The Art of grilling lesson idea

So the barbecue lesson is here after being inspired by the ESL trailblazer episode I made this past week. It just seemed wrong not to accompany the video episode with a post that could provide some more details on how to structure such a lesson in your class. You can check out the full episode here. This lesson has vocabulary and speaking(questions below) and I’ve included two reading texts I found online in case you want to incorporate another skill but it’s optional. So without further a do let’s get to it.

Introducing the topic

You can start the lesson by asking students to brainstorm activities that people do together, socially, especially in summer. After the brainstorm the topic should come to light and you can write it on the board and draw a circle around it. Get students to brainstorm all words they can associate with this activity (group work) and then change the groups around and give them another minute to compile their spidergrams before you write it on the board. Words should include categories like:

  • FOOD: meats(pork,beef,chicken,wild game), fish, vegetables, hard cheese
  • TOOLS/EQUIPMENT: Spatula, tongs, long-handed fork, scraping brush, carrying bag, skewers
  • ESSENTIALS: wood, lighter fluid, charcoal, matches, lighter,
  • OPTIONAL/EXTRAS: marinades, Salt and pepper, mustard, ketchup, dips, chips, plates, silverware, cups, cold refreshments (beer, carbonated drinks etc.) blanket, aluminum foil, music player

You can add the categories initially in your spidergram to guide students to what it is you are looking for and afterwards fill in the blanks. I might be missing some things here but be open to ideas because culture dictates this spidergram which will immediately lead to conversation.

Alternatively, you can start the lesson with some pictures of different approaches that people use to grill food(ex. open fire, state of the art grill with gas, on a stick in a fire pit, portable smokeless grill for camping or balcony, a tiny portable grill(common in Polish universities) etc.) and follow that up with pictures of grilling being done with a huge group of people, a smaller group, a family, at the house, in the wilderness etc.

The point is to establish that there are tons of ways this is done. Proceed as you like, it should be easy enough to compile some photos online.

Speaking about grilling

General Questions:

  1. How common is grilling food in your country? When do people do this? (events, time of year, season etc.)
  2. What do people usually grill and how does this vary depending on the region or event? Give examples(meats, vegetables etc)
  3. What other things accompany a grilling event? What other foods, sauces, condiments are usually important to have when grilling? Music?
  4. Are there any social norms? Is one person responsible for organizing? does everyone bring their own? Who does the actual grilling?

Culture questions:

Have you ever grilled food in a country other than your own? What was it like?

What were the similarities and differences between the way they prepared the food and grilling event compared to the way your culture does it?

Did you enjoy it? Why(not)?

Which foods would you like to try on the grill in the future? Why?

How important is music? alcohol? location? describe and explain.


Here is one article coming out of travel Australia on the countries that do barbecue the best.

Here is another article coming out of Australia on the grilling traditions of seventeen countries.

It’s no surprise that these come out of Australia, a country I have lived in briefly and which loves barbecuing as much as anyone else. These articles are ideal because they both have short paragraphs on the traditions and fame that each country has and so you can cut them out and do a kind of jigsaw reading(my fav!). Students can be put into groups or each given a country.

They read their text, note down some key points and then share with partners or multiple partners what the country offers. Here are some questions to help them paraphrase in their own words what they read:

  1. What’s the tradition/What are they famous for?
  2. What’s the most popular food?
  3. How is it prepared?
  4. Note down 3-4 words related to grilling that your text mentions, what do they mean? ask your partner(s)

Do feedback on what they discovered, and which they would be interested in trying or not. Go over any new words (be prepared) there are some good ones!

So there you have it boys and girls! The barbecue lesson! It can cover intermediate to proficiency in my opinion. The language is for everyone, the culture is everywhere, the conversation is abundant and the vocabulary is practical for all.  So don’t waste time, you’re on your way, it’s your day! Enjoy and bon appetite!

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