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The Differences Between Academic English and Conversational English

December 14, 2017

The Differences Between Academic English and Conversational English


When choosing English classes, students are often confused about the difference between Academic English and Conversational English. Do you know the difference? Understanding the advantages of both will help you decide which course is right for you!

Academic English vs. Conversation English: What’s the Difference?

Conversation English: Overview

The goal of conversational English classes is to improve one’s ability to communicate. Therefore, conversational English classes focus on all aspects of learning English: improving listening, speaking, grammar, reading, and writing. There is typically a strong focus on vocabulary, idioms, and phrasal verbs.

The Differences Between Academic English and Conversational English

Who should take Conversational English classes?

Conversation-focused English classes are for everyone! Most students feel that their communication in English could be improved: these classes are an excellent opportunity for students of any level to improve their confidence and skills.

When choosing a conversation-based English class, the most important thing to remember is to choose a reputable school with qualified teachers. Make sure that your classes have a clear structure, that goals are outlined, and that the class syllabus is followed.  

The Differences Between Academic English and Conversational English

Academic English: Overview

Academic English classes are designed to improve a student’s English skills that are needed in the college classroom. Therefore, the classes will focus on improving English skills (listening, speaking, writing, and reading) for the university classroom. Vocabulary lessons focus more on academic English skills (and less on idioms, slang, and phrasal verbs). Academic English classes tend to focus more on writing, specifically research, essay practice, and citations. Listening lessons focus on listening to lectures and improving note-taking skills.

The Differences Between Academic English and Conversational English

Who should take academic English?

Academic English is great for many language learners, including students who:

  • Want to attend college or university in the U.S.
  • Plan to use English in a more formal or business setting
  • Would like a more rigorous workload than they receive in a conversational English class
  • Plan to take the TOEFL, IELTS, or other English proficiency exam
  • Would like to teach English in the future

The Differences Between Academic English and Conversational English

Do you still need help deciding which course is right for you? Contact CISL!

Converse International School of Languages has provided quality English instruction since 1973. CISL’s small class size (maximum 8 students per class) and effective curriculum help students reach their English learning goals quickly, and in two of the best cities in the U.S.: San Francisco and San Diego! Contact CISL for information on its Standard course, English for Academic Purposes course, or other programs such as Academic Year Abroad, Career English, and University Pathway.

Business English Career English CISL San Diego Featured

Meet our CISL Career English Host Company, Martinez + Cutri Corporation!

October 24, 2017

Career English CISL San Diego

With CISL’s Career English program, students attend English classes at CISL and improve their language skills. Students then interview with an American company and are placed in a host company where they practice their English skills in a business setting (and learn many things about an industry).

We interviewed Anthony G. Cutri who is the Principal/Partner Architect of his firm Martinez + Cutri Corporation. Over the last few years, Martinez + Cutri Corporation has hosted numerous CISL interns (so far, they’ve taken students from Germany, Switzerland, and Russia). Let’s learn a little about this wonderful company and how they work with CISL students!

Career English CISL San Diego

Could you please provide a brief description of your company?

We are a full service architecture/urban design firm, we make buildings – from low/midrise to high rise building. We design schools, hotels, high density mixed use housing amongst other building types.

 How long have you been taking interns with CISL?

About 18 months

 What are some of the qualifications or qualities you look for in an intern?

A good portfolio and resume along with an in person interview.

Career English CISL San Diego

 What are the typical duties for a CISL student who is “working” at your company?

We try to have them get experience in most of the tasks in the office from drafting and design to job site visits and everything in between.

 What are the advantages of having an international student in the workplace?

It is very helpful for us at M+C to know how the practice of architecture works in other countries.

Career English CISL San Diego

Thank you to the Martinez + Cutri Corporation for providing such a wonderful environment for our students!

To learn more about CISL’s Career English program, contact CISL

All photos are from Martinez + Cutri. 

Business English Career English CISL San Diego Featured

CISL Student Florian Learns Project Planning, Social Media, and Corporate Design at Casas Advisors!

September 28, 2017

Have you dreamed of improving your English skills for a future job? CISL’s Career English program provides students with the English skills necessary to succeed in the work environment AND offers international students a chance to spend time at an American company!

Our German student, Florian, recently learned English at CISL and then spent time at Casas Advisors, a real estate company. Florian shared some of his experience with us.

CISL Student Florian Learns Project Planning, Social Media, and Corporate Design at Casas Advisors!

