What can you learn from penguins?

By P. Ruiz, AIT Language School

I’m sure you will totally agree with me if I say that penguins are one of the cutest animals on earth. But more than being adorable and sometimes comical, you will be surprised to discover that they can also teach us some «life’s lessons”. Do you think you have to improve your communication skills? Or maybe you want to learn more about love? Read about what this animal has to teach you.

Let me introduce you to the Emperor Penguin.

Before winter arrives in icy Antarctica, the emperor penguins have a very important mission to do, they have to choose a couple. And, as it could not be any other way, they do it in a funny but crucial manner. The males and the females start shouting at one another. Can you imagine how nosy may it be being there in the courting period?

Once they find the couple with which they will remain together forever, the female lays an egg, but she won’t be the responsible for taking care of it, neither incubate it during a while. The dad will be in charge of the egg and the mum will go to the sea to find food to feed herself. About 65 days, what is more than two months, she returns after going across the ice and the sea up to 150 kilometres. Can you imagine? This is like going three times from La Garriga to the centre of Barcelona walking!

what can you learn from penguins 2

Finding the colony is a miracle in itself, but how does she find her mate and their new-born chick among tens of thousands of penguins? During their courtship, each bird memorizes the other’s songs so well that even after months of separation, they manage to find each other!

In addition to a phenomenal variety of sounds, animal communication includes gestures, captivating colours, flashing lights, and complex smells.

Check your understanding!

Answer the following questions.

  1. Do penguins use to change their couple?
  2. Who incubates the egg?
  3. How does a female emperor penguin find her mate?
  4. Which animal communication do you find funnier?

Black Hollywood – A Movie Review

Patricia Denning stars in a sad movie about ambition and heartbreak.

When Cecilia leaves college in Texas, she has everything: a wonderful boyfriend, Carl, an interesting job and an expensive house in a pretty town. Her life is perfect. Even her black Labrador dog, Perky, is a star: he wins the local dog competition and Hollywood wants to put him in a movie. 

Cecilia goes to Hollywood with him and leaves her boyfriend alone back home. When the studio fires Perky, Cecilia decides to stay in Hollywood and tries to get other movie roles for her beautiful dog. 

Carl gives Cecilia an ultimatum: come home and stop behaving crazily, or stay there forever. Cecilia decides to stay in Hollywood and wants to become an actress herself. She sends Perky back to Texas and starts an acting course. After six months, Cecilia realizes she can’t act and she misses home, but it’s too late. Carl has found another girlfriend. Cecilia tries to win him back, and also discovers a lot about herself on her long journey. 

This is a very sad movie, which makes you think about what we want from life. Patricia Denning is very convincing as Cecilia, but the star of the movie is gorgeous Perky, the black Labrador who steals our hearts. Black Hollywood is in cinemas from next week.

Your Turn!

Answer the following questions by choosing the best answer.

  1. What does Cecilia not have?
    a. A pet
    b. A great job
    c. A wonderful husband
    d. A house she loves
  2. When does her wonderful adventure begin?
    a. When her dog wins a competition
    b. When she goes on vacation to Hollywood
    c. When she marries her boyfriend, Carl
    d. When she buys the house in a pretty town
  3. What happens to Perky in Hollywood?
    a. He becomes a star
    b. He makes two movies and retires
    c. He isn’t very successful
    d. He’s too nervous to work
  4. What is Carl’s reaction to Cecilia living in Hollywood?
    a. He’s supportive
    b. He’s angry
    c. He doesn’t care
    d. He doesn’t know she went
  5. Why does Cecilia stay in Hollywood?
    a. She has no money
    b. She hates Carl
    c. She wants to become an actress
    d. She is too busy making movies

SOURCE: https://www.esl-lounge.com/student/reading/2r11-pre-intermediate-reading-black-hollywood-multiple-choice.php

The First Christmas… in space!

