Our top 5 locations for winter sunshine

If you want to escape the cold, the rain and the January blues, this one’s for you…

Check out our five great places for winter sun where you can swap boots for flip flops and duffle coat for swimsuit. Just make sure you send a postcard to make your friends envious back home…they won’t believe it’s all in the name of education!

1. Buenos Aires


If there’s one place sure to lift your winter mood it’s Buenos Aires. You just can’t help but be swept up in the colour and vibrance of this thrilling capital city of Argentina. Whether it’s the food (thick, succulent steaks like you’ve never tasted), wine (rich Malbecs are Argentina’s forte), dance (from impromptu tango in the streets to extravagant evening shows), shopping (boutiques, galleries, antique shops and more), nightlife (don’t even think of going out before midnight, and be prepared for daylight when you emerge) or architecture (old-world cafes alongside magnificent colonial buildings), there is something here for everyone. Add to this the summer sunshine between December and February and the relative good value of the Argentine peso, compared to western currencies, and you’re in for a real treat at little expense. Choose a regular Spanish course or up the ante by adding some dancing, polo, horse riding or volunteering to your adventure.

Spanish courses in Buenos Aires

2. Cape Town


If you want to get away for more than the usual week or two, or are even considering a job or lifestyle change, then head to South Africa for a TEFL course. A fantastic destination from mid-October to mid-February, when it basks in temperatures in the high twenties, this is the ideal place to spend 4 weeks learning how to teach English as a foreign language. When your head isn’t buried in a textbook, the treats that await you make it all worthwhile; the fascinating cultural melting pot that is Cape Town, delicious African and international cuisine, world-class locally-produced wines, pristine coastline, magnificent countryside and diverse flora and fauna. And once this is all over you have a passport to travel the world with your prestigious CELTA qualification – no need, then, to ever winter in the cold again!

TEFL courses in South Africa

3. Martinique


Our latest must-visit location is the Caribbean island of Martinique. Ok, we’re kind of biased as two of our team have recently taken a French course in Martinique, and come back with infectious enthusiasm for this palm-fringed island just north of St Lucia. They were overwhelmed by the friendliness and hospitality of the locals, the delicious local food, the clear turquoise waters, the beautiful climate, the excellent French tuition, beautiful accommodation, and activities such as diving and dancing. As a place to learn French in the winter, it doesn’t get much better than this – we’re hooked!

French course in Martinique – a first-hand review

Sun, sea, sand and French…in exotic Martinique

French courses in Martinique

4. Galapagos


New year, new you – change your life with a 4-week CELTA course in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. You can obtain the most prestigious English language teaching qualification whilst interacting with the unique flora and fauna of these beautiful islands and participating in sustainable development and environmental protection projects. The aim of this course is for you to of course gain your teaching qualification, but also to educate the local community and make a difference. It’s a once in a lifetime experience! Next start dates 11th January, 8th February, 21st March 2016.

CELTA course in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

5. Rio de Janeiro


With verdant rainforests on one side, stunning mountains on the other and endless stretches of white sand beaches, Rio boasts one of the most spectacular urban settings in the world. There’s more to this spectacular city than Carnival, although if you can catch this week-long haze of samba, fiesta and hedonism it’s probably quite an appropriate introduction. And if you visit in winter this is exactly what you can do, as Carnival takes place February 5th-10th 2016 – the perfect antidote to winter back home and a great excuse to let your hair down. Solve the problem of finding accommodation at this popular time by staying with a local family whilst taking a language course – you don’t get better immersion in the language and culture than this!

Portuguese courses in Rio de Janeiro

Cactus offers language courses in more than 20 languages and 120 destinations worldwide. We also run adult evening and junior afternoon courses in the UK, which are the ideal way to learn the basics or brush up on existing language knowledge in advance of a holiday or business trip abroad.

Our top 6 locations in South America this winter

South America has something for everyone. From snow-capped mountains to white sand beaches and colonial history to Caribbean charm, its landscapes and people never cease to amaze. As a place to escape winter, it has it all!

As summer becomes a distant memory here in the northern hemisphere, things are just hotting up down south. And whilst we can’t complain after what’s been a formidable summer, some of us just can’t bear to swap strappy sandals for cosy boots. If this is you, packing your bags and heading to South America might just be what the doctor ordered. And if it’s all in the name of education, who are we to argue?

