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California Life Dining Featured Idioms and expressions San Diego

SD Beach Barbecue Guide + BBQ Idioms

May 7, 2017

San Diego is famous for its beaches, but few students take advantage of the many facilities the beaches offer! Did you know that you can have a barbecue on many of San Diego’s beaches? Some even have barbecue pits for you to use. Check out our SD beach barbecue guide before organizing a trip with your CISL friends. Cheers!

SD Beach Barbecue Guide

Choose a beach

Which beach will you choose to BBQ? Coronado? La Jolla? Read our Guide to San Diego’s Beaches for an idea of the facilities each beach has (and to learn the personality of each beach). Make sure that you research the beach’s facilities and hours before planning your trip: the San Diego City website lists all of the offerings for each beach, including if it’s accessible by public transport, if there are public restrooms, and if barbecues and fires are allowed.

Grab some friends

Who is coming with you? Make sure you plan in advance so that you know how much food you will need! When planning how to arrive, consider all of your public transportation options: read our Public Transportation in San Diego article for useful information.

Buy the supplies

What will you need to buy for the perfect barbecue? For a BBQ, you are going to need the following:

  • Coals
  • A lighter (to set fire to the coals)
  • Utensils for grilling (thongs and spatula)
  • Plates, napkins, cups, forks, knives, etc.
  • Food! Sausages? Burgers?
  • Condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
  • Drinks
  • A cooler to keep the drinks cold

Be sure to research if the beach has picnic benches; if not, grab a blanket to sit on while you eat!

Plan the rest of the day 

What will you do afterwards? Maybe play some beach volleyball? Perhaps you’ll go swimming? Check out our article for some Beach Activity ideas (and vocabulary). Make sure you come prepared . . . and don’t forget the sunscreen!

BBQ Idioms in English 

When we think of barbecues, we think of burgers, fire (and smoke), and good times! These idioms are related to the foods and items you might have at a beach BBQ.

After meat, mustard

Definition: a phrase emphasizing that something has come too late to be useful (like mustard after meat has already been eaten).

To be in a pickle

Definition: experiencing a difficult situation.

Can’t cut the mustard

Definition: not satisfactory or right for the situation

To go up in flames

Definition 1: burn up completely.
Definition 2: [for value or investment] to be lost suddenly and totally.

To grill someone (about something)

Definition: to question or interrogate someone intensely and relentlessly (about something).

Holy smoke!

Definition: what a surprise!

To rake someone over the coals

Definition: to scold someone.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

Definition: a saying meaning “there’s always some reason for a rumor.”

 

Dining Featured San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods

Food/Drink-related Countable AND Uncountable Nouns + Little Italy Coffee Shops

March 1, 2017

Countable and uncountable nouns: what are they, and why are they important? Read on to learn about these two categories and discover some words that can be both countable and uncountable nouns . . . like the word “coffee.” Then learn about some of San Diego, Little Italy’s coolest coffee shops!

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns refer to things that can be counted. (This means that we usually add an “s”  or “es” to the noun when it is plural.)

  • banana/bananas
  • cloud/clouds
  • beach/beaches

Sometimes, the plural form is irregular.

  • man/men
  • woman/women
  • child/children
  • mouse/mice

Why is it important to categorize countable and uncountable nouns? With countable nouns, we can use “a” or “an” in front of the word. With uncountable nouns, this is not the case.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns cannot be counted, and therefore do not have a different word for a plural form.

Many abstract nouns are uncountable:

  • happiness
  • honesty
  • thankfulness

Other countable nouns are not abstract:

  • water
  • coffee
  • flour
  • milk
  • rice
  • butter

However, we can use “a” or “an” with these nouns if we turn these nouns into something that can be divided into elements (and therefore counted). Then we use the form “a (something) of (noun)”:

  • a glass of water
  • a cup of coffee
  • a teaspoon of flour
  • a pint of milk
  • a grain of rice
  • a pat/stick of butter

Words that are both countable and uncountable nouns

Some words can be both countable and uncountable nouns. As we are focusing on coffee today, the nouns listed below are also nouns related to food and drink. Enjoy!

beer

  • Countable definition: a glass of beer
    • Two beers, please.
  • Uncountable definition: a beverage made with water and hops
    • I don’t like the taste of beer.

bread

  • Countable definition: particular types of bread
    • They offer many breads at the local bakery, including sourdough and rye.
  • Uncountable definition: a food made from grains
    • People who are gluten-free don’t eat bread.

cheese

  • Countable definition: particular types of cheese
    • How many cheeses did you buy for the cheese plate?
  • Uncountable definition: a dairy food
    • Cheese is my favorite food.