Earthrise: our home planet as seen from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, 1968 (William Anders/NASA)

By M. Jaime, teacher at AIT La Garriga

Many astronauts on board the International Space Station have celebrated Christmas in space. However, the crew aboard Apollo 8 were the first to do it back in 1968.

The mission

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to the moon: their objective was to land on it and return safely to Earth. Apollo 8 launched on the 21 st of December 1968 for a six-day mission and entered the moon’s orbit on Christmas Eve.

The First Christmas in space

Apollo 8 crewmembers. Left to right: James Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman (NASA)

That evening, the astronauts held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from space.

Let’s celebrate Christmas!

The crewmembers enjoyed a Christmas dinner of hot cocoa, sugar cookies, corn chowder, and chicken and gravy, as well as some orange juice.

The astronauts also read a holiday message from the Bible and they said goodbye with the following words:

And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.

The astronauts came back to Earth on the 27 th of December. Although they hadn’t landed on our nearest neighbour, Lovell, Anders and Borman were the first humans to witness and photograph of the Earth rising over the moon. The picture, called Earthrise, was taken by Anders and it is one of the most iconic ones of our time.

The First Christmas in space 2

Earthrise: our home planet as seen from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, 1968 (William Anders/NASA)

Nowadays, crewmembers of the International Space Station celebrate with Christmas decorations, phone calls to Earth and some special holiday food. They have great holiday parties in orbit!

Your Turn!

  1. Would you like to spend Christmas in space? Why/Why not?
  2. What did the astronauts have for dinner? Find pictures of what they ate and compare their meal with what you usually eat on Christmas.
  3. Astronauts usually send Christmas messages to people on Earth. If you had to send a message on Christmas Day from space, what would you say?
  4. How do you think the astronauts aboard Apollo 8 felt when they saw the Earth rising for the first time? Write the conversation you imagine they had in that amazing moment.

The Dog’s Sense of Smell

By P. Ruiz – Teacher at AIT Language School

Do you have a dog? Whether you have one or you like them, you will be very surprised to discover one of its superpowers: its incredible sense of smell!

Researchers say that dogs can use their sense of smell to detect the age, gender, and even the mood of other dogs! Dogs can even be trained to detect explosives and illegal drugs. While humans mainly use sight to investigate their surroundings, dogs use their sense of smell. They “read” with their nose.

To understand how superior it is from ours, consider this: imagine that you dissolve a quarter part of a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The dog would be capable of detecting this in the pool!

But, why is the smell of the dog much better than ours? Let’s consider three reasons:
● A dog’s nose is wet and is therefore better able to capture the most difficult smells to detect.
● A dog’s nose has two airways​—one for breathing, another for smelling.
● A dog’s olfactory has 300 million olfactory receptors while ours has 6 million.

All this enables a dog to differentiate between the components of a complex smell. For example, we can smell soup, but a dog can detect every ingredient in the recipe, according to some experts.

Researchers at the Pine Street Foundation, a cancer research institute, say that the dog’s brain and nose work together to be “one of the most sophisticated odour detection devices on the planet.” They discovered that dogs can detect some cancers, can you imagine? Isn’t it amazing?

Your Turn!

1. Why can we say that dogs can “read” with their nose?
2. Why is the smell of the dog much better than ours? Say one reason.
3. Can dogs detect all kinds of cancer?
4. Which of the things the dog can detect surprised you the most?


My Favourite Instrument!

Hello! How are you? My name is Yarina and I’m a teacher. I love music and dancing! Do you like music?

It’s very difficult to have a favourite song. Do you have a favourite song?

My favourite song has a lot of instruments. My favourite instrument is the guitar. I love playing the guitar!



What is your favourite instrument? Do you like the guitar, like me? Or, do you like the piano? The violin? The drums? Or something different?

Your Turn!

Please draw your favourite instrument with your favourite colours and take it to class next week. I want to see beautiful instruments in class!


Who invented school?

