When selecting an English course, many students look for a class that has a specific purpose. Some courses are designed to prepare students for an English proficiency exam, such as CISL’s TOEFL, IELTS, and Cambridge FCE and CAE courses. Others, like CISL’s Premier English classes, focus on the business English skills necessary for professionals and executives. Course materials, syllabus, classwork, and homework are all focused on helping students improve skills specifically related to this type of English.

Academic English is another popular and important type of English course (and one which CISL offers throughout the year). But what IS academic English, and what does an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course at CISL consist of? Let’s take a look!

Academic English at CISL

According to CISL San Diego’s Academic Director, Tamara, CISL’s 12-week Academic English program is “the ideal class for students transitioning from a language school environment to an American university. Our EAP program was created to give our students the necessary tools to meet and surpass the academic challenges inherent in this period of change.”

Read on to learn how specific skills are sharpened in CISL’s EAP course.


In a Standard Course at CISL, students focus on communicating in English. This includes expressing opinions, agreeing and disagreeing, talking about oneself and current events, and using the English tenses to discuss the past, present, future, and real and unreal situations.


Academic English will do the same, but with a focus on the English skills needed in the college or university setting. For example, a student will learn to express opinions in the classroom: how to agree or disagree with a classmate, or how to express opinions based on facts (such as academic articles or research studies).


In the Standard CISL classroom, listening skills are always being tested: the class is English-only, and students speak (or listen to others speak) English for hours! Whether listening to songs, to other students speaking, or watching videos that create meaningful class discussions, students are constantly sharpening their listening skills.


Listening skills in the college or university classroom, on the other hand, require an understanding of classroom lectures: this includes understanding the academic language and grammar used, and possessing the ability to process information while taking notes. In addition, students must often listen to their peers as they participate in classroom discussions.


A Standard CISL course will have readings from the textbook as well as texts that CISL teachers choose to include: newspaper articles, online articles, chapters from books, and even poetry are often found in a CISL classroom! With Academic English, the reading is more focused on academic texts and readings from the academic-based class textbook(s). This will prepare students for the rigorous academic reading that they will do when at college or university.



With the CISL Academic English course, students learn how to write essays in the form and style appropriate for academia, and students leave the EAP course with an understanding of the entire academic writing process. CISL’s Academic Director, Tamara, states that “Our students conduct independent research, apply the five step writing process, and walk away feeling confident in their writing skills.”



In the Standard CISL classroom, students focus on grammar that is highlighted in their textbooks (and the concepts that students ask about in class). English tenses, relative clauses, phrasal verbs, lessons on the Passive Voice vs. Active Voice, Action Verbs vs. Non-Action Verbs . . . these are all a portion of a typical day for a CISL student! These lessons are accompanied by fun and useful conversations that use the new grammar concepts learned in class.

Grammar English

Grammar in the EAP class is equally as useful. Students learn the grammar skills necessary to write, speak, and read better and apply each of the concepts they learn to an academic-based activity. For example, students will learn about the Active vs. Passive Voice and then apply this to writing an essay, taking careful steps to avoid using the Passive Voice in writing (something that is frowned upon by academia!).

So what makes CISL’s EAP program different from the academic programs of other schools? In addition to CISL’s small classroom size, we employee the most qualified of instructors! CISL’s Academic Director Tamara says “Our teachers are either writers themselves, or are university professors. We feel this gives our students the added benefit of being taught by professionals who thoroughly understand the academic landscape ahead. At CISL San Diego, we are happy to facilitate this process and prepare our students for a positive and fulfilling university experience. “

10 Useful Verbs for Academic Writing

Will you be taking an EAP course soon? Here are some excellent words that are commonly used in academic writing. Incorporate them into your writing for essays that use strong and appropriate vocabulary! For even more vocabulary words, check out this list from English Companion.


Definition: to carefully examine something, typically for purposes of explanation and interpretation.

Example 1: In this essay, I intend to analyze research on the positive and negative effects of caffeine in order to determine what conclusions science has made on this topic.

Example 2: In order to fully analyze the pros and cons of private school education, researchers took data from schools throughout the U.S. whose students are from various backgrounds and social classes.

Other useful forms: analysis, analyse (British), analyzed


Definition: add notes to (a text or diagram) giving explanation or comment.

Example 1: The version of Heart of Darkness referred to is the 2014 annotated edition from W.W.W. Norton and Company.

Other useful forms: annotation, annotated


Definition: state a fact or belief confidently and forcefully.

Example 1: Researchers assert that their findings are accurate.

Example 2: The article asserts that little has been done to alleviate the serious pollution of the local river.

Other useful forms: asserted, assertions


Definition: to quote or refer to (a passage, book, or author) in substantiation as an authority, proof, or example.

Example 1: This essay cites the most recent studies regarding this issue.

Example 2: Cars have been cited as one of the largest contributors to global warming.

Other useful forms: citations, cited


Definition: recognize or ascertain what makes (someone or something) different.

Example 1: Before discussing the pros and cons of wearing uniforms in school, it is important to differentiate between uniforms and dress codes.

Example 2: I would like to differentiate between different forms of social media before discussing its effects on our youth.

Other useful forms: differ, differentiated, differential


Definition: express (an idea) in a concise or systematic way.

Example 1: Many formulate an opinion on the “small government vs. big government” debate before they take take the time to understand the intricacies of each.

Example 2: In order to formulate his education reform policy, the governor met with many academic advisrs and financial planners.

Other useful forms: formulated, formulations


Definition: put (something) forward as a hypothesis.

Example 1: I hypothesize that several themes in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird are found in many works by later authors, including the coexistence of good and evil and the existence of social inequality in our society.

Other useful forms: hypothesis, hypothetical, hypothesized


Definition: deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.

Example 1: Based on these findings, scientists can infer what happened to cause the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Other useful forms: infer, inferred, inference,


Definition: disapprove of and attempt to prevent, especially by argument.

Example 1: I personally oppose government censorship of the internet and believe in a free exchange of information. In this essay, I will explain why.

Example 2: Those who oppose climate reform claim it comes at a cost to businesses.

Other useful forms: opposing, opposition, opposed


Definition: depict (someone or something) in a work of art or literature.

Example 1: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness portrays the horrors of colonialism in the Congo.

Other useful forms: portrayed, portrayal


Check out some of our other articles on Academic English!