Food Lesson Idea: bring on the grasshoppers


Let me see… Should I order a double cheeseburger with fries or just a small salad?

Guess what today’s lesson is all about?

Teacher says, “In pairs, talk to your partners about your typical diet”

Students think, “Oh no, not again! I’ve done that a dozen times in other courses and I really don’t care what Pablo ate for breakfast!”


So, you’re the teacher – there’s your intermediate group of western young blood (just an example) – and you stumble upon that same old lesson on foods. What do you do?

a) S.O.S (same old sh..stuff)? Just follow the book.

b) Skip this lesson

c) Give them a list of vocabulary on food (that they’ll forget as soon as they have their next meal)

d) Ask your students (enthusiastically): Hey, have you ever eaten insects? (let them think you’ve had)

I always go for the last option and it’s more often than not the one that they’ll pay more attention to and the one with the highest level of interest and amusement.

Now that you’ve got their attention, you can proceed with the plan:

  • Go through the usual why not’s warm-up conversation thing. I’m taking they’ve never actually eaten insects, at least the 35 students I asked this summer said, yuck… no way! 
  • Tell them, if you have the stomach, how you’d love to taste a freshly-made crispy grasshopper coated on Swiss milk chocolate.

After the initial chat and some vocabulary work on insects – some people will need clarification on what insects are, e.g. spiders aren’t insects, etc – tell students that the Lesson Aim is that by the end of the lesson they’ll be convinced to at least try a little mosquito-candy (it’s good to make sure your Director of Studies / Teacher Trainer is not observing you if you choose to have this kind of Lesson Aim)

  • I also ask students, in small groups, to write down a list of pros and cons of eating insects. This list will be useful at the end, you’ll see.

So, how do you convince them to eat insects?

Here’s what you need: a very informative TED Talk.

Why not eat insects? by Marcel Dicke.

As you can imagine, there are many ways you can use this video.

  • You can draw vocabulary and grammar from it,
  • You can use the data given to have students practice reporting on trends, describing graphs, etc.
  • You can watch it all or select the most relevant segment. You know better.

After learning more about these appetizing delicacies.

  • Students can compare their first pros/cons list to the actual facts presented.
  • Check who changed their minds.
  • Have a short debate: two teams, for vs. against, etc

For post-video fun,

  • They can write a recipe for an insect dish;
  • Have a little role-play (the old waiter-client thing), but now with a less obvious menu.

That’s it!

Swap the Can I have a steak, please?

for     Can I have an order of locusts à carbonara?


Bon appétit!

N.B. I had a student this summer who asked me three time after this lesson if I could find a restaurant in London where he could find luscious insects. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet.

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