Text written by M. Jaime (Teacher at AIT La Garriga)

That is a difficult question! We do not know who invented school, but we know some things about the first schools in history: the ‘edubbas’.

Let’s travel

It is the time of the pharaohs and the pyramids, but we are not in Egypt —we are in Mesopotamia!

mesopotamia mapa

Mesopotamia is near Egypt, but far from our country!

Mesopotamia is near Egypt, but far from our country!

This is Sem

Hello! My name is Sem. I am eight years old. I live in Eridu, a city in Mesopotamia. I live in a small house with my parents. I have got two little sisters. I am a pupil at an ‘edubba’.

What do you do at an ‘edubba’?

An ‘edubba’ is a school for scribes. In Mesopotamia many people cannot read or write. Scribes are very important because they can read and write very well, they help people!

Every morning I get up, I have breakfast and I go to school. I read and write a lot because our alphabet is very difficult, look!

The name of this alphabet is ‘cuneiform’.

 The name of this alphabet is ‘cuneiform’.

I study numbers too. Mathematics is my favourite subject!

These are numbers! Wow!

These are numbers! Wow!

My friends and I love going to school. What about you?

Your Turn!

1. What do you do at school?
2. What does your school look like?
3. Write secret messages to your friends using a fake cuneiform alphabet!

Doris Lessing – The grass is singing

Text written by Alicia Martínez (English and German Teacher at AIT)

Reading an interesting book has always been a pleasure for bookworms.

On one hand it is a way to see the world through the eyes of another person, to live in another reality just for the moment you want or to be another person for some time. Reading can be done anywhere and it prevents boredom and promotes relaxation.

On the other hand, it encompasses a wide range of genres and includes both fiction and non-fiction.

  • Fiction: Novels, short stories, jokes, comics, poetry, lyrics, plays and scripts
  • Non-fiction: Reference books, newsletters, letters, emails, biographies, memoirs, newspapers, magazines, websites

Today I would like to talk about a novel called “The grass is singing”. This novel was written by British Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing and the most significant postcolonial writer. It was her first novel, published in 1950.

doris lessing

The novel begins with a newspaper clipping about the death of Mary Turner, a white woman, killed off by her black servant Moses for money. The news actually acts like an omen for other white people living in that African setting. After looking at the article, people behave as if the murder was very much expected. The bulk of the novel is a flashback of Mary Turner’s life up to her murder at the hand of Moses in the last chapter.

When you usually read a murder mystery novel you expect to know the name of the murder at the very end after going through the whole novel. But not in this novel as you know it from the very beginning and the author leads you through the protagonist´s miserable life on her husband´s unsuccessful farm.

Start reading
Adapted version clicking here
Penguin version clicking here

Once you start one cannot stop reading!

the grass is singing by doris lessing

Questions on the text:

1. Who is found murdered?
2. Who is arrested for murder?
3. What is the extraordinary thing about the murder?
4. Who are the Afrikaners?
5. Who knows more about the Turners than anyone else?
6. Who discovered the body?
7. How many miles does Slatter live from the Turners?
8. How does Slatter notify the police about the murder?
9. Who confesses to the crime?
10. What type of car does Charlie drive?


Games that England gave the world

Inglaterra fue la cuna del fútbol y el rugby, deportes que en la actualidad son populares en todo el mundo. ¿Cuáles fueron sus orígenes?

Text found by Alicia Martínez (English and German Teacher at AIT)

         Football (soccer) and Rugby are two of the most successful products ever invented in England. Today these games are played worldwide. This article looks at their early days, and at how Football was first exported to Brazil


