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Career English Success Story: Katrin from Austria learns all about event planning!

May 17, 2016

What do Austria, mustaches, and marketing have in common? Everything (if you’re CISL Career English student Katrin!).

Katrin recently completed her Career English course with CISL. After taking classes at Converse to improve her English, Katrin worked with Gaslamp Event Management (GEM) in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Katrin shared her positive experience with the CISL Blog.

For Katrin, the company was a perfect fit and the next logical step after university. She says, “I graduated this year in a commercial school in Austria and my main focus was management and business. So the company GEM was perfect for me because I was able to make a lot of experience and see how it works in the reality.”

With GEM, Katrin was able to work major events in SD. “The first event where I got an insight in the everyday life of an event manager was the San Diego Zombie Crawl on October 31 in Gaslamp. The second big event was the East Village MOvember Bash on November 21 which was planned by Club VIP.”

IMG_40394617302362 (1)

Work was fun, crazy, entertaining, and a great opportunity to see the inner workings of an event management company! “When I started the people worked on the preparations for the famous event ‘San Diego Zombie Crawl’ and ‘Monster Bash’. So for me it was the best chance to discover how the circle of an event is running.”

Katrin’s tasks were varied, giving her a lot of insight into the company and allowing her to develop skills in many areas of event planning. Katrin says, “There are so many things you have to think about! In this case I had the following tasks:

  • to inform myself about the background of the event and how it works
  • take care of the people who come into the office to pick up the tickets
  • to prepare a guest list/ list with vouchers
  • try to find out how the app for checking the people in works
  • establish collages of all the venues
  • promote the event on the pages of the venues
  • advertisement on different pages
  • update the ticketing website
  • watch the number of sold tickets
  • control the vouchers
  • take care of the VIP guest, making the packages for them
  • control the received payments”


As you can see, many of Katrin’s responsibilities involved speaking English a lot! She remembers, “October 31 I was responsible for the Check-In at Club AD. I had to scan the different kinds of tickets and to explain the guests details about event.” What a perfect way to meet native English speakers and interact with them!


In addition to improving her language skills, Katrin’s experience helped her to realize that this is the industry for her. “I had a lot of fun and the experience confirmed my purpose to work in this sector, definitely. I like to work in a team and to have contact with people.” We are happy to hear that this opportunity solidified her desire to work in marketing and event management!


Katrin’s next big event was for the MOvember Bash in the trendy Downtown neighborhood of East Village. Katrin explains, “The MOvember Bash is an event to change the face of men’s health. It is to benefit prostate cancer research and to erect a landmark sign in East Village. In this case I worked on the event from the beginning on, and so my main task were:

  • to search for pictures for the website
  • to look for the best pictures of the venues which participate
  • to think about the layout of the flyer (color, design, picture)
  • to collect ideas from different pages and events from last years – brainstorming
  • fix all the dates and times with the venues (the opening and closing times)
  • to learn how the program works for providing a website
  • to create the website and link all the venues and sponsores
  • to update and correct all the mistakes on the website
  • to look throw all the other pages which promote us and search for mistakes (times, dates, venues)
  • to fish for different possibilities for selling tickets
  • information sheet how the ticket sauce app works
  • to scrabble for newspaper, magazines and radio stations which can promote us
  • to go to East Village and distribute the flyers, cards and all the MOvember staff
  • at the day of the event I check in the people
  • to post the best of pictures on Instagram and Facebook”

Wow! Katrin says it “was such a great event and it is also for a good cause.” We totally agree!


When the last event was over, Katrin spent the last three weeks of her job doing work in the office. Her tasks included aiding with the owner’s modelling company, Downtown Dolls, creating collages for venues, creating new folders of the models, updating Excel sheets for past and future, shopping online for the office, updating social media, and writing the marketing reports for all events of the previous year. Sounds like very little time was spent doing the typical “intern” activity: getting coffee for the boss! 🙂

Katrin agrees that the experience was incredibly beneficial to her career and English skills. She says, “I learned how to start planning an event and which tasks are the most important. Not only [were] the work and the experience I earned fantastic, also the working climate was wonderful because we were a lot of young people from all over the world with different backgrounds, languages and religions. So summing up I can say it was a great working experience, a wonderful time and an amazing chance to improve my English!”

We are so happy and proud of you, Katrin! Best of luck in Austria!

To learn more about CISL’s Career English Course, click here.


California Life Featured Learning Materials Vocabulary Voices of CISL

“Don’t Call it Frisco”: Words to Avoid if You’re a Real California English Speaker

May 15, 2016

On the CISL Blog, we love sharing California slang and ways to sound like a local. In addition to words you should use, there are some that you shouldn’t! It’s not a crime to use these words, but they are typically used by people who are from other parts of the U.S. If you’ve heard them, you’ve probably heard them from a non-local.

Slang Words to Avoid in California

Shortening words is classically Californian, but there are a few words that (as an unspoken rule) are never abbreviated.



If you’re from California, then California is California . . . not Cali!

Instead say: California, the Best Coast (a play on the words “West Coast”) or The Golden State

Image from Shutterstock.

Image from Shutterstock.


Nope. Never. Don’t do it.

Instead say: San Francisco, SF, City by the Bay, the Golden City

Heart Beach Love Girl Sunset California


Yes, “Northern California” is long . . . but NorCal is wrong.