Objectives and expectations

Florian’s goals before the Career English program were clear. “My main objective and intention to enroll for the Career English Program at CISL was to improve my business English and to gain some work experience abroad to improve my CV.”

Why did Florian choose CISL? He admits that it’s not easy for international students to find such an experience at an American company without the help of programs such as CISL’s Career English. Florian recalls that “A major issue for finding a company for me was that most companies require to pay their interns and therefore they need to have a working visa.” Thankfully, with the help of CISL’s Career English Coordinator, Florian was able to find a placement at Casas Advisors, a real estate company in San Diego.

Florian’s tasks and responsibilities

Florian spent two months at Casas Advisors, where the “team was very dedicated to integrate me into the team and to always find challenging tasks for me.”  His responsibilities were varied and challenging. “To summarize my activities I created the following list for a quick overview:

  • Creation of social media analysis and planning tool; definition and implementation of recommendations
  • Development of corporate design
  • Creation of buyers & listing presentation
  • Calculation of ROIs of planned real estate investments for creation of investors pitches
  • Increased transparency of projects through Gantt-Project management planning
  • Administrative activities (reply to enquiries, ordering etc.)
  • Revised marketing material

Improving English through a host company

Florian says he saw great improvements to his English skills after spending time with his host company. “Reviewing my time as an intern at Casas Advisors I can say that those two months were great . . . [I was] able to improve my business English in this environment. Mostly this improvement was caused by making phone calls or attending meetings and holding presentations.” Another reason Florian’s English improved is because of his interactions with employees of the company. “Working together with my co-workers made my work more fun, interesting and flexible at the same time. I worked closely with Linda Paz, the Broker’s assistant, and Santiago Orvananos, the Owner and Broker of Casas Advisors.”

Was it worth it?

Florian says yes. “I was very pleased with my working experience in San Diego. Through the aforementioned activities I was able to improve my skillset according to Excel & PowerPoint . . . it was an awesome experience which I highly recommend. I can only speak highly of Casas Advisors.

Congratulations to Florian for a successful experience with a host company, and many thanks to Casas Advisors for providing such a welcoming environment for Florian to improve his English!


CISL’s Career English Program offers students the opportunity to improve their English skills in the classroom and at an American company. Students first spend time in the CISL classroom, which has small class sizes (no more than 8 students!) that allow English learners to quickly improve. Students then work closely with the Career English Coordinator to create an American resume (which is different than a CV) and interview with American companies. Students spend at least two months improving their English in a work environment, either while still taking classes at CISL or after completing their CISL English courses. Contact CISL for more information.


CISL San Diego IELTS Uncategorized

How to Pass the IELTS Exam

September 11, 2017

How to Pass the IELTS Exam

Are you planning to take the IELTS exam? Don’t stress: we have all of the tips you need to pass the test. Follow these recommendations and learn how to pass the IELTS exam.

How to Pass the IELTS Exam

Know the test format

This may sound obvious, but it’s very important. The IELTS test is long: it lasts many hours and has many parts and questions types. Know what is expected of you before you take the test. This will improve your confidence, your efficiency, and your score.

How to do this:

  • Take an IELTS preparation course.
  • Complete many practice tests.
  • Read the IELTS website for information about the test.

Have some strategies ready

Of course, you still can practice English that is specific to the test. For example, in the writing section, learn how to write a good thesis with predictors, how to begin your essay with an effective hook, and how to use a colon and semicolon. You can also study some useful idioms, slang, phrasal verbs, and vocabulary words to speak about yourself, your family, your education, and your future goals: these are common topics for the IELTS Speaking Part 1.

How to do this:

How to Pass the IELTS Exam

Practice the speaking exam

Don’t just practice speaking: practice the exact speaking exam. At CISL, students have mock (pretend) speaking tests that prepare them for this portion of IELTS. You will be surprised at how nervous you are, even when you are taking a practice test! After several practice exams, student confidence and scores improve greatly thanks to practice and teacher feedback. Don’t miss this important step.

How to do this:

How to Pass the IELTS Exam

Manage your time wisely

The IELTS test is long, but with so many questions and sections, students always find themselves pressed for time. Know how long each part of the test is and approximately how long each section will take you and you will manage your time better: this will allow you to spend more time on the sections that need more attention.

How to do this:

  • Practice makes perfect! The only way to know this information is to take several practice tests.