Charles Miller, the father of football in Brazil

How football first came to Brazil

    At the end of the nineteenth century, an Englishman living in Brazil sent his son across the Atlantic to be educated in England. Charles Miller went to school, then to university, where he took part enthusiastically in all aspects of life. Sport was one of them; a hundred years ago, Britain already had an established sporting culture.
    During his English years, Charles grew passionately keen on football (i.e. Soccer), and when in 1894 he packed his bags to return to his family in Brazil, among the things he took with him were half a dozen footballs.
    Back in Brazil, he tried to get other people interested in the game. At first, he had little success; the only people who showed any interest were other expatriate Brits; thus, the first game of football in Brazil was played between two teams of young Englishmen, on a field from which the goats had first been removed. 
    Charles asked some journalists to come and see this new English game, but none came along. On the other hand, as the weeks went past, the spectacle of twenty-two young English running round after a ball began attracting spectators from houses nearby; before long, young local men began kicking balls round too. «Balls» is perhaps the wrong word – the only footballs in Brazil at the time were the ones that Charles Miller had brought back with him from England. The first Brazilian amateurs had to concoct their own balls, using whatever they could find to make them with.


English football players in 1881

    Nevertheless, even without real balls, there was plenty of enthusiasm for the new game, as «football» became the great attraction in the popular quarters of Sao Paolo, just like basketball is the great street-sport today in many world cities. By 1901, there was already a league of clubs in Sao Paolo, and the journalists who had originally laughed at the crazy English sport, were jumping on the bandwaggon, writing enthusiastically about the popular new game.
    The rest, as they say, is history.

The origins of football and rugby

    But how did English football, or soccer, and its sister-game Rugby, originate? And why did it happen in England?
    The origins of football go back hundreds of years, and there are several towns and villages in England where ancient forms of football are still played. The original game had few rules, and differed from place to place. Basically, the teams just had to try and get a ball (or some other object) past the opponent’s line. Sometimes the lines were over a mile apart, and the field was the village street…. or even a field with no limits! People could kick the ball (and their opponents), run with it, throw it – anything was allowed.


Football at an English public school in 1889

    In the nineteenth century, public schools developed fast; and since many of them were boarding schools, they had to keep boys occupied all day. Sport was a popular way of doing this; at first each school had its own games, with its own rules; but slowly fixed rules became established. In many schools, carrying the ball was not allowed; the game was called «football». Some schools however preferred a version of the game where players were allowed to carry the ball; one of these schools was in the small town of Rugby.
    In 1863, a group of enthusiasts, who had played ball games at different schools, met in London to fix rules for the game. They formed the Football Association. Eighteen years later, as the game was getting more and more popular, they organised the first F.A.Cup competition.
    Following the example of schools and colleges, the owners of factories (many of whom had been educated at public schools) began encouraging employees to form teams, and football soon became very popular in the industrial north of England. By 1888, the game had become popular enough to support professional clubs, with 12 original clubs forming the Football League.
    Since then, the popularity of both football and rugby has continued to spread across the world; and though rugby has not been adopted in all countries, there is probably no country in the world where football is now unknown. 


SOURCE: https://linguapress.com/intermediate/ball-games.htm


¿Por qué Hollywood tiene tanta predilección por las películas de superhéroes? Te lo desvelamos en esta entrada.

Text found by Alicia Martínez (English and German Teacher at AIT)

Superman and Batman are back …. together!   Once each superhero movie was about just one superhero: Superman, or Batman, or Spiderman, or some other fantastic hero.  Now Hollywood gives us several different superheroes in the same film.  Justice League, which comes out in November 2017, is a movie that includesSuperman, Batman, Wonder Woman and more… all in the same movie

Not just Superman and Batman…

   Superman and Batman are just two superheroes out of many. We could also include Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Robin Hood, James Bond, Zorro, Indiana Jones and a lot more. They’re all more or less the same person, in different forms. Some are in the past, others in the present, others in the future.why-is-hollywood-fascinated-by-superheros

   But why does Hollywood love superheroes? Is it a question of money? Of course; but it’s not only money. 

    People have always loved superheroes. Long before the first Hollywood movie, people loved stories about superheroes. Robin Hood has been a popular hero for over 600 years … and there were others before him. 