coffee

  • Countable definition: cups of coffee
    • I ordered two coffees while I was waiting for my friend to join me.
  • Uncountable definition: the drink made from roasted coffee beans
    • I drink coffee every morning.

dessert

  • Countable definition: a particular type of dessert food
    • Did you see all of the desserts they offer?
  • Uncountable definition: the food eaten at the end of a meal (usually it is sweet)
    • Would you like some dessert?

food

  • Countable definition: different types of food
    • Are you allergic to any foods?
  • Uncountable definition: the things we eat
    • Want to get some food?

fruit

  • Countable definition: particular types of fruit
    • She puts a lot of different fruits in her smoothies. They’re delicious!
    • What fruits are low in sugar?
  • Uncountable definition: the part of a tree or plant that can be eaten and contains seeds
    • Sometimes we eat fruit for dessert.

jam

  • Countable definition: different types of jams
    • What types of jams do you have for toast?
  • Uncountable definition: preserved fruit, usually put on toast
    • I don’t like strawberry jam.

juice

  • Countable definition: different types of juices; glasses of juice
    • How many juices did you drink this morning?
    • Two orange juices, please.
  • Uncountable definition: the liquid from fruits, plants, or other foods
    • I don’t like orange juice with pulp.
    • Have you ever had pineapple juice?

meat

  • Countable definition: different types of meat
    • He made three different meats for the BBQ.
  • Uncountable definition: animals eaten as food
    • Do you eat meat or are you a vegetarian?

salad

  • Countable definition: types of salad
    • I made three salads for the picnic.
  • Uncountable definition: a food made with vegetables (usually lettuce) with a dressing
    • Did you eat your salad?

sugar

  • Countable definition: a particular type of sugar or measurements of sugar (such as a packet of sugar)
    • How many (packets of) sugar do you put in your coffee?
  • Uncountable definition: the sweet crystals made from plants such as sugar cane or beets
    • We don’t eat a lot of sugar during the week, so it’s OK if we eat cake on Sunday.

tea

  • Countable definition: different types of tea; cups of tea
    • I had three teas today.
    • How many teas does that local shop sell?
  • Uncountable definition: a drink made from hot water and dried plants
    • Do you have any green tea?

wine

  • Countable definition: different types of wine
    • They have so many wines at that store down the street!
  • Uncountable definition: a drink made from fermented fruit (usually grapes)
    • Did you know that the Romans made wine throughout Europe?

Coffee Shops in San Diego’s Little Italy

San Diego’s Little Italy is a beautiful neighborhood; in fact, it was voted the best Little Italy in the U.S., and it was also named one of the best U.S. neighborhoods to live in! CISL San Diego students have the option of living in Little Italy and staying in the Vantaggio residence. When living in Little Italy, be sure to check out some of the cool coffee shops in the area!

Bird Rock Roasters

Countable and uncountable nouns

The Little Italy location is the newest store for this popular local coffee shop, which roasts its own award-winning beans and brews delicious pour-over coffees. Sip a cup and watch the planes fly overhead: the shop is located in the flight path for the San Diego airport. And be sure to try the Kenyan Peaberry: it’s won more awards than Meryl Streep has Oscars!

Heartsleeves Coffee

Countable and uncountable nouns

This hidden gem is just behind Piazza Basilone, which is a beautiful square with a fountain located on India and Fir Streets. Grab a cup and then explore the adorable shops that are located on the Fir Cottage strip: each boutique is a home once owned by local Italian fishermen, and each is decorated in beautiful colors and offers unique gifts, home decor, and clothing.

James Coffee Co.

Countable and uncountable nouns

Head to Northern Little Italy for James Coffee Co: the space is part coffee shop, part industrial space, and part home to other independent stores such as barber shops, bike shops, and stores featuring local artists. It’s fun, inventive, and a great place to do some studying and shopping!

Lofty Coffee

Countable and uncountable nouns

Little Italy’s newest coffee shop is the second location for this company, which has a popular shop in North County (and whose business just merged with Bird Rock Roasters)! This urban coffee shop on the corner of Cedar and Columbia offers breakfast and lunch items that use local and organic ingredients. Check it out and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Want to learn more about coffee? Check out CISL’s article about The Best Coffee Shops in SF.

All photos from each coffee shop’s Facebook page. 

 

Dining Featured Student Activities Student Life Suggested student activities

Weekend getaway: exploring Portland (+ some Portland slang!

November 24, 2016

Living and studying English in San Francisco or San Diego is a dream to many international students: the cities are alive with options for activities, festivals, shopping, eating, socializing . . . the list goes on and on! As great as SD and SF are, we encourage our students to see more of the U.S.: there is so much to see in this large and diverse country! One weekend destination we highland recommend is Portland, Oregon.

