One of my favourite poems is Invictus, written in 1875 by the British poet William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). It was published in 1888 in his first volume of poems, Book of Verses.
The poem is about strength in the face of adversity. It’s about not giving up. When Henley was a teenager, his left leg had to be amputated owing to complications arising from tuberculosis. Some time later, after seeking treatment for problems with his other leg, he was told it would also need to be amputated.

He then travelled to Edinburgh in August 1873 to get the medical services of Joseph Lister, a renowned surgeon, who was able to save Henley’s leg after many surgical interventions on the foot. While he was recovering, he came up with the verses that became the poem Invictus.

The poem’s central themes of perseverance and self-determination have made it a cultural touchstone. It has been used several times throughout contemporary history and it has been a source of motivation and inspiration.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.


Your Turn!
Do you have a favourite poem? What does the poem mean to you?

The amazing strength of butterflies!

By P. Ruiz, AIT Language School

Do you like butterflies? Maybe you love their lively and bright colors, their elegance and you probably find their fragility beautiful. But… wait. They aren’t as fragile as you may think. In fact, more than being beautiful creatures, they are, in some way, very strong.

Let’s consider some facts about these little insects


On their daily routine, apart from doing other tasks, in a normal workday they pollinate hundreds of flowers.


For example, the Monarch butterfly, during its migration flies a total of 3.200 kilometers, and 129 kilometers a day. That’s amazing!

In spring, Monarch butterflies leave central Mexico and fly northeast for several hundred miles until they reach the end of their lifespan. That’s not the end, though, because before they die, they lay eggs, and this next generation keeps flying north again and again until four generations later, when the great and great-great grandchildren of the original Monarchs occupy their summer home, mostly throughout the northeastern United States.


Although loosing the 80% of its wings, a butterfly can continue feeding and even flying!

It’s amazing how a small creature can do such great things, isn’t it?

So… what can we learn from these wonderful creatures?

I’ll tell you what I’ve learn getting to know them. If this little creature, which’s brain is the size of a pinhead, can do these amazing things, won’t we be able to do much more? Remember that you can do whatever you are resolved to do. But remember, you must be a hard-working person, and even if you lack the strength, never give up!


  • What have YOU learnt from butterflies?
  • Which of the bullet points surprised you most? Why?
  • Can you think of something you can learn from another animal?

How Did the Months Get Their Names?

Origins and Meanings of the 12 Months

This article was originally posted on Almanac

How did the months of the year get their names? The months’ names reflect a mix of gods and goddesses, rulers, and numbers. Discover how our calendar developed into what it is today.

How Our Calendar Came to Be

The Ancient Roman Calendar

Today, we follow the Gregorian calendar, but it’s based on the ancient Roman calendar, believed to be invented by Romulus, who served as the first king of Rome around 753 BC.

The Roman calendar, a complicated lunar calendar, had 12 months like our current calendar, but only 10 of the months had formal names. Basically, winter was a “dead” period of time when the government and military wasn’t active, so they only had names for the time period we think of as March through December.

March (Martius) was named for Mars, the god of war, because this was the month when active military campaigns resumed. May (Maius) and June (Junius) were also named for goddesses: Maia and Juno. April (Aprilis) is thought to stem from Latin aperio, meaning “to open”—a reference to the opening buds of springtime. The rest of the months were simply numbered; their original names in Latin meant the fifth (Quintilis), sixth (Sextilis), seventh (September), eighth (October), ninth (November), and tenth (December) month.

Eventually, January (Januarius) and February (Februarius) were added to the end of the year, giving all 12 months proper names. January was named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, while February’s name is believed to stem from Februa, an ancient festival dedicated to ritual springtime cleaning and washing.

Julian Calendar Updates

When Julius Caesar became pontifex maximus, he reformed the Roman calendar so that the 12 months were based on Earth’s revolutions around the Sun. It was a solar calendar as we have today. January and February were moved to the front of the year, and leap years were introduced to keep the calendar year lined up with the solar year.

The winter months (January and February) remained a time of reflection, peace, new beginnings, and purification. After Caesar’s death, the month Quintilis was renamed July in honor of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and, later, Sextilis was renamed August in honor of Roman Emperor Augustus in 8 BC.

