Writing – Shopping Lists in Target Language

One great way for you to integrate language into your everyday routine is to make a shopping list in the language that you’re learning. Don’t know how to say it? Look it up. Don’t write the English on the list- don’t give yourself the option of cheating and learn it!

Here is a picture of what I do each time that I go shopping (granted I wrote one specifically for this occasion to make it legible…)


That takes too long! Hogwash. It’s as easy as this:


Type what you want to say in English on the left, then simply change the language on the right. Bam! You might want to double check with an online dictionary, however I found this website to be sufficiently accurate.

But it doesn’t stop there! Read below to find out how else you can utilize this tool to really learn food items.

Speaking tasks:

  • Say all of the food items before you drive out. Or, put the list on your passenger seat and say the words out loud alone in the car!
  • As you’re shopping, say the words out loud as you find them and identify them. Don’t shout it – people will think you’re crazy! But, you can say it in your head or really quietly. Associate the word with the food item that you’re buying – skip the English! Think in the language.
  • Once you’re done shopping, identify the food items as you take them out of your bags and put them away. Later, keep the list to identify the items in your kitchen!
  • Read below in “writing tasks” for another speaking task that will help you build proficiency with some useful phrases.

Grammar tasks:

  • If the language that you’re learning has grammatical gender, then you can choose to identify the gender as well if you like (like I did with the German words in parenthesis). Say the gender with the word, if you like!
  • Develop a linguistic eye that notices: What do almost all of the plural forms end in for Finnish? (Answer: “t” – which happens to be the plural ending for nouns in the nominative case). Can this pattern be applied in other instances? Find out!
  • Both languages have agglutinative and fusional qualities. Look at how in English the words like “almond milk” are separated, but in both German and Finnish they are fused together.
  • What other similarities do you notice between either the two languages and/or English?

Vocabulary tasks:

  • What similarities and differences do you see between the two languages? German and Finnish are completely different languages and come from different language families, but they share the same root word for “coconut,” “avocado,” “almond,” “pecan,” “olive oil.”
  • Develop a linguistic eye that notices: What part of the word means “almond” in “almond milk” in both languages? What part of the word means “oil” in both languages?
  • Both of the words for “broccoli” and “kale” have the word “kaali” in it in Finnish. Why do these words share that ending? What’s the connection? (Hint: it’s not their color).

Writing tasks:

  • Learn/look up some crux expressions useful for learning food items. Practice writing the expressions with the food items on your shopping list and read them out loud – confidently and in your best accent! Here are a few good ones that I can think of:
    • I like…
    • I don’t like…
    • I like to eat…
    • I don’t like to eat…
    • Do you like to eat…
    • I prefer…
    • …are my favorite!
    • What else can you think of?
  • Write them on your shopping list so you can express yourself as you’re shopping!

Listening tasks:

  • Have Google translate pronounce the words for you! It will at least give you some idea of what the word sounds like.