ESL Discussion: Thanksgiving Foods

Use this ESL discussion worksheet to learn about the origins of some classic Thanksgiving foods and then take the discussion further by talking about GMOs, natural selection and industrial farming.

Thanksgiving dinner is everyone favorite or least favorite holiday meal of the year. It’s all a matter of perspective. Seeing extended family can create tension, awkwardness and drama or memories (good and bad) that will last a lifetime.

It truly is the one time of year where family takes centerstage in America and even the most workaholic parents stay home. For me, Thanksgiving was just amazing; I loved the chaos, the food, the family members I never saw, the underlying tension and pressure of putting together a meal for so many people. It’s something I’d like to keep alive as a part of my international life.

And speaking of Thanksgiving food, every ESL classroom is full of discussions right now about why on earth Americans eat this that and the other thing. The Thanksgiving meal is so classic, so stereotypical that even one who has never attended Thanksgiving probably has a good idea of what’s served. Use this ESL discussion about the origins of Thanksgiving foods to answer a few of these questions, and then discuss the broader question of GMOs, natural selection and industrial farming. I mean, you can’t just talk about turkey and stuffing for 90 minutes can you?

  • Warm-up question ideas: Ask the class if anybody has been to a Thanksgiving meal. If so, tell the class about it! Go around the room and have each person name one food they believe is eaten at a typical American Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Watch the video once and either ask students which of the foods mentioned in their favorite and why. Least favorite?
  • Look at the vocabulary words on the PDF before watching the video a second time.
  • Put students in pairs to answer the questions on the left.
  • Set up new pairs to complete the speaking activity on the right.
  • At the end, put students in small groups of 3-4 to complete the group activity.
  • Think about assigning the go further activity on the second page for homework.

The link to the video:

Still a bit too cliché for you? Check out this ESL discussion worksheet on the National Day of Mourning >>


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Ian Kime

Ian Kime

I have been teaching English abroad since receiving my CELTA certificate in Poland in 2018. I enjoy tracking my individual students’ development but love having lessons with big groups! Now that I teach online, I am accompanied by my sidekicks Olaf, Mała, Pirate and Bandit on a regular basis.

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