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Academic English Celebrities EAP Featured University Pathway Vocabulary

Meet our CISL Pathway Partner, New York Film Academy! (+10 Movie-related Vocabulary Words)

March 24, 2017

Do you dream of a life making movies . . . in English? CISL’s Pathway Program + New York Film Academy might be for you!

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words

Meet our CISL Pathway Partner, New York Film Academy!

How Pathways Works

With CISL Pathway, students attend CISL (including the afternoon English for Academic Purposes course) to improve their English skills. Students then choose a CISL Pathway Partner school to attend: at this college or university, students receive an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. With CISL Pathway Partners, international students do not need to take the TOEFL exam: students who pass CISL’s EAP course automatically meet the requirements for admission!

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words

Happy graduates!

New York Film Academy

Students at the New York Film Academy have many location options for studies: the school has campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. New York Film Academy uses the educational philosophy of “learning by doing,” which allows students hands-on experience with their field. Students graduate ready to enter the world of cinema and use their degree: in the first year alone, each student writes, shoots, directs and edits eight films!

NYFA Programs of Study

The list of degrees is long for potential NYFA students. The school offers many programs, including accelerated three-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree programs in:

  • Filmmaking
  • Acting for Film
  • Producing
  • Screenwriting
  • 3D Animation
  • Graphic Design
  • Game Design

Students also have the option of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Media Studies and a two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in:

  • Filmmaking
  • Acting for Film
  • Screenwriting
  • Producing
  • Cinematography
  • Documentary
  • Game Design and Photography

The academy also offers two-year Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) degrees in:

  • Filmmaking
  • Acting for Film
  • Producing
  • Screenwriting
  • Game Design

Additionally, the Los Angeles campus offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Film and Media Production.

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words

The beautiful New York campus on a snowy winter day.


While receiving their degree, students have access to NYFA’s incredible events, which often include informal talks by industry professionals. Kevin Spacey, Glenn Close, Bryan Cranston, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many more have visited NYFA to speak to its students!

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words
For more information on attending NYFA through CISL, contact Converse International School of Languages.

Movie Industry Vocabulary

Before starting your academic career with NYFA, make sure you know these industry-related words! These terms all come from the International Movie Database. Check out the entire (lengthy) list of terms online!

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words


A low-budget movie. B-films were cheaper for studios because they did not involve the most highly paid actors or costly sets, and were popular with theater owners because they were less expensive to bring into their theaters.

Back lot/Backlot

A large, undeveloped area on studio property used for building large sets or for filming wilderness scenes.

Director’s Cut

Contracts through the Hollywood Director’s Guild usually allow 6 weeks for a director to create a “cut” of the movie–without studio interference. This “cut” shows the movie exactly how the director would like it to be seen. This director’s cut is fully edited and has a soundtrack.

These days, the term Director’s Cut now often refers to a final version of the movie that the director has complete artistic control over.

Layout Artist

A person responsible for staging every shot and planning how the action will happen in each scene.

Magic hour

The minutes just around sunset and sunrise when light levels change and there is a warm orange glow to the shots.

Scenic Artist

A member of the crew responsible for painting and preparing the scenes, including the walls, signs, and models or miniatures (if used).

Screen Actors Guild

An association that the actors belong to. This association was originally a labor union that began in 1933. In 2012, it merged with another group and is now the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists.


Background conversation in a scene.

Working Title

The name used for a movie while it is being made. This is sometimes different from the title when the movie is released.


To finish shooting, either for the day or the entire production.

All NYFA photos from NYFA’s Facebook page. Director’s cut photo is from Pixabay.  

American Traditions Celebrities Featured Holidays Vocabulary

Nicknames for Santa + the Origin of the Word “Nickname”

December 6, 2016

The holiday season means delicious foods, celebrations, decorations, and the appearance of a strange man in a red suit who flies through the air with eight reindeer. Christmas is indeed a strange holiday!

To celebrate, we are taking a look at this iconic figure, Santa Claus, and his many nicknames. The name “Santa Claus” is common in the US, but other names and nicknames (see below) are also used. Check them out! But first, why do we use the word “nickname?” Linguist John McWhorter explains the fascinating origins of this word in this Ted Ed video.

Etymology of the word “nickname”

Watch McWhorter’s video to understand how this word came to be.

Now that you know the origins of the word “nickname,” let’s take a look at some of the many nicknames for Santa Claus!

