A full English breakfast and bag-time

I was doing my voluntary teaching the other day, sharing the class with  Betty and Alex, and Betty who was leading it was working on the present tense  She had a series of pictures of people sitting at a table doing different things. There were people of all ages, dressed in every sort of way from formal to very casual, and eating, or writing, or drinking, or some other simple thing.

One of the people was eating what to our English eyes was obviously a breakfast dish, bacon, scrambled eggs and tomatoes. To the students who came from Poland, Latvia, the Ukraine, Brazil and Georgia, it was a plate with some sort of meat, tomatoes and a pile of potatoes or rice. Well, you should have seen the reaction from us teachers. It’s breakfast, we exclaimed enthusiastically, our eyes brightening, it’s an English breakfast!

I jumped up and cleaned the board and put the title ‘A Full English Breakfast’, and having asked the students what they ate in the morning we then launched into a description of what we meant  almost salivating as we did so. Sausages! Ooooh, black pudding! Mushrooms! Baked beans! I think the students were a little baffled, especially by our enthusiasm,  so maybe we should spend some other time talking about it in more depth!

At the end of the two-hour session, having started all together for some grammar points, then a joint activity based on something topical or cultural, we split into groups after coffee for more individual teaching, usually beginners, middle and fluent speakers/readers. Fifteen minutes before the end we come back together and have what is known as bag time. On of the teachers brings a bag full of related items, usually with a fun aspect, a sort of show-an-tell activity before we say goodbye.

Sveta brought some of her beautiful knitting in for bag-time
Sveta brought some of her beautiful knitting in for bag-time

Maybe next term I will do bag-time. I will bring in some cooking utensils, frying pans, poaching pans, slices etc, and the ingredients to make a full English breakfast; I might even pre-fry an egg and bring it in sitting in the pan:

DSCF2037I could bring in the poaching pan with the eggs sitting in their little cups (I can’t cope with poaching eggs in water, they end up to wet and gelatinous for my taste) I could bring in a tin of beans, some mushrooms and tomatoes… There are other English breakfast items which are not part of the full-English, kippers, kidneys etc, but what would make the best breakfast?

  • toast/fried bread
  • bacon
  • egg (fried, scrambled, poached)
  • sausage
  • fried tomatoes
  • fried mushrooms
  • black pudding
  • baked beans
  • fried mashed potato
  • go Irish and have soda bread/soda or potato farl/wheaten bread
  • go continental and have waffles/hash browns/pancakes/muffins (the bread thing not the little cake we would call a bun)
  • tomato sauce/brown sauce/Worcester sauce/mustard

… and then you would be out of action for the rest of the day!

marmalade 4
… or maybe there is room for a little toast and marmalade!


  1. aphotographerfriend

    What a delightful blog post! Made my mouth water reading it. My husband just commented the other day how he would love to take a trip to England again. It has been quite awhile since we really traveled there. We were there in 2010 for a few days as a side trip from Paris visiting our son. We visited a photographer friend in Lincoln. My husband Steve’s favorite meal of the day is a good breakfast and he adores an “English Breakfast”..definitely sharing this post. Love all your pictures, but especially the last one! ~Hillary


  2. icelandpenny

    Breakfast has always struck me as one of the most ritualized meals for all of us, each nationality or region with its own pattern, which makes it an excellent teaching focus in a multi-cultural language class. Sounds like an ambitious ‘bag time’ theme, but I bet your students will love it.


    1. Lois

      We usually manage to have a lot of laughter accompanying bagtime! It is just a conversation class so no pressure of exams or tests, and all the teachers are volunteers, so it is great fun!


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