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English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN) + SF’s Best Beaches

July 1, 2017

Prepositions are some of the most difficult aspects of English for many language learners: especially English prepositions of location such as AT, ON, and IN. (These are also called prepositions of place.) Learn how to use them properly to avoid confusion! Since CISL offers English courses in San Diego and San Francisco, we can’t think of a better way to practice English prepositions of location than to use examples of these prepositions in relation to something every Californian loves: the beach!

English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)

English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)

She is AT the beach, ON the sand, and IN the sun. Lucky girl!

English uses AT, ON, and IN for prepositions of location.

AT

The preposition AT can be used for a location, to show a destination, and to show a direction that something moved.

For location:

  • I’m at the store. Do you need anything?
  • I will call you when I’m at home.
  • Meet me at the coffee shop in Little Italy.

For a destination:

  • We will arrive at the final stop soon.
  • I thought the drive would be long, but before I knew it, we were at home!

For a direction:

  • Why are you looking at me?
  • In dodgeball, you have to throw the ball at the other players to try to hit them. (Notice how this is different than throwing a ball TO someone. When you throw a ball TO someone, they try to catch it. When you throw a ball AT someone, you are trying to hit them!)

ON

The preposition ON is used when we speak about the surface of a space. Imagine that something is on top of an area, not inside.

  • I was tanning on the beach when I saw dolphins!
  • I spilled coffee on my shirt.
  • They put some plants on the walkway of the house.
  • I was jumping on the bed and I fell.
English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)

Do you get IN the water when you are AT the beach? Or do you stay ON the sand?

IN

The preposition IN is used when we speak about the area of a space. Imagine that something is inside of a space or area.

  • I am in my room.
  • She is still sleeping in her bed.
  • She won’t be in the office this week. She is sick.
English Prepositions of Location (AT, ON, and IN)

IN the wave or ON the wave? Both, actually!!!

Practice: IN or ON?

The prepositions IN and ON are often confused. Try this lesson to see if you understand the difference. Remember: when choosing the preposition, ask yourself if it is inside of a space or on top of a space.

  1. CISL is located __________ San Francisco and San Diego.
  2. The San Francisco location is __________ the top floor of a building.
  3. The school is also located __________ Market Street.
  4. Some students live __________ a hotel __________ San Francisco.
  5. The school is __________ Market Street; Market Street is __________ the Financial District.
  6. The other campus is __________ San Diego.
  7. The school is __________ a modern building.
  8. The building is __________ Broadway.

The answers are at the bottom of this page.

SF’s Best Beaches

San Diego gets all the credit for having beautiful beaches, but the truth is that all of California offers stunning coastline! Have you explored these five beaches that we consider to be SF’s best?

Ocean Beach

Surfers love Ocean Beach for its strong waves, and locals love it because it is a place where they have beach bonfires. Ocean Beach is also the perfect place to watch the sun set in SF!

wavy

A post shared by joe bennett (@tk.joe) on

How to get there:

Take the 5R bus to the La Playa and Fulton St. stop.

Baker Beach

Baker Beach provides visitors with a beautiful view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, the beach is also a nude beach, but locals know that it is so much more: because fewer people visit Baker Beach than Ocean Beach, it’s a much quieter and more peaceful place for relaxing. Many couples come to Baker Beach to take their engagement or wedding photos, which prove that it’s a romantic beach spot!

How to get there:

Take bus 7 to Lincoln Way and 21st Ave,; transfer to the 29 Baker Beach bus and get off at Lincoln Blvd. and Bowley Ave.

Aquatic Park

Aquatic Park is actually a protected beach and swimming area in the San Francisco Bay. The protective cove makes it a safe place to swim, and Alcatraz and Marin are beautiful backdrops to your day at the beach. The best part? Across the street from the beach is Ghirardelli Square, so visitors have a delicious option for post-swimming dining!

How to get there:

Take bus 47 to Fishermen’s Wharf. Get off at Van Ness and North Point St.

