A comprehensive lesson plan to cover vocabulary and commonly used words and expressions for going to the restaurant. It also gives practice in dealing with bad waiters/waitresses or bad customers. Can be followed up by talking about food or common polite constructions like, "would you like?" Note that while this lesson plan can be easily adapted to beginners, and textbooks provide plenty of resources for easy dialogues ordering food, I have written this lesson plan for intermediate and advanced students.
This is a full lesson plan that takes about 1.5 hours with a small class. It could be broken into two sessions, with the sample dialogue and vocab
for the first lesson and roleplay in the second lesson.
Hand out At the Restaurant Sample Dialogue and Vocab. Have students discuss the questions under Warm Up. Or you could do it as an all-class discussion. The question about restaurants in the West may prompt no response from students so you might have to prompt them: "Well, does the waiter ask if you want smoking or non-smoking?" "Does your waiter seat you, or do you seat yourself?" It will depend on their host culture.
Then get the students to go over every step they can think of when you go to the restaurant. This is a good time to teach vocab like "maitre d'' "entree" and so on. Problems with going out may come up. Students may say, "The waiter will be rude!" or, "Then the table next to you will be drunk." Feel free to go into that
without pre-empting the discussion later.
Then have students act out the sample dialogue. You may want to substitute different food items. Then go over the comprehension questions to focus attention on what the waiter says, what language is used to say what you want to eat, recommending food, the tone of politeness. You might want to go over other moments in dining out and what people say to: give the bill, pay, order desert, complain and so on.
Now go over the problems people may have eating out. Ask about typical problems. For more advanced students or if the class seems to like it, you could get into a discussion about customer service, the restaurant business and how hard it is, waiting tables, reasons for these problems...
Now break students into groups of 3-4, and pick one student to play the waiter. Hand the waiter the Waiter Sheet and a
Menus and the customers also get Menus. Or cut and paste them to Word and change them as you see fit. Don't forget to adjust the waiter sheet which has information customers may ask, such as what kind of juice is available or what chicken cordon blue is. Have the students act out going out to eat.
You probably want to start it with the customers arriving and the waiter greeting them and seating them, but you could just start it with the students sitting down. Students will probably take a long time at first to read the menu entirely. If you need to step into explain things, try to act like a manager or administrator as it keeps students in the mood. You will also want to decide if you want students to just order, or if you want to have them act out the whole meal including desert, paying, leaving a tip.
Once they've gone through it once, put students in new groups and hand out Role Cards. There are some
for waiters and some for customers. These introduce problems into the roleplay like a rude waiter or a customer trying to get a discount/.
To debrief, you could review key phrases again: "I'll have..." or "I'd like..." or you could go over some food idioms. English Club has a good worksheet on food sayings.
For another lesson plan on food, check out Talking About Food where students discuss food and food-related holidays. A fun and easy topic for students of all levels and it has a great cultural aspect to it, too.