Portland is the largest city of Oregon, which is the state above California. The city is known for its unique and cool vibe: residents are laid-back, eco-friendly people who love nature and outdoor activities. Coffee and beer scenes are big in Portland, so there’s always a cool cafe or bar to relax in, and the hip music scene means that there are plenty of concerts to attend. Portland is a fun and exciting place!

It is easy to travel to Portland from SD or SF: just book a short flight (if you book in advance, you can get great deals) and you can arrive by late Friday afternoon/early Friday evening after your last CISL class. Here are some of the many things you can check out!

Weekend getaway: Exploring Portland!

Downtown and Willamette River

hawthornebridge-pano

“Keep Portland Weird” is the unofficial slogan of the city, so be prepared to see some unique and hilarious things (and people) when Downtown. Portland’s Downtown is small and easy to walk: check out the bars and restaurants on Hawthorn Street and the shops and galleries on Alberta Street.

coffeeshop_in_downtown_portland_maine

If you’re interested in a little more culture, check out the Portland Art Museum and enjoy the Asian, American, and Native American art collection before heading over to the Tom Call Waterfront Park for some fresh air (and possibly some exercise: there are many paved walkways and bicycle paths!). Have a picnic in the many grassy areas and enjoy the view of the Willamette River, and then stroll through the beautiful Lan Su Chinese Garden. Architecture lovers: be sure to stop and enjoy Steel Bridge, which is a famous landmark.

Enjoy the food and drink scene

Beer.Tasting.Brew.Brewery.Drink

There are over 30 breweries in Portland: grab a glass! The food truck scene is also thriving in Portland, so be sure and check out one of the local vendors for something tasty, like the delicious Mexican cuisine from La Jarochita (5th Ave and Oak St, Downtown), the mouth-watering porchetta sandwiches from Lardo, and Belgian fries at their best at Potato Champion. Not sure where to find food trucks? Check out Downtown’s Mississippi Avenue: it usually has a nice collection of local vendors.

StreetFood.Food.Vendor.FoodTruck foodtruck1

Relaxing with museums and nature

Learn a little about the history of the area at the Oregon Historical Society, and then spend the day exploring some of Portland’s many gardens! Check out The Grotto, a Catholic garden which has beautiful and serene gardens and a Pieta replica (pictured below). Then take a cab to Mount Tabor, which is a park that covers an extinct volcano. Pretty cool! Also cool? The gorgeous views from the top.

the_grotto_portland_8076781321

To plan your trip to Portland, Oregon, check out some of these useful websites:

Portland Slang

If you’re heading to Portland, make sure you know the local lingo! Here are some words that you need to know!

Pods

Pods are collections of food carts.  (We told you the food cart/food truck scene in Portland was strong!)

The Max

“The Max” is short for TriMet Metropolitan Area Express, the public transportation light rail that connects Portland to surrounding areas. You can even take it to and from the airport!

Stumptown, P-Town, Puddletown, Portlandia

Some of the many nicknames for Portland!

For more Portland slang, check out this great article “10 Slang Terms You Must Learn to Live in Portland.”

 

American Traditions California Life CISL San Diego CISL San Francisco Dining Featured Grammar Holidays San Diego San Francisco Student Activities

Grammar Lesson of the Month: Preposition/gerund combinations + things a CISL student can be thankful for

November 1, 2016

November 1st marks the day that Americans put away their Halloween decorations (and costumes!) and turn their focus to the next exciting holiday: Thanksgiving! Many Americans consider this to be their favorite holiday because of the warm traditions surrounding it: dinner with friends and family, lots of delicious home-cooked food, and a holiday focused on spending time with loved ones and being thankful for our blessings.

Thanksgiving.Food

A Thanksgiving tradition is to say what you are thankful for as you eat traditional Thanksgiving dishes. This is an excellent way to practice gratitude . . . and it is also a great way to practice a common grammatical construction in English: saying you are thankful for something uses the construction adjective + preposition + noun (gerund).

Here are some examples of this construction.

  • I am thankful for having dinner with my family. (gerund)
  • I am thankful for spending time with my friends and family. (gerund)
  • I am thankful for being healthy. (gerund)
  • I am thankful for not working on this holiday. (gerund)
  • I am thankful for my job. (noun)
  • I am thankful for my Mom’s delicious pie! (noun)

Note that with the negative example, we use the construction adjective + preposition + not + gerund.

Grammar English

Adjective + preposition + gerund combinations

Here are just a few of the many adjective + preposition + gerund combinations we have in English. Can you think of example sentences? Some suggestions are below.

  • afraid of
  • bored of
  • committed to
  • excited about
  • famous for
  • guilty of
  • happy about

Here are some examples using these combinations.