Nicknames for Santa Claus

Jolly Old St. Nick

This nickname is the title of a famous Christmas song, but it’s also a name many people use for Santa Claus. Check out the song below!

Saint Nicholas

We know that there really was a man named Nicholas who was wealthy and generous, but exactly where history becomes myth is a mystery. Learn all about the story of Nicholas, who lived in modern-day Turkey, in this article about the origin of Saint Nicholas. The generous man was later named a saint by the Catholic church, hence the name “Saint” Nicholas.

Saint Nick

Nicholas has a nickname: Nick! (How many times can you use “nick” in a sentence??) “Nicholas” is shortened to “Nick” for the name “Saint Nick,” which is very common. The man in red is referred to as “Saint Nick” in this famous Christmas song: check it out below!

Kris Kringle

The origins of this nickname are not clear, but many believe that this is actually from the German words Christkindlein, Christkind’l, meaning “Christ child,” which was used in reference to baby Jesus, not Santa Claus! However, the name came to be used for the man commonly called Santa Claus.

Father Christmas

The Catholic tradition fell out of style around the time of the Protestant Reformation, but the tradition of gift-giving and the character of Saint Nick lived on. To move away from the word “Saint,” which is associated with Catholicism, people (particularly in the UK) began using names like “Father Christmas.”

Old Man Christmas

Another name that emerged around the same time as “Father Christmas,” this is probably another attempt to remove Catholicism from the holiday tradition. This name is also more common in the UK and not used often in the US.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our students and staff! We hope Santa brings you what you want this year!

California Life Celebrities CISL San Diego Featured San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods San Diego Travel Tips Student Life Suggested student activities Vocabulary

San Diego’s Comic-Con + Onomatopoeia

July 24, 2016

If you’re a San Diegan, you know that July means more than just summer and beaches: it’s the month of ComicCon!

What is ComicCon? This convention, held at the Downtown San Diego Convention Center, is the largest and most exciting convention of the year. Celebrities and fans come from all over the world to celebrate all things comic: from the books to the movies we all love!


To celebrate, we are looking at something classically comic: onomatopoeia. This long (originally Greek) word is for words that sounds like the sound they describe. Examples include animal noises (“oink” for a pig, “meow” for a cat, and “chirp” for a bird), for the sounds of machines (“honk” or “beep-beep” for car horns or “vroom” for an engine).

Onomatopoeia is also commonly used in comic books to describe the actions in the comics. The sounds made when characters are talking or laughing, or the sounds of comic characters fighting one another, are best described using onomatopoeia.


Onomatopoeia in comics


A moment of realization

Example: Aha! Here are my keys! I’ve been looking for them.



A large slam of doors; an explosion.

Example: We were just talking and then BAM! the door slammed shut.



The sound of crying

Example: Boohoo, it’s raining today and I can’t go surfing.



Loud chewing

Example: I can hear your chomps from across the room!



The sound of cars crashing; the sound of crunchy foods being eaten

Example: The car came from nowhere, and then we heard a crunch.



Air being taken in when someone is surprised

Example: Gasp! I forgot my brother’s birthday!




Example: I can hear the “gulp, gulp, gulp” of a very thirsty person!



A painful cry

Example: Ouch! I just slammed my finger in the door!



A sigh of relief

Example: You got the job? Phew!



Someone or something being hit

Example: Pow! He hit him right in the jaw.



The sound of a forcible impact; striking something forcibly

Example: We heard this “wham!” sound and then realized that a bird had flown into the window!


Have you seen these words in action? Check out some comics and see if you can spot these words! And be sure to share your findings with us on CISL’s Facebook page.



Celebrities Featured Listening Practice

Phrasal verbs through comedy: Bill Engvall’s “Here’s Your Sign”

April 27, 2016

Phrasal verbs are perhaps the least favorite thing for English students to study . . . but phrasal verbs can be fun if you learn them while watching comedy! Today we are looking at a short clip from Bill Engvall’s comedy routine “Here’s Your Sign.” In this clip, he uses several phrasal verbs.

Before we look at the phrasal verbs, let’s look at one very important term related to comedy: stand up. This phrasal verb means to “stand on your feet” or to “stand after sitting.” But STAND UP also is a type of comedy, because the comedians are standing up while they are delivering their performance.

“Here’s Your Sign” by Bill Engvall

Bill Engvall is famous for the line “Here’s your sign.” The “sign” is part of Engvall’s joke that unintelligent people should have to wear a sign that says “I’m stupid” so that we know, before interacting with them, that we might have some difficulties communicating.

