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5 Business Idioms for New Employees + Ways to connect in SD and SF

May 27, 2016

The business world is the world of idioms: from sports related expressions to idioms about financial problems, office conversations are filled with phrases and expressions English learners quickly pick up!

If you are a new employee (or, if you are a CISL Career English student and are spending time at an American company), the following expressions will be useful during your first few days at work. Are there any others you can think of? Tell us on Facebook or leave a comment below!

Interview Business English

Idioms for new employees

“Know/Learn the ropes”

Definition: to know or learn how something works when you are new to the job/company.

Example: “Thanks for helping me learn the ropes during my first few weeks.”

“Go the extra mile”

Definition: to put extra effort into something.

Example: “I’ll go the extra mile to make sure that we are efficient!”

“To get off on the right/wrong foot”

Definition: to have good (or bad) first impressions or experiences.

Example: “I plan on working overtime the first few weeks so that my boss and I get off on the right foot.”

“Hit the ground running”

Definition: to start smoothly and with energy and speed.

Example: “We’ll hit the ground running on Monday morning. After this meeting, I think we are ready!”

“The ins and outs”

Definition: the details.

Example: “My manager taught me the ins and outs of the company.”

“Rule of thumb”

Definition: general rule.

Example: “A rule of thumb here is that the customer is always right.”

“From the word go”

Definition: from the beginning.

Example: “From the word go, he has been a dedicated employee.”

Business English Formal Requests

Ways to connect in SD and SF

Are you business-minded? Want to use your English skills for business? Check out some of these resources in SD and SF!

This website is a great place to meet people who have your interests. Search for groups using the name of your business or industry and see what activities and events are happening!

Young Professionals of San Francisco 

Over 1,500 people are a member of this network which connects business-minded people throughout the Bay Area. Click here for info!


Photo from the YPOSF on Facebook.

San Diego International Club

This is a great place to meet international students in San Diego, practice your English, and connect with students who are “in the same boat” as you! (That means that they are experiencing the same thing as you.)

Click here to check them out!

San Diego Entrepreneur Center

If you are a driven person who wants to start a business, check out the San Diego Entrepreneur Center. It’s a great place to meet people who share your interests, and the center is full of resources!




Business English Career English CISL Alumni CISL San Diego Featured Student Activities Student Life Voices of CISL

Career English Success Story: Katrin from Austria learns all about event planning!

May 17, 2016

What do Austria, mustaches, and marketing have in common? Everything (if you’re CISL Career English student Katrin!).

Katrin recently completed her Career English course with CISL. After taking classes at Converse to improve her English, Katrin worked with Gaslamp Event Management (GEM) in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Katrin shared her positive experience with the CISL Blog.

For Katrin, the company was a perfect fit and the next logical step after university. She says, “I graduated this year in a commercial school in Austria and my main focus was management and business. So the company GEM was perfect for me because I was able to make a lot of experience and see how it works in the reality.”

With GEM, Katrin was able to work major events in SD. “The first event where I got an insight in the everyday life of an event manager was the San Diego Zombie Crawl on October 31 in Gaslamp. The second big event was the East Village MOvember Bash on November 21 which was planned by Club VIP.”

IMG_40394617302362 (1)

Work was fun, crazy, entertaining, and a great opportunity to see the inner workings of an event management company! “When I started the people worked on the preparations for the famous event ‘San Diego Zombie Crawl’ and ‘Monster Bash’. So for me it was the best chance to discover how the circle of an event is running.”

Katrin’s tasks were varied, giving her a lot of insight into the company and allowing her to develop skills in many areas of event planning. Katrin says, “There are so many things you have to think about! In this case I had the following tasks:

  • to inform myself about the background of the event and how it works
  • take care of the people who come into the office to pick up the tickets
  • to prepare a guest list/ list with vouchers
  • try to find out how the app for checking the people in works
  • establish collages of all the venues
  • promote the event on the pages of the venues
  • advertisement on different pages
  • update the ticketing website
  • watch the number of sold tickets
  • control the vouchers
  • take care of the VIP guest, making the packages for them
  • control the received payments”


As you can see, many of Katrin’s responsibilities involved speaking English a lot! She remembers, “October 31 I was responsible for the Check-In at Club AD. I had to scan the different kinds of tickets and to explain the guests details about event.” What a perfect way to meet native English speakers and interact with them!


In addition to improving her language skills, Katrin’s experience helped her to realize that this is the industry for her. “I had a lot of fun and the experience confirmed my purpose to work in this sector, definitely. I like to work in a team and to have contact with people.” We are happy to hear that this opportunity solidified her desire to work in marketing and event management!


Katrin’s next big event was for the MOvember Bash in the trendy Downtown neighborhood of East Village. Katrin explains, “The MOvember Bash is an event to change the face of men’s health. It is to benefit prostate cancer research and to erect a landmark sign in East Village. In this case I worked on the event from the beginning on, and so my main task were:

  • to search for pictures for the website
  • to look for the best pictures of the venues which participate
  • to think about the layout of the flyer (color, design, picture)
  • to collect ideas from different pages and events from last years – brainstorming
  • fix all the dates and times with the venues (the opening and closing times)
  • to learn how the program works for providing a website
  • to create the website and link all the venues and sponsores
  • to update and correct all the mistakes on the website
  • to look throw all the other pages which promote us and search for mistakes (times, dates, venues)
  • to fish for different possibilities for selling tickets
  • information sheet how the ticket sauce app works
  • to scrabble for newspaper, magazines and radio stations which can promote us
  • to go to East Village and distribute the flyers, cards and all the MOvember staff
  • at the day of the event I check in the people
  • to post the best of pictures on Instagram and Facebook”

Wow! Katrin says it “was such a great event and it is also for a good cause.” We totally agree!


