The magic light of fireflies

By P. Ruiz – AIT Language School

Have you ever wondered how it is possible that an animal can emit its own light?

It’s thanks to the bioluminescence. But what is it? This is light produced by a chemical reaction within a living organism. Bioluminescence occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi and terrestrial insects such as the firefly.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this and focus especially on fireflies. Why do they take advantage of this curious ability?

Well, it is assumed that this illumination is a warning signal against predators. In some species, male and female adult fireflies’ lanterns are more complex, with the capability of flashing the light, that’s right, like the light on the top of an ambulance. Each species has its own specific light pulse pattern, which allows them to communicate with each other. For example, the female is usually resting in the forest while males are flying around sending and receiving signals. The females respond to “their” males to reveal their location, and reproduction is initiated.

In addition to its own benefits, you may agree with me that this brilliant ability is also a wonderful gift for us. Imagine yourself lying in the grass on a summer night with thousands of fireflies performing a beautiful dance above you.

It’s simply marvelous, isn’t it?

The magic light of fireflies


Answer the following questions:

  1. What is bioluminescence?
  2. Why do the fireflies emit light?

Listen to the song and fill in the gaps.



Owl City

You would not __________ your eyes
If ten __________ fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell __________
‘Cause they fill the open __________
And leave teardrops __________
You’d think me __________ but I would just stand and stare

I’d like to make __________ believe that planet Earth turns __________
It’s hard to say that I’d __________ stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause __________ is never as it seems

‘Cause I’d get a thousand __________
From ten thousand lightning __________
As they tried to __________ me how to dance
A foxtrot __________ my head
A sock hop beneath my __________
A disco ball is __________ hanging by a thread (thread, thread)


__________ my door open just a crack
(Please take me away from here)
‘Cause I feel like __________ an insomniac
(Please take me away from here)
Why do I tire of counting __________?
(Please take me away from here)
When I’m far too __________ to fall asleep

To ten __________ fireflies
I’m weird ‘cause I hate __________
I got misty eyes as they said, «Farewell» (they said farewell)
But I’ll know where several are
If my __________ get real bizarre
‘Cause I saved a few and I __________ them in a jar (jar, jar, jar)

(chorus) x2

Be happier!

Hello everyone! Hoy queremos compartir un artículo muy interesante de Kathy Caprino, empresaria y coach, sobre la felicidad. En él relata cómo a través de uno de sus conocidos descubrió cinco maneras de ser más feliz y alcanzar el éxito deseado.

Este es un texto bastante difícil, de modo que está especialmente recomendado para estudiantes avanzados de inglés.

5 Easy Steps to Accessing More Happiness and Boosting Your Success

Kathy CaprinoKathy Caprino is the Founder/President of Ellia Communications, Inc., and internationally recognized women’s career and personal growth coach. And this is an article about how through one of her clients she came up or discovered five useful ways to finding more happiness and becoming more successful.

One of the things I love most about my work is that my fascinating, knowledgeable clients teach me things I’m excited to learn. Recently a client shared with me the riveting TED talk by the world’s leading positive psychology expert and bestselling author Shawn Achor on The Happy Secret to Better Work. Shawn is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard, and has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success. His TED talk is one of the most popular of all time with over 4 million views, and he has a new lecture airing on PBS called “The Happiness Advantage.”


When my client told me about the talk, I questioned whether there would be anything new that I hadn’t already heard about happiness in my training as a therapist, but wow, was I wrong. Throughout it, I laughed out loud (Shawn’s a hoot!), but then stopped in my tracks and pondered hard on how my own level of happiness and joy are impacting my success.

I reached out to Shawn to learn more about how our brains in “positive” mode versus negative, neutral or stressed actually give us an enormous advantage in life and work, and how we can influence our minds to embrace more happiness through our daily actions. This Happiness Advantage as Shawn calls it can be the difference between leading a fulfilling, joyful and successful life and living far beneath our potential (see his book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work for more).

Shawn explained that our society’s most commonly held formulas for success are broken. Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. We think, “If I can just find that great job, or win that next promotion, lose those ten pounds, or (fill in the blank), then happiness will follow.”

But Shawn’s extensive research and other recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is completely backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been borne out repeatedly by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the world. Shawn now spends his time teaching, advising and lecturing at top organizations on how we can — in five easy steps — reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work and create more success, happiness and reward in our lives.