    The first superheroes were real people. Nevertheless, the stories about them were often invented. Some of the oldest European superheroes were Charlemagne and Roland (Orlando). Mediaeval writers and singers invented exciting stories about these real men, just as Hollywood invents stories about tomorrow’s superheroes. 

   A thousand years ago, people sometimes sat round in dark rooms in the evening, listening to the adventures of brave heroes. Today, we sit in a dark room in the evening, wat


ching the adventures of the brave Batman. The medium is different, the technology has changed …. but the people are really the same.

    Hollywood doesn’t actually invent many new superheroes. Superman, Judge Dredd, Batman and the others already «existed» before Hollywood discovered them. These three all come from comic magazines. 

    The first Batman story came out in 1939! So, Batman has now been defending the people of Gotham City for over 80 years! There have been several Batman movies, with different

 stars including Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale. How long can it last?

   Superman is even older: he dates from about 1932 (the exact year is not certain). Even Judge Dredd is a familiar figure; he first appeared in England in 1977.

    Hollywood’s biggest superheroes live in the future. That is not really surprising. Hollywood has fallen in love with special effects, and the future allows great spectacular special effects. Besides, people today are frightened about the future. Things do not always look good; perhaps we will need characters like Batman and Judge Dredd in 100 years’ time. Perhaps we even need them today!

SOURCE: https://linguapress.com/intermediate/superheroes.htm

The story of COCA-COLA

Esta semana hablamos del símbolo más reconocido a nivel mundial: la botella de Coca-cola.

Text found by Alicia Martínez (English and German Teacher at AIT)

Level: Intermediate

What is the most recognizable object in the world? Could it be a football? Or a Big-Mac? No, the answer is a Coca-Cola bottle. The famous Coca-Cola bottle is almost 100 years old!

    Footballs and big macs are certainly part of life for lots of people; but Coca-Cola is now a permanent part of world culture. People know and drink Coca-Cola all over the world.

It is said that the Coca-Cola bottle is the most recognised object in the world. Hundreds of millions of people can recognise a Coke bottle by its shape, even if they cannot see it! And the famous Coca-Cola logo is the most famous logo in the world. Unlike any other famous commercial logo, it has not changed in 100 years!

    But the story of Coca-Cola is even older than that. It was in 1886 that John Pemberton, a druggist in Atlanta, Georgia, invented a new type of syrup, using coca leaves, sugar and cola nuts, plus a few other secret ingredients! Pemberton sold it as a medicine; and with its coca (the source of cocaine), it must have made people feel good!the-story-of-cocacola

    Nevertheless, Pemberton’s medicine was not very successful, so he sold his secret formula to another druggist, Asa Candler. Candler was interested, because he had another idea; he thought that Pemberton’s «medicine» would be much better if it was mixed with soda.

    Candler was thus the man who really invented the drink Coca-Cola. At first, he sold it in his drugstore; then he began selling the syrup to other drugstores, who used it with their soda fountains. Candler also advertised his new drink, and soon people were going to drugstores just to get a drink of Coca-Cola.

    Before long, other people became interested in the product, including a couple of businessmen who wanted to sell it in bottles. Candler sold them a licence to bottle the drink, and very quickly the men became millionaires. The famous bottle, with its very distinctive shape, was designed in 1916.

    During the First World War, American soldiers in Europe began asking for Coca-Cola, so the Coca-Cola company began to export to Europe. It was so popular with soldiers, that they then had to start bottling the drink in Europe.

    Today, Coca-Cola is made in countries all over the world, including Russia and China; it is the world’s most popular drink.

    As for the famous formula, it is probably the world’s most valuable secret! The exact ingredients for making Coca-Cola are only known to a handful of people. And as for the «coca» that was in the original drink, that was eliminated in 1903. It was a drug, and too dangerous. Today’s Coca-Cola contains caffeine, but not in 1903. It was a drug, and too dangerous. Today’s Coca-Cola contains caffeine, but not cocaine!

SOURCE: https://linguapress.com/intermediate/coca-cola-story.htm

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