It’s true that times are tight, but here are some tips on how to make taking a course abroad a viable prospect financially.
1. Ask for advice regarding the more cheaply priced courses
Cactus works with a large range of schools in a variety of destinations. Whilst all of our partner schools offer high quality courses and accommodation, the prices can vary from centre to centre. Often this relates to the city they’re in – for example, courses in very popular and affluent cities like Nice may be more highly priced than those in cities such as Brest and Tours, which are not as expensive and not as commonly frequented by tourists. Lower prices can also sometimes relate to the size of the school and the standard and range of facilities available for students. If you are specifically looking for an affordably priced course, you can ask our course advisors to recommend some suitable options.
2. Look for special offers
There are always special offers to be had when it comes to language courses abroad – even in the more popular and expensively priced locations. Often, schools will offer three weeks for the price of two, or knock money off the cost of accommodation. If you’re flexible about which particular location you choose to study in within a country, you can definitely take advantage of these. Our special offers are updated regularly on our website.
3. Go off-peak
Taking a language course during the peak tourist season can be popular – after all, language students want to benefit from good weather and lively free time pursuits, just as any other visitor! Whilst course fees may not vary that much throughout the year though, the price of accommodation and of travel there and back can be very different during peak season. If you can take your course during the low season you will benefit from cheaper prices when it comes to these things. Whilst high season runs from May-September in most European countries, it can vary more from country to country in areas like South America. We can give you more detailed information on this if you’re interested in finding out.
4. Change any currency up before you leave
If you need to change some money before you go on your language holiday, try to do so in advance. If you leave it until you get the airport, you’ll probably be charged more in commission, and if you wait until you get abroad to draw money out of the bank you’ll probably also find that you lose out. Ordering foreign currency online can be a good way of assuring a good rate of exchange.
5. Choose somewhere with a variety of transport links
The vast majority of our language course locations abroad are easily reached via plane or train, but there may be some – possibly smaller – locations that are served by fewer airlines, and/or only by rail. If there are only one or two travel companies serving a particular destination it may be more likely that they can charge higher prices. Choosing a destination that is served by low cost airlines also helps keep the cost down.
6. Use Skyscanner.net or other travel comparison websites
When you look into booking your travel to your language course, it’s definitely worth using travel comparison sites such as Skyscanner.net. These ensure that you have access to all travel options and can select the one which offers best value for money.
7. Propose it as a training option to get funding from your employer
It’s true that times are tight, for companies and organisations as well as for individuals, but some places do still have some training budget allocated. If learning or revising a new language is going to be beneficial to your professional life, it might be worth trying to get a contribution towards your language course. See our article on top tips for getting your company to pay for your training.
8. Stay with a host family
At Cactus, we are very keen that students stay with host families wherever possible. This is largely because they can experience a much higher degree of cultural integration, and get the chance 24-7 to practise their language skills. Another benefit though, is that staying with a host family and eating your meals with them tends to work out cheaper than staying in self-catering accommodation and buying your own food. If you do choose this option though, buying your food at local markets can be the cheapest way to stock up.
9. Choose a compact city, or somewhere with accommodation close to the school
Whilst the cost of travel from accommodation to the school isn’t always expensive, everything adds up when you’re away. For this reason, you might want to consider opting for a destination where you’re guaranteed to be able to walk from where you’re staying to the school. Speak to your language course advisor for recommendations of such locations.
10. Read our top 10 free things to do articles – or download travel apps like Time Out
Although the main focus of any language course abroad is the lessons, taking in the local sights and sounds outside of classes is also part of the experience. Whilst some of these may involve paying an entrance fee, there are usually plenty that don’t. You can read our articles on the top 10 free things to do in Rome, Berlin, Brussels and Malaga, and can also find more information in guide books, on tourist websites and via iPhone Apps offered by companies such as Time Out.