Engvall’s comedy follows a typical pattern:

  • He tells a short story
  • In the story, someone says something very silly
  • He ends the story by saying “here’s your sign.”

Watch the clip below, then read the phrasal verbs and their definitions before watching the clip again.

Phrasal Verbs

Did you hear these phrasal verbs? Here are their definitions and the timestamps so you can go back and listen again if you need to.

Phrasal Verb #1: Look forward to

Definition: to be excited for

Use: “I look forward to getting old with her.”

Timestamp: 0:05

Phrasal Verb #2: Fly in

Definition: arrive (by airplane)

Use: “So we had to fly in the night before on this little puddle jumper airplane…”

Timestamp: 1:25

Phrasal Verb #3: Make up (a story)

Definition: To create and tell an untrue story

Use: “You cannot make this up.”

Timestamp: 1:30

Phrasal Verb #4: Carry on 

Definition: to bring with you; usually onto a plane

Use: “So we just carried them on the airplane.”

Timestamp: 2:30

Phrasal Verb #5: Walk off

Definition: to leave a place (in this case he is talking about a plane, so it is similar to “getting off” a mode of transportation)

Use: “We walk off the plane with them . . .”

Timestamp: 2:40

Note: The CISL Blog has looked at the phrasal verb GET OFF before. Click here to learn about it! 


Comedy Shows in SD and SF

Would you like to see a live comedy show? San Diego and San Francisco have many comedy clubs! Here are a few to check out.

Mad House Comedy Club
Well-known comedians, open mic nights, & dining options
502 Horton Plaza
The American Comedy Co.
A very cozy comedy club, but popular comedians often perform here
818 Sixth Ave
The Comedy Palace
A dinner-theater setting for live comedy acts
8878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
The Punchline San Francisco
An intimate comedy club located Downtown
Cobb’s Comedy Club
An established club that offers many different acts
915 Columbus Ave
Down Town Comedy Theater
Ticket sales help charities at this theater!
287 Ellis St

Cover photo from Bill Engvall. Comedian photo from Mad House Comedy Club via Facebook. 

Celebrities Listening Practice Word of the Day

“Thank You for Being a Friend” Lyrics and Vocabulary

November 7, 2015

“By the way, I’m wearing the smile that you gave me.” -Unknown 

It is important to be thankful, especially for those of us who are lucky enough to study abroad, make lifelong friends from other countries, and have the experience of a lifetime in California. As a reminder, we are looking at a classic American song about friendship. The lyrics are quite useful for English learners: note the vocabulary, the use of conditionals, and the THANK YOU FOR + ING construction. Do you see them all? At the end of this article, we explain the important language learning aspects.

Listen to the song here, and read the lyrics below. What are you thankful for?

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
your heart is true you’re a pal and a confidante

I’m not ashamed to say
I hope it always will stay this way
My hat is off, won’t you stand up and take a bow

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see, the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say,
Thank you for being a friend

Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend
Thank you for being a friend

If it’s a car you lack
I’d surely buy you a cadillac
Whatever you need, anytime of the day or night

I’m not ashamed to say
I hope it always will stay this way
My hat is off, won’t you stand up and take a bow

And when we both get older
With walking canes and hair of gray
Have no fear, even though it’s hard to hear
I will stand real close and say,
Thank you for being a friend

(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Let me tell you about
a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend

And when we die and float away
Into the night, the Milky Way
You’ll hear me call, as we ascend
I’ll see you there, then once again
Thank you for being a friend

Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
(I want to thank you)
Thank you for being a friend
Whoa, tell you about a friend
(Thank you right now, for being a friend)
Thank you for being a friend
(I wanna tell you about a pal, and I’ll tell you again)
Thank you for being a friend
(I wanna thank you, thank you, for being a friend)
Thank you for being a friend


Grammar Notes

Did you note any of these grammar points, collocations, or phrasal verbs?

Thank you for being a friend

  • This uses the “Thank you for +ing” construction.

My hat is off, won’t you stand up and take a bow

  • “Stand up” is a phrasal verb
  • “Take a bow” is a collocation

And if you threw a party

  • “Throw a party” is a collocation

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see, the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say,
Thank you for being a friend

  • Here, we see the conditional with “IF” + Simple Past . . . (subject) + would + base verb

If it’s a car you lack
I’d surely buy you a cadillac

  • Here, we have a mixed conditional: this time, it’s IF + Simple Present . . . (subject) + would + base verb

And when we both get older

  • “Get older” is a collocation