‘¡Buenos días! ¿Cómo estás?’ Diana van der Jagt-García greets her students cheerfully as they bustle into her classroom. Today, she is preparing her English stream class (including several international students) for hosting a business diner.
Van der Jagt-García switches between English and Spanish effortlessly as she explains to her students what they will be doing for the next 2 hours. They will learn how to select a restaurant, peruse the menu and inquire about the menu’s ingredients and the dietary needs of their dinner companions.
If you were to close your eyes as the lecturer talks, you’d almost imagine yourself somewhere far away from the Kralingse Zoom location. That is, until the subject turns to homework: “Has everyone reviewed the vocabulary lists and sentences?” You can hear a couple of grunts of denial here and there. “Well, I guess I know what our next class will be like. ¿Vale?”
The high-level class is easy to follow due to a mix of text, images and sound extracts. The smart board shows images of various restaurants in Rotterdam. The Sumo sushi place, what does it look like? Exótico! And the McDonald’s, how would you describe that? The students mumble vaguely. In Spanish, fast food is called Comida Rápida, eating quickly. And the décor of McDonald’s? Sencilla. Basic.
Once everyone has gotten into the flow of things, the textbooks are brought out. Van der Jagt-García has to call out the page number three times before everyone has found the exercise on Russel and Judith. The two students in the book are going to be living with a host family in Sevilla and have to communicate their dietary needs so that their host parents will know what they can and cannot eat.
The students have to fill out a list. Are Russel and Judith on a diet? What foods do they like and dislike? Do they drink? Tener alergia a los lácteos (lactose)? A los cacahuetes (peanuts)? Once the dietary needs of the two students in the book have been established, the students have to compose a three-course meal for them based on a menu. Afterwards, they listen to a sound extract of Russel and Judith ordering their meal to the waiter.
And then the time has come for the students to converse themselves. They are teamed up in pairs, with one getting a menu and the other the explanation of said menu. They have to order food and ask a few complicated questions about the ingredients. “¿Qué es paella?’ sighs a bespectacled boy. How to explain that one…
After fifteen minutes of intense conversation about Spanish food, the teacher announces that they’re on break. “You must be hungry after all that talking – I sure am!” As the classroom empties, she retrieves a very international lunch from her bag: a plastic baggie containing a few whole-wheat sandwiches. ¡Buen provecho!