We’re excited to offer Spanish courses in some of South America’s most vibrant destinations and, in an effort to help you narrow down the options, here are our top 6 to escape to this winter. Digest, dream…and plan away!

1. Buenos Aires

We say it all the time, but only because it’s true: this elegant capital city of Argentina is quite simply a must-see. Decidedly more European than South American in flavour, Buenos Aires boasts stylish shops, sumptuous restaurants and quaint cafés, and its air is filled day and night with the sultry rhythms of tango and the sizzle of succulent steaks on the grill. Nothing more to do but soak it all up with a glass of local Malbec in hand.

Spanish courses in Buenos Aires

2. Santiago de Chile


On the other side of the continent sits Santiago, the modern and cosmopolitan capital of Chile. Boasting a stunning setting on a plain with the magnificent backdrop of the Andes, Santiago offers a wealth of arts and culture alongside superb outdoor pursuits. Fresh powder skiing one day, wine tasting another, sunbathing on a beach the next…you won’t be stuck for activities to do after class, many of which are included in the school’s brilliant activities programme, along with horse riding, trekking, rafting, cooking lessons and more!

Spanish courses in Santiago de Chile

3. Lima


Peru’s capital city was once one of South America’s most powerful and richest cities, and glimpses of its glorious past today mix with its vibrant present. Colonial mansions, impressive museums, cutting edge art and a thriving nightlife are good enough reasons to visit, but Lima is also busy building itself a reputation as something of a gastronomic mecca. Its cuisine is a delightful reflection of the city’s rich cultural history and enviable coastal location, a mix of Spanish, African and Asian influences alongside signature seafood dishes such as ceviche. You might come here to explore the city’s history but your taste buds will thank you for it.

Spanish courses in Lima

4. Bogota


Bogota has turned itself around quite impressively in recent years. Visitors to the city can today enjoy the capital’s colonial treasures, glittering pre-Colombian art, enticing restaurants and diverse intellectual life in a much cleaner and safer environment than of recent years. And those coming to learn Spanish can feel suitably smug that the Spanish spoken here is supposedly the purest in the New World. Even if you’re heading to other parts of Colombia, make sure you spend some time here in its capital to surround yourself in history and chat to the inherently friendly locals.

Spanish courses in Bogota

5. Cartagena


If your number one objective is to seek an antidote to winter back home, Cartagena is likely to seduce you in a second. This beautiful colonial city on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast is utterly mesmerising; glistening under the sun, it is a place of dreams and long-forgotten times. Horse-drawn carriages are as common a sight as glorious pink bougainvilla spilling from balconies above, while quaint cobbled streets lead to magnificent churches and shady plazas where café colombiano can be sipped to the distant beat of salsa. Don’t come here with much of an itinerary because this is a place to lose yourself, and maybe accidentally forget to leave.

Spanish courses in Cartagena

6. Havana


History, romance and intrigue…it’s all here to lap up in Cuba’s iconic capital. This Caribbean outpost of communism is a must-see for reasons too long to list: elegant colonial palaces, faded pastel façades, classic American cars, the legend of Che Guevara, infectious salsa beats and a non-stop nightlife might well be some. Stepping into the shoes of Hemingway, mojito in hand, could well be another. Whatever your reason for coming, Havana won’t disappoint. As you bask under the Caribbean sun and soak it all up, winter back home will be the last thing on your mind. Winter…what winter?

Spanish courses in Havana

Cactus offers Spanish courses in countries across Central and South America, as well as in Spain. We also run evening Spanish courses in the UK, which are the perfect way to learn the basics or brush up before you go.

How to say “Happy Thanksgiving” in 10 different languages

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated mainly in the USA and Canada to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest.

It possibly dates back to 1565, though the first Thanksgiving meal is generally thought to have taken place in 1621 in the Plymouth colony between the colonists and the Wampanoag tribe. It became a symbol of cooperation and interaction between colonists and Native Americans.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in the USA in 1941 and is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November (November 26th in 2015), while in Canada it falls on the second Monday of October. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in other countries, except by expatriate Americans and Canadians. Thanksgiving celebrations involve a large family meal which traditionally includes turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and also big parades.

‘Happy Thanksgiving’ in other languages:

French-speaking people in North America might wish one another ‘Bonne Action de grâce’ or ‘Joyeux Thanksgiving’. The Canadian French version of Thanksgiving Day is ‘Jour de l’Action de grâce’, and in France it is known as ‘le Jour de Merci Donnant’.

