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The 5 Best Sunset Views in SF + Sunset Color Vocab

June 21, 2017

California sunsets are one of the best things about living in this beautiful state. When you’re studying English in San Francisco, be sure to enjoy the sunset each evening! These locations offer the 5 best sunset views in SF.

How amazing are the sunsets in California? Take a look on Instagram and you’ll see! Each of these photos were posted within the last day, which shows how amazing the California sunsets are.

The 5 Best Sunset Views in SF

Twin Peaks


Wear comfortable shoes and grab a jacket: the wind at Twin Peaks can be strong, and the hike up is a bit of work! Once you’re at the top, you have stunning views of San Francisco. Stay after sunset and watch the lights of the city come on: this view is beautiful any time of the day.

Twin Peaks: 501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA

Lands End

A post shared by Robert L. Gee (@_no.27_) on


Lands End is a park in San Francisco that has many hiking trails, including the famous oceanside California Coastal Trail. San Franciscans use this trail to run and hike, but they also take a moment to stop and enjoy the sunset from the beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Mile Rock Point and Mile Rock Beach.

Lands End: 680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA

Bernal Heights Park (and Summit)

A post shared by Karen (@moxykk) on


Bernal Heights Park is built on a hillside, and its park and trails provide stunning 360 degree views of San Francisco. Enjoy the trails and the view past San Francisco: on a clear day, you can see surrounding cities in the Bay Area such as Daly City.

Bernal Heights Park: 3400-3416 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

Corona Heights Park

A post shared by David Olem (@davidolem) on


Corona Heights Park is next to the Castro and Corona Heights neighborhoods in SF. The views, which are unobstructed, allow visitors to see Twin Peaks, Downtown San Francisco, and beyond. Be careful: the steps leading up to the top do not have handrails, so it can be a little scary!

Corona Heights Park: Roosevelt Way & Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA

Alamo Square

A post shared by Steven Lemeshow (@slemeshow) on


This park has views of the most famous houses in San Francisco: the Painted Lady Victorian houses! Alamo Square Park was just renovated and re-opened in May, 2017. In addition to enjoying the architecture of the mansions surrounding the park, visitors can see San Francisco City Hall, Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge . . . and beautiful California sunsets! 

Alamo Square: surrounded by Webster Street (east), Golden Gate Avenue (north), Divisadero Street (west), and Fell Street (south)

Best Sunset Views in SF

Sunset Color Vocab

How do you describe the beautiful clouds, the amazing colors, and the effects of the ever-changing sunset over the Pacific Ocean waters? These colors will help you

Shade:

Definition: the intensity of a color (whether it has more light or dark to it).

Example: Look at the many shades of pink in tonight’s sunset!

Hue

Definition: a color or shade (similar to the word “shade” . . . although an artist could explain that they are different! For learning English, think of “hue” as a synonym for “shade” or “color”).

Example: Last night’s sunset had so many beautiful hues.

Color + ish (blueish, pinkish, etc.)

Definition: a color similar to the one used in the word, but not exactly the color. (Use this word when you don’t know the exact color you’re describing.)

Example: The sky was a blueish, purplish color: it was so lovely.

Stunning

Definition: very beautiful.

Example: What a stunning view . . . and sunset.

Ablaze

Definition: on fire.

Example: The sky was ablaze during the red and orange sunset.

Cast (verb)

Definition: to cause light or shadow to appear on a surface.

Example: The sun cast its light on the clouds and created a stunning sunset.

Ray

Definition: the streaks/lines of light (from the sun).

Example: The sun’s rays were shining through the clouds as it set.

Best Sunset Views in SF

Radiant

Definition: bright.

Example: The radiant sunset was impossible to capture in a photo. You had to be there to really see  it.

Crimson

Definition: a shade of red (often used to describe the sky).

Example: The crimson sky turned into a deep blue.

Glow

Definition: to shine brightly.

Example: It looked like the sky was glowing.

Trace

Definition: a hint of something; a touch of something.

Example: I could still see traces of orange in the sky an hour after the sun set.

Share your California sunset photos to Facebook and be sure to tag CISL and add #CISL to your photos!

Photos from Pixabay. 

Academic English Celebrities EAP Featured University Pathway Vocabulary

Meet our CISL Pathway Partner, New York Film Academy! (+10 Movie-related Vocabulary Words)

March 24, 2017

Do you dream of a life making movies . . . in English? CISL’s Pathway Program + New York Film Academy might be for you!

