Fast Food Unit: Intermediate Spanish

Fast Food Unit: Int Spanish

After the news unit, students created a news project.  My colleague is writing up that project, and I will share it here as well.  We had two weeks before the exam period which is lasting almost two weeks.  Our students don’t take an exam (notice my uptick in blogging recently!), so my colleague and I wanted to create a short unit based on one of the news articles.  Since one of the articles discussed Krispy Kreme in Guatemala, we decided to create a unit around the fast food companies in Latin America.

Day 1:

To introduce this unit, I started with stations.  I LOVE stations, and they have become quicker to set up because I designate four stations each time:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Game

The speaking is always just a speaking activity with me.  It gives me a lot of time with small groups and we just have a conversation around the topic.  We discussed which fast food restaurants they liked and what they ate at each one.  For the game station, they completed a Quizizz to review previous food vocabulary.  For the reading section, I had students read the menus of a Burger King restaurant in Guatemala and a McDonald’s restaurant in Mexico.  Students used this Venn Diagram to compare these restaurants with fast food restaurants in the US.  Finally, for the writing section, I gave them the menu from the Pollo Campero restaurant and had them explain what they would want to eat at that restaurant.  I knew that they would all use the same phrases, so I made sure to provide them with others to use like: me da asco, prefiero, comería, and compraría.

Then at the end of class, we did a bracket of which fast foods we like the most.  I find myself going back again and again to the idea of bracketing for input.  It is quick, simple, engaging and zero prep!


This is where I feel like I need to work a bit more.  Right there, I just threw three resources at my students.  Two would have been great- and they could have reflected on it more.  Next time, I would stick with Burger King and Pollo Campero.  Then students could write about what they wanted to eat from either restaurant.  I also like that it allows more choice, and it integrates both the reading and writing even more.  Depending on when I speak to my students, I could also incorporate more of the menus into that as well.  I also didn’t get a chance to include more speaking- but I would like to have them reflect even more with Flipgrid.

Day 2:

The following day, I wanted to get more input for my students.  I decided to start with a few commercials.  However, I wanted to start with a pre-listening activity.  I used this PearDeck with a few screenshots from each commercial.  I asked students to describe what they saw in Spanish.  This activates prior knowledge and prepares them for listening.  The great feature about PearDeck is when my students see the other words that other students write as they are answering the questions as well.  Then they remember other words that they can use.  With the same picture, students then made a prediction on what would be going on in that scene.  Then, at the end, I had students make a prediction of words that they might hear in the commercial based on the images from the two pictures.  I like these techniques because they are easily done with any video.

I grabbed AnneMarie’s simple interpretive listening quiz for an activity for students to do as we watched these commercials.  Students watched the Mega BK stacker and the KFC Commercial Box 5 en 1.  We reviewed what students wrote for their interpretive listening activities.  Then, we used PearDeck Vocabulary to start reviewing more of the words for this unit.

Day 3:

Then, we started to look at longer articles around why people eat fast food.  Students read this article and explained their opinion on the article based on Martina’s Textivate activities.  Then, I had students split up and do a mock debate on whether people should eat fast food occasionally or if they should never eat it.  They had some great conversations about how frequently people should actually eat it.  This activity was great except not as many students participated as I would have liked.  At NECTFL, I learned about the idea of a silent debate where students have a discussion on one piece of paper.  You can give them sentence starters to help them discuss a bigger question and they write notes to each other back and forth with a partner.  In the future, I will do the silent debate before having them discuss the topic aloud.  This will help empower some of the quieter students.

Day 4/5:

At this point, I went to NECTFL.  I gave my students a practice interpretive reading quiz and then an interpretive reading quiz that was pretty similar.  I typically throw on a non-interpretive question with the assessment.  Since we were working on their opinion earlier, I had them explain if they agreed with the article or not in Spanish.  The practice article is here and the practice assessment is here.  I also had a GimKit for them to practice, but they didn’t get to it.

