Cooking with recipes in your target language is a great way to find new and interesting vocabulary. It’s also great for reading practise in general, especially when instructions have lengthy explanations, and is a fun and interesting way to keep yourself motivated. It’s easy to become bored or lethargic with the same language exercises. You could even incorporate this as an activity you do with your online intercambio partner!

Read the first two instalments in this series of blog posts here:

Why You Should Try Cooking with Recipes in Your Target Language

Culture

Reading recipes is a great way to learn about the culture of the countries that speak your target language for a number of reasons. Firstly, a country’s culture is often closely linked to their culture. It can tell you a lot about whether or not they eat certain food groups, whether they tend to eat in larger groups or share food, and what time of day they tend to have their meals. Reading instructional texts that are written by native speakers can also tell you about how they instruct one another and give an insight into their politeness levels and other general customs.

The first ever dish of “Espinacas con garbanzos” (Spinach with chickpeas) was brought to southern Spain by the Moors in the eighteenth century! You can find a recipe for this traditional Sevillian dish in the Intercambio+ Handbook for Sevilla.

Cuisine

Before you visit a country, it’s a good idea to get to know the local cuisine. Not only is it polite to know and understand the basic customs of an area before you visit, it will help you to integrate into the culture and better understand a menu when you read one. This is especially important if you have any particular dietary requests. Simultaneously learn your target language and develop useful skills and knowledge for when you finally put it into practise!

In the handbooks that come along with our Intercambio+ project, you’ll find information about the local cuisine in the areas you’re visiting as well as useful hints, tips and phrases.

Vocabulary

Although books, classes and apps are all great ways of learning, it’s impossible for them to teach you every single piece of vocabulary that you’ll want to know. Cooking with target-language recipes is a great way to delve into food-related vocabulary that you might not come across in other scenarios. The same goes for phrases used solely in these settings, such as the verbs used to perform specific tasks in the kitchen and the context around them. Depending on your target language, this may also be a great opportunity to learn the imperative tense, or whichever tense is typically used to give instructions.

Did you know? Recipes in Spanish are most commonly written in the present tense using the impersonal “se” conjugation.

Context

Studies have shown that learning a language in context helps you to retain information. New words for different foods and tasks are so much easier to remember when you’re actually working with those ingredients and carrying out those tasks. The different sights, smells and textures will all help you to retain that vital information. Rather than seeing a word on a flashcard or an app next to the English translation, you’ll learn what it means by seeing and doing.

For some further reading, here’s a study on learning a language through cooking: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140922110301.htm