SOAS University of London

SOAS Language Centre

Language Learning Workshop projects

It always helps to have variety in your language learning routine, so why not try some of the following vocabulary learning techniques. As a former Japanese Diploma course student said,

‘…try to get out of the constraints of how you think you should learn something… but really push the boundaries and make your own associations and links which actually work for yourself rather than worrying about how you should be learning’. 

The following tips were brought up by SOAS Language Centre students at our Learning Styles workshops. Some of these ideas were developed further by Michalis Sivvas, formerly at SOAS Language Centre.

Learning Food Vocabulary
Using your eyes
  • Watch cooking & food programmes on TV or video. Consult the SOAS Language Centre Watching Recorded News and Watching Soap Operas worksheets for ideas on learning activities with TV programmes.
  • Make flashcards of items of food: draw pictures of the food, and write down the word on them. Group the flash cards by type of food, likes & dislikes, taste, and smell.
  • Stick post-its on all your food to remind you of the name. Say the word out loud every time you see the item.
  • Write a menu or a recipe, using illustrations. Get ideas for recipes in the target language from cookery books or from the Internet.
  • Write words down endlessly in a food vocabulary notebook that you keep in the kitchen.
  • Visualise someone eating; describe where he is, and what he is eating. Draw a picture of the scene.
Using your ears
  • Make a tape with either your voice or a study partner repeating food vocabulary, and listen to it while you are cooking.
  • Record yourself reading the recipe of your favourite dish.
  • Make a song to a popular melody, substituting the lyrics with food vocabulary.
  • Make a noise that describes the taste of a food item and link it to the word.
  • Overhear conversations of people on public transport or in the market talking about food.
  • Interview a chef. Record the interview and listen to it while you cook.
Using your body
  • Go shopping. Buy food items from a grocer following a shopping list that you have written in the target language.
  • Go with a native speaker to [Chinatown, Edgware Road etc]. Point, name, and talk about the food items.
  • Cook a simple recipe. Name the ingredients that you use, and describe the process.
  • Touch, name and eat basic ingredients.
  • Put names of food on bits of paper and put these in a box. Pick out a bit of paper. If you can remember the word for that food you can eat it as a snack.
  • Organise eating out with the class. Talk about the menu with your classmates or friends.
  • Discuss the taste and ingredients with the waiter.
  • Work with study partners or groups who say aloud each food item you pick up.
  • Role-play sharing food with someone else.


List of some of the participants in the Learning Styles workshops projects and the language they have studied at SOAS Language Centre:

Peter Barker (Mandarin), Kiran Seunarine (Hindi), Jill Dawson (Swahili), Charles Timmis (Indonesian), Francesca Valli (Mandarin), Victor Madeira (Persian), Colleen Farrow (Bengali), Chloe Hadjimatheou (Arabic), Bronwhyn Thomas (Arabic).

Developed by Michalis Sivvas, formerly at SOAS Language Centre and CETL-LWW.

Visit the CETL LWW webpages for more learner support resources.