  • Afraid of. She was afraid of taking public transportation when she first arrived. But then she read our Guide to Public Transport in SD and SF and now she’s a pro!
  • Bored of. He was bored of doing grammar lessons and not speaking much in class. Then he switched to our school, CISL, and now he’s much happier.
  • Committed to. Our teachers are committed to providing our students with the best educational experience possible as an international student in California!
  • Excited about. I’m excited about celebrating the upcoming holidays. I just read the Guide for Shopping in SD and now I know exactly where to go!
  • Famous for. San Diego is famous for having beautiful weather all year, but did you know that it also has some great skiing just a few hours away?
  • Guilty of. We went to the SD Courthouse to watch a court hearing, and the man was found guilty of violating parole.
  • Happy about. He was happy about scoring so high on the CAE exam.

Things a CISL student can be thankful for

As an international student learning English at CISL San Diego or CISL San Francisco, you have so much to be thankful for! Here are just some of the things our students said they most appreciate.

Heart Beach Love Girl Sunset California

Great classmates and friends

With such a diverse student population (check out our nationality mixes for SD and SF!), CISL students have a diverse classroom of students. At break and after school, it’s not uncommon to mingle with students from around the world. What an exciting and unique opportunity!

Photo.Friend.Friends.Students.Park.Picture.Selfie.Instagram

Quality instruction

CISL teachers have advanced degrees and years of experience teaching English to international students. In addition, many have also lived and worked or studied abroad, so they understand what life is like for an international student!

Student.Question.Class.Teacher.FAQ

A beautiful city

How can you not be thankful when you are surrounded by the beauty of San Diego or San Francisco? From the unique neighborhoods like Little Italy, Chinatown, the Mission, or Gaslamp to places like Dolores Park or Balboa Park, there is always something new to explore.

San Diego

New experiences daily

Speaking of exploring, both San Diego and San Francisco provide students with the most exciting events, festivals, and activities. Check out a local happy hour, attend the next film or music festival, or check out CISL’s Activities Calendar to see what fun events CISL has planned for you. Of course, there’s always the beach!

Beach.Friends.Selfie.Summer.Photo

Real-life English practice

Living in the U.S. is a priceless opportunity to meet and mingle with native speakers. Learning doesn’t end when class is over each day: with your new friends from around the world and your after-school and weekend social activities, you are continually practicing your English while a student at CISL. Fun AND learning at the same time, in beautiful places and with wonderful people? That’s a lot to be thankful for!

 

 

California Life Dining San Francisco San Francisco Travel Tips Student Activities Suggested student activities

SF’s SoMa “StrEat” Food Park + Ordering Vocabulary

August 16, 2016

San Francisco is known as being a hub of cultures, so it comes as no surprise that you can find incredible food in the City by the Bay! But after checking out the clam chowder bowls of Pier 39, eating some chocolate from Ghirardelli, and trying some of the fusion restaurants in San Francisco, there’s something else CISL international students must try: the SoMa StrEat Food Park.

foodtruck1

SoMa “StrEat” Food Park

This unique concept includes 10 vendors who come together to sell their treats in the same location. The area, located in SoMa, offers much more than just food: games, music, and even free WiFi are available for customers! Try something from one vendor, grab a side from another, and then dessert from a third . . . the options won’t be the same next week, because the vendors will change! For that reason, it’s best to attend the SoMa StrEat Food Park VERY hungry!

SoMa StrEat Food Park

Photo from SoMa StrEat Food Park

SoMa StrEat Food Park 

428 11th St
San Francisco, CA
94103

11 am – 3 pm 
5 pm – 9 pm 

Website

Facebook

 

Restaurant.Burger.Burgers.Fries.Order.Food

Vocabulary for Ordering in the U.S.

Before you head over to SoMa, make sure that you know how to order your meal! Do you know how to order, from start to finish? Check out these commonly used expressions.

Beginning your order

May I please have a _____?

One _____, please. 

Could I please get a _____?

Asking for advice

Don’t know what to order? Ask them for the recommendations?

Hmmm, I’m not sure. What’s good here?

What do you recommend?

This is my first time here. What’s popular?

What’s your specialty?

Burger.Cheeseburger.Beer.Food

Specializing your order

Could I please have  . . . on the side?

No ______, please.

Could I add _____ to that?

Can I substitute _____ for _____?

 

Questions about ordering

Do I pick it up here, or will you bring the food to me?

Will you call my name?

Where are the napkins and condiments?

Restaurant.Order.Food.Coffee.Cafe

Paying

Can I pay with a card?

Do I pay now, or later?

 

Where are your favorite places to eat in SF? Tell us on Facebook!