As is required of all teaching staff,when joining FHS, I was charged with the task of running an extra curricular club. “Something to enthuse young people”, I was told. I tried to run the Arsenal Double Club, which is in fact a fantastic initiative with engaging resources, however due to various technical difficulties, it simply wasn’t possible to run. So, I turned my attentions to the idea of running a cookery club (a subject area that is already very popular at our school) but 100% in the target language (as Ofsted wills…).
So the cookery teacher and I began to run a club for Key Stage 3 pupils, that ran after school for what was supposed to be a forty five minute session (this fact is key…). We’d cook Hispanic food using only Spanish as the medium of communication (of which the cookery teacher knew very little in the beginning).
After several revisions of the way in which the club would run, we found that the following format was best. The pupils would come into the room with only my instruction in the target language to guide them. We start with the preparation (cleaning their hands, putting on an apron etc) which I could act out as I spoke; the reliance on the actions became less and less as the sessions went on as pupils began to understand phrases that had been repeated over and over again.
I would then introduce the dish with a description in the target language which the pupils loved to attempt to translate. I also have the ingredients placed on the table in front of me and would hold them up and ask pupils to listen to my pronunciation and repeat. Great; they were learning vocabulary and repeating the target language!
Each stage of the cookery would be explained and acted out in the target language, to which the pupils would follow along and after a while, key phrases like “quita la piel” would be understood well. Of course, whilst the actual cookery went on, there would be some use of English in order to engage with the pupils, fostering good relationships is a huge part of extra curricular activity and pupils would often ask questions about the variety of Hispanic dishes that there are anyway and I’d go around and ask them target language based questions as well, things like “¿Cómo son las enchilladas, ricas? o asquerosas?
The session, would end with the pupils describing their dishes as best they can, using opinions and adjectives and I’d often help them by giving them an example of how I thought my dish was (I always cooked…which may explain my slight weight gain since the beginning of the club).
Was it successful? Well, the numbers of pupils taking part has increased from two or three from Spanish to ten from other languages as well. Some sessions have also lasted and hour and a half (double the forty five minutes after school that the pupils didn’t have to be there for) and those pupils came back the following week. Honestly, the idea of cross-curricular activities are nothing new, but I thought I’d share the success of this one particular idea that I feel has really enthused pupils to engage in languages and with the importance of MFL having been reinforced over the past few years, it really deserves to be used as a medium with which to teach other subjects.
Typically, I’d ask myself how I could make the club even better next year. I’d like to extend it to more languages next year. We teach Punjabi as a mainstream subject at FHS and obviously the possibilities of producing a wide range of dishes from Indian cuisine, as well as French or any other language, are huge. Huge and delicious.