Answers:

  1. CISL is located IN San Francisco and San Diego. (The school is inside the area of San Diego and San Francisco.)
  2. The San Francisco location is ON the top floor of a building. (The school is located on top of 
  3. The school is also located ON Market Street.)
  4. Some students live IN a hotel IN San Francisco. (The students live inside of the hotel; the hotel is located inside of the area of San Francisco.)
  5. The school is ON Market Street; Market Street is IN the Financial District. (The school is on the area of Market street and is located inside of the area of the Financial District.)
  6. The other campus is IN San Diego. (The school is inside the area of San Diego.)
  7. The school is IN a modern building. (The school is inside of a building.)
  8. The building is ON Broadway. (The school is on the area of Broadway St.)
California Life Cambridge Exams Featured Student Life

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

June 27, 2017

According to Cambridge ESOL, each year more than 5 million people take the Cambridge Exams in 130 countries. With so many options, why should you take your Cambridge course in California? Here are just a few of the reasons to consider taking your Cambridge course and exam in the sunniest and happiest U.S. state.

Why you should take your Cambridge course in California

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

(and how to choose the school that is right for you)

Studying on the beach is the best kind of studying

Sure, libraries and coffee shops are great (and cities such as San Diego and San Francisco have great coffee culture and amazing libraries!) but at the end of the day, it’s preferable to enjoy the beautiful California weather and study while working relaxing on the beach. Enjoy California’s 840 miles of coastline while also improving your English (and your tan)!

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

Friendly, happy people

What is the best way to practice English? By making friends who are native speakers! Californians are said to be the friendliest and happiest people in the United States. In a recent study, 12 California cities were in the top 20 happiest cities in the U.S., including both San Francisco and San Diego.

California is a diverse state with people from all over the world. Politically, Californians are left-leaning (Trump is not someone a Californian loves!) and are proud of the international aspect of their state. This openness and inclusion makes California a friendly and welcoming place for international students of any ethnicity or background.

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

Expose yourself to accents other than British/Australian

The world does not speak one form of English, but many: with a Cambridge course, you will learn the standard UK spelling and pronunciation through the texts and practice tests; in your everyday life in California, you will learn the standard (Hollywood) English that people around the world agree is the easiest to understand and most clearly spoken. In the end, you get the best of both worlds (and speak some California slang when you return home)!

Cambridge is known for using non-native speaker accents on its exams, so this is a priority when it comes to language learning for CAE and FCE. When choosing a school, make sure you select one with high population diversity. This will allow you to meet people from all over the world and become accustomed to different accents.

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

Well established, accredited schools

From beachy San Diego to urban San Francisco, California has many language institutions for you to choose from. When selecting a school, make sure that you think about a few things, including:

An emphasis on speaking within the curriculum. The Speaking Module of the Cambridge exams is incredibly difficult, and many students need extra help in this area. Make sure that your school provides an emphasis on speaking so that you have a lot of chances to practice and improve.

Class size. In order to improve your English (especially in speaking), you will need lots of feedback from your instructor. Schools with small class sizes will allow you to spend more one-on-one time with your teacher so that you will improve quicker.

Student diversity. Part of being an international student is meeting students from around the world: make sure that your school has a diverse student population!

Accreditation. The most important accreditation organization in the United States is the Commission on English Language Accreditation. This organization is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and is specifically for English language learning schools. The standards are very high for a school to be accredited: the school must complete a very long application, attend workshops, write reports, and have visits from the CEA staff. The accreditation process includes looking at the school’s curriculum, teachers, staff, and administration; additionally, CEA considers factors such as how schools rate student achievement and progress. Use the CEA search to see if your potential school is accredited.

Bonus: if the school is also a Cambridge Testing Centre, you know that they are Cambridge approved!

