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Celebrating Mardi Gras in the U.S. + Mardi Gras vocabulary

February 27, 2017

Mardi Gras is here! Are you celebrating? Both San Diego and San Francisco host incredible events for Mardi Gras, but before enjoying the parties, make sure that you know these Mardi Gras-related vocabulary words (and the traditions they are associated with).

Celebrating Mardi Gras in the U.S.

Mardi Gras Vocabulary 

Fat Tuesday

“Fat Tuesday” is the direct translation of the words “mardi gras” in French. It’s the Tuesday before Lent begins (see below) and the day when religious people celebrate before 40 days of more restrained living. For non-religious people, it’s a great excuse for a mid-week party and parade!

Lent

Lent is the Catholic tradition of giving up something you love for 40 days. It begins on Wednesday after Mardi Gras.

To give (something) up

This phrasal verb means “to stop enjoying/doing something.” Here are some examples of things people give up:

  • smoking
  • swearing
  • drinking soda/sugary drinks

For lent, people give up something they love or something that isn’t good for them.

Parade

A parade is an event where people, marching bands, and decorated cars or floats slowly make their way down public streets.

Floats

Floats are large, moving stages that are decorated beautifully (and outrageously)! These floats are used in parades.

Masks

In Mardi Gras, the Venetian-style masks are a common decoration (or piece of attire)!

“Let the good times roll”

This expression is the motto of Mardi Gras. It comes from the French expression “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

King cake

A king cake is the traditional cake eaten for Mardi Gras. A small trinket is placed inside the cake, and whoever finds the trinket in their slice of cake is either considered lucky . . . or is the person who has special responsibilities during the day. The traditions vary from family to family!

Krewe

This word, commonly used in New Orleans, means “group of people on the float.”

Throws

The “throws” are the things that the krewe throws from the float, such as candy or beads.

Beads

Beads are small, (usually round) pieces of plastic that are joined together to make a necklace.

Costumes

Costumes are clothing that are outrageous, colorful, or in the form of a famous person. In the U.S., we wear costumes for Halloween . . . and sometimes for Mardi Gras!

To dress up

This phrasal verb means “to wear a costume.”

Mardi Gras in San Diego

Would you like to join in on the festivities? Check out these two events held in San Diego for Mardi Gras. For these events, you must be 21 or over.

http://www.sdmardigras.com/

http://gaslampmardigras.com/

Mardi Gras in San Francisco

San Francisco’s main Mardi Gras celebration is all about the jazz! Check out this incredible parade if you are studying at CISL SF!

http://sf.funcheap.com/celebrate-mardi-gras-jazz-marching-band-parade-sf/

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.

americas_greatest_city_by_the_bay_at_union_square_san_francisco_ca

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-lantern

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.

GoldenGate.SF.SanFrancisco.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.

fishermans-wharf-Monterey-CA-California-Coastal-Trip-Teens

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.

Santa.Barbara.Beach.Water

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

Surf.Surfing.Beach.Sunset.Water

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

Visit-Santa-Barbara

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.

Hollywood.Sign.LA.LosAngeles

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

English-Junior-Program-Teens-California

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:

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 Featured San Diego Neighborhoods San Diego Travel Tips San Francisco San Francisco Travel Tips Student Life Suggested student activities Vocabulary

Best bike routes in SD and SF + biking vocabulary

October 17, 2016

There are so many ways to enjoy nature and stay in shape while studying English at CISL San Diego or CISL San Francisco. From the running routes to the hiking trails to the yoga classes, there is always something to do that will keep you in shape!

Another great way to exercise while you are an international student in California is by biking. San Diego and San Francisco both have great bike paths to help you see the cities while exercising. Check out some of the best sites to plot your next ride, but before you do, be sure to learn some bicycling vocabulary!

Bike paths in San Diego

It probably isn’t surprising that many of the bike paths in San Diego are near the ocean. Ride with the ocean breeze in your face and the smell of the salty sea in the air, and make sure to stop along the way to enjoy some of the boutique shops and beautiful natural sights!

Mission Bay’s scenic 12-mile route

CISL students love the Mission Bay ride, which is 12 miles in total. The many bike rental companies in Mission Beach make it easy to rent a bike if you don’t have one! Check out the City of San Diego’s website for an excellent article about the Mission Bay Bike Ride.

Bike.Biking.Bicycle.Sun.Summer.Beach

San Diego Union Tribune’s Guide

The local SD newspaper, the San Diego Union Tribune, has published an excellent guide to biking. This detailed article provides information on the level of difficulty for each trail, tips on where you can stop for bathroom breaks, and other pertinent information such as where to park, things to look out for (such as traffic, or pets on the trail), and ways to extend the trail if you’re not tired once you’ve reached your destination.

Silver Strand Bikeway

This trail, which takes you from Coronado to Imperial Beach, is a favorite for San Diegans (it can also be walked)! Choose between starting or ending in Coronado, home of the famous Hotel del Coronado and the beach voted the Best Beach in the U.S.

>Coronado.HoteldelCoronado.Beach.Hotel

Bayshore Bikeway

Are you ready for a strenuous ride? Check out the Bayshore Bikeway! This route, which is recommended by the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, is a total of 24 miles: 13 of these miles are car-free, and the remainder is on designated bike lanes or bike routes. After a ferry ride across the San Diego Bay, your route begins at the Coronado Ferry Landing. Cyclists go through Coronado, the Silver Strand, Imperial Beach, and Chula Vista before ending Downtown.