– In Spanish Thanksgiving Day is known as ‘el Día de Acción de Gracias’ and Happy Thanksgiving is ‘¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!’. The festival is also known as ‘Día del Pavo’ (Turkey Day) by Spanish speakers from Latin America living in the USA.

– The Portuguese equivalent for Thanksgiving Day is ‘O Dia de Acção de Graças’, and for Happy Thanksgiving, ‘Feliz (dia de) acção de graças’.

– The German version of Happy Thanksgiving is ‘Herzliche Danksagung’ or ‘Fröhliche Danksagung’ and the day itself is ‘Danksagung’.

– In Danish Thanksgiving Day is ‘Helligdag’ and Happy Thanksgiving is ‘Glædelig Helligdag’.

– In Dutch Thanksgiving Day is ‘Gedenkdagen’ and Happy Thanksgiving is ‘Vrolijke gedenkdagen’.

– In Swedish Thanksgiving Day is ‘Helgdag’ and Happy Thanksgiving is ‘God Helgdag’.

– In Polish Thanksgiving Day is ‘Dzień Dziękczynienia’ or ‘Święto Dziękczynienia’ and Happy Thanksgiving is ‘Święto dziękczynienia’ or ‘Wszystkiego najlepszego z ozkazji Święta Dziękczynienia’.

– In Mandarin Chinese Thanksgiving Day is 感恩節日 [感恩节日] (gănēnjiérì) and Happy Thanksgiving is 感恩節快樂 [感恩节快乐] (gănēnjié kuàilè).

– In Japanese Thanksgiving day is 感謝祭 (kanshasai) and Happy Thanksgiving is感謝祭おめでとう (kanshasai omedetō) or ハッピー感謝祭 (happī kanshasai).

 Cactus helps over 10,000 people to learn over 3o languages in over 200 destinations each year.

If you have a language learning query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or Twitter or contact us here.

Day of the Dead in Mexico: a time to celebrate

Anyone lucky enough to have already seen the latest Bond film, Spectre, will have been treated to the most fabulous opening sequence shot during Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations.

The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is not the morbid event it may at first appear: to the contrary, it is an uplifting fiesta, celebrated mainly in Mexico, to remember and pay tribute to friends and relatives who have died.

It is believed that the souls of the deceased are believed to return to earth on this day, which falls on 2nd November each year, in conjunction with the Catholic holy festival of All Saints’ Day (Día de Todos los Santos) on 1st November.

As with many Mexican rituals, the Day of the Dead has pre-Hispanic roots, dating back some 2,500-3,000 years to the Aztecs, Mayas, Olmecs and other indigenous civilisations. In Aztec times the festival was celebrated in August, the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, and for an entire month. In modern-day Mexico, celebrations take place in November, and the day before Día de los Muertos, 1st November, is dedicated to lost children and infants: this is known as Día de los Angelitos, or Day of the Little Angels, as children who die are believed to automatically become angels.

On the Day of the Dead families traditionally build altars in their homes and visit graveyards to commune with their lost loved ones. They take offerings, or ofrendas, of sugar skulls, garlands and flowers (often marigolds, which have ancient ceremonial importance), and personal gifts such as photos and favourite foods of the departed. It is thought that these will encourage the souls of the dead to visit, and pillows and blankets are even laid out so that they can rest after their long journey. Many people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives. But it is a happy atmosphere that prevails, with dancing, feasting and the recounting of affectionate anecdotes.

One of the best places to experience Day of the Dead is around the beautiful region of Pátzcuaro in Mexico’s Western Central Highlands. Mexicans and sightseers flock here to remember their loved ones and join in the renowned festivities, which include traditional music and dances, candlelit vigils and picturesque ceremonies.

Cactus offers Spanish courses in 4 locations across Mexico, including Oaxaca which is famed for its Day of the Dead celebrations. Spanish courses start each week, from one week upwards, and can be combined with accommodation and meals with a local family – the perfect way to immerse yourself in the language and culture.

Spanish course Panama Boquete

Spanish Course Panama: Feedback from Boquete

Panama is a fantastic place to learn Spanish and here, a student from our partner school Habla Ya gives us first-hand feedback from her 6-week Spanish course in Boquete learning Spanish for work

“I’m a native English speaker from the U.S., and my Spanish was at a low intermediate level when I started at Habla Ya. I really enjoyed my time at the location in Boquete, and I learned a lot. I am now quite conversational (of course I still make tons of mistakes!), and I am able to speak Spanish with my clients at work. I consider many of the Habla Ya teachers good friends after my experience at the school, and I am thrilled to have Facebook as a way to keep in touch with them.

