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Academic English Featured Los Angeles University Pathway

Meet our CISL Pathway Partner, Santa Monica College!

September 15, 2017

CISL is proud to announce a partnership with Santa Monica College in beautiful Southern California! With this new partnership, CISL’s English for Academic Purposes graduates can attend Santa Monica College (SMC) without taking the TOEFL. Learn about your future with SMC below.

CISL’s Newest Pathway Partner, Santa Monica College

What is Santa Monica College?

Santa Monica College is a two-year college that is part of the California Community College system. It is one of the most affordable colleges in the state and also one of the best: SMC is the #1 transfer college to UCLA, USC, the University of California system, and Loyola Marymount University. Begin your college studies at Santa Monica College and you are one step away from transferring to some of the best universities in California.

Why choose SMC?

Your academic options are impressive at SMC! Popular academic programs at SMC include Business, Computer Technology, Early Childhood Education, Graphic Design, and Nursing (for a full list of programs, visit the Santa Monica College website).

Here are some more of the many reasons to consider SMC:

  • Incredible professors, including award-winning scientists, artists, scholars, and authors
  • Beautiful location (less than two miles from the beach)!
  • History of success in transfers: SMC has been the #1 transfer college to the UC system for 26 years
  • Modern campus with buildings that have won several architectural awards
  • “Smart classrooms” equipped with the latest technologies
  • Numerous student clubs (more than 70!) and sports clubs for students to join
  • Affordable tuition
  • More than 60 academic degree programs
  • 3,000+ international students from more than 100 countries
  • Active International Education Center to assist with housing, academic counseling, and adjusting to life in the U.S.
  • The college provides assistance with housing options (most students find housing within 5-7 days)

From SMC to University

After completing two years of education at SMC, finish the final two years of your four-year bachelor’s degree at a California State University campus. With SMC’s Guaranteed Transfer Agreement program, students with specific majors are guaranteed admission to a California State University school that has partnered with SMC. (To receive this, students must pass all of their classes.)

Some of the many areas of study include:

  • Art History
  • Business Administration
  • Communication
  • Economics
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Mathematics
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

For further information, read these statistics on CSU and UC transfers and student population demographics.

To learn more about CISL’s Pathway Program and how you can attend a U.S. college or university using a TOEFL waiver, contact CISL. Be sure to ask about our English for Academic Purposes course, which will provide you with the academic English skills you need to succeed in the American university classroom.






California Life Featured Los Angeles Vocabulary

The Most Beautiful Places in LA + 5 Beautiful English Words

July 18, 2017

In a city of nearly 4 million people, is it possible to find beautiful escapes? In Los Angeles, there certainly is. The area’s parks and beaches provide plenty of natural escapes for its residents and visitors, and there are many man-made gardens to provide relaxation and beauty. During your next trip, be sure to see the most beautiful places in LA.

The Most Beautiful Places in LA

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

Most Beautiful Places in LA

Over 100 acres of desert gardens, Japanese gardens, and manicured lands surround this library, which has a beautiful collection of 18th and 19th century art. Tickets are available online; the library also offers a Free Day each month.

The Getty Villa

Most Beautiful Places in LA Most Beautiful Places in LA

This Pacific Palisades home is a window into the art world of Ancient Greece and Rome. The house itself is even art: it was designed to look like an ancient Roman country home. Guests can tour the gardens, eat Mediterranean food at the restaurant, and of course view the impressive art collection. The Getty Villa is home to 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan items and has 23 permanent galleries (plus five galleries for exhibitions that change).

Malibu Creek State Park

Most Beautiful Places in LA Most Beautiful Places in LA

This beautiful nature preserve is an escape from the craziness of the city (and is also famous: Hollywood producers love to use the location for movies!) You can find Malibu Creek State Park in movies such as Planet of the Apes. Visitors can hike, bike, kayak, horseback ride, and even camp.

Sandstone Peak

Most Beautiful Places in LA Most Beautiful Places in LA

One of the most beautiful views in Los Angeles is from Sandstone Peak. It is the tallest place in the Santa Monica Mountains and a popular spot for mountain climbers.

5 Beautiful English Words

Now that you’ve learned of a few beautiful places, why not learn some words related to beauty? These 5 beautiful English words will make your vocabulary a little more alluring.


Definition: fluent or persuasive speaking or writing.

Example: The eloquence of the speech really impressed me.


Definition: extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world.

Example: Look at this ethereal photo of my friend’s children. They are so beautiful.


Definition: showing luminous colors that seem to change when seen from different angles.

Example: The iridescent colors of the sunset are hard to capture in a photo.


Definition: an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck.

Example: He gave her this ring as a talisman for her travels.


Definition: pass or cause to pass easily or gently through or as if through the air.

Example: The smell of the pie wafted through the house and made me hungry.

CISL San Diego students often take quick trips to Los Angeles while they are studying English in SD. Have you been? Post your photos on the CISL Facebook Page!

