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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Food Culture Photo Essays

Foreign Language Extension

Asia, China
Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Foreign Language, Social Studies & Geography

After viewing a slide show from a Peace Corps Volunteer in China, students will use Peace Corps' Mandarin Chinese language lessons to develop their own food culture photo essay.

Begin by viewing Amy Throndsen's slide show, A Taste of Tongren, and discussing the central concepts using the accompanying lesson plan, What Can Food Tell Us About a Place? Students will then build their Mandarin Chinese vocabulary using Peace Corps language lessons, and apply these skills to narrate a simple food culture photo essay of their own.


Students will

  • recall Mandarin Chinese vocabulary words related to food and mealtimes
  • speak, read or write simple phrases in Mandarin Chinese
  • discuss the cultural importance of food and mealtimes within their own cultures and within Chinese culture


If appropriate for students' language ability, watch the slide show A Taste of Tongren (see Featured Multimedia) a second time while following along with the transcript in Mandarin Chinese (pdf) (see Supporting Documents). Have students pause at any words or phrases that are unfamiliar.

Use the Coverdell World Wise Schools Mandarin in China language lessons (see Featured Multimedia for lessons and Supporting Documents for a transcript of these lessons) and other resources to practice vocabulary and conversational phrases that relate to food or mealtimes.

Have students conduct research and prepare a photo essay about the food culture in a particular region of China, using Amy Throndsen's slide show as a model. Alternately, students could create a simple photo essay to inform a visitor about their own food culture (specific to the students' region, state, community, school, or family). Photo essays can be developed online or in print.

Depending on students' ability levels, have students write captions to the photo essays in Chinese, or practice narrating the photos aloud with a partner using Chinese words and phrases.

Frameworks & Standards

Enduring Understandings
  • Language helps us better understand and be understood by others.
  • Learning about a different culture can give us insight into our own culture.
Essential Questions
  • What does it mean to communicate effectively?
  • How is my culture similar to and different from other cultures?
  • Foreign Language
    • Standard 1: Communication
    • Standard 2: Cultures
    • Standard 4: Comparisons 
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