The Language of Food: Carving out a Place for Food Studies in Language Curricula

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.


This chapter argues for the place of food studies in tertiary language studies programs. With a myriad of changes to education throughout the twentieth century, language study lost its eminent position as a gateway to higher learning, which means we are required to articulate our relevance to students and university governance. Food and food culture have great appeal amongst students and carving out a place for food studies in our language curricula allows us to generate a new interest amongst a changed student cohort. As well as providing students with an enriching way of learning about other cultures, the non-canonical and universal phenomenon of food or food discourse has the advantage of being immediately accessible to our students who all have their own experiences of food. The study of food also provides us with an opportunity to enhance students’ intercultural skills, which have increasing value in the global workplace. Understanding the multiple layers of meaning attached to food and food culture helps students to develop a sensitivity to the importance of the everyday in their interactions with other cultures. We will discuss this synergy between languages and food studies in the context of tertiary language studies in Spanish and Italian, detailing some of the initiatives in this area.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Emotions are a fleeting experience, sometimes lasting only moments before dissipating. Prior research in SLA has either ignored emotions, underestimated their relevance, or has studied them as a relatively stable individual difference variable. In contrast, the present study takes an idiodynamic approach to examine the rapidly changing relationship between enjoyment and anxiety in second language communication, on a moment-to-moment timescale. University students who speak French as a second language were recruited to complete oral tasks in their second language. Participants then rated their per-second fluctuations in each emotion while watching a video recording of their tasks. Immediately after this, they were interviewed about their attributions for fluctuations in their ratings. We found that the relationship between enjoyment and anxiety is highly dynamic, resulting in varying patterns of correlation ranging from negative to positive. Triangulation of ratings of anxiety and enjoyment with interview data produces a richer understanding of the role of emotions in second language communication.
Full-text available
The use of food as a core mode of exploring and explaining the world has expanded remarkably quickly in the past ten years, with food studies programming in particular gaining ground in institutional learning arrangements during the last three. Establishing a new field and creating relevant educational programming carries its associated struggles, practicalities and initial successes. To this end, this report highlights five of the most pressing themes to emerge from the 2013 " Future of Food Studies " interdisciplinary workshop, namely: (1) locating food studies in the institutional culture; (2) training undergraduate and graduate students within and beyond disciplinarity; (3) establishing food studies labs and pedagogy; (4) engaging the public beyond the campus; and (5) funding strategies for research and training. Participants agreed on the relevancy of food studies to future learning, teaching and research agendas and argued that food studies could not prosper without a commitment to transgressing conventional institutional and philosophical boundaries. At a time when the value of higher education is under intense scrutiny, we acknowledge the need to make food studies a paradigm capable of providing 167
Full-text available
Today, teaching and learning tend to be viewed from a constructivist perspective. Learning is regarded as a self-directed process of constructing meaning, which takes place in interaction. The teacher supports the learning process by selecting input and approaches that can scaffold the learning process and guide learners towards independent learning. Teachers are being urged to embrace this paradigm, which focuses on learning by constructing meaning (e.g. Baines & Stanley, 2000). Research into educational innovation suggests that the success of innovations depends on the extent to which teachers can realise a ‘personal paradigm shift’ in their views on what constitutes effective teaching for good learning. A change in teachers’ beliefs is prerequisite for changes in teaching practice. This paper focuses on Spanish foreign language teachers’ perceptions of culture teaching. It investigates to what extent present-day teaching practice reflects constructivist approaches. Specifically, it shows the extent to which teachers depart from what they perceive to be their learners’ current understanding of foreign cultures when selecting cultural contents, and to what extent their culture teaching approaches can contribute to the learners’ acquisition of independent culture-learning skills. The results show that current teaching practice only in part reflects constructivist convictions on the teachers’ side.