Academic English California Life Featured Los Angeles Reading San Diego San Francisco Suggested student activities

Adverbs of Degree in English + 4 ‘Really Awesome’ Libraries in California

April 1, 2017

Adverbs of Degree in English

Adverbs of Degree in English

What are adverbs of degree in English? Adverbs of degree show the level of intensity of a verb in the sentence. Using them makes your writing and speaking much more effective (or can even change the meaning of a sentence)!

Here is an example of a sentence with and without an adverb of degree:

  • He won the race.
  • He almost won the race.

The meaning completely changes when we add this adverb.

The meaning doesn’t always change when we add adverbs of degree. Sometimes, these adverbs of degree just give us more clarification.

  • I love you.
  • I deeply love you.
  • I agree.
  • I highly agree.
  • You said what I was thinking.
  • You perfectly said what I was thinking.

In these cases, the verb is strengthened by the use of the adverb of degree.

Here is a list of some of the more common adverbs of degree.

almost absolutely  barely completely decidedly deeply enough enormously
entirely extremely fairly  far  fully greatly hardly highly
how incredibly indeed intensely just least less little
lots most much nearly perfectly positively practically purely
quite rather really scarcely simply   so somewhat  strongly
thoroughly  too totally utterly very virtually well

4 ‘Really Awesome’ Libraries in California

It’s almost impossible to choose just four really awesome libraries in California. However, we are absolutely sure that these are some of the best in the state! Notice how we use these adverbs of degree in English for the descriptions of each library: the words on the adverbs list are in bold. When are these words being used as adverbs of degree?

The San Diego Public Library, Downtown SD

While some people believe that people barely read books these days, we highly disagree: San Diegans read enough that the city just finished an entirely new library! The completely new structure is one of the coolest architectural designs in SD: check out our article about this amazing place.

San Francisco Public Library, Potrero Branch

What a view! This structure was recently renovated in 2010 and offers beautiful city views, lots of natural lighting, free wireless internet, and many places for group meetings and individual study.

Los Angeles Public Library

The Los Angeles Public Library holds more than 6 million books: that’s well more books than any other public library in the U.S.! The building is an utterly beautiful piece of architecture (check out the simply gorgeous globe lamp!) that is worth a visit.

Hearst Castle Library, San Simeon

The Hearst Castle is extremely famous for being one of the most beautiful castles in the United States, so perhaps it is fairly unsurprising that the castle has an incredibly stunning library. The details of the warm and lavish structure are impressive!

Have you been to a library in California? Tell us about it on Facebook!


California Life Featured Junior Programs Los Angeles San Francisco Student Activities Student Life

California Dreaming! A Look at CISL’s Jr. Program California Coastal Trip

November 29, 2016

CISL offers English summer camps for teens in locations throughout the United States, including East Coast camps at prestigious Yale and Georgetown University and West Coast camps in sunny San Diego, exciting Los Angeles, and unique UC Berkeley!

After 2 or 3 weeks of English studies, students at our Los Angeles teen camp (held at beautiful Loyola Marymount University) have the option of taking our one-week California Coastal Trip, which gives students the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful cities and beaches in California. What’s on the itinerary for 2017? Check it out!

LMU Junior Program’s California Coastal Trip, 2017

Day 1 (July 15, 2017): From LA to SF!

Students begin their day in beautiful LA and end in San Francisco: this trip is already off to a great start! Students meet in the morning at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and then head north to SF. The San Francisco adventure begins by exploring iconic Union Square.


San Francisco’s bustling Union Square is an excellent place for shopping and people watching.

Day 2 (July 16, 2017): The Best of SF

Students enjoy the “Best of San Francisco” tour, which includes visits to Downtown, Twin Peaks, Lombard Street, Presidio Park, and the Golden Gate Bridge before stopping at Fisherman’s Wharf. After exploring Fisherman’s Wharf, students take a walking tour of beautiful Chinatown for shopping, dinner, and free time.

Photo source.

The smell of the sea air and excitement of city life come together at beautiful Fisherman’s Wharf.


Chinatown is rich in history, culture . . . and incredible food!

Day 3 (July 17, 2017): Bay Cruise + Exploring SF

It’s time to see San Francisco from a different perspective: the water! Students embark on a Bay Cruise and have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and see the SF skyline from the San Francisco Bay.


Many travel over the Golden Gate . . . but how many have traveled UNDER it???

That afternoon, students have the option of the following:

  • Renting bicycles and riding along the San Francisco Bay
  • Shopping at Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, and the Galleria
  • Exploring Haight-Ashbury for a trip back to the 60s
  • Taking a ride in one of SF’s iconic cable cars
San Francisco Cable Car Bay View

Don’t leave SF without taking a ride in one of these historic cable cars!

Students then meet up again at the Hard Rock Cafe for a final dinner in San Francisco. Although it’s sad to say goodbye to this amazing city, the rest of California awaits!

