A big "thank you" to Dr. Barbara Schmidt-Rinehart,
Ashland University, for the original
idea for this lesson.
Teacher: Jean LeLoup
School: SUNY Cortland
Lesson Title: "United Statesian"
cultural symbols: McDonald's
Topic: Meal taking/food/drink:
Skills Targeted: Listening,
Speaking, Writing, Culture
Model: Culture - 3 Ps
Class Level: HS III, College
Intermediate, Adult learners
| TARGETED STANDARDS
1.1 Interpersonal Communication
1.3 Presentational Communication
2.1 Cultural Practices and Perspectives
2.2 Cultural Products and Perspectives
4.2 Cultural Comparisons
||SWBAT discuss cultural products, practices, and perspectives
related to the topic of meal taking/food/drink in pairs or small groups.
||SWBAT write an explanation of one cultural product
and/or practice and then present/explain the perspective to their peers.
||Students will learn to use direct objects with affirmative
and negative commands.
||SWBAT identify cultural symbols (products) related
to the topic of meal taking/food/drink in the TL culture as well as their
||SWBAT identify cultural practices related to these
symbols in the TL culture as well as their own.
||SWBAT identify and explain at least one perspective
underlying each cultural product and practice.
||SWBAT compare and contrast products, practices, and
perspectives related to the topic of meal taking/food/drink in the TL culture
and their own.
|McDonald’s coffee cup (real life or photo)
Set the stage
- Ask students what a cultural symbol is – generate
defining characteristics and/or a class definition. Put these on the
overhead (OH) or on the board.
- Brainstorm a few cultural symbols of the TL culture
(here, U. S.) with the class as a whole—write on the board. Ask students
for 1-2 meaningful symbols from their own culture. Note these as well on
- Narrow the focus to meal taking/food/drink and repeat
Cultural Products and Practices
- Show the class a Styrofoam coffee cup from McDonald’s
(have the real thing or use a photo).
- In pairs or small groups, brainstorm and generate
as many words as possible related to this one cultural product/symbol. Some
may be nouns identifying other products and practices, some words may be
adjectives or verbs.
- Have each group report to the class; make a list
of all words on the board or OH; eliminate duplications.
- Make sure all students understand each entry in
terms of vocabulary. If necessary, have the contributing group explain briefly
what they meant by any word or idea that is not clear to the rest of their
- A sample list can be found here.
- Go through the list, discussing each entry.
Identify it as a product or practice, if appropriate.
Then, ask students to identify what they think is
the perspective underlying each entry. If they do not know, the teacher
can elaborate or students can research this for homework.
- For a product, ask "What is it?" "Where do you find
- For a practice, ask "How do you use this/do this?"
This activity can be done in small groups or pairs
first, w/entries divided up among the groups. Alternatively, this
can be a whole class discussion, depending on the number of students, the
level of TL proficiency, etc.
Continue the discussion until all the products and
practices have been clarified and the perspective(s) underlying each have
- For the perspective, ask "Why do they do this?" or
"Why might this be done in this way?"
- Try to identify multiple possible responses here.
- Note that multiple perspectives frequently exist;
this is good to underscore. Indicate to students that there is generally no
one “right” or “correct” perspective; this can be a very individual thing
from a native speaker's point of view. Also, there can be "incorrect" perspectives,
as might happen when a non-native speaker misinterprets the perspective(s)
by filtering through his/her own and different culture. (See lesson plan
on cultural perspectives entitled “La buena crianza” in the FLTEACH lesson
plan database (http://www.cortland.edu/flteach/lessons/).
- Have each student identify a cultural symbol/product
related to the topic of meal taking/food/drink from the L1 culture.
- Next, the student selects a product or practice
from the list generated by the McDonald’s coffee cup discussion.
- The student writes a paragraph on these two products
and/or practices, with their concomitant perspectives, comparing and contrasting
them. The student may also wish to use a chart or a Venn diagram as a vehicle
- The student presents this cultural comparison to
- The student turns in the written comparison to the
IV. CULTURAL INFORMATION
|Various products, practices, and perspectives relating
to McDonald’s and then to the L1 cultural symbol.
V. TECHNOLOGY USED
|Overhead projector, Elmo for recording/displaying
brainstorming ideas and for student presentation
Copyright © 2004 Jean W. LeLoup
McDonald’s coffee cup (sample list
of brainstorm ideas)
- fast food
- Ronald McDonald (charity)
- ecology -> styrofoam
- stability: sameness; dependability
- coffee – great taste
- eat on the run; mealtimes; on the go; lifestyle
- law suit: suing for hot coffee
- golden arches
- McDonald’s -> a national symbol
- fashionable in other countries but expensive
- workers: labor, wages, age
- American imperialism
Copyright © 2004 Jean W. LeLoup