserts. Print a few copies of this menu for students to use (one for every two students). Even better, you could do the Create A Menu project beforehand and use those menus in your classroom restaurant.
Optional: Divide the students into pairs start by asking them to discuss their favourite types of food/restaurants. Then, give each pair a menu. The students check for any new or difficult vocabulary. Encourage them to think about and discuss what they would order.
Pre-teach/elicit useful expressions for both servers and customers by stepping through a typical interaction. For lower-level students, you may want to leave this language on the board for them to refer to.
Assign each student the role of server or customer (you could ask for server volunteers). The customers should be assigned one or two dining partners, and there should be less servers than the number of customer groups (e.g. with eight students, you could have six customers, three customer groups and two servers).
Arrange the tables and chairs in the classroom to resemble a restaurant. Ensure there are enough tables for every customer group. If possible, turn the lights down and play some music!
- The customer groups go outside the classroom and wait. Quickly check that all the servers know the steps to take (show customers to table, ask for drinks etc.).
- The customer groups take turns coming to the door and asking for a table. The servers meet them, show them to a table, give them a menu and take drinks orders.
- While they are waiting, the customers at the tables look at the menu and discuss what they would like to eat.
- The servers ‘deliver’ drinks and take food orders. If you notice one group has to wait a while for service, encourage them to get annoyed and complain to the server.
- The food courses are gradually delivered, and the servers ask the customers how their food is. You could choose tables (perhaps with the stronger students) to have problems with their food and ask them to complain to the server.
- The customers ask for the bill and practice the payment process. If you have enough time, repeat the activity with the students switching roles.
You could use the Write A Review activity as a follow-up, asking the students to review their meals.
Opportunities for students to role-play real-world situations are invaluable. In the Classroom Restaurant ESL activity they not only practice food vocabulary, but polite questions/requests using modal verbs (Would you like to…) and functional language for ordering/serving (Here you are etc.), all of which are needed in this environment.
The Classroom Restaurant ESL activity is suitable for high beginner level right through to high intermediate. For beginners, step students through the language almost in the form of a script. For high intermediate students, leave the language more open-ended, and introduce more problems/character personalities.
If possible, why not add realia in the form of plates, cups, cutlery etc.? Students really appreciate those extra touches!
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