Updated: Nov 1, 2020
Several years ago, when I ordered food, I will always order through Pizza Hut. I liked ordering Pizza Hut only because they had online ordering. I hated calling and trying to explain my address and what I wanted.
It’s almost impossible for them to hear you with all the noise going on in their background, let alone somebody who is practicing another language. And I’m not even all that crazy about Pizza Hut, I definitely prefer Little Caesars. But that’s how far I would go in order to avoid speaking on the phone.
Authentic Activities Inspired by Real-Life
So when it comes to planning classes, pizza is one of my go to topics. Ordering a pizza either on the phone or in a restaurant role-play, it’s always a huge success. And on top of that, ordering a pizza or speaking on the phone is something that you would actually have to do in a second language.
A lot of the language learning materials that are available today are filled with tons of grammar and vocabulary that students will realistically never use. It kills me to see them struggling over difficult grammar rules, or rarely used tenses, when even native speakers don't use them. And they overlook the little things. The everyday actions that people do. What good is it if you can conjugate every verb in the subjunctive tense, if you can’t call and order a pizza?
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Benefits of Authentic Language Activities
They are based on familiar scenarios.
Students see the value in the objective.
Opportunity to use what they are learned.
They can be adapted easily for a variety of situations.
Every Students Loves to Talk About Pizza
The best thing about using pizza as a topic is that everybody has an opinion about it. Everybody loves pizza. And recognizes it easily. Plus, the toppings are filled with common food vocabulary. Think about it. What are the toppings usually for pizza? Tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, ground beef, sausage, spinach, tomatoes, jam, pineapple, etc.
Even though everybody loves pizza and it’s really easy to work with. Not everybody loves all of those ingredients. So if you ask do you like pizza? Everybody says yes. If you ask do you like pineapple on pizza? You get some very interesting, very emotional answers.
See the Activity in Action in the Video Below
The activity that you see in the example video is one that I created in both English and Spanish. You can see my daughter practicing it in English while we were in a hurricane, without WiFi. I prepared it ahead of time, just in case the electricity went out, which it did.
Easy to Adapt and to Differentiate
In the video you can see that she is practicing basic vocabulary. But it wouldn’t be difficult to take the same activity and adapt it for a variety of uses. Here are some examples:
1. You could create an activity with student ordering pizza on the phone. In that scenario they would have to give their addresses, phone numbers, names, directions to their houses, and anything else you want to include.
2. You can do a restaurant role-play as well. Where one student is the waiter and the other student is the customer. The waiter would have to go ahead and create the pizza after taking the order. Have a student who is the waiter add up the total for the order to practice numbers.
3. Have students come up with their own pizza menu. They have to combine different ingredients to create different styles of pizzas. And include prices for each one. You can then use the menus to practice asking and answering about prices and using numbers.
Works with All Ages and Levels
The great thing about an activity like this is that it doesn’t matter how old the person is. If it’s a dragon drop, people are going to drag and drop. From a almost 4-year-old preschooler practicing English, to a 15-year-old, to a 43-year-old. Without changing a thing, they were all able to engage with the activity. But best of all, they all enjoyed it!
How to Create a Pizza Drag and Drop
You can create your own drag and drop or something similar. For this activity, I used Google Slides. To make sure the pizza and vocabulary box stay still, I use the background option. I set the picture as the background for the slide, which locks it into place. That makes it much easier for students to do the activity.
If you don’t use the picture as the background image, since you end up moving that image instead of the ingredients and it becomes very frustrating. On top of that picture, you can place the elements that you do want to be able to move. And that is all you need to create a drag and drop.
Using clipart without background looks a lot better and works much better. I use Adobe Photoshop Mix to delete the backgrounds.
Then, you just add the clip art to the slide. I prefer to duplicate them a couple times. This way, if they want extra ingredients, they have the option. Or if they delete something by accident, it’s not a big deal. And then you can duplicate that’s why to make as many activities as you want.
Once you make an activity like this, the duplication option means you won’t have to make it again. You can use it hundreds of times. If you use Google Slides, it can also be published to the web, shared via email or link.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Tyler has 2 M.A. degrees, in Educational Technology and Curriculum and Instruction. Her B.A. degree is in ESL. She has worked online since 2014, and has taught languages since 2010.
Her company, Viva Online, L.L.C. provides Spanish language courses, immersion classes, and professional development teachers. She lives in Veracruz, Mexico with her husband and 2 daughters.