Peace, Food, and ESL

Friday, September 21, was International Day of Peace, a day of nonviolence and cease-fire declared by the United Nations. I was subbing for an ESL class in the afternoon, so I thought I would prepare some peace-related vocabulary and idioms for our lesson.

To start the lesson, I asked the students (an intermediate-level class)  what they thought peace means. One said the time after a war, and another said friendship and harmony between people, and also an inner sense of calm. I had printed an online definition of peace – to my surprise, there were 17 total definitions of peace! We reviewed and talked about the definitions, found some new vocabulary words within the definitions (such as antagonistic, anxiety, lucidity) and discussed phrases like “rest in peace.”

Somehow, at some point, we began talking about food. I think it was actually a side tangent – one of the students mentioned that she didn’t like to cook, which then led to the topic of organic food and GMOs. It just so happened that I had also printed an article from Breaking News English that talked about the recent Stanford study that claims that organically grown food is no more nutritious than conventionally grown food. We read and discussed the article, with the students largely disagreeing with the study’s findings.

Class time was up. We didn’t have time to finish the peace definitions. As she was getting up to leave, one student commented, “What a funny class! We started out talking about peace and ended up talking about food!”

I told her about PeaceMeal, saying that this progression of discussion made perfect sense to me. And hopefully it will lead us in a new direction for next week :)

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