Day 4 (July 18. 2017): Monterey to Carmel to Santa Barbara!

It’s time to see another stunning coastal city of California: Monterey! Students leave for this beautiful town in the morning and spend several hours exploring the Monterey Pier, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the California souvenir shop.


Many tourists visit locations such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, but few are lucky enough to explore cities like Monterey, which is a beloved gem to Californians.

After having lunch in adorable Carmel, students head to Santa Barbara and spend the evening exploring its charming Downtown.


Day 5 (July 19, 2017): Santa Barbara Beaches and Fun

After waking up in gorgeous Santa Barbara, students relax on its sunny and sandy beaches and have the choice of the following:

  • Enjoying a quiet beach day
  • Learning how to surf
  • Renting bikes or roller-blades


The day of the fun in the sun ends with an evening strolling through beautiful Downtown Santa Barbara to see why this city is called “The American Riviera.”

Day 6 (July 20, 2017): Santa Barbara Morning; LA Evening


Beach fun continues on the last day of the trip! Students head back to the Santa Barbara beach in the morning and then go shopping at the outstanding Camarillo outlets: the deals on designer clothing are crazy!

While heading back to Los Angeles, the trip makes two stops at beautiful, must-see locations in California: star-studded Malibu Beach and breathtaking Santa Monica. The day ends back in Los Angeles for some relaxation before heading home.


Day 7 (July 21, 2017): Final Goodbyes/See You Next Year!


Students say goodbye to the friends they’ve made on this trip and then head back to their home countries with souvenirs, photos, memories to last a lifetime . . . and the ability to speak English confidently!

Would you like more information on CISL’s Junior Programs or the California Coastal Tour? Check out these resources:

California Life Dining Featured Las Vegas Lessons Los Angeles San Diego San Diego Travel Tips San Francisco San Francisco Travel Tips Student Life Suggested student activities

Grammar Lesson of the Month: The Modal “MUST” + 5 Things CISL Students Must Do in 2016

January 1, 2016

A New Year means New Year’s Resolutions: do you have any for 2016? When you are studying English in San Diego or San Francisco, there are so many fun resolutions to make! For January’s Grammar Lesson of the Month, we are looking at the modal MUST and 5 things you simply MUST do while living in California.

California Palm Trees

The Modal MUST

The modal MUST is used to show obligation.

  • Employees must always treat customers with respect.
  • You must always bring a passport when you travel.
  • You must not smoke when inside.

MUST is also used when giving strong advice.

  • You mustn’t worry so much about the future.
  • You must see the new Star Wars movie! It’s so good!

When using MUST to give strong advice, we often speak about things we love and want our friends to see or do.

  • When you are in San Diego, you MUST go to Mission Beach. It’s so beautiful!
  • You MUST try fish tacos while you are in San Diego!

For this reason, we use the modal MUST to describe the “Must-do” things for travelers. The following list includes CISL’s “Must-do’s” for 2016. How many of these will you make sure to do while you are studying English at CISL?

“Must-do’s” for CISL Students in 2016

San Diego Beach Sunset Surf

Watch a California sunset

Is there anything better than watching the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean? To Californians, watching the sun set is an almost religious experience. Grab your friends, sit on the beach (or get a table at your favorite beach hangout), and toast to the end of a beautiful California day.

Read about restaurants with the best ocean views in SD and the best rooftop bars in SF.


Eat a burrito (or three!)

Burritos are a big part of California culture, and depending on where you live, your burrito will be different. What’s your preference: a Southern California carnitas or California burrito with avocado, or an SF-inspired Mission burrito with cilantro rice and black beans?

To learn the differences in burritos, read all about California’s Burrito Culture.


Check out the local museums

San Diego and San Francisco are packed full of incredible museums, and entrance is often discounted for young adults or students. Talk to the CISL Front Desk for information on discounts, or read about the museums in San Diego’s Balboa Park and San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum. The latter is an awesome museum unlike any other!

Road Trip Ocean

Plan a road trip

It might be hard to leave a city as beautiful as San Diego or San Francisco, but the rest of California is calling! Take a trip to Los Angeles, cross the border into Nevada and hit up Las Vegas, see beautiful Yosemite, wine taste in Napa Valley, go skiing in Big Bear or Lake Tahoe, explore sunny Santa Barbara . . . your options are seemingly endless when it comes to exploring the West Coast.

Click here to learn about renting a car if you are an international student.


Get outdoors

Californians love nature, and San Diego and San Francisco offer many trails, national parks, and beautiful beaches to enjoy. Enjoy our Guide to Hiking In and Around San Francisco before hitting the trails!


What are your resolutions for 2016? We would like to wish our students a Happy New Year! We are looking forward to helping you improve your English skills while studying at CISL . . . all the while enjoying the beauty of California.

All photos from Shutterstock.