Cambridge Testing Centres are highly trusted

A Cambridge experience doesn’t have to happen in the UK! The process of applying to be a Cambridge Testing Centre is difficult, and all centres (usually schools) have many visits and inspections from Cambridge. If you take your course and exam at a certified Cambridge Testing Centre, you are assured that you are getting a Cambridge approved experience. When booking your course, make sure you choose a trusted Cambridge centre.

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

A healthy lifestyle

It’s not just the sunshine and Vitamin D that keep people healthy in California: the state’s citizens are known for being some of the most active and physically fit in the U.S. Learn some water sports, play basketball or tennis or volleyball in the many parks or beaches that surround you, go hiking on trails that go through the city, or enjoy some of the most impressive gyms, boot camps, and yoga studios in the world. In the winter, grab your skis and see why the state once hosted the Winter Olympics!

 

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

Great food (and drinks) for study breaks

Stay healthy with California’s obsession with fruits, healthy drinks, and avocados . . . and then cheat a little with the most delicious California burritos, sushi, and burgers. (It’s all about balance!) On the weekend, celebrate a hard week of study by exploring the microbrew beer culture of California or visiting some of its beautiful, world famous wineries.

 

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

Accessibility

California’s many international airports make it easy to arrive and to travel on weekends. San Diego’s airport, for example, is located next to Downtown San Diego. A cab ride from the airport to Little Italy (where many international students stay) is less than 10 minutes! From San Francisco’s international airport to the city’s Financial District (where many international students live) is less than 25 minutes. San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles international airports offer non-stop flights from many locations year-round, including the following:

  • Amsterdam
  • Berlin
  • Dubai
  • Hong Kong
  • Istanbul
  • London
  • Paris
  • Tokyo
  • Zurich

 

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

Diversity

The majority of Cambridge classes in the U.S. are taken by Swiss students . . . but not in California. California Cambridge classes are more diverse because the state is also an ideal destination for many Asian students, so a Cambridge course in California is more likely to have students from countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Additionally, Cambridge is now accepted by U.S. universities, so more and more students from other countries are enrolling in these courses. When choosing an English language school, always ask about the student diversity.

Why You Should Take Your Cambridge Course in California

 

Since 1972, CISL has provided quality English language training to students from around the world. It is accredited by the Commission on English Language Accreditation and is also a certified Cambridge Testing Centre. CISL’s 8 student policy provides its students the opportunity to improve their English is a small classroom with one-on-one attention from their qualified instructor, and CISL’s impressive student diversity allows students to meet people from around the world. Contact CISL to learn more about studying for the Cambridge Exams in San Diego or San Francisco or watch our video about Cambridge courses below. 

 

Featured Student Life

5 Things You Can Only Learn in an English Classroom

June 20, 2017

The internet is full of information for language learners (including apps, software, websites, and blogs such as ours at CISL!). However, there are many things that you can’t learn through self-study: here are 5 things you can only learn in an English classroom when studying English abroad.

Things You Can Only Learn in an English Classroom

5 Things You Can Only Learn in an English Classroom

Intonation

Intonation is when a voice rises and falls when speaking. Among other things, it shows attitude, emotion, and the difference between a question or a statement. In other words, intonation is incredibly important when relaying meaning! Instructors provide feedback regarding intonation for questions and statements.

By spending time each day with your CISL English instructor, students learn how to use intonation to make their speech sound natural. With just eight students in each class, students definitely have the opportunity to practice intonation through questions and statements!

Things You Can Only Learn in an English Classroom

Confidence

Every student knows that confidence when speaking is the biggest barrier when learning English. How do you gain confidence? Through practice and feedback! A classroom provides students with feedback that they don’t receive when studying from a book, software program, or app.

Confidence is #1 with CISL: our motto is “To help clients learn to communicate effectively and with confidence in English.”

Things You Can Only Learn in an English Classroom

Gestures and Body Language

Each culture has its own unique way of communicating using gestures, facial expressions, and body language. By living in another country and socializing with its people, you will quickly learn these subtle and important ways of communicating. Your time in the classroom is further exposure (and is also the time to ask your teacher what certain gestures mean).

