Food Reading Video

Mexican food lesson: Chilaquiles rojos

A classic Mexican breakfast!

chilaquiles rojos

I created this lesson a few years ago before I was turned onto TPRS so… yeah. There are things that I still like; for example, there is a good amount of reading with a purpose and it is designed to be taught 100% in the target language. It was meant as a one day diversion between units, so there isn’t much to it. I have rewritten parts of it to be more comprehensible. Here are the steps that I followed:


(1) Introduce key vocabulary: I had a real issue with this adaptation because, frankly, I’m not sure if most cooking vocabulary is truly essential for the lower levels. Nonetheless I did want to have some sort of cooking project-unit-presentation this year and I wanted to keep it in Spanish, so I settled on focusing on a few verbs:


hierve / necesitas hervir el agua

cuenta / necesitas contar hasta ocho

mueve / necesitas mover las tortillas


In addition here are a few even lower-frequency words. Ughh, this is so NOT TPRS:


dora / necesitas dorar las tortillas

licua / necesitas licuar los jitomates y los chiles

cuela / necesitas colar los jitomates licuados

sazona / necesitas sazonar el caldo


A little drama goes a long way to create interest in this lesson. I normally greet my students as they enter the classroom so on this day I was wearing a chef’s hat. One silly prop made all the difference! I announced that I am the “jefe de la cocina” and that I needed several ayudantes para ayudarme en la cocina. Projected on the screen behind me were the photos of the main cooking verbs (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE POWERPOINT). I also had printed out a photo of each picture so as we went through each slide a student volunteer came up, held the photo and pretended that s/he was my apprentice cook.


Once we got our volunteers I started circling. The objective of circling isn’t to stump the class with a random question, but rather to get them to process the new vocabulary over and over again in a comprehensible context. Questions like: “Clase, ¿quién hierve el agua?” (they all shout “Sam” because he is holding the picture of boiling water) ¿Sam hierve el pollo? (They shout out “no”) No, no hierve el pollo. ¡Hierve el agua! ¿Hierve el agua para hacer té o café? (There might be no obvious answer, so I lean over to Sam and ask him “Sam, ¿prefieres té o café? ¡¿Café?! Clase, Sam hierve el agua para hacer café”) ¿Por qué hierve el agua? (they may just shout out the word “café”, and that is fine). I do this for each verb… once you get good at this technique it can be done really quickly and after only a few minutes students will already develop a sense for what sounds right. If you have never tried this powerful technique (which is the heart of TPRS) then CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO AND READ A BRIEF EXPLANATION by Martina Bex.


(2) Then I showed THIS AUTHENTIC VIDEO (captioned roughly to facilitate comprehension).


(3) After watching the video once I passed out our video processing sheet. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE VIDEO PROCESSING SHEET. We review after each section to make sure that everyone is on board and we watch the video a second time before completing the first side. On the back side there is a food pyramid… it’s interesting how many of my high school students are uncertain of where to place certain foods. Finally the last part  (la receta) is completed individually and, although there was a lot of new vocabulary presented at the beginning of the lesson, by this point EVERYONE can complete the final activity successfully. We go over everything and they take the recipe home. I offer extra credit for anyone who makes chilaquiles rojos for their family.

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  1. I really appreciate this post, Mike. I know it’s an older one but it inspired me to move forward with a similar-type lesson and it ended up being a very fun, high-engagement CI day with my students. I was amazed at how willing they were to be imaginative along with me.

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