Full-text available
Recent decades have seen tertiary languages programs subjected to systemic (if not systematic) de-professionalization, particularly through marked erosion of senior leadership, and widespread juniorization and casualization of staff. The causes of this profoundly negative trend—which has implications for academic standing, research activity and morale across the sector—range from neglect within individual institutions to frequent societal perceptions of languages as being without value, or only of narrow instrumental value (for example, as an adjunct to commerce or trade). This article argues, however, that the re-professionalization process has begun. In particular, within the tertiary languages sector, there remain strong currents of resilience, dynamism and innovation, which have produced, among other things, a major initiative to counter the forces of erosion. The recently created Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU) will provide both a forum for safeguarding, enhancing and sharing professional approach to the provision of language education. It will thus contribute to the sector's long-term sustainability. It may even play a pioneering role in the wider sustainability of Australian universities. Background
Technical Report
Full-text available
[Full text at:]
Full-text available
It is often argued that the study of a foreign language can influence the attitudes and behaviour of learners. One of the goals of language teaching is to challenge stereotypes and encourage learners to engage with the cultural forms that can be accessed through a new language. Through learning a language it is hoped that learners will draw on their experiences to reflect critically on their own cultures and identities. We set out to examine these claims with respect to an advanced Open University French course for adult speakers of English. This article reports on a documentary analysis of the course materials for a particular unit and of a very small opportunity sample of student work and tutor comments. The unit sets out to provide a positive view of France as a multicultural society. The analysis focuses on the extent to which the materials and the tasks help learners engage with issues of racism, xenophobia, antiracism and human rights. We found that issues of race and racism are not presented in their complexity and that the materials and learning tasks unwittingly tend to reinforce stereotyped views. We suggest that attention should be given to helping students develop skills of intercultural evaluation. This requires an understanding of human rights on the one hand and of the various forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia on the other. We conclude by proposing some guidelines for course writers and teachers that invite them to include a range of perspectives, including those of minorities. This attention to materials and pedagogy should enable students to engage critically with issues of race, identity and culture as they learn a foreign language.
Various stakeholders have called for changes in approaches to languages policy, in response to concerns about student participation, particularly in the senior secondary years of schooling in Australia. To examine the issue, predictors of students' senior secondary participation in Languages were investigated using the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) data. The analysis indicated that student characteristics including socio-economic status (SES), immigration status and location were significant predictors of students' participation. The discussion is positioned within a broader discourse about languages education in Australia and indicates that more should be done to accommodate learners who are under-represented in senior secondary languages programs. The findings of this study contribute to existing research on debates about equity and trends in languages participation. Publication;dn=053538231241395;res=IELIAC
Discussion about how to monitor and increase participation in languages study is gaining relevance in the UK, the US and Australia across various sectors, but particularly in higher education. In recent times levels of enrolment in modern languages at universities around the world have been described in terms of ‘crisis’ or even ‘permanent crisis’. In Australia, however, the introduction of a new course structure at the University of Western Australia, which established a three-year general Bachelor degree followed by professional degrees, has resulted in unprecedented levels of language enrolments. Using data from this university as a case in point, we provide substantial evidence to argue that language enrolments are directly related to overlooked issues of degree structure and flexibility, rather than to other factors.
Combining perspectives from discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, this introduction provides students with a comprehensive, up-to-date and critical overview of the field of intercultural communication. Ingrid Piller explains communication in context using two main approaches.The first treats cultural identity, difference and similarity as discursive constructions. The second, informed by bilingualism studies, highlights the use and prestige of different languages and language varieties as well as the varying access that speakers have to them. Linguistics students will find this book a useful tool for studying language and globalization as well as applied linguistics. Key features include: Case studies from around the world Learning objectives, key points, exercises and suggestions for further reading in each chapter Reader-friendly, accessible style.
While ‘the relationship between food, culture and translation may be unduly neglected,’ an observation made by the organisers of the First International Conference on Food and Culture in Translation, this topic has, in fact, already ignited significant innovative research in Canada. This article first addresses some of the challenges associated with research in Food Studies (FS) in a bilingual, bicultural (Anglo-Saxon and French) context. While FS has somewhat established itself as field within the larger Humanities in the English-speaking world, this is less the case in French-speaking countries. This presents a challenge for Canadian translators and FS scholars alike, as some terms associated with the field do not translate seamlessly. While the ‘problem’ of untranslatability is not necessarily novel within Translation Studies (TS), it is interesting to note that food is usually deemed a ‘universal’; here, food proves a sort of cultural litmus test, both conceptually and linguistically. Further, the article will examine some of the theoretical overlaps between FS and TS. Of particular interest here are the shared (re)conceptualisations of textuality, consumption of a cultural Other, representation and cultural mediation. These theoretical overlaps will be illustrated using examples drawn from culinary exchanges and FS research in Canada. Examples, such as the translation of Canadian menus, cookbooks and food policies will also be explored and analysed.
