The spider-tailed horned viper

Have you ever heard about the spider-tailed horned viper? This species of snake is endemic to the deserts of western Iran and Iraq. This is the kind of place where you expect to find serpents. But this one is a little bit different from most of its «cousins». What makes this viper so special?

The answer is the shape of its tail and how this snake uses it to hunt its prey. As you can see in the picture, at the end of its tail there is a bulb-like end that is bordered by long dropping scales that give the appearance of a spider.

How this viper uses its strange tail to hunt? The colour and the form of the viper’s skin is perfect for camouflage in rocky desserts like the ones in Iran.

So, what this snake does to hunt is to stay completely still so it cannot be detected by its prey, and then waves the tail tip that looks like a little spider, so in the eyes of the birds and other small animals, looks like an arachnid moving close to a rock. These small birds that see the «spider», thinking that they have found an easy meal, come within the striking range of the viper. And guess what? THEY are the easy meal.

Sometimes nature can give us important lessons for our daily life. And what I’ve learnt from this interesting creature is that sometimes what looks like a great opportunity can be a great danger if we don’t check what is behind the surface. Don’t be a hungry bird and always double-check who you trust in your daily life or when you surf on the internet because the world is full of «spider-tailed vipers»!


What are the meanings of these words: viper, bulb, and arachnid?

How does the spider-tailed viper lure its prey?

What lesson can we learn from this snake?

5 ways to beat post-holiday weight gain

¡Comida, comida, comida! En Navidad todos tendemos a comer más de lo que deberíamos. Turrones, polvorones, dulces de todos los colores y sabores… ¿Quién puede resistirse?

Pero enero ya está aquí y, para muchos, es hora de compensar los excesos navideños. ¡Ponte en forma y aprende vocabulario nuevo con este pequeño artículo del Reader’s Digest!

Many people see the festive season as “blow-out” time, when they don’t have to think about their health or their waistline until after the New Year. However, the average person puts on 5 to 10 pounds ( 2.5kg to 6kg) between November and January.

The biggest problem lies with the fact that the sugary foods and drinks we consume over Christmas are addictive – most people find it harder than anticipated to go back to a healthier lifestyle come January.

So here are some tips for you to help you to come back to your ideal weight!

These tips are given to us by the Reader’s Digest magazine.

Drink water

drink waterPeople often mistake thirst for hunger, so next time you feel like noshing, reach for water first. Drinking also helps you feel full. Some experts suggest sipping water (or iced tea) just before you sit down to a meal.

Set realistic goals

set goals

One or two pounds (1kg) a week maximum is doable.

Count to 10

count to ten

Studies suggest that the average craving lasts only about ten minutes. So before caving into your urge, set your mental timer for a ten-minute time-out. Use the time to tackle an item on your to-do list

Eat more often

eat often

People who have kept their weight off for more than a few years tend to eat an average of five times a day. Light, frequent meals curb your appetite, boost your energy, improve your mood and even speed your metabolism, since the process of digestion itself burns calories.

Make weekly resolutions

weekly resolution

Don’t try to overhaul your diet overnight. If you make too many changes at once, chances are you`ll get frustrated and throw in the towel. Instead, make one change, such as eating at least one piece of fruit daily, every week.

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.

Onomatopeyas ꟷ cuando los idiomas imitan el sonido

En inglés, como en otros idiomas, encontramos palabras llamadas “onomatopéyicas”. Chatter, bark y drop son sólo algunos ejemplos de estas palabras tan plásticas y divertidas.

¿Qué son?

Las palabras de origen onomatopéyico son aquellas que recuerdan a los sonidos naturales a los que se refieren. Dicho de otro modo: imitan el sonido al que describen. Por ejemplo, las interjecciones plas o chof son algunas de las onomatopeyas más conocidas en español. Estas interjecciones suelen aparecer en los cómics, ya que ayudan al lector a imaginar los sonidos de la historia.

Además de las interjecciones, existen verbos, sustantivos y otras clases de palabras que son onomatopéyicas como, por ejemplo, el verbo chasquear.

Vamos con un poco de música. En el año 2013 el dúo de humoristas Ylvis lanzó una de las canciones más pegadizas de los últimos años, The Fox, que está compuesta prácticamente en su totalidad por onomatopeyas. ¡Seguro que os suena!


