A nice and easy recipe for a simple lesson.

I’ve always liked this lesson. It’s simple and there are no frills or anything. It just works every time and students seem to enjoy it. I decided to do it after I asked a Thai student to explain how to cook a Pad Thai. Basically, he started a game of charades interspersed with odd instructions and food I’d never heard of…he was an upper intermediate student.

This lesson can be done with any level from Elementary upwards but I would expect it to be revision for your average upper int or advanced student. My favourite thing about it is that there’s very little teacher talking time other than giving instructions, most of it is students working away and chatting…whoop whoop!!!


  1. Yummy chicken in my belly РRecipe (You can use any recipe really and just change the pics)
  2. cooking vocab pictures¬†– Photos (if you don’t like them, feel free to choose your own)




Ask your students to think of a traditional dish from their country and to explain how they make it to their partners. Let them have a few minutes of this while you sit back and enjoy as the charades unfolds, then stop them and say OK OK OK, let’s come back to this later on guys.



  • Display the cooking pictures on the board and in pairs ask the students to think of the verb.
  • After a few minutes, hand out the recipe. Get them to check their verbs and add/correct any they didn’t know.
  • Don’t let them use their dictionaries. They should be able to work most of it out based on context and their knowledge of the genre (are recipes a genre? hmmm…today they are).
  • Meanwhile, write up all of the phonemics on the board for the verbs and any other pieces of vocab they are having difficulty with.
  • When they’re ready you can check they’ve got the verbs and pictures correct and then get them to match the phonemics on the board to the words in the recipe. A nice bit of drilling never goes astray either.



Bring them back to their first activity and ask them now with their new-found verbs to explain how their dish is made to their partner. Choose one from each group to share with the class and do any error correction you so desire.


Follow Up

What I find is that even though by the end of the lesson the students have been staring at the recipe for ages, they very often ignore the imperative nature of recipes. This is not something that needs much teaching but it’s good to draw their attention to it. Just ask them what grammar is used in the recipe and in what other situations can we use it.

After that I like to get the students to write up their recipes and make a class recipe book for the noticeboard in the class. It’s nice to have something at the end that they have produced and can look back on.

These recipes can be used to encourage peer-correction, collaboration, independent research skills or planning and editing skills.

If you’d like any more detail on any of this just leave a comment and I’d be happy to reply.