5 Things You Can Only Learn in an English Classroom

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 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


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.”


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.

Since 1973, CISL has provided students with quality English instruction in the small classroom setting (never more than 8 students per class)! Learn more about CISL’s San Francisco and San Diego locations (and its many programs, including Executive English, Cambridge CAE and FCE, and Career English) by visiting the CISL website

*”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!