Did you know that sharks are older than trees! They have been on our planet for around 450 million years and have a)_______________ several mass extinctions.
Unlike most fish, sharks have a skeleton made of cartilage and not bone. Cartilage is lighter than bone and much more b)_______________, which allows sharks to be more efficient swimmers.
Whale sharks, which are the largest fish on earth, have huge mouths and about 300 c)_______________ of teeth, but these majestic creatures are docile and feed mostly on plankton.
Not all sharks are massive though. In fact they come in all sizes – the dwarf lanternshark is about the d)_______________ of a pencil!
Sharks have small tooth-shaped ‘scales’ on their skin known as dermal denticles. This is why their skin feels e)_______________ like sandpaper if you were to stroke them from tail to head. These ‘scales’ reduce friction allowing them to swim faster and in fact have inspired f) _______________ for Olympic swimsuits!
Sharks never run out of teeth. When they lose a tooth, it is replaced by a tooth from the row behind. They can go through thousands of teeth in a lifetime.
Sharks have a phenomenal sense of smell, one of the most powerful in the animal g) _______________. They can smell blood from hundreds of metres away.
They are also equipped with special sensory organs which allow them to detect electrical currents and vibrations in the water. This gives them several advantages as hunters. For instance, it can help them detect the heartbeat of h)__________________ hiding under sand.
Not only are sharks fascinating creatures, but they have been a vital part of i)_______________ ecosystems for millions of years. One very important role they play is keeping other animal populations in check (= preventing them from expanding too much). This helps to ensure j)_______________ oceanic life.
Sharks have a k)_______________ reputation thanks in part to movies such as “Jaws” but most shark species are harmless, to humans at least. You are far more likely to be killed by a lightning strike, a bee or even a cow!
Not so fun fact
Alarmingly, shark populations have plummeted by 70% in just the last fifty years, mostly as a result of overfishing, bycatch* and shark finning. 100 million sharks are killed every year.
*Bycatch: the marine creatures caught unintentionally in commercial fishing operations
B) FISH IDIOMS
1. Karla is very nervous about her first public concert. It’s one thing to sing in front of friends and family but singing in front of a big crowd is a different __________ (bucket, kettle, pan) of fish
2. People were packed like __________ (cod, sardines, tuna) in the train so we decided not to get on and to wait for the next train.
3. I wouldn’t talk to the boss today about organising the office party. He’s got __________ (bigger, busier, grander) fish to fry (= more important things to do)
4. Harold needed money fast so he went to a loan __________ (leech, shark, squid) and now he has to pay it all back in a week with 400% interest!
A) a) survived b) flexible c) rows d) length e) rough f) fabrics g) kingdom h) prey i) marine j) diverse k) fearsome
B) 1. kettle 2. sardines 3. bigger 4. shark
a different kettle of fish – a completely different situation
If people are packed (in) like sardines there are so many people in a space that it is difficult for them to move
If someone has bigger fish to fry, they have more important things to do
a loan shark is an illegal and sometimes dangerous lender
These ESL conversation questions are a resource for both teachers and students. They can be used in class, or with a study buddy, or with somebody you do a language exchange with.
Tips for learners
In those in-between times when you can’t find somebody to practise with I recommending trying to write down your answers, or even talking out loud to yourself!
Ensure you make notes of useful words and phrases that you either couldn’t remember or didn’t know when you were trying to explain something. This will really help you to move forward with your English.
I also highly recommend going through the questions a second or third time at a later date with somebody else, as a way of revision, and you are sure to notice that you are able to explain things faster and more effectively.
Where possible, expand on your answers, give more details.
If you’re asking the questions, remember to use follow-up questions too. If the conversation goes off on a tangent that’s totally fine – as long as you’re practising, you’re learning.
What are your favourite fruits?
What are your favourite vegetables?
What are your favourite herbs and spices?
Do you prefer sweet or savoury foods?
Do you eat meat or are you a vegetarian?
What are your favourite pizza toppings?
What foods can’t you stand?
When was the last time you ate out? Would you go back to that restaurant?
Do you have any favourite restaurants? What kind of food do they serve?
Which is you favourite foreign cuisine? And how often do you eat it?Do you ever prepare it yourself?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of fast food?
Do you enjoy cooking? What dishes do you typically make?
What’s your best dish? What are the ingredients and how do you make it?
What’s your favourite dessert?
What are your favourite cakes or biscuits?
Do you like baking? If so, what do you usually bake?
Do you batch cook? (= prepare several meals at the same time)
What do you usually have for breakfast?
What do you tend to drink with your meals?
If someone visited your country what three foods or dishes would you recommend that they try?
Are you a fussy eater or do you eat most things?
Is there something you eat too much of?
Do you like trying new recipes or do you tend to eat the same things every day?
What foods or dishes do people eat when celebrating holy or special days in your country?
What’s the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
How much water do you drink every day?
Do you ever make smoothies?
How much tea or coffee do you drink?
What’s your favourite drink in the summer?
Do you drink alcohol? If so, what do you usually drink?
How often do you meet a friend for a coffee or for a meal?
What was one of your favourite meals when you were a child?
What snacks do you eat?
Do you make an effort to eat healthy every day?
Do you pay much attention to food labels?
How often do you get take-out?
Tell us about the last time you ate out.
If you could have a dinner party and invite three famous people (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
If you had your own restaurant…. a) what kind of food would you serve? b) what would the decor be like? c) where would it be located? d) what music would you play? (or wouldn’t you play music?)