ESOL & Cooking Lesson Plan

Oct 3, 2017

ESOL & Cooking Lesson Plan

We thought we would share this lesson plan we have used about three times now with different groups. This is an all round lesson we have created that covers many skills. It works very well with group work and building conversation. More specifically for literacy and numeracy, this lesson familiarises learners with nouns,  adjectives, verbs, spelling, quantities and process adverbs. For well-being purposes, it gets participants chatting, working together to create something, and the cookies are pretty delicious for open conversation at the end.
Materials needed:

1.Warmer Activity 10 – 15 minutes
Write on board:
Talk about something you ate this week which was _________. What? Where? When? Why?
Fill in the blank with one adjective e.g: sweet / savoury / spicy / delicious / disgusting / unusual / unique  – you can adapt the adjectives depending on the level. If it is a really low level group just good / bad will be fine.
In pairs, get participants to talk together about a particular food they ate, using the prompts of where and when to create more conversation. Set a time for this (around 2-3 minutes) do feedback by getting participants to tell the group about their partner’s food. Follow the conversation if there is any interesting information worth following.
Wipe off the adjectives and insert a different one.
2. Vocabulary builder – Dictation 10 – (20 minutes) (depending on extension activity)
This exercise is really useful for listening and writing skills, specifically spelling. It is designed to give the ingredients and equipment, but also to teach the quantities involved in cooking.
Explain to participants that they are going to do some cooking today, but before they do, they are going to guess what they are making. To do that, they must listen and write down the following words (can be in any order – for extension activity you should mix up equipment and ingredients). Read out the words/phrases loudly one by one. Repeat if necessary.

  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 200g chocolate 
  • baking tray
  • bowl
  • spoon
  • weighing scales
  • beat
  • mix
  • add
  • sieve
  • cut
  • roll

Feedback and check spelling if necessary.


Boaz Trust participant’s lists.

For extension activity use handout #1 (1 per participant). Participants can then work in pairs to put the words into the correct categories. Feedback and correct as necessary.
3. Recipe – reading work – process adverbs (10 minutes)
Elicit from the words what the recipe will be.
Tell them they will need to follow the recipe themselves to make the cookies, but first they have to put it in the right order.
Give out handout #2 (1 per group of 2-4) cut up into strips and mixed up. Participants should work together in groups to read the activity and put the recipe in order. If there is difficulty, point out the adverbs to the groups as a guide to help them decide which one comes next.

Handout #2


Our volunteer Naomi explaining the task for recipe reading activity.

Once all groups have finished, get a member of each group to read out one after the other to check. Get them to number the recipe and move into the kitchen with their paper.
4. Baking – Free practice and application (40 minutes)
Split the group into reasonably sized smaller groups. Ideally you should have one volunteer or more confident participant in each group. Explain that they will now need to work together to create a batch of cookies. They can use all the equipment and ingredients which will be laid out in front of them. Tell them to take note of step 4. When it asks for chocolate, here they can be creative and mix in their own ingredients from the list at the start. We always like to have a little competition here – who can make the best-looking cookie with the best flavour! Monitor and support if needed but allow participants to practice within their groups.

Our volunteer Holly’s group for the Bake-off!


Naomi and group preparing to bake.


One of our participants mixing in the butter and sugar.

5. Clean down, coffee and conversation (as long as it needs to be!)
After clean down, settle all participants with hot drinks and place cookies on tables in the groups to talk about them. You can do a casual competition with ratings out of 10 for flavour and appearance. Conversation here should just flow naturally whilst eating and drinking. There should be no written prompts or activities at this point. There should also be no error correction for language either unless directly asked. Volunteers can provide conversation starters if they need to. We normally ask the following questions and then take it from there:

  1. Have you tried these (food being cooked that day) before?
  2. Do you have something similar in your country?
  3. Who was the best…. (mixer, cookie maker, weigher, chef!) today?
  4. Did you enjoy yourself today? 
  5. What part did you like best today?
  6. What part did you dislike today?
  7. What are your plans for the rest of today?

We normally find that last one is enough to carry a conversation between everyone if follow up questions are asked and information is given about yourselves as well.
We hope you find this a useful resource to use. Please feel free to use the handouts or any of the activities above. They can be applied to any recipe or food that you plan to make!

Heart & Parcel