This article explores the educational objectives of a University of Calgary short-term travel study program (Food Culture in Spain 2011). A combination of secondary research and primary data collected through in-depth interviews with former program participants, as well as student reflective essays written in the field, shows that the sensory experience with food is an important pedagogical tool. Focusing on questions of intentionality, sensory learning, and the meaning of authenticity, we explore the complications inherent in a formal education program built around culinary tourism. We argue that by the end of the three-week program in Spain, students identify as informed culinary tourists who recognize the complexity of authenticity and understand how sensory experiences can inspire and motivate both a bodily and an intellectual understanding of food and their relationship with it.
This important new cultural analysis tells two stories about food. The first depicts good food as democratic. Foodies frequent 'hole in the wall' ethnic eateries, appreciate the pie found in working-class truck stops, and reject the snobbery of fancy French restaurants with formal table service. The second story describes how food operates as a source of status and distinction for economic and cultural elites, indirectly maintaining and reproducing social inequality. While the first storyline insists that anybody can be a foodie, the second asks foodies to look in the mirror and think about their relative social and economic privilege. By simultaneously considering both of these stories, and studying how they operate in tension, a delicious sociology of food becomes available, perfect for teaching a broad range of cultural sociology courses.
This paper analyses how cultural understanding of the target culture can be addressed at beginners' level. To do this, I will discuss how some theoretical and pedagogical principles from Intercultural Learning, Cultural Studies and Second Language Acquisition throw light on the teaching of culture at the outset of foreign language learning. While it is widely recognised that culture and language occur in tandem, there is a dearth of examples of how reflection about the target culture can be introduced in the adult beginners' language learning context. In this paper I will argue that the notion of culture as a negotiable entity can be introduced at the outset of language learning. The role of cultural identity and subjectivity in texts are the two key concepts on which this argument will be built. I will then describe how these ideas can be transferred to three different aspects of language teaching methodology: the need to portray heterogeneous national cultures and other markers of cultural identity, objectivity vs. subjectivity in texts, and the creation of fictional personal testimonies to experience the target culture. In order to illustrate these points, examples from two beginners' Spanish course books will be provided.
The place of memory studies in re-thinking the language-culture nexus
  • A Freadman
Freadman, A. (2012). The place of memory studies in re-thinking the language-culture nexus. In J. Hajek, C. Nettelbeck, & A. Woods (Eds.), The next step: Introducing the Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities (pp. 277-284). Melbourne: Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities.
The doubters’ dilemma-Exploring student attrition and retention in university language & culture programs
  • M D Martín
  • L Jansen
  • E A Beckmann
Martín, M. D., Jansen, L., & Beckmann, E. A. (2016). The doubters' dilemma-Exploring student attrition and retention in university language & culture programs. Acton: ANU Press.
Report of the committee appointed to survey secondary education in New South Wales (The Wyndham report). Sydney: Government Printer, Department of Education
  • H S Whyndham
  • HS Whyndham
Whyndham, H. S. (1957). Report of the committee appointed to survey secondary education in New South Wales (The Wyndham report). Sydney: Government Printer, Department of Education, New South Wales.
Cooking up the classroom: A pedagogical argument for the place of food studies in a university-level language major
  • L Anderson
  • M Rose
Anderson, L., & Rose, M. (2016). Cooking up the classroom: A pedagogical argument for the place of food studies in a university-level language major. Babel, 16(1), 13-20.
Do we need modern language graduates in a globalised world? Times Higher Education
  • M Kelly
  • L Verstraete-Hansen
  • D Gramling
  • L Ryan
  • J Dutton
  • C Forsdick
Kelly, M., Verstraete-Hansen, L., Gramling, D., Ryan, L., Dutton, J., & Forsdick, C. (2017, February 23). Do we need modern language graduates in a globalised world? Times Higher Education. do-we-need-modern-language-graduates-in-globalised-world
La cocina española antigua
  • E Pardo Bazán
Pardo Bazán, E. (1913). La cocina española antigua. Madrid: Renacimiento.
The Oxford handbook of food history
  • J Deutsch
  • J Miller
Deutsch, J., & Miller, J. (2012). Teaching with food. In J. Pilcher (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of food history (pp. 191-206). New York: Oxford University Press.
Australia's language potential
  • M Clyne
Clyne, M. (2005). Australia's language potential. Sydney: The University of New South Wales Press.
Second language acquisition-Theory, application and some conjectures
  • S Krashen
Krashen, S. (2013). Second language acquisition-Theory, application and some conjectures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Il riposo della polpetta e altre storie intorno al cibo
  • M Montanari
Montanari, M. (2011). Il riposo della polpetta e altre storie intorno al cibo. Bari: Editori Laterza.