Most of the students in my elementary teaching group are students who have come to San Francisco for a few weeks or months to study English at St. Giles. Many students eat out regularly at cafes and restaurants. It can be a challenge to find a good place to eat everyday – a place that is inexpensive and in the neighborhood.
Yelp.com can be a useful resource for students to help them decide where to get the next meal. To develop their reading and comprehension skills, I chose to introduce students to reviews on Yelp.com. I chose the reviews of a neighborhood restaurant that all students will be familiar with. An authentic text will help students develop and practice their receptive skills while exposing them to written English used by native speakers.
With the chosen text, students will be able to practice skills such as skimming for gist, reading for comprehension and scanning for information.
The chosen text can be used to give students practice in the productive language skills – speaking and writing. The topic of the lesson can provoke engaging discussions about students’ experiences at this restaurant and others in the neighborhood, and how they choose a new restaurant (whether it is based on friends’ recommendations or random trials). As a follow-up homework exercise, I would ask students to write a review of a restaurant they have tried in the last week.
I would introduce the topic of discussion for the day’s lesson by encouraging the students to talk in pairs for 2-3 minutes about where they had lunch, what they ate, whether the food was good, which restaurant they chose, what they liked about it and what they didn’t. I would then ask a couple of students to share their restaurant stories with the rest of the class.
I would ask students if anyone has eaten at Alexandria Cafe, the restaurant downstairs? If someone has, I would ask them what they like about it. If no one has tried the place, I could ask students why not. At this point, I would ask students whether they read reviews before going to eat at a restaurant.
If none of the students know the meaning of ‘review’, I would explain what it to them.
→ A review is someone’s thoughts about a restaurant, movie, TV show, book etc. Usually, reviews are published so that others can know what you think about the reviewed item. I would ask them where they can read reviews? Some students might say newspapers, magazines or websites.
I would then test the students’ knowledge of the vocabulary needed to answer the comprehension questions. For this, I would give them a ‘Match the following’ activity (attached) with word, meaning, and pictures.
In case they have trouble with any of the words, I would give them the following definitions and show them the attached pictures.
Shawarma – I would pass around a picture of shawarma and tell students it is a popular Mediterranean and Greek fast-food sandwich made with ground meat.
MS: The shawarma is really yummy.
Is the shawarma a kind of sandwich? Yes
Is shawarma a popular Mediterranean fast food? Yes
Falafels – I would pass around a picture of falafels and tell students it is a popular, spicy fast-food dish made of chickpeas.
MS: The falafel is really yummy.
Is falafel a sandwich? No
Is falafel fried? No
Consumed – to eat or drink something, mostly used for large quantities of food.
MS: She consumed a whole pizza alone.
Can you consume a bottle of milk? Yes
Can you consume a can of salt? No
Seasoning – spices, herbs, salt added to flavor food.
MS: He added a little seasoning to his food.
Do you add a little seasoning or a lot? Just a little
Coworkers – people who work with you in an office or company.
MS – I love my coworkers. I hate my coworkers.
Are your children your coworkers? No
Are the people in your office your coworkers? Yes
Convenient – something that can be done easily, something which makes things easy.
MS: It is convenient to go to Starbucks.
Do we have to work hard to go to Starbucks? No
Is it easy to go to Starbucks? Yes
Simplicity – something that is simple, nothing fancy
MS: I love the simplicity of this dish. It is so easy to make.
Is it difficult to make this dish? No
Can anyone make it? Yes.
folk – people (it’s a word that’s used informally)
MS: They are nice folks.
Are folks animals? No
Are they people? Yes
I would ask students if they know of any websites where they can read reviews. Then I would tell them about yelp.com which is a website where people write their thoughts about the restaurants they have eaten at.
I would give each student a sheet with the gist questions on them and ask them to read those first. Then, I would give the students the extract from Yelp.com and ask them to read through it in about 5 minutes. Students are then required to work on the gist questions in pairs.
- Does Joy like Alexandria Cafe? No
- Does James like Alexandria Cafe? Yes
- Was James happy with his falafel? Yes
- Does Gerard like the Cookie and Cream iced coffee at Alexandria? Yes
- What does Jaime like to have at Alexandria? Coffee
Once all pairs have some answers on their sheets, I will ask individual students to tell me their answers. At this point of time, I will answer the students’ questions, if they have any.
Now, I will ask the students to take a minute to go through the detailed task questions, then read the reviews again and answer the questions.
Detailed task questions
- What happened to Joy after having the shawarma?
He fell sick after having the shawarma.
- What was wrong with the shawarma?
It had an odd taste, as if its seasoning was not right.
- Where does James work?
In the same building where Alexandria Cafe is.
- How much does Gerard’s drink cost?
- What kind of food can you eat at Alexandria?
Middle Eastern and Greek food at Alexandia.
- What do Joy’s coworkers say about Alexandria cafe?
They agree that Alexandria is not a good restaurant.
- What does Jaime love about Alexandria?
She loves the simplicity, the people who work there and the dark coffee.
After having read the reviews, students will answer the comprehension questions in pairs. I will go around and see how each student is faring and answer any questions they have. After each pair has completed the task, I will ask individual students to repeat their answers loudly for the benefit of the whole class.
Free speaking activity
I will talk to the students about my favorite restaurant and why I like it. I would also encourage them to try a good restaurant I know of. Then, I will ask the students to talk in pairs about the restaurant they like and don’t like. In each pair, one student should talk about a restaurant s/he likes and the other should talk about a restaurant s/he doesn’t like.
I would encourage them to use the following questions: Why do you like this restaurant? Where is it? Which dishes are good and which aren’t? Is the food spicy? Is the food fresh? Why don’t you like this restaurant? What happened when you went there?
I would ask the students to write a short review of a restaurant they eat at in the next couple of days. The review could be posted on http://www.yelp.com after corrections. They must tell the reader what they ate, whether they liked the food or not? What was good or bad about the restaurant? Will they go again? Would they tell their friends to go to this restaurant?
Match the words with pictures and their meanings.
One has been done for you…
😦 can’t seem to copy the table here but this is what it shows.
Word Picture Meaning
To develop their reading skills, I chose to introduce students to reviews on Yelp.com.
An authentic text is useful because it exposes learners to the native speakers’ written English which has not been graded to suit the reading levels of the ESL or EFL students.
With the chosen text, students will be able to practice skills such as skimming for gist and reading for detailed information.
CCQs for ‘review’:
Do you find reviews in magazines? Yes
Do people tell you reviews on the street? No, it is usually published.
Does a restaurant’s review tell you what you should eat there? Yes
- Give this text a title.
- Does everyone like Alexandria Cafe? No