I asked Shawn what I wanted to know about happiness and success. Here are his answers:

What specifically impacts our happiness and how can we shift it? 

The three greatest predictors of happiness are optimism (the belief your behaviour will eventually matter), social connection, and how we perceive stress (as a challenge or as a threat). If we want to raise happiness we need to make both mind-set and behaviour shifts.

What are the five key steps that we can take each day to increase our experience of happiness?

1) Bring gratitude to mind: Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day
2) Journal: about a positive experience you’ve had recently for two minutes once a day
3) Exercise: Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity
4) Meditate: Watch your breath go in and out for two minutes a day and
5) Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness: Write a two-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media

Do these steps for 21 days, and you will begin to see a lasting shift in your mind-set towards more positivity.

Source Link:


The perfect dictionary for you


By Joseph A. Salazar

Teacher at AIT Language School

Do you find it hard to understand some of the words you read in English? Would you like to express yourself more clearly and convincingly? Would you like to improve your vocabulary? If so, what you need is a good dictionary.  But which kind of dictionary should you choose?

Basically, there are three types of dictionary:

  1. The compact dictionary;
  2. The historical dictionary;
  3. The general purpose dictionary.

The compact, or pocket, dictionary is small and therefore limited in what it offers. At the other end of the scales is the historical, or exhaustive, dictionary. It explains the history of words, where they come from and how and when they acquired their present meanings. But probably the most practical dictionary is one that offers a compromise—the general-purpose type, often called desk, concise, or collegiate dictionary. Here are just some of the features that make it so useful.


Perhaps the most important feature of a dictionary is word definition. Many words have more than one meaning. For example, the word “lead” can be used as a verb to mean direct or go in front. But as a noun, “lead” is also the name of a metal. A dictionary will clarify both meanings. Some dictionaries actually give specimen phrases to explain the typical use of a word. For example, take the word “control.” Specimen phrases would include: control a country, control one’s emotions, control a fire, border control, control panel, under control, out of control.


As the letters of an alphabet cannot represent all the sounds used in spoken language—there are at least 47 such sounds in English—dictionary compilers have to devise ways of explaining how to pronounce words. Among the various systems is one that respells the words to match the sound as closely as possible and supplements this with diacritical marks. Whatever system your dictionary uses to distinguish sounds, it will provide an explanatory table. The dictionary will also show what syllables take the stress.


A fascinating feature of a dictionary is etymology—the roots, or origins from which words are derived. English is particularly rich in this respect because it has borrowed from many languages, such as Latin, Greek and Anglo-Saxon. By using a dictionary, you can become familiar with words or parts of words most frequently drawn from those languages. As you remember them, your vocabulary will grow.

Latin has made a great contribution to the English language. To take one example: We have many words arising from the Latin verb jacere (to throw). Consider the basic meaning of these verbs: project—throw forward; inject—throw in; eject—throw out; subject—throw under; reject—throw back; deject—throw down; object—throw against; and interject—throw between. So by knowing the root, jacere, and a few everyday prefixes, many words become instantly recognizable.

Many English words have come directly from Greek. Philanthropist (from philos, friend, and anthropos, man) means a friend of mankind. Photograph (from phos, light, and graphein, to write) literally means to write with light. Cacophony (from kakos, bad, and phōnē, sound) means a harsh, discordant sound. So, by becoming familiar with the derivations of words, it is possible to identify others.

It is not likely that you will remember all these things about every word you look up in a dictionary, nor should you try. Some words are not commonly used. But try to memorise those you feel you can and should use. Select words that will help you to communicate better. As your vocabulary improves you will find that you will become less dependent on a dictionary. Your reading will become more enjoyable and your speech will definitely improve.

How To Learn a New Language

Seven Secrets to Help You

By Joseph A. Salazar

Teacher at AIT Language School


At AprendeInglesToday, we understand the effort it takes to learn a new language. While it is true that children in general pick up a new language better than adults, that does not mean adults should give up.

At our AIT schools in La Garriga and L’Ametlla del Vallès, we use the Callan method, which allows adults to learn English four times faster than other methods, simply by mimicking the way we learnt to speak when we were children.