Of course, all the renaming and reorganizing meant that some of the months’ names no longer agreed with their position in the calendar (September to December, for example). Later emperors tried to name various months after themselves, but those changes did not outlive them!

Today’s Gregorian Calendar

Quite a bit later, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced a number of reforms to the Julian calendar, as there were still some inaccuracies and adjustments to be made. Mainly, the Julian calendar had overestimated the amount of time it took the Earth to orbit the Sun, so the Gregorian calendar shortened the calendar year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days. This meant that the calendar could be more easily corrected by leap years and that the dates of the equinoxes and solstices—and thus, the date of Easter—once again lined up with their observed dates.

Origins of the Months’ Names


Named for the Roman god Janus, protector of gates and doorways. Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking into the past, the other into the future. In ancient Roman times, the gates of the temple of Janus were open in times of war and closed in times of peace.


From the Latin word februa, “to cleanse.” The Roman calendar month of Februarius was named for Februalia, a festival of purification and atonement that took place during this period.


Named for the Roman god of war, Mars. This was the time of year to resume military campaigns that had been interrupted by winter. March was also a time of many festivals, presumably in preparation for the campaigning season.


From the Latin word aperio, “to open (bud),” because plants begin to grow in this month. In essence, this month was viewed as spring’s renewal.


Named for the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants. Also from the Latin word maiores, “elders,” who were celebrated during this month. Maia was considered a nurturer and an earth goddess, which may explain the connection with this springtime month.


Named for the Roman goddess Juno, patroness of marriage and the well-being of women. Also from the Latin word juvenis, “young people.”


Named to honor Roman dictator Julius Caesar (100 B.C.– 44 B.C.) after his death. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar made one of his greatest contributions to history: With the help of Sosigenes, he developed the Julian calendar, the precursor to the Gregorian calendar we use today.


Named to honor the first Roman emperor (and grandnephew of Julius Caesar), Augustus Caesar (63 B.C.– A.D. 14). Augustus (the first Roman emperor) comes from the Latin word “augustus,” meaning venerable, noble, and majestic.


September comes from the Latin word septem, meaning “seven,” because it was the seventh month of the early Roman calendar.


In the ancient Roman calendar, October was the name of the eighth month of the year. Its name comes from octo, the Latin word for “eight.” When the Romans converted to a 12-month calendar, they tried to rename this month after various Roman emperors, but the name October stuck!

In Old England, the month was called Winmonath, which means “wine month,” for this was the time of year when wine was made. The English also called it Winterfylleth, or “Winter Full Moon.” They considered this full Moon to be the start of winter. In weather lore, we note, “If October brings heavy frosts and winds, then will January and February be mild.”


From the Latin word novem, “nine,” because this had been the ninth month of the early Roman calendar.


From the Latin word decem, “ten,” because this had been the tenth month of the early Roman calendar.

Art History: English and American Artists (part 1)

Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt was born on May 22, 1844, in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. She was an Impressionist painter.

Impressionism is a painting style. In Impressionism, you paint quickly and with little details, normally using strong and bright colours.

For example, in a Mary Cassatt painting, you see little detail, but it’s easy to see the people and objects.

Mary Cassatt was special. She was a woman in a job with very little women. It was very difficult for a woman to study in a good painting school, so she studied alone. She studied in Paris, Spain, Belgium and Rome. Paris was the most important city for Impressionists, so she lived in Paris for a long time.

Mary loved to paint portraits. A portrait is a painting of a person or some people. She painted a lot of families together in a very natural way.

Look at these paintings

What can you see? What painting do you like most?

Frank Stockton’s THE LADY OR THE TIGER

«The Lady or the Tiger» is a short story without resolution. Set in a kingdom ruled by a semi-barbaric king, the story centers around the king’s approach to justice. Any subject who commits a crime of sufficient interest is summoned to the royal arena where they choose their fate by picking between two doors. Behind one door is a fierce tiger that will eat the person alive, and behind the other door is a fair maiden to whom they will be married at once; the fate of the individual is determined by chance.

One day, the king finds out that his daughter has fallen in love with a brave, sincere young man. However, he is not of royal birth. Enraged by this, the king summons him to the arena to determine his fate. Meanwhile, the princess uses her guile and bribery to gain knowledge of the doors’ arrangement and that the woman behind the one door has previously aroused jealousy in the princess. Knowing this information, the princess signals for her lover to open the door to the right. Then the story ends, and the author asks the readers to decide what fate the princess chose for her lover.