Instead say: “Up north” (if you’re south), Northern California

California Hollywood Palm Tree


The same goes for SoCal. Shorter? Yes. Correct? Not to a local!

Instead say: “Down south” (if you’re north), Southern California

California Santa Monica Beach Pier

“The sea”

If you live close to a sea, then all water becomes “the sea.” In California, however, the water is “the ocean.” (Don’t worry: Californians have this problem when they travel too: the Mediterranean is often accidentally referred to as “the ocean” by Californians!)

Instead say: The water, the ocean, or the Pacific



Business English California Life Career English CISL Alumni CISL San Diego Featured Student Life Voices of CISL

Career English student success: Antonio’s experience with an SD real estate company!

April 17, 2016

Are you interested in gaining work experience in English? With CISL’s Career English Program, students first attend classes to gain the English skills they need in the business environment. During this time, students work closely with the Career English Coordinator to find a company that meets their interests and career goals. After interviewing (in English!) students begin their time with an American company. It’s an exciting way to practice your English skills!

CISL student Antonio Blanco (from Spain) recently worked with Casas Advisors, a real estate company located in San Diego. Let’s hear about his experience!


Overall, Antonio had a wonderful time with his company.

“I have to say it was a really good experience. I was in a real estate company named Casas Advisors and, during my stay, I had to do different tasks as accounting work, making calls or visiting several houses. At the beginning the most difficult task for me was making calls. It seems really easy but it was so hard for me to understand people on the other side of the wire because you can ‘t see their faces when they are speaking. Anyway, after some calls, it was easier and I could to improve my listening a lot. “

In addition to improving his English skills, Antonio says he also gained valuable work experience.

“The task I liked more was ‘accounting work’ because, for the first time, I did something related what I studied…I wanted a company where I could develop my skills in Finance and Accounting, because I got a degree in ‘Business Administration’ and I liked the idea about putting in practice all I learnt.

I learnt as well a few things about how to deal with the clients. It is really important to know your clients and to know what they want. Sometimes they don’t even know what they want so it’s your turn to show them the best option for them. This kind of business could seem easy, to sell houses for people in need, but there is much more behind that. I am sure I can use in the future all the advice they have given me and I am very grateful for it.”

Antonio says he was also fortunate to forge meaningful relationships with his colleagues.

I was very lucky with my co-workers, they were always willing to help me in everything I needed and, as I said, they gave me valuable advises about how to run a business. It was very interesting to see all operational since someone wants a house until they definitely purchase it. I had the opportunity to visit some houses before they were sold so I can figure out how is the process until you show the perfect house to your clients.”

Would he do it all again? According to Antonio, “I can say I chose the best option for me, the co-workers helped a lot in all my tasks and I improved my accounting skills as [well as] my English. I would recommend this type of program to everyone who wanted to improve their English in a different way because it is really worth it.”

We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed your time with Casas Advisors, Antonio!

Would you like to work with an American company and perfect your English skills? Click here to learn about CISL’s Career English Program.

Featured San Diego Student Life Voices of CISL

Language classes and love: newlyweds visit CISL, where they met!

February 14, 2016

CISL students don’t just receive the language skills needed to succeed: sometimes, they also find love!

Recently, former CISL San Diego students Ho-jun and Eunyoung (both from Korea) stopped by Converse to say hello and to visit the school where they studied English 6 years ago. But they weren’t just reliving their time as CISL students: they were visiting the place where they first met and began their romance. And this time, they were visiting as newlyweds!

Ho-jun and Eunyoung met at CISL during study hall in November 2009. Ho-jun was finishing the 7th of his 8 months in SD, and Eunyoung still had 8 months of studies planned. They were able to spend just one month together in San Diego before Ho-jun returned to Seoul.

Distance did not keep the two lovebirds apart: Ho-jun waited for Eunyoung to return to Korea . . . and on January 30, 2016, they got married!

San Diego was the perfect place for their honeymoon, and while enjoying the city where they met and fell in love, Ho-jun and Eunyoung stopped by to say hello and thank CISL for giving them language AND love. Ho-jun currently works for Samsung, and told CISL that “Converse helped me get a job [when I returned to Seoul] because I had improved my English.”  Eunyoung is currently a student and is studying education so that she can become a teacher.

We would like to wish Ho-jun and Eunyoung a lifetime of happiness. Congratulations on your marriage, and thank you for sharing your story with us! We hope you have a wonderful time reminiscing while in San Diego and we are so honored to have helped you improve your language skills AND be a part of your love story.

Student Articles Voices of CISL


January 11, 2015

By Cornelia Ineichen, CISL SF  Student

I’ve always found the concept of New Year’s resolutions an odd one. If there’s something you want to achieve, and you want to reach that goal, why wait to start? You should start the moment you have that thought because the longer you put something off, the harder it is to face.

However, maybe you are a big fan of New Year’s resolutions – for some it is what works: having a set date to start. I am a big fan of doing whatever works for you.

According to, the most popular New Year resolutions are:

  • Losing Weight / Sports
  • Volunteering
  • Quitting Smoking
  • Education
  • Eating healthier

A quick survey at CISL San Francisco confirmed this list. However, what about the easy things in life?

I suggest the following:

  • Enjoy the little things in life
  • Go out & explore
  • Make new friends
  • Take more trips & adventures
  • Love more
  • Smile more
  • Appreciate the people around you more
  • Love yourself more

Whether you have resolutions or not, I hope you had a great year and that 2015 is even better!