Want to learn more about how important body language is? Check out our article about Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.”

Socializing

What’s the best way to improve your English? Practice with friends! What’s the best way to make English-speaking friends? Live in an English speaking country! Consider staying with a host family to improve your English even more, and be sure to look at a school’s diversity so that you are in a classroom with people who do not speak your native language.

CISL is proud to have an impressive student diversity: check out our nationality mixes for San Diego and San Francisco!

Things You Can Only Learn in an English Classroom

Slang/Cultural References

Have you ever heard the expression “jumping the shark?”* If you’re not a native English speaker from the U.S., you probably haven’t . . . but the expression is well known! Americans use this term when discussing TV shows that are no longer interesting because of a change in the story or characters. As an English student in another country, you will interact with locals constantly and will learn strange and funny idioms and slang (like “jumping the shark”). This language will enrich your speech and make you sound more natural while also improving your listening and comprehension skills.

*”Jumping the shark” is a negative statement for when a TV show or other form of entertainment does something to get attention or keep the viewer’s attention. It comes from a scene in the TV show Happy Days when the character Fonzie jumps over a shark while he is water-skiing. Needless to say, viewers didn’t like it: the scene became an idiom that is now used for these types of entertainment stunts! 

California Life Featured Grammar San Francisco San Francisco Travel Tips Student Activities Student Life Suggested student activities

The Word ‘ALSO’ in English + Places You Should ALSO Visit While Studying in SF

May 1, 2017

Do you know how to correctly use the word “also” in English? It might be a small word (just four letters!) but it is used quite often. Today we are looking at how to use the word “also” in English; then we will look at this word in action by learning about some places you should “also” visit while studying English in San Francisco!

The Word ‘ALSO’ in English

We use the word “also” to add an agreement to a statement.

Examples:

  • Yesterday I went to Little Italy. I also went to Mission Beach.
  • I tried surfing and we also tried kite-boarding.
  • I took the TOEFL exam. I also took the IELTS exam. I know, I’m crazy!

Placing “also” in a sentence

The word “also” is placed in the sentence in relation to the sentence’s verb or verbs.

Use #1: With a “be” verb

The word “also” comes after the BE verb.

Examples:

  • My teacher is a Cambridge instructor. She is also an IELTS teacher.

Use #2: For all other verbs

For all other verbs, “also” is placed before the verb.

  • I tried fish tacos. I also tried a shrimp burrito.
  • My teacher taught us how to use phrasal verbs during the Cambridge Speaking Module. He also helped us learn how to naturally incorporate idioms into our speech.

Notice that these verbs are one-word verbs: in the examples above, we use “tried” and “helped,” which are in the past tense. What about verb tenses that are more complicated?

Use #3: For sentences with more complex verb tenses

For verb tenses that use two words, “also” goes between the two parts of the verb. Examples include the Present Continuous, Past Continuous, or Present Perfect. This also includes verbs that are used with modals.

  • You’ve been to the theater in SF? I’ve also been there!
  • I was also working out last night at the gym.
  • We could go check out Haight-Ashbury tonight. We could also explore the Mission District.
  • When you’re living in SF, you should definitely go to Dolores Park. You should also see the cool Comic Museum!

Places You Should ALSO Visit While Studying in SF

You’re probably going to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square, and Alcatraz. Chances are, you’re going to check out Golden Gate Park, ride a cable car, and explore neighborhoods like Haight-Ashbury and the Mission District. But we also suggest that you leave the city on occasion: there is so much to do and see outside of SF! The following suggestions are for day trips or weekend trips for SF residents. Have you visited these really great cities and locations?

Sausalito

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and you arrive in Sausalito, a charming seaside town with beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay. The city is famous for its houseboat community (almost 500 in total!) and is a lovely place to explore: check out the Marinship neighborhood’s waterfront and beach (you can rent canoes and kayaks!) and walk down Caledonia street for some excellent shopping. The city is filled with excellent restaurants and adorable cafes.