When the last event was over, Katrin spent the last three weeks of her job doing work in the office. Her tasks included aiding with the owner’s modelling company, Downtown Dolls, creating collages for venues, creating new folders of the models, updating Excel sheets for past and future, shopping online for the office, updating social media, and writing the marketing reports for all events of the previous year. Sounds like very little time was spent doing the typical “intern” activity: getting coffee for the boss! 🙂

Katrin agrees that the experience was incredibly beneficial to her career and English skills. She says, “I learned how to start planning an event and which tasks are the most important. Not only [were] the work and the experience I earned fantastic, also the working climate was wonderful because we were a lot of young people from all over the world with different backgrounds, languages and religions. So summing up I can say it was a great working experience, a wonderful time and an amazing chance to improve my English!”

We are so happy and proud of you, Katrin! Best of luck in Austria!

To learn more about CISL’s Career English Course, click here.


Business English California Life Career English CISL Alumni CISL San Diego Featured Student Life Voices of CISL

Career English student success: Antonio’s experience with an SD real estate company!

April 17, 2016

Are you interested in gaining work experience in English? With CISL’s Career English Program, students first attend classes to gain the English skills they need in the business environment. During this time, students work closely with the Career English Coordinator to find a company that meets their interests and career goals. After interviewing (in English!) students begin their time with an American company. It’s an exciting way to practice your English skills!

CISL student Antonio Blanco (from Spain) recently worked with Casas Advisors, a real estate company located in San Diego. Let’s hear about his experience!


Overall, Antonio had a wonderful time with his company.

“I have to say it was a really good experience. I was in a real estate company named Casas Advisors and, during my stay, I had to do different tasks as accounting work, making calls or visiting several houses. At the beginning the most difficult task for me was making calls. It seems really easy but it was so hard for me to understand people on the other side of the wire because you can ‘t see their faces when they are speaking. Anyway, after some calls, it was easier and I could to improve my listening a lot. “

In addition to improving his English skills, Antonio says he also gained valuable work experience.

“The task I liked more was ‘accounting work’ because, for the first time, I did something related what I studied…I wanted a company where I could develop my skills in Finance and Accounting, because I got a degree in ‘Business Administration’ and I liked the idea about putting in practice all I learnt.

I learnt as well a few things about how to deal with the clients. It is really important to know your clients and to know what they want. Sometimes they don’t even know what they want so it’s your turn to show them the best option for them. This kind of business could seem easy, to sell houses for people in need, but there is much more behind that. I am sure I can use in the future all the advice they have given me and I am very grateful for it.”

Antonio says he was also fortunate to forge meaningful relationships with his colleagues.

I was very lucky with my co-workers, they were always willing to help me in everything I needed and, as I said, they gave me valuable advises about how to run a business. It was very interesting to see all operational since someone wants a house until they definitely purchase it. I had the opportunity to visit some houses before they were sold so I can figure out how is the process until you show the perfect house to your clients.”

Would he do it all again? According to Antonio, “I can say I chose the best option for me, the co-workers helped a lot in all my tasks and I improved my accounting skills as [well as] my English. I would recommend this type of program to everyone who wanted to improve their English in a different way because it is really worth it.”

We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed your time with Casas Advisors, Antonio!

Would you like to work with an American company and perfect your English skills? Click here to learn about CISL’s Career English Program.

CISL Alumni CISL Premier CISL San Francisco Dining San Francisco Student Life

From CISL student to San Francisco restaurateur!

October 3, 2012

I studied in the Premier English Program in 2010. I studied at CISL San Francisco while in process of setting up my business. I was preparing to live and work in a different language. I improved my vocabulary, my writing, and my spoken English skills and the classes at CISL San Francisco absolutely helped. I took an English course at another school in San Francisco before and it was pointless, but here we had such a small group (maximum of 4 clients) and our teachers focused on the individuals and our needs. I probably did a presentation on my restaurant.

I did my Masters in London before moving to San Francisco. I wanted to try something completely new and I opened my restaurant, Bamboo Asia, in July 2011. When people ask me what is special about my restaurant, I tell them “EVERYTHING is special!” We are Fast, Casual, Asian food with a modern take on Asian salads, bowls, wraps or sandwiches. We offer foods from Vietnam, Japan, and India.

I encourage students to see Converse International School of Languages as a bridge for their talent. It is a way to study so that you can bring your talent from abroad, improve your English and use your talent here.

Bamboo Asia is located at 41 Montgomery Street @ Sutter in the Financial District of San Francisco. CISL San Francisco students receive a 10% discount on their meals so remember to show your Student I.D. card when you come here for lunch!

Sebastiaan, HOLLAND