Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm Sorry, We're Out of That

The last few weeks in my University English class, we’ve been practicing using a menu that I found on the internet from a diner in Ohio. The students work in pairs, taking turns being the customer and the waiter. I try to use activities that incorporate speaking, listening, reading, and writing and this one works nicely – they have to read the menu, speak and listen to give and take the order, then the waiter writes the order.  The first day, I limited them to the three breakfast specials on the menu, with choices of how the eggs are cooked, three meat choices, and choice of beverage.  Each week I make changes in the role playing activity to get them to think more about the language they are using. We've expanded the choices of what they can order and added questions like, do you want ketchup with your fries?  Last week, I had the waiters say “I’m sorry, we’re out of that” in response to something the customer ordered, then make an appropriate recommendation for a substitute.  If the waiter tells the customer we are out of bagels, then recommends toast, I consider that appropriate. If the waiter were to recommend bacon in place of a bagel, I would think the waiter doesn’t know what a bagel is. For some reason, they all like saying “I’m sorry, we’re out of that” and think it’s very funny.

This week we worked on comparisons in our lesson, which carried over to the diner.  The customer had to tell the waiter two things she was thinking about and the waiter had to make a recommendation with a reason. Some of their made up dialogs incuded "I don't know if I should order the orange juice or the grapefruit juice" and 'I think you should order the orange juice because it is sweeter" or "should I order the waffle or the hot cakes?" and "I think you should order the waffle because it is more delicious." They did very well in figuring out when to use "more" and when to use the "er" ending.

Here in Japan, the price on the menu is the price the customer pays; you don’t pay tax and tip. The students don’t understand the practice of giving the waiter a tip.  They want to know why you have to pay for the food, then pay to have it served.  One student said she wanted takeout food, instead.

Ted stopped by my class one day and took this photo.  They love to have their picture taken.

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