To most fun way to get to Sausalito is by ferry. Check out our post on Sausalito and the Golden Gate Ferry for more information.

Berkeley

The city is famous for many things: its prestigious university, its liberal community, and its hippie culture are just a few! Berkeley is considered the intellectual heart of California by many: you might feel smarter just walking along its streets! (We are joking . . . but we really do recommend walking down some of its streets, particularly famous Telegraph Avenue and Solano Avenue.)

Berkeley is easily accessed by public transportation: the BART station in Berkeley is located on Shattuck Avenue (very close to UC Berkeley).

Napa and Sonoma Valley

The most famous wine region in the United States is just a short trip from SF! Napa is the most popular of the two regions, but Sonoma also offers award-winning wines and beautiful scenery. Check out some of the tours you can book if you’d like to have a guide, or rent a bike for a closer view of the grapevines! The area also has charming towns to explore such as Yountville, Oakville, and Rutherford.

Before taking a trip to Napa, read our article on Wine Tasting Vocabulary.

Santa Cruz

The beach boardwalk, beautiful parks, and downtown are heavily influenced by California surfer and hippie cultures; these locations are some of the many reasons to visit Santa Cruz. Walk down the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and ride the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster, check out the beaches and watch the surfers, and then go hiking in the beautiful mountains and see the gorgeous pine trees.

The Highway 17 Express bus will take you from San Jose to Santa Cruz in about an hour. Check out the Santa Clara Valley Transport Authority for more information.

Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay’s beaches, water sports, fishing, and hiking make it a popular destination for many Northern Californians. Explore one of California’s most charming seaside towns (and be sure to enjoy some of the Pacific Ocean’s fresh seafood)!

The best way to get to Bodega Bay is by car (it’s less than 1 1/2 hours driving). For information on how to rent a car, read our post on Renting a Car as an English Student. With public transportation, the bus takes about 3 hours: take Bus 72 towards North (from the Perry Street stop) to the Santa Rosa Transit Mall (Second St. and B. St. stop). From the Santa Rosa Transit Mall, take Bus 95 towards Point Arena (Northbound) to the Highway 1 and Tides Inn stop at Bodega Bay.

 

California Life Featured San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods San Diego Travel Tips Student Life Vocabulary

YouTube Vocabulary + Awesome Videos of SD

January 24, 2017

We can’t hide our excitement for San Diego. The stunning beaches, the sunny skies, the gorgeous Downtown, the trendy neighborhoods and the charming seaside towns . . . there’s a little of everything for everyone in SD! Just when we think we can’t get any more excited, we see beautiful footage of San Diego on YouTube, and we fall in love with the city a little more!

Have you seen these great videos of San Diego on YouTube? Check them out, and also check out some of the YouTube-related vocabulary that we’ve added. Be sure to change your language on YouTube (and social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram) to English so that you are constantly connecting with English!

Videos of San Diego

YouTube Vocabulary

Channel

Meaning: the account that of the person/company on YouTube

Example: She started her YouTube channel four years ago.

Example: Is there a YouTube channel about learning English that you recommend?

Example: Have you seen CISL’s YouTube channel?

To post (a video)

Meaning: to publish a video online. Synonyms include to publish, to upload.

Example: They post a new video each week.

Followers

Meaning: the people who receive notifications when a new

Example: The account has over 100,000 followers.

To gain/lose followers

Meaning: to have an increase or decrease in followers.

Example: She gained 20,000 followers after her video went viral!

To go viral

Meaning: to become popular/receive a lot of views

Example: After the video went viral, he gained a lot more followers.

Hits

Meaning: views

Example: How many hits does your newest video have?

Subscribe

Meaning: to receive updates (similar to “follow”)

Example: Subscribe to my channel for updates!

Subscribers (subs)

Meaning: the people who subscribe to a channel

Example: Do you know a way to get more subs?