Essential Questions for «The Lady or the Tiger»

  1. Do you believe that you choose your own fate?
  2. Can you say with certainty what you would do when faced with a dilemma?


By M.Lancis, teacher at AIT L’Ametlla

Jellyfish have been around on ocean currents for millions of years, even before dinosaurs lived on the Earth. 


These creatures pulse along on ocean creatures with a jellylike body and are abundant in cold and warm ocean water. Depending on the species, you can find them in deep water or along coastlines.  Despite their name, jellyfish aren’t actually fish, they’re invertebrate animals, that means that they have no backbone, like snails. 

A lot of people are afraid of finding jellyfish on the beach because it’s commonly known that jellyfish have tiny stinging cells in their tentacles to stun or paralyze their prey before they eat them, so although they don’t purposely attack humans (most stings occur just touching a tentacle by accident), jellyfish stings can be painful to humans and, depending on the species, they can be deadly. 


Inside their bell-shaped body, there is an opening that serves as a mouth. They eat and discard waste from this opening. Jellyfish also use the mouth to propel forward, squirting water, while tentacles hang down from the smooth bag-like body and sting their prey.


They digest their food very quickly because they wouldn’t be able to float if they had to carry a large, undigested meal around. They dine on fish, shrimp, crabs and tiny plants. Some jellyfish are clear, but others are in vibrant colours such as pink, yellow, blue, and purple, and often are luminescent. Since their body is 90% water, if they get stranded on the sand, they slowly die by evaporation. 


What is your favourite animal? Write a short article about it and let us know!




Protect yourself from disease

By C. Stevens, teacher at AIT L’Ametlla

Many ancient cities were protected by massive walls. If an enemy breached just a small section of a wall, the safety of the entire city was at risk. Your body is like a walled city. How you care for your defenses has much to do with how healthy you are. Consider five elements that can expose you to disease and how you can put up the best possible defenses.


THE THREAT: Harmful organisms can “march” straight into your body by way of contaminated water.
YOUR DEFENSE: The best defense is to protect your water supply from contamination.


THE THREAT: Harmful organisms can be present in or on your food.
YOUR DEFENSE: Contaminated food may look fresh and nutritious. So, get into the habit of thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables. Ensure that food utensils, kitchen surfaces, and your hands are clean when preparing or serving food. Some foods require cooking at a certain temperature in order to destroy dangerous microbes. Beware of food that is discolored or has an unpleasant odor or taste—signs that an army of microorganisms could be waiting for you. Refrigerate unused food as soon as possible.


THE THREAT: Some insects can infect you with the harmful microorganisms that live inside them.
YOUR DEFENSE: Limit contact with disease-carrying insects by staying indoors when they are active or by wearing protective clothing, such as long sleeves and long trousers. Sleep under treated insect nets, and use personal insect repellent. Eliminate containers of stagnant water where mosquitoes could breed.


THE THREAT: Microbes that live harmlessly inside an animal can threaten your health. If you are bitten or scratched by a pet or another animal or exposed to its feces, you could be at risk.
YOUR DEFENSE: Some people choose to keep their animals outside the house to minimize contact with them. Wash your hands after touching a domestic animal, and avoid all contact with wild animals. If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound thoroughly and seek a doctor’s advice.


THE THREAT: Some germs can invade your body by riding on tiny droplets in someone’s cough or sneeze. They can also spread through skin contact, such as hugging or shaking hands.
YOUR DEFENSE: Do not share personal items, such as razors, toothbrushes, or towels. Avoid contact with body fluids from animals or from other people, including blood and products derived from blood. And do not underestimate the benefits of washing your hands thoroughly and frequently. It is perhaps the most effective way you can stop the spread of infection.


1. How can be water a threat? What to do?
2. How can be insects a threat? What to do?
3. How can be animals a threat? What to do?
4. How can be people a threat? What to do?

How to colour an Easter Egg

By Kelly Roper, AIT English Language School

Easter is round the corner and one of our favourite activities is dyeing Easter eggs. Do you want to learn how to do it? Read the following poem by Kelly Roper and find out!


First, you take a nice white egg
And put it in a wire holder.
Then dip it in the cup of dye
And soak it until the colour is bolder.