Probad ahora a decir en voz alta estas palabras, prestando atención a su sonoridad. Veréis que, efectivamente, recuerdan al concepto que describen. Os proponemos un juego: intentad deducir el significado de cada palabra sólo escuchándola. ¡Ampliad vuestro vocabulario y divertíos!

Hum: murmullar, zumbar

Chatter: charlar, estar de cháchara

Howl: aullar

Crash: estallar, chocar

Meow: maullar

Splash: salpicar, chapotear

Burp: eructar

Click: chasquear

Flap: aletear, agitar

Rip: rasgar

Slurp: sorber (ruidosamente)

Rattle: traquetear, castañear

Cough: toser

Spit: escupir

Drip: gotear


Seguro que la palabra “ain’t” te suena

Cartel de

Hoy hablamos de lengua pero también hablamos de música. Ain’t es una palabra común en las letras de las canciones en inglés pero muchas personas desconocen su significado.


“Wait a minute, wait a minute! You ain’t heard nothing yet!” – Al Jolson, The Jazz Singer (1927)


¿Qué significa?

La palabra ain’t (pronunciada «eint») es una contracción de varias formas verbales:

  1. Del verbo to be (ser/estar): 

Am not

Are not

Is not

  1. Del verbo to have (tener).

Have not

Has not

Seguro que esta palabra te suena

La contracción ain’t ya existía en el siglo XVIII en el mundo angloparlante. Gente de toda clase y condición utilizaba esta palabra habitualmente, como lo atestiguan las novelas y otros textos de la época. Esta situación se mantuvo hasta el siglo XIX cuando algunos autores empezaron a defender la necesidad de crear un inglés “puro” y “correcto”. Así que, con el paso del tiempo, ain’t se convirtió en una palabra proscrita y se consideró propia de personas de clase baja, con pocos estudios.

Actualmente, no pertenece al conjunto de palabras que forman el inglés estándar y se considera incorrecta. Aún así, se sigue utilizando en contextos informales y, además, aparece muy a menudo en las letras de canciones populares, de estilos tan variados como el country, el blues o el hip-hop.

Aquí van tres canciones muy conocidas que contienen la palabra ain’t en sus letras:

Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine”

Nina Simone “Ain’t Got No – I Got Life”

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell «Ain’t no Mountain High Enough»

Algunas frases hechas que continenen ain’t

You ain’t seen nothing yet! > «Todavía no habéis/has visto nada».

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it > literalmente, “si no está roto, no lo arregles”, es decir, no es necesario cambiar aquello que funciona.

I want to meet my doppelgänger!

Participantes del proyecto Twin Strangers / Twin Strangers

Se dice que todos tenemos un doble en alguna parte del mundo. Alguien que es prácticamente idéntico a nosotros en cuanto al aspecto físico. En inglés, este doble se conoce como look-alike, double o doppelganger.

La palabra doppelganger o doppelgänger es un préstamo del alemán y, originalmente, designaba al homólogo fantasmagórico de una persona, es decir, una especie de espíritu idéntico a un ser humano viviente.

De acuerdo con el folclore alemán, todo ser vivo tiene un doble que es invisible pero idéntico a él. En 1796, el escritor alemán Johann Paul Richter acuñó el término Doppelgänger (de doppel, “doble”, y gänger, derivado de «Gang», “paseo”) para referirse a estos espectros. Literalmente, pues, esta palabra significa “doble que va”, aunque también puede usarse para referirnos al “alter ego” de una persona.

«Cómo se encontraron con ellos mismos», obra del artista inglés Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1864).

El año pasado se estrenó el documental “Finding My Twin Stranger”, resultado de una colaboración entre el canal de televisión británico Channel 4 y el equipo del Department of Twin Research del hospital de St. Thomas de Londres. En él se analizaba el parecido de siete parejas de desconocidos que eran idénticos des de todos los punts de vista posibles. El éxito de este documental, sumado a la facilidad con la que actualmente podemos contactar con gente de todo el mundo gracias a Internet, ha disparado la popularidad de las páginas web dedicadas a encontrar doppelgangers e incluso de muchos proyectos artísticos, como el de François Brunelle.