But what else can we do to make learning a language a rewarding and enjoyable experience? Krsytian Aparta, staff member at TED, asked a number of polyglots at the TED Open Translation project for their opinion on what it takes to master a new language. This is what they said:


  1. Get real. Decide on a simple, attainable goal to start with so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. German translator Judith Matz suggests: “Pick up 50 words of a language and start using them on people — and then slowly start picking up grammar.”
  2. Make language-learning a lifestyle change. Elisabeth Buffard, who in her 27 years of teaching English has always seen consistency as what separates the most successful students from the rest. Find a language habit that you can follow even when you’re tired, sick or madly in love.


  1. Play house with the language. The more you invite a foreign language into your daily life, the more your brain will consider it something useful and worth caring about. “Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language,” says Russian translator Olga Dmitrochenkova. Label every object in your house in this language, read kids’ books written in it, watch subtitled TED and TEDx talks, or live-narrate parts of your day to an imaginary foreign friend.


  1. Let technology help you out. Dmitrochenkova has a great idea: “A funny thing like resetting the language on your phone can help you learn new words right away,” she says. Ditto for changing the language on your browser. Or you can seek out more structured learning opportunities online. Dutch translator Els De Keyser recommends Duolinguo for its gamified approach to grammar, and Anki for memorizing vocabulary with its “intelligent” flashcards.


  1. Think about language-learning as a gateway to new experiences. To Spanish translator Sebastián Betti, learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, attending air shows, enjoying cowboy poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, he thinks of fun things that he wanted to do anyway, and makes them into a language-learning opportunity. Many of our translators shared this advice. Italian and French translator Anna Minoli learned English by watching undubbed versions of her favorite movies, while Croatian translator Ivan Stamenković suddenly realized he could speak English in fifth grade, after years of watching the Cartoon Network without subtitles. So the next time you need a vegan carrot cake recipe, find one in the language you’re trying to learn.


  1. Make new friends. Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Or search for foreign penpals or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respective languages.


  1. Do not worry about making mistakes. One of the most common barriers to conversing in a new language is the fear of making mistakes. But native speakers are like doting parents: any attempt from you to communicate in their language is objective proof that you are a gifted genius. They’ll appreciate your effort and even help you. Nervous about holding a conversation with a peer? Try testing your language skills with someone a little younger. “I was stoked when I was chatting with an Italian toddler and realized we had the same level of Italian,” recalls German translator Judith Matz. And be patient. The more you speak, the closer you’ll get to the elusive ideal of “native-like fluency.” And to talking to people your own age.




‘Listening’ para hacer en casa…¡y que no aburre!

Listenings que no aburren

por AprendeInglésToday

Hacer un listening no tiene por qué ser sinónimo de hacer tediosos ejercicios donde dos personas hablan sobre su vida diaria. ¡Puede ser más estimulante! Hoy os presentamos un sitio web donde los estudiantes avanzados de inglés pueden encontrar listenings interesantes y muy útiles para trabajar en casa.

TED: Ideas worth spreading 

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) es una organización sin ánimo de lucro norteamericana fundada en 1984 y dedicada a difundir «buenas ideas». Es conocida por su congreso anual (TED Conference) y por sus charlas (TED talks), que tratan temas de lo más variado: ciencia, arte, diseño, política, educación, tecnología y muchos más. En su página web podréis encontrar más de 1000 charlas en inglés para su visionado y/o descarga.

Para acceder a las charlas, sólo tenéis que ir a la página web de TED y seleccionar Watch > TED talks en el menú principal. Una vez allí, encontraréis este buscador, que os permite seleccionar el tema, el idioma y la duración de la charla.

Cuando hayáis accedido a la charla que os interesa, veréis que podéis activar subtítulos (siempre habrá, como mínimo, subtítulos en inglés), que disponéis de una transcripción por si sólo queréis escuchar y que podéis guardarla o descargarla de forma gratuita.

Lo más interesante de TED talks

-Se pueden encontrar charlas de unos 5 minutos, ideales para aquellos que dispongáis de poco tiempo pero que queráis trabajar en casa.

-Los temas de las charlas son tan variados que es muy fácil encontrar alguna que os guste. No es el clásico ‘listening’ que reproduce una conversación telefónica o un encuentro casual por la calle. 

-Hay la posibilidad de acceder a listas de reproducción o de crear una propia. 

-Las charlas temáticas os permitirán aprender vocabulario específico que sea de vuestro interés.

-Los participantes son de nacionalidades distintas, por lo que podéis escuchar distintos acentos.

-Descarga gratuita de contenidos.

Con las TED talks no sólo practicáis vuestras listening skills; son una buena oportunidad para aprender cosas nuevas sobre temas apasionantes

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