Then lay it on a paper towel
And let it dry awhile.
And then you have an Easter egg
So pretty it will make you smile.

You can also use a crayon
to draw on fancy designs,
Like polka dots and a lot of stripes
Or even zigzag lines.

Then dip the egg into the dye
And let the colour sink in.
It’ll look so neat when you lift it out,
It will surely make you grin.

Painting easter eggs


What do you need?

  • Cool hard-boiled white eggs
  • A paper towel or newspaper sheet
  • Deep bowls/cups/glasses
  • A spoon
  • Liquid food colouring
  • White vinegar
  • Water


How do you do it?

  1. Cover the table with a sheet of paper towel or newspaper.
  2. Fill a bowl (or a glass or a cup) with enough water to cover the egg. Then add one teaspoon of white vinegar and about 20 drops of food coloring. The more food coloring you add, the darker the color of the egg will be!
  3. Place your egg in a spoon and keep it in the liquid for about 5 minutes. The longer you leave your egg in the dye bath, the brighter the color will be!
  4. Remove the egg and put it on some paper towel to dry. Once the eggs are dry, you can apply stickers, tape or other decorative elements to make them look even more beautiful!

You can watch a video of the process here.


Easter eggs painted

The Hodgsons Can!

By A. Martínez, AIT English Language School


Read about this very talented family from Texas, USA.

The Hodgson family from Texas, USA are probably the most talented family in the country. Thomas is the father of the family. He’s 52 years old and he can do everything. He can run for a long time. Every day, he goes running in his neighborhood for 40 minutes. He can also swim very well. He swims for his state’s over-50 team!

Thomas can’t speak any foreign languages, but his wife, Judy, certainly can! She can speak French, Spanish and even Japanese. And she can teach them too. She works at the Pinewood Language Academy.

Thomas and Judy Hodgson have three children and they can all do many things too. Robbie, 23, can’t run for long distances like his father, but he can run very fast. He can run 100 meters in just 11 seconds. That’s very fast. He can also fly! Not like a bird, but using a hang-glider. He goes hang-gliding every weekend in the hills near the family home.

The middle child is Janine, who is 19. She’s similar to her mother and she loves foreign languages. She studies Italian and French and can speak both of them very well. When she’s with her mother, they can speak French and nobody in the house understands them!

Clara is the «baby» of the family. She’s only 9 years old. She can’t speak French and she can’t fly. What can she do? She can bake the best cakes in the world! And her parents and her brother and sister can eat them.


Are the following sentences about the «The Hodgsons Can!» reading True or False?

1. Thomas Hodgson is 56 years old.
2. He goes running every day near his house.
3. Thomas runs for a local team.
4. Thomas can’t speak any foreign languages.
5. Judy teaches her students to speak other languages.
6. The Hodgsons have two children.
7. Robbie can run 100m very quickly.
8. He also goes flying in a hang-glider every Thursday.
9. Janine is 19 and she is similar to her mother.
10. Clara is only nine years old and she can bake cakes.

Gap Fill

Put one word into each gap to complete the sentence.

1. The family lives in the American state of ________.
2. ________ is the name of the father.
3. He likes swimming and ________.
4. He ________ speak any foreign languages.
5. Judy speaks English and ________ other languages.
6. Judy is a ________.
7. Robbie can’t run far, but he can run ________.
8. When Janine and Judy speak French, ________ in the family can understand them!
9. Clara can ________ very good cakes.
10. Her family ________ the cakes.

Can you imagine life without music?

Can you imagine life without music? Think about it. No lullabies. No romantic serenades. No lively pop songs. No stirring symphonies. And no inspirational melodies. Most people would think of that life as boring. What about you?

Music has the ability to touch all of our emotions. It can calm and excite us. It can even make us cry. It speaks to our hearts.

As you probably know, music has a very long history. Archeology has found proof that many years ago, before our Common Era, African tribes played drums, horns and bells. The Chinese played a type of mouth organ and panpipes. The people of Egypt, India, Israel and Mesopotamia played the harp and other instruments with strings.

Write about it for class!

  1. What is the oldest instrument you can find on the internet?
  2. Search in a dictionary, like, the definition of the words in black.
  3. What instrument is the statue in the picture playing?
  4. Write an essay on an ancient instrument, it should be about 100 words long and you should use at least two different verb tenses.

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