Pero encontrar tu propio doppelganger es tan o más difícil que decir esta misma palabra al revés. ¡Las probabilidades son de una entre un billón!

¿Quieres saber un poco más? Pincha aquí y échle un vistazo a este artículo de la BBC sobre los doppelganger.

Fun with puns – Los juegos de palabras en inglés

The Universal Language of Puns

by Joseph A. Salazar – Teacher at AIT Language School


«Paper calendars—I think their days are numbered!»

Tim Vine (English Writer, Actor and Comedian)

Several years ago, The Los Angeles Times published a front-page article about a traffic accident involving a lorry that was transporting oranges and apples. The headline read: “Fruit Truck Crashes, Creating Terrible Jam.”

Today, it is not uncommon in English to come across humorous word play in the press, as well as in everyday conversation, emails, social media and TV. One of the most popular forms of word play are puns. Puns are words or phrases that create humour because they have more than one meaning. There are two basic kinds of puns: homographic and homophonic.

Homographic puns make use of the varied meanings of words that have the same spelling. The word “jam” in the headline above is a good example. Jam can mean a sweet preserve made from fruit and sugar. But it can also refer to traffic congestion.

Homophonic puns, on the other hand, exploit words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. For example: jeans and genes, fair and fare, write and right.

Puns are generally considered to be a fairly basic form of humour, though they can also be very sophisticated and witty. Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets abound in puns, many of which are among the most quoted phrases in the English language. Why not read the following sentences and see if you can detect the pun!


  • I took my dog for a walk the other day and it got very angry with me. But that’s not surprising—it’s a cross breed (Tommy Cooper).
  • Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in an institution? (Groucho Marx)
  • A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money (W.C. Fields).
  • This wallpaper will be the death of me. One of us will have to go (Oscar Wilde).
  • Religion is a non-prophet organization (Robert Carlin).

10 facts about English


Ten Facts That You Perhaps Didn’t Know about English

Text source: Daily Express


English is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to understand why so many people want to study English.

You will undoubtedly be learning a lot of interesting things in your English classes. But here are some facts that perhaps you didn’t know about this fascinating language:


  1. The English language as we now know it began to emerge in the 14th century from a variety of dialects including Old Norse and Late West Saxon.
Early 12th century Old Norse manuscript /

Early 12th century Old Norse manuscript /

  1. Language, grammar and particularly spelling only really became standardised with the publication of Dr Johnson’s Dictionary in 1755.
Dr Johnson's Dictionary / D'Youville College Archives

Dr Johnson’s Dictionary / D’Youville College Archives

  1. More English words begin with the letter ‘S’ than any other letter of the alphabet.


  1. Mandarin Chinese is the only language spoken by more people around the world than English. *Our teachers at AIT Language School say: Not anymore! Nowadays, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish are the two most spoken languages in the world.


  1. Around one in eight of all letters in written English is an ‘e’.


  1. The longest common words that can be typed on the top row of a keyboard are ‘proprietor’, ‘repertoire’, ‘perpetuity’ and ‘typewriter’ itself.


  1. The three words most common in spoken English are ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘the’.


  1. The top three words in written English are ‘the’, ‘of’ and ‘and’.


  1. The word ‘uncopyrightable’ consists entirely of different letters. Along with ‘dermatoglyphics’ (study of fingerprints), it is the longest such word.


  1. The English language grows at a rate of about one new word every two hours.




Split pea & green pea salad


Give peas a chance!

Los guisantes son una verdura muy nutritiva. Son ricos en fibra, en vitaminas A, B, C y E, en potasio, calcio, hierro y fósforo. En nuestro país, la temporada de guisantes se extiende de marzo a junio. Por lo tanto, incorporarlos a nuestros platos en este momento es una buena idea: al ser producto de temporada su precio es más bajo y es más fácil encontrarlos frescos. Un truco para saber si los guisantes que compramos son frescos o no es fijarnos en las vainas: deben estar crujientes y brillantes y el peciolo (el tallo que las unía a la planta), verde, no correoso.

Así pues, os dejamos con una receta típica de la cocina rápida norteamericana que, además de ayudaros a practicar el inglés, os dará como resultado un plato delicioso y saludable.