Learn English, not IELTS

Remember, the idea of preparing for IELTS is to improve your English (not just pass the exam)! Learn to love English, put some passion into learning the language, and enjoy. This will improve your relationship with the language . . . and your score will most definitely improve.

How to do this:

  • Consider studying for the IELTS exam in an English-speaking country.
  • Make friends who speak English.
  • Immerse yourself in English: change your phone to English, watch movies in English, and listen to some podcasts in English.
  • Read every day in English: make it a habit!

How to Pass the IELTS Exam

CISL San Diego offers intensive IELTS preparation classes for students of intermediate and advanced levels. The CISL small-class policy (never more than 8 students per class) allows students to improve their English and IELTS skills quickly, with more attention from the teacher and excellent feedback from qualified instructors. Contact CISL for information on IELTS classes in San Diego, California. 

Career English CISL Premier CISL Premier English CISL San Diego English for Engineers Featured Vocabulary

20 Useful Vocabulary Words for an Engineering Resume

August 15, 2017

Useful Engineering Resume Vocabulary Words in English

Writing a resume is difficult: how can you describe yourself, your education, and your accomplishments without sounding cliche, boring, or arrogant? Verbs that concisely explain your job responsibilities will help you when writing a resume. These 20 useful engineering resume vocabulary words will help you when applying for your engineering job or internship.

Note: these terms have been selected for several engineering fields, including biochemical engineering, mechanical, structural, operational, and civic engineering. The form of the word given is the past tense of each verb, and the example is written in the style you might see on a resume. To better understand the format of a U.S. style resume, see our articles “Resume vs. CV: What Is the Difference?.”

20 Useful Engineering Resume Vocabulary Words


Definition: Increase in rate, amount, or extent.

Example: Invented a machine that accelerated production speeds.


Definition: Have an effect on; make a difference.

Example: Affected change in production by designing a more efficient machine.


Definition: Examine (something) methodically and in detail, typically in order to explain and interpret it.

Example: Analyzed data from surveyors to make informed suggestions regarding city planning.


Definition: Make something be applicable or relevant.

Example: Applied various structural engineering theories to work in the field and in the office.


Definition: Assess the value or quality of.

Example: Appraised local structures to determine their durability.


Definition: Instruct or inform (someone) thoroughly, especially in preparation for a task.

Example: Briefed city officials on the status of local bridges and other structures.

Useful Engineering Resume Vocabulary Words in English


Definition: Make a systematic list of (items of the same type).

Example: Cataloged laboratory data for analysis.


Definition: Represent (something) in graphic form.

Example: Diagrammed electrical circuits of residential and office buildings.


Definition: Identify the nature of (an illness or other problem) by examination of the symptoms.

Example: Diagnosed weak areas of older buildings in order to suggest repairs.


Definition: Make (a device or system) operational; activate.

Example: Enabled a new form of solar-powered energy.


Definition: Skilfully arrange for (something) to occur; design and build (a machine or structure).

Example: Engineered a new form of solar energy collection.

Useful Engineering Resume Vocabulary Words in English


Definition: Make (an action or process) easy or easier.

Example: Facilitated meetings between business owners and local residents regarding structural damage to local buildings.



Definition: Place or fix (equipment or machinery) in position ready for use.

Example: Installed new circuits for energy-efficient electricity throughout the building.


Definition: Record in detail the spatial distribution of (something).

Example: Mapped data regarding energy consumption throughout the city.


Definition: Ascertain the size, amount, or degree of (something) by using an instrument or device marked in standard units.

Example: Measured the levels of pollution in local waters.


Definition: Use (a system, procedure, etc.) as an example to follow or imitate.

Example: Modeled new software on components of previous versions.


Definition: Altered or changed.

Example: Modified older machines to increase production.


Definition: Manage; (of a person) control the functioning of (a machine, process, or system).

Example: Operated and examined machinery for maintenance and review.


Definition: Make the best or most effective use of (a situation or resource).

Example: Optimized production of machinery.


Definition: Reconsider and alter (something) in light of further evidence.

Example: Revised reports from biologists; included data and suggestions regarding actions to be taken.

Useful Engineering Resume Vocabulary Words in English

CISL San Diego provides an intensive English for Engineering course for students who are working in (or interested in working in) the field of engineering. This course provides the vocabulary and language skills necessary for the student’s particular field: lessons can be catered to the student’s interests and professional needs. CISL’s English for Engineering course can be taken alongside the Career English program, which places students in an American company in order to use their English skills in the workplace. Contact CISL for more information.