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I must admit that it wasn’t the first time I’d asked the question.

So, what did you have for breakfast?

The ensuing lesson just goes to show that it’s all right to ask the same questions over and over again. Sometimes, they serve as a form of encouragement for the student to be a bit more imaginative with their answers, perhaps to take more risks; sometimes, they trigger off a memory …

It was a typical start of a lesson.

Me: Good morning, how are you?
Ss: Fine, and you?
Me: Fine, fine. So, have you had breakfast?
Ss: Yes.
Me: And, what did you have today?
Ss: I had a fish sandwich.
Me: Fish?
Ss: Yes. Again. I normally have fish… Perhaps it’s not good to have fish every day…

As a ‘by-the-way’, notice how lexically rich a basic eight-line dialogue can be.

Anyway, coming back to the conversation, he went on to say that he’d read a report claiming that it is not advisable to eat too much fish, especially those which eat other fishes, and are at the higher end of the food chain. The reason for this, he went on to say, is that, due to contamination, traces of mercury can be found in the sea, and some of it is swallowed by the fishes. Mercury stays intact, and accumulates itself. So, if a big fish has been eating other fishes with traces of mercury in them, and if a person eats a lot of fish, it could result in a steady increase in the level of mercury in their bodies.

The conversation (my part consisted mainly of question prompts) covered a lot of ground: past events (he used to play with batteries as a child, which made his father very angry), the effects of mercury, the diet of fishes, and somehow, eventually, led to Norway’s expertise in maritime engineering and the strong presence of Norwegians in The Canaries.

But, then, I hear you ask, what did you teach? Did the student learn anything new? Let’s take a quick look.


Fish – fishes; countable: the animal that lives in the sea
Fish; uncountable: what you eat
Seaweed (uncountable)
weed (countable: plants that grow easily)
tiny (very small) (Re: Tiny Toons)
chain, food chain
combine /kəmˈbaɪn/ – combination /ˌkɒmbɪˈneɪʃ(ə)n/
patent /ˈpeɪt(ə)nt/
wind (noun – moving air) /wɪnd/
wind (verb – curves and twists) /waɪnd/ – winding /ˈwaɪndɪŋ/ – longwinded /ˌlɒŋˈwɪndɪd/
Norway – Norwegian /nɔː(r)ˈwiːdʒ(ə)n/

Comparative chunks

the same as (He normally goes to have breakfast at the same time that as María.)
equal to, equivalent to
similar to
more than
less than
fewer than (used with countables)

Common errors

I eat fish all the days.
I’ve been feeling tired all the day

With some countable nouns such as morning, day, summer, we use all + the noun in singular form to talk about its entirety, and we use every to speak about the frequency of something happening.

I eat fish every day. (Como pescado todos los días.)
I go to Gran Canaria every summer. (Voy a Gran Canaria todos los veranos)
I’ve been feeling tired all day. (He estado cansado todo el día.)
I’ve been receiving phone calls non-stop the whole day. (Llevo recibiendo llamadas sin parar el día entero.)

New language

Used to, be used to

I used to play with batteries when I was a child. (Solía jugar con las pilas cuando era pequeño.) [Used to + infinitive]
I am used to eating fish for breakfast. (Estoy acostumbrado a comer pescado para el desayuno.) [Be used to + -ing]