Spanish Course Panama – Learning Spanish for Work

Spanish course Panama Boquete schoolI attended Habla Ya for six weeks, and I was extremely motivated since I need to be proficient in Spanish for my job. The professors at Habla Ya took this seriously and helped me focus most on conversation and my comfort/confidence level. Through some strange (probably uncommon) circumstances, I think I had all but maybe two of Boquete’s Habla Ya professors while attending the school. This was a terrific experience for me because each teacher has a different style and some focus more on specific things than others. I especially liked the teachers who corrected me when I made the same mistakes repeatedly, as I learned a lot from this. It can be a tough balance because correcting every single mistake would slow the flow of conversation, but the corrections were always very helpful.

It wasn’t easy to be away from home and income for six weeks, but I feel like I really turned a corner after around week four, and weeks five and six were amazing since I could actually hold a conversation and improve my fluency and confidence level. I know it’s hard to get away for so long, but I highly recommend it if you can. I also recommend you take your learning into your own hands too. Bring supplemental materials and study them. Habla Ya can sell you an excellent language dictionary, but I also highly recommend the book 501 Verbs, the Practice Makes Perfect workbooks (they are available in hard copy or downloadable format), basic children’s novels in Spanish, movies (depending on your level, you can work your way up to watching with Spanish audio and Spanish subtitles), and especially podcasts like Buenos Dias America, Notes in Spanish, and Coffee Break Spanish. I would have been lost at times without these supplemental materials, as the Habla Ya texts don’t provide a lot of explanation. The teachers do, but when you’re back at your homestay trying to study or do your homework, it’s nice to have other helpful materials. And it was a serious luxury for me to be able to study Spanish around the clock, so I tried to immerse myself in Spanish constantly, even back at my homestay after dinner. (Also, a tip: if you need office supplies/notebooks, etc. while in Boquete, I recommend going to La Reina.)

Spanish Course Panama – Homestay Benefits

I highly recommend doing a homestay during your time at Habla Ya. My Spanish would not have advanced nearly so far if I hadn’t been speaking it every day, all day. I stayed with a lovely family in which the parents spoke almost no English, and that meant I had to use my Spanish to communicate and couldn’t slack off once classes were over. It was also wonderful to experience the culture of Boquete and the culture of Panama in a family setting.

Spanish Course Panama – Best Places To Go

Boquete is a lovely town, and I was glad I stayed in one place while I studied. I’ve taken Spanish classes elsewhere at a time in my life when the travel part of the trip was more important to me than the language acquisition part of the trip, but for my time in Boquete I was very focused on my studies. Boquete was a good choice as a place where I could concentrate. You just have to be careful you don’t spend much of your lunch and free time at American-owned establishments where you can speak English – it’s easy to fall into this, but it definitely doesn’t help in the long run.

Spanish course PanamaIf you can spend a couple of days in Panama City before heading to Boquete, that is very worthwhile. A trip to see the canal and spending some time in Casco Viejo would be my two top recommendations in Panama City.

If you can get to David while you’re in Boquete, you will see a very different type of city from Boquete, and I enjoyed that too. Taking the bus to David isn’t difficult, and anyone at Habla Ya can tell you how to do it. The excursions are also really fun (you can do these with Habla Ya or a number of other outfitters around town), and Giselle at Habla Ya is amazing at helping with travel booking, rides to and from the bus station, etc. I felt like Habla Ya took really good care of me while I was there. I felt very safe in Boquete, and the people were incredibly friendly. I fell in love with the place and hope to return.

Spanish Course Panama – Teachers & Classes

As I said, I had many teachers at Habla Ya, and I thought they were all very good. I enjoyed both the group and the individual classes. I started with group classes plus one hour of individual instruction each day, and the last week or so I had three hours of individual classes per day with no group classes. I didn’t plan it this way, but it worked out really well.

