When I was growing up, food had a large part in my life. My world revolved around the kitchen: my mother loved to cook, and she loved for us to keep her company, so the social hub of the house had always been the kitchen.
Not all kids today have that sort of experience. Some of the kids who came to France had never had the same sorts of kitchen experiences that I had growing up, and to me, that’s a real shame.
An integral part of the language program here, especially with the younger kids, was the cooking portion. Every child, no matter what age, had the chance to make apricot and/or peach jam, but there were also croque monsieurs, fruit salad, mayonnaise and vinaigrette to be learned.
Kids were given special jobs every once in awhile: small tasks that reminded me of the ones my mother used to give me. Peel the potatoes. Shred the carrots. Help set the table. And slowly, the kids are learning not only French, but a love of food. Suddenly, they were asking to help. Looking to pick wild berries on the side of the road. Asking questions and developing a real interest in what we were cooking and eating.
This is where the difference lies between language classes and a language program like the one where I work: here, we teach not only language, but culture, and food is an integral part of the culture here in France.