Food Reading Comprehension Lessons

There’s something about learning about food that students just seem to love.  Many of our long-time most popular posts are about food.  When we first started dreamreader.net, Neil and I wrote and uploaded an beginner academic article about “Fish & Chips“.  It was a very simple lesson with a few facts meant to help reading comprehension for beginner learners.  For some reason, that article stayed on our top ten most visited lessons for months. At first, we thought it was a simple fluke.  But subsequent lessons on “World Pizza Toppings“, “The Sunday Roast“, “Sushi“, and “The History of Sushi” were smash hits and I don’t think this is a coincidence.

I suppose one possible reason for the popularity of our food reading comprehension lessons could be that people just love to read about food.  But I think another reasons is that food requires little background knowledge, which may make it easier for beginner learners to comprehend.  In a 2010 article titled “Prior Knowledge Plays a Large Role in Reading Comprehension“, Allington and Cunningham argue that prior knowledge is actually the most important factor in determining how much learners comprehend.  Actual interest in the topic is more related to prior knowledge.

In Japan, I see nightly variety programs about food.  Restaurants that serve a new dish are often featured on the evening news.  Students love to talk about food in my class and I have successfully conducted full 90 minute classes that revolved solely around this topic.  So anything writing and reading about food is a no-brainer for my classes. Lately, I’ve been wondering if this is the case in other countries as well.  Regardless of cultural background, it seems that the one thing we all love to do is eat and there is no better way to explore a culture than through its food.  In any case, I would love to get comments back about whether other teachers have had the same experience with the topic as myself and what kinds of food they tend to talk about.

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