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words

With CISL’s Academic Pathways Program, students attend CISL (including the afternoon English for Academic Purposes course) to improve their English skills. Students then choose a CISL Pathway Partner school to attend: at this college or university, students receive a post-secondary degree (associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s). With CISL Pathway Partners, international students do not need to take the TOEFL exam: students who pass the EAP course automatically meet the requirements for admission!

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words

Happy graduates!

Students at the New York Film Academy have many location options for studies: the school has campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. The New York Film Academy uses the educational philosophy of “learning by doing,” which allows students hands-on experience with their field. Students graduate ready to enter the world of cinema and use their degree: in the first year alone, each student writes, shoots, directs and edits eight films!

The list of degrees is long for potential NYFA students. The school offers an “accelerated three-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree programs in Filmmaking, Acting for Film, Producing, Screenwriting, 3D Animation, Graphic Design, and Game Design. Students also have the option of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Media Studies.” Phew! NYFA additionally has a “two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Filmmaking, Acting for Film, Screenwriting, Producing, Cinematography, Documentary, Game Design and Photography, and two-year Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) degrees in Filmmaking, Acting for Film, Producing, Screenwriting and Game Design, and a Master of Arts (MA) in Film and Media Production at the Los Angeles campus.”

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words

The beautiful New York campus on a snowy winter day.

While receiving their degree, students have access to the NYFA’s incredible events, which often include informal talks by industry professionals. Kevin Spacey, Glenn Close, Bryan Cranston, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many more have visited the NYFA to speak to its students!

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words
For more information on attending NYFA through CISL, contact Converse International School of Languages.

Movie Industry Vocabulary

Before starting your academic career with NYFA, make sure you know these industry-related words! These terms all come from the International Movie Database. Check out the entire (lengthy) list of terms online!

New York Film Academy 10 movie-related vocabulary words

B-Movie

A low-budget, second tier movie, frequently the 2nd movie in a double-feature billing. B-films were cheaper for studios because they did not involve the most highly paid actors or costly sets, and were popular with theater owners because they were less expensive to bring into their theaters while still able to draw revenue.

Back lot/Backlot

A large, undeveloped area on studio property used for constructing large open-air sets or for filming wilderness scenes.

Director’s Cut

Contracts under the terms of the Hollywood Director’s Guild usually allow 6 weeks for a director to assemble a cut of the movie without studio interference as he or she would like it to be seen. This director’s cut is fully edited and has a synchronized soundtrack. This cut is usually not color corrected or density corrected and may not even have the final music and effects tracks. In more recent times the term Director’s Cut has taken on a popular meaning that implies a polished final cut of the movie that the director has complete artistic control over.

Layout Artist

A person responsible for staging every shot and plotting the action that will take place within each scene, whether it be live action or CGI-based.

Magic hour

The minutes just around sunset and sunrise, where light levels change drastically and quickly, lending a warm orange glow to earlier shots, and a clearer blue in later minutes that allows a crew to shoot night scenes while light still remains.

Scenic Artist

A member of the crew responsible for work which includes the preparation, painting and/or coloration of all textures, plastering, appliqueing on scenery, sets, and properties; the application of all decorative wall or surface coverings; all lettering and sign work (including signs and murals; miniature sets and/or models and properties and the painting and aging in the (construction) studio or on the set of costumes and costume accessories as specified by the costume designer.

Screen Actors Guild

An association with jurisdiction over some works that can be recorded by picture or by sound.

Walla

Background conversation. Historically, when a script called for “crowd unrest” or “murmuring”, the extras would be required to mumble the word “rhubarb”, as this produced the required effect.

Working Title

The name by which a movie is known while it is being made. This is sometimes different from the title with which it is released.

Wrap

To finish shooting, either for the day or the entire production.

All NYFA photos from NYFA’s Facebook page. Director’s cut photo is from Pixabay.  

California Life CISL San Francisco Featured Social Media Vocabulary

ESL Vocabulary for Videos + Awesome SF Videos

March 20, 2017

From gorgeous parks to its iconic plazas and bridges, San Francisco is a city recognizable by most. But new drone videos on YouTube are providing us with birds-eye views of SF (and a perspective of the City by the Bay that we’ve never seen before)! Have you checked out some of these incredible videos? Enjoy this unique look of the city, and be sure to learn some of the ESL vocabulary for videos we’ve included to help you understand sites like YouTube.