SanDiego.Harbor.Bay.Downtown.Skyline.Sail.Sailing.Boat.Coronado

Bike paths in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito

See the iconic bridge in an entirely different way with this famous cycling trip! Starting in San Francisco, make your way across the bridge and ending in charming Sausalito. (Don’t forget to enjoy the view from this side of the Bay!) Numerous cycling companies offer bike rentals and tours.

GoldenGate.SF.SanFrancisco.Bay

SF Gate’s Guide to Flat Routes in SF

Don’t want to bike uphill in a city known for its steep terrain? Check out SF Gate’s excellent Guide to Flat Routes in SF. The secret to avoiding the hills? Knowing when to turn off of heavily traveled streets onto smaller, less-traveled ones in a way that avoids inclines. These routes are known to locals as “wiggles” and, according to SF Gate, “The best known of these serpentines is the one Weiss now correctly uses to connect central Market, via the path behind Safeway and through the Lower Haight, to the Panhandle and the western neighborhoods beyond.”

Couple.Dating.HoldingHands.Bike.Bicycle.Love.Relationship

SFist’s Guide to Bike Paths

In addition to some of the more popular routes, SFist’s Guide to SF Bike Paths provides routes that are slightly lesser known, such as the beautiful Baker Beach ride that’s just 5 miles from the Panhandle. Locals know best!

Bike Vocabulary

bike

Do you know each of these words? If not, look them up!

Bike parts

  • Handlebars
  • Pedals
  • Gears
  • Brakes
  • Spokes

Verbs

  • To pedal
  • To brake
  • To switch (gears)
  • To pump (tires)

 

 

American Traditions California Life Featured San Francisco San Francisco Travel Tips Suggested student activities

“Leaf” expressions + fall activities

October 5, 2016

“To ask why we fall in love is to ask why the leaves fall. And to ask how we stay in love is to ask how the trees stay.”
-Jinvirle

Fall is here! With this season comes fall traditions, such as Halloween, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, Thanksgiving, and the famous pumpkin spice latte that many Americans love. With all of these traditions and the beautiful fall weather, it’s a great time to be an international student in California!

The season American call “fall” is also known as “autumn.” Why is it called “fall?” Because the leaves fall during this time of year! To celebrate, we are looking at some English expressions with “leaf” and then providing our students with suggestions for things to do in San Diego and San Francisco this fall.

Fall.Leaves.Trees.Nature

Leaf Expressions

To turn over a new leaf

Definition: to start over, to act in a different manner or change your attitude about something.

Example: We had a difficult beginning to our work relationship, but I’m willing to turn over a new leaf and work together on this new project.

Leaf through

Definition: phrasal verb with leaf; to quickly turn the pages of a book or a magazine, reading only a little of it.

Example: I leafed through the magazine and decided not to buy it.

Read.Reading.Book.TOEFL.IELTS.CAE.FCE

Shaking like a leaf

Definition: shaking and trembling from fright.

Example: I was so nervous before my interview. I was shaking like a leaf!

Make like a tree and “leaf”

Definition: an English joke: “leaf” sounds like “leave,” so the expression should be “make like a tree and leave.” The expression “Make like a BLANK and BLANK” is common in English.

Example: This guy is annoying me. He needs to make like a tree and leaf!

apples

 

Fall activities in SF

Take a wine tour

As the leaves on the vines turn beautiful colors, Napa becomes a beautiful place! Harvest is over and the vineyard workers are eager to talk about what they think the newest vintage will be like. Visit the tasting rooms, snap some photos of the colorful landscapes, and learn all about this world-famous wine region. Check out our Guide to Napa Valley for some suggestions for this road trip, and make sure to learn some wine tasting vocabulary before your visit!

Vineyard.Napa.Winery.Sonoma.California.Agriculture.Grape.Vine

Visit a haunted house

Haunted houses pop up throughout the city in October and yes, people are crazy enough to be paid to be scared! Haunted houses are like interactive theaters where people walk through the (very scary!) production. The costumes and the acting are incredible! Be sure to check out our article on the most haunted places in San Diego and San Francisco and our guide to the best haunted houses in San Diego, which includes the impressive Balboa Park Haunted Trail.

https://www.facebook.com/TheHauntedHotel/photos/pb.127686245387.-2207520000.1414314242./10152331648625388/?type=3&theater

Photo from The Haunted Hotel SD.

Take a trip to a pumpkin patch

Take part in this fun Halloween tradition of choosing your pumpkin from a pumpkin patch and then carving a face or design into it! Our Guide to Pumpkin Carving includes all of the tools and steps necessary to carve your own pumpkin, but check out the Activity Calendars for CISL San Diego and CISL San Francisco to see if CISL is also hosting its own pumpkin carving!

Halloween.Pumpkin.Carving.Holiday

See a football game

Football season is synonymous with fall! Visit a high school, college, or professional game and take part in this American tradition. If you’re a CISL San Diego student, check out the Chargers: CISL San Francisco students have their choice of the San Francisco 49ers or the Oakland Raiders.

Football.Game.Sports.Fan

Check out the festivals

Wine festivals, film festivals, food festivals . . . you name it, and there’s a festival for it this fall! Check out the San Diego and SF Travel websites for a list of festivals.

 

Want to learn a little more about fall? Check out some of our fall-related articles!