Split pea & green pea salad

Receta extraída de America’s Quick Cuisine, J. Carino & E. Zelner (eds.); World Publications Group (2004).

Preparation time: 45 minutes


1 cup (250g) of green split peas

2 cups (500g) of vegetable broth

½ teaspoon (2g) dried thyme

10 ounces (280g) green peas

4 ounces (100g) rice

¼ cup (50g) thinly sliced onions

¼ cup (50g) chopped fresh mint

¼ cup (50ml) vegetable oil

1 teaspoon (5g) finely shredded lemon peel

Lemon juice

Mint and thyme sprigs

Salt and pepper


  1. Sort through split peas, discarding any debris; then rinse and drain peas. In a pan, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Add split peas and dried thyme. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until split peas are tender to bite (about 25 minutes); drain and discard any remaining cooking liquid. Transfer split peas to a large bowl, add cold green peas, and mix gently but thoroughly. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture is cool (about 3 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, in a pan, bring about 8 cups (1,5l) water to a boil over medium-high heat; stir in rice and cook until just tender to bite (cook according to package directions). Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well again. Transfer rice to bowl with peas. Add onions and chopped mint; mix gently. In a small bowl, beat oil, lemon peel, and lemon juice until blended. Add to pea mixture; mix gently but thoroughly.
  3. This pea mixture makes 4 servings. To serve, top 4 plates equally with pea mixture. Garnish salads with mint and thyme sprigs; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Split pea & green pea salad. Imagen: Alberta Pulse Growers (2016).

Split pea & green pea salad. Imagen: Alberta Pulse Growers (2016).

Enjoy your meal! 😉

Chillax, it’s just slang

'Slang' es la palabra inglesa para la jerga coloquial e informal.

‘Slang’ es la palabra inglesa para la jerga coloquial e informal. Imagen:

Wicked, awesome, Gucci, swagger son sólo algunas de las palabras que conforman el slang en inglés, tan vasto y divertido como cambiante.

¿Qué es el slang?

Es la jerga coloquial, informal (y a menudo vulgar) del inglés, una variedad lingüística distinta a la estándar que puede resultar del todo incomprensible. Aún así, debido a la globalización, algunas palabras del slang inglés se han «infiltrado» en nuestro idioma y por eso nos suenan. Por ejemplo, casi todos los adolescentes de este país saben lo que es el swag o conocen el significado de ‘LOL’.

Una jerga es un lenguaje especial, compartido por un determinado grupo de personas, que puede ser complicado acceder al significado de las palabras si no se pertenece a ese grupo. Pensad, por ejemplo, en la jerga médica o en la jerga adolescente.

La edad, el entorno social, el bagaje cultural, etc. son elementos que influyen a la hora de entender palabras 'slang'.

La edad, el entorno social, el bagaje cultural, etc. son elementos que influyen a la hora de entender palabras ‘slang’.

Por otro lado, la jerga coloquial evoluciona constantemente, a un ritmo casi vertiginoso. Cientos de palabras nacen cada día (como chillax, una mezcla de chill out y relax) y aquellas que hoy están de moda pueden caer en el olvido en cuanto nos despistemos.

Además, cuando hablamos del slang en inglés, encontramos otras dificultades añadidas: no sólo se trata de la jerga coloquial en otro idioma, sino que no es común para todos los países de habla inglesa. El slang de Manchester será distinto del de Nueva York. ¡Incluso puede cambiar según el barrio!

Así que, visto lo visto, si alguna vez os cruzáis con una palabra de este tipo, lo mejor será que acudáis a un diccionario. Podéis consultar, por ejemplo, el Urban Dictionary para jerga de origen estadounidense o el Dictionary of English slang para jerga del Reino Unido. Estos diccionarios se actualizan constantemente, de modo que es bastante probable que encontréis vuestra palabra sin demasiada dificultad.

Un poco de slang británico

  • Kip = echarse una siesta
  • Wicked = guay
  • Tenner = un billete de £10
  • Fiver = un billete de £5
  • Loo = retrete
  • (the) Telly = la tele
  • Nutter = pirado/a
  • Knackered = estar hecho polvo/reventado
  • Brilliant = genial
  • Gobsmacked = alucinado, flipado


Ok, guys, that’s all! Happy weekend 😀

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