Awesome Videos of San Francisco

Enjoy these videos of San Francisco, which were professionally shot using drone footage. These aerial shots make us love SF even more!



ESL Vocabulary for Videos

How many of these ESL vocabulary words for videos do you know?

Shots

Definition: photos or video

Example: You got some great shots of the sunset and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Footage

Definition: film recorded for a particular event

Example: Did you see the footage of the fog rolling in to the Bay?

Drone

Definition: a small machine that flies and often carries a camera to shoot footage from the sky

Example: They used drone footage to show how many people attended the festival.

Aerial

Definition: existing, happening, or operating in the air

Example: People use drones to get aerial footage of sites.

 

B & W

Definition: black and white

Example: We can’t decide if we like the footage better in color or in B & W.

Tripod

Definition: a three-legged tool to hold a camera

Example: We used a tripod for more stability.

High-def

Definition: high definition

Example: This new camera allows us to take photos in high-def.

Would you like to see similar videos of San Diego and also learn some more ESL vocabulary for videos? Check out our post on YouTube Vocabulary and Videos of San Diego!

Academic English EAP Featured TOEFL University Pathway Vocabulary Writing

Academic English Vocabulary: Verbs for Citations

March 14, 2017

When CISL English for Academic Purposes students learn to write academic English research papers, students often have difficulty citing their sources. The problem? Finding synonyms for the word “say” in order to avoid repetition in their paper. The following verbs for citations can be used in place of “say.” Some are more appropriate than others depending on the situation: to better understand their usage, we are providing the situation in which we can use this word (as well as an example, which uses the MLA format for citing sources).

With each example, we are imagining a research paper written on the effects of caffeine. We will cite an imaginary scientist with the last name “Jacobs.”

Verbs for citations

Verbs for Citations

Argue

Usage: to cite a person who says something contrary to another argument.

Example: While many believe caffeine is harmful, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania argue that in small doses, caffeine can stimulate brain function and awareness (Jacobs 2017). 

Assert

Usage: to cite a person who says something confidently or with force.

Example: Despite arguments against the validity of his research, the professor asserts that the study’s findings are accurate (Jacobs 2017). 

Claim

Usage: to cite someone who is stating or asserting that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.

Example: The anti-environment group claimed that research about global warming was flawed (Jacobs 2017). 

Disclose

Usage: to cite someone who is making (secret or new information) known.

Example: Jacobs disclosed that the research was funded by a pharmaceutical company with the intention of making their new drug appear effective (199: 2017).

Divulge

Usage: to make private or sensitive information known.

Example: The summary divulged that the study was funded by the government (Jacobs 2017). 

Verbs for citations

Maintain

Usage: to cite a person who keeps their opinion, despite claims against it.

Example: Although over the years other studies have been published stating the dangers of caffeine, Jacobs maintains that the original study is correct and that caffeine in small doses is beneficial (199: 2017). 

Note

Usage: to cite a person who is pointing out something interesting, adding a fact or piece of information.

Example: Jacobs additionally notes that caffeine has been shown to help maintain steady sleep patterns when used effectively (198: 2017). 

Point out

Usage: the phrasal verb “to point out” means to bring attention to an important fact.

Example: Jacobs also points out that many of the studies regarding the benefits of caffeine were paid for by the coffee industry, while his study was funded by a government grant (198: 2017). 

Reason

Usage: to cite a person who draws a conclusion based on information, evidence, or knowledge.

Example: Scientists reasoned that the study’s results were due to the use of regulated doses of coffee, as opposed to studies that gave subjects higher doses of caffeine (Jacobs 2017). 

State

Usage: a more formal synonym for the word “say.”

Example: Jacobs also states that the study was the first of its kind (194: 2017). 

Did you notice that each of the above words are followed by the word “that?” This is optional. To find out why, read our article on Defining vs. Non-defining Relative Clauses.

Would you like some more examples of verbs for citations? Check out the University of Toronto, Scarborough’s list of Verbs for Citing Sources, the University of Portsmouth’s Verbs for Citations list, or Centralia College in Washington’s useful Verbs of Attribution download.

American Traditions Featured Holidays San Diego San Francisco Suggested student activities Vocabulary

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/