Can you read this?

This is a very interesting title! Can you read this? It's the Autumn menu  2015 of a restaurant in Salamana.

In this instance the question behind the question "Can you read this?  is actually "Do you know what you are about to eat?" I am  a  basic survival Spanish speaker and last week on a visit to Spain with teaching colleagues.I had to use all my language knowledge to access the Spanish language! It made me realise the value of the bilingual dictionary and the need to help learners no matter what their age to become comfortable with and able to access the  language in such a resource! 

You see one of our meals was very interesting indeed! "Pigs ear" for a starter and then "deer" soup to follow.Just how did we know what we were eating? Well we didn't until we looked it up ....or until one of our colleagues fluent in the language suggested possibilities.Even when you are fluent,there are times aren't there, when you look at menu and have an idea... but are not exactly sure what all of the ingredients are! 

So where am I going with this blog post? I think language learning needs to be accessible to all and the bilingual dictionary is one of the linguist's magic tricks that needs sharing from the start! It's not just a resource to look up words or to check definitions.The bilingual dictionary opens the window on the written word and once the learner has a command of the phonic rules of language, it can be a reference point too for the comprehension of spoken language.

So how would I use this menu to engage our young learners in an investigation of language using the bilingual dictionary?  Well .....

  1. Let's set the scene .What time of year is it and how do we know? Can we find the proof in the dictionary?
  2. Why not consider creating a menu for a different season? Can we access and say / write our other three key words for the seasons?
  3. Let's investigate the menu! Can we find  language we can take and use again in a menu about  any season?
  4. Let's be specific and identify the  dishes and the ingredients on the menu .Which do we think we would like to try or not like to try? Let's cross reference (in this example from Spanish to English the language) some of the ingredients we may not be certain about or even imagine we can eat!
  5. Let's discuss culture here too - what do we find acceptable to eat and what do others find acceptable to eat?Why is this cultural difference something to celebrate?
  6. Now let's be creative.Let's consider menus with a seasonal twist! Add unusual ingredients or create a menu for characters/ animals etc associated with a specifc season....and then let's ask our co-learners "Can you read this?" 

So starting with a simple question "Can you read this?" ...we have explored: 

  • reading skills
  • bilingual dictionary skills
  • culture and similarities and differences
  • using the bilingual dictionary to be indepently creative in our speaking and writing!