San Francisco Advantage

Teaching Across Disciplines to Strengthen English Communication

by Gina Alvarez

2013 Fall ESL Fullsack
In fall 2012, Professor Brad Washington of the Language Department and Chef Jean-Marc Fullsack from the Department of Hospitality Management, took USF’s Mission Statement to heart forming a partnership focused on bringing sustainability training and education across the curriculum, resulting in the creation of ESL 195 Food, Language, & Culture, a pilot course for English language learners.

Now in its second year, ESL 195, co-taught by Chef Fullsack and Professor Todd Lewis, has 16 students enrolled this fall. The course focuses on students’ oral communication and confidence in English through the exploration of cooking and preparing meals from around the world. Through cooking, students develop speaking, listening, reading comprehension and writing skills. Professor Lewis describes how, “the cooking techniques and recipes the students use in the classroom become a more meaningful part of their learning as they also study weekly cuisine related topics such as aquaculture, nutrition, Western-diet evolution, and food culture. They are becoming critical thinkers and eaters!”

This semester, students will prepare a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner in November that will introduce them to an American holiday meal. The students will also take several trips to local neighborhood markets to purchase seasonal produce and discuss food as a social justice issue in San Francisco—where, what, and how food is grown, produced, transported, distributed, accessed and eaten, including disparities and inequities. Chef Fullsack says, “The students always work in teams, which encourages cooperative thinking. After they prepare a recipe, they sit down and enjoy the food as a group. For many students, it is the first time they are away from home and also the first time they are a part of a group sharing a food experience.”

Chef Fullsack has been with the Department of Hospitality Management since 1997. This is the first time Hospitality Management has teamed up with another USF department to co-teach a semester long course and the response has been overwhelming. The course has been so popular that it will also be offered in Fall 2014!