Day 6:

When I got back from the conference, I decided to really focus on one resource and evaluate the products, practices and perspectives of the culture.  I have somewhat understood this for awhile, but this was the first time that I put it into practice.  I really liked Rebecca’s analogy of a product, practice and perspective.

  • The product is a to-go coffee mug that we use in the US.
  • The practice is the fact that we carry our coffee to many places, and drink it on the go.
  • The perspective is how we value being busy in our culture.

I wanted to do the same thing in my own classes.  I decided to use a video– from Ruben’s Hamburguesas.   I set up this video in a MovieTalk way.  At the beginning, students discussed their ideal hamburger.  Then as we watched it, I pointed out important vocabulary.  This video demonstrates one reason why I love using authentic resources.  I used the phrase jitomate since it was used in the commercial since it was out of Mexico.  (A student even used that word on his final written assessment!) Then students compared these products with our own hamburgers in the US.

Day 7/8:

The next day, we had a chance to really delve into the menu.  Students recorded a few menu items on their notes.  Then, students started working on these questions or puedos.  I made sure that some of the questions tied back to the menu that they were working with.  (As I noted in my interpersonal evolution– I am getting better!)  As a class we started talking about practices around the menu.  We talked about the use of the grill and the fact that the sides were typically a bit healthier than our sides in fast food restaurants.

THEN, I pretty much learned my lesson and had students revisit this article and come up with a color, symbol and image that represented the article.  I learned that my students liked to think superficially about the article.  Since the unit was fast food, they wanted to pick colors like red and yellow; however, that wasn’t the purpose of the article.  I liked this activity because it required deeper thinking from my students.  (And the fact that it was zero prep for me was even better!)  We ended up taking two classes to really finish this activity.  Finally, I could see that they would get more out of doing this activity again.  It wasn’t a flash in the pan.  We did a write and discuss to conclude class.

Day 9/10:

Finally, we tackled perspectives.  I explained what a perspective was in general.  Then, students decided on perspectives based on the menu.  (Look at me- finally reusing an authentic resource and getting depth with it.  See also- my list of SO MANY authentic resources I typically use!)  They discussed it within small groups.  Then, I wrote them all on the board and students investigated their perspective online.  While we may make assumptions based on what we see, it is important to investigate it.

Then- we have my best laid plans and what happens when you know that you will have a snow day on the last day of the trimester!  I really wanted to explain more of the perspectives and have the students discuss what they figured out about their perspectives.  (One group thought that the salads were influenced by the US and were surprised to learn that Caesar salad was from Mexico!)  BUT, it was the last day of the trimester, and I wasn’t going to see my students for two weeks due to exams.  However, it forced some good things from me.

At the beginning of class, I wrote the perspective that the students had learned after they had investigated the original perspective.  I left these notes on the board.  Then, I did a mini-assessment.  Students used ALL of their resources to write down three comparisons with the fast food culture in Mexico and the US.  Since my students are in the intermediate level, I want them to start supporting their thoughts instead of just throwing unconnected thoughts at me.  I had them provide a detail from their notes, the article, the menu SOMETHING that supported their comparison.  (This was the idea that I was really happy with… and will probably use it in my upper levels, too!)

Whew!  That was a lot!  But, I was really happy how parts of this unit turned out, and I can’t wait to develop it further next year.  I am also looking forward to having my students continue to think more in the product, perspective and practice as they reflect on culture.  What did my students think?  In their reflections (that they did on their snow day that we ended up getting), some wrote:

  • “This heavily related to our lives.”
  • “It is interesting to see how different their cultures are in different countries.”
  • “It was challenging to debate in class.”
  • “It is very modern and a problem today.”

I hope this can help you if you would like to develop a stand alone unit or you are looking to add some culture to your food unit.


3 thoughts on “Fast Food Unit: Intermediate Spanish

  1. This is so helpful for a cuisine class I’m teaching. When I asked for suggestions on what to talk about, my students listed fast food as one of their top interests. So, this is fantastic. Muchas gracias!

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