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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?

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:

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.”