The English Language Institute (ELI) of the Center for International Service has offered innovative academic programs for students learning English as a Second Language since the late 1970’s. Our course of study is designed to challenge and engage students. Students are immersed in the language, culture, and ethnicity of New York City. Classes range from beginner to the advanced level.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Let The Cat Out Of The Bag

If you "let the cat out of the bag," you tell someone a secret they are not supposed to know.

Example: Max wasn't going to tell his parents that he was failing calculus, but Jenny let the cat out of the bag when she told his mom.

Cat in a bag
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Piece of Cake

If something is "a piece of cake," it is a task that can be accomplished easily.

Example: Jessica believed the English test she studied all week for was a piece of cake.

Coconut Cake
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

All Bark And No Bite

If you are "all bark and no bite," you are threatening and aggressive but unwilling to engage in a fight or follow through with your threats.

Example: The manager always threatens to fire Alex; however, he will never actually do it. He is all bark and no bite.
Dog growling

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

If you "bite off more than you can chew," you take on a task that is way too big or hard to accomplish.

Example: Kristen bit off more than she could chew when she agreed to plan Susan's wedding.

Funny child eating

image courtesy of dreamstime

Sunday, August 2, 2015


If you "wolf down" your food, you eat it very fast or ravenously.

Example: After the soccer match he was so hungry that he wolfed down a whole pizza.

                                                image courtesy of

Sunday, July 26, 2015


If you had a ball, it means you had a great time.

The idiom most likely originates from the definition of ball as a large, social gathering where dancing is involved.

Ted: Did your dog enjoy himself in the dog park?
Vincent: Definitely. He had a ball! Literally and figuratively. 

image courtesy of

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


To think outside the box means to think freely without limiting structures or rules.

Example: The inventors at the company Apple really think outside the box. Their products are innovative. 

            image courtesy of