Page in Japanese

International Understanding:
School Lunch Project!

Here's an example of the project from French Guiana:

NEW: If you have an iPhone 3GS you have no worries with the tech side of things!

When I was a JET I tried this lesson out with my 6th graders, ones that were really too "cool" for anything else, and it worked really, really well and lead onto lots of similar things in Junior High But it also works really well for lower grades and is a fantastic example of the International Understanding lessons we are supposed to be teaching.

Basically all it was was an exchange of school lunch menus with different countries. Very simple.

But I gave the kids so much input it was fantastic in that they wanted to find out about places themselves and it also allowed them to choose which English to learn in order to communicate what they wanted to say or find out! This is so much more educational than them simply learning some basic English phrases.

The lesson plan on the site here is still in the experimental stage, please try things out and let me know how you get on!

Lesson Plan

So for a first lesson what I'd suggest is:

1) Do some sort of warm up game just to get them in the mood

2) For a few minutes run through a review of food words. You say a word in English and they have to guess what it is, then you put a picture card on the board. This is really fantastic as they get a huge confidence boost from realising they can understand so many English words. It's also a good way to show them (and the teacher) that the katakana and English pronunciations are different.

3) Now you explain the lesson. You say there is a school in XXX country that wants to hear what your kids have for lunch. In reality you will have found a school on that is willing to do an exchange. Even if it's really you that has initiated contact with the school, you tell the kids it's a special favour that the other school are asking them!! Lots of motivation!

4) Ask them if they can find the school on a World map. Try and answer any questions they may have

5) Get them to write on the board in big letters, in JAPANESE, one of their school lunch menus. In most schools they will have the whole weeks menus on the wall. If not have the teacher prepare this weeks menu in advance. With the kids discuss which day's menu they'll write (e.g. Mondays or Tuesdays). This is good to get them to choose which types of foods they think are most typical of their school.

6) Now say "Cool, let's send it off.". Then say "Do you think they'll understand?". Let the kids think and answer for themselves (i.e. don't say "now we have to do it in English", let them come to that conclusion themselves and hence they'll want to do it!).

7) Now comes the fun part! You pretend not to understand the things they have written. They have to figure out how to say the things to you in English! (You could put them in groups to do this but they'd probably just write things down in katakana, so it's probably best to do it as a class.) E.g. if you have "niku jyaga" then they'll say something like "potato meat ...etc.". They should come up with some really imaginative ways of saying their food!! You then write down on the board what they have written. You should correct it a bit, but leave some of their interesting ways of explaining things as the other school may ask them to clarify things later (e.g. Chinese long noodles for "ramen")!

8) When you have the whole thing finished, go through the English, and ask them if they can help you write the beginning and ending of the email. They'll probably shout out things like "Hello!" "How are you?" or something and then "Thank you" "Goodbye" at the end. They'll probably also ask you how to say "onegaishimasu" in English, a good chance to say we don't have such a word!!

9) Tell them you'll send off the menu and they'll get the response in the next class!!

If they are super good kids and you have extra time, try doing two days' menus instead of one.

Then you send the menu off to a school and ask for an email of one of their menus in return!
Not everyone is 100% reliable in these projects so I would actually organise to exchange with 3 or 4 schools in the same country just in case they don't get back to you in time! Choose the most interesting one to present to the class next week!
But most primary teachers would be really willing to help if it's only an exchange of 2 or 3 emails.
The best way to get the replies is for the other school to write out the menu by hand and then scan this image in. This makes it all the more real for your students. But it maybe a bit much hassle for the other school, in which case you'll have to settle for normal email text!

And please then send me copies of the menus to put on the site to inspire other teachers!

Next lesson:

1) Do a warm up game

2) Have a large print out of the returned email lunch menu

3) You say each term out in English and the kids have to work out what it is in Japanese

4) Have a chat about the findings. There should be quite a few things that the kids go "ehhhhhhhhhh" which you can follow up later

5) Ask them if they have any questions for the school. They probably do. Let the kids figure out how to say these things in English. You write them up and send them off after the lesson.

6) Now say you have to thank the other school for the menu.

7) Get the kids to think up a nice thank you message e.g. my kids simply came up with "Hello Thank you for your school lunch menu!"

8) Get a microphone (or video camera) and record the class saying this in unison!! Real English speaking practise!! After the lesson you'll send this recording off to the other school and hopefully they'll reply in kind! Get a computer teacher to help you if you're unsure of the techy points (or you could always email me!).

9) Ask them if there are any other countries they'd like to find out about. It maybe an idea to find out what countries they are studying about in Social Studies. This is good practise of country names! They'll come up with some cool ideas!!

10) Find out a few more countries and send off some replies!

You basically keep going from there, expanding things up so they have a collection of school menus from around the World. After the 2nd lesson you can build up by
sending photos,
make a video about their school lunch in English.
You can send surveys to different schools to ask what their favourite foods are.
Or you can get the kids to make individual presentations on what foods they eat at home.

This lesson does work fantastically well and with a good bunch of kids and a good JTE it does amazing things for their confidence and building their skills in trying to express themselves in English (after all food is probably their favourite subject!!) and of course the International Understanding value is huge!

These types of lessons are the next big thing to work on in Elementary School and I'd really appreciate if you could give it a go and let me know how you get on!!! I'd love to hear all your feedback and suggestions as to how to make this lesson work even better! And once I get this lesson all finished I can move onto some more International Understanding projects!

Be genki,


You might also want to try the "Pet Exchange Project"!


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