The group classes are great for learning grammar, learning from questions that other students ask, making friends, etc., and the individual classes allow you to ask all of your own questions, even when they don’t pertain to what you’re studying at the moment, and to talk talk talk talk talk (the most important thing you can do!).

boquete staffI’m very happy with how my experience at Habla Ya played out, as the last week or so I was literally just conversing with my individual instructors for one or two hours at a time, and this is just what I needed. And it was such fun to get to know them and hear about their lives and families and dreams. I highly recommend each of the teachers I had. Tamara was my individual professor for nearly the entire six weeks, and she helped me focus on legal terminology and the language I would need in my job. We did role plays so I could practice working with clients and get more comfortable in that format, and she helped me develop my conversational skills a lot. She is very good at correcting you without interrupting the conversation, and conversations are so pleasant and useful that the time just flies by. She speaks English well, which was helpful when I wanted to know how to convey a specific idea or sentiment in Spanish and couldn’t really explain it in Spanish.

Yubal was my group class professor, and he did such a great job keeping the group cohesive and making sure everyone had the same opportunities to share and practice their Spanish. He is very inquisitive, so it was fun to talk with him in Spanish about different political issues, problems, cultures, etc. In fact, that was one of my favorite things about the school. The lessons were structured so that we were studying and talking about major issues like capital punishment, drug trafficking, etc. The subject matter was fascinating so studying was interesting and kept your attention.

In a very short time I learned so much from Ericka and Widad. I felt like they took my Spanish up an entire level just in my last week or so. Yaira spent hours with me just chatting, which is the best way I’ve found to improve my Spanish, and she corrected some mistakes that I had been making over and over. I only had Irasema for my first week, but that was a great way to get adjusted to speaking Spanish daily, and she was very kind and patient. I think Arelis was my teacher for only one or two days, but she was an excellent teacher and a great friend and spirit throughout my stay in Boquete. Lorena, Maritza, and Alberto were very helpful and generous with their time, and I always felt like my progress learning Spanish was everyone’s biggest priority. They all speak Spanish and English, but no one ever tried to switch to English when I was taking forever to say a simple sentence in Spanish.

I definitely recommend Habla Ya, and I’m very grateful to the school and its amazing staff and professors.”

Thank you to Tiffany from Denver, Colorado, for contributing her feedback, and to Habla Ya for providing images.

Spanish Course Panama: Cactus offers Spanish courses in the thriving capital city of Panama City, the Pacific mountains of Boquete and the idyllic Caribbean beach location of Bocas del Toro.

Spanish courses are also available across Spain and Latin America.

A Level Revision Courses in October Half Term

An A Level revision course during half term is a great boost to confidence and grades

For British students taking French, Spanish or German at A Level, there are huge benefits to be gained by spending time in a country where that language is spoken. A 1-week A Level revision course during the October half term is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the language and culture, whilst taking lessons that specifically focus on the skills and topic areas you will need to succeed at A Level.

The Benefits of an A Level Revision Course:

  • Practise the language in a native-speaking environment
  • Enjoy the culture of the target language through the food, people and lifestyle
  • Receive high quality language tuition in small group classes
  • Focus on specific examination tasks, grammar revision and vocabulary
  • Socialise with A Level students from other schools
  • Gain important skills and confidence prior to exams

French A Level Revision Courses – 26th October 2015:

a level revision courses computerMontpellier: French AS / A Level Revision Course (26 lessons per week) = from £291

Paris: French Mini-Group AS and A2 Revision Course (15 lessons per week) = from £366

Rouen: French A-Level Revision Course (15 group + 5 individual + 5 self-study lessons per week) = from £440

Spanish A Level Revision Courses:

Students studying Spanish or German at A Level can take a Combined Course which includes group and private lessons. The private lessons can then concentrate on A Level skills and content (please request this when booking). Alternatively, a General Course in one of our preferred partner schools offers excellent motivation and revision.

Barcelona: Spanish Combined Course (20 group + 5 individual lessons per week) = from £325

Salamanca: Spanish General Course (20 group lessons per week) = from £134

San Sebastian: Spanish Combined Course (15 group lessons + 5 individual lessons per week) = from £179

German A Level Revision Courses:

Berlin: German General Course (20 group lessons per week) = from £149

Cologne: German Combined Course (20 group + 5 individual lessons per week) = from £168

Hamburg: German Combined Course (25 group + 5 individual lessons per week) = from £235

Safety & Welfare of Students:

The schools that offer A Level revision courses are very aware of the extra responsibilities and requirements that come with offering Under 18 programmes, and as such are very careful to ensure their students’ safety, well-being and happiness at all times. Host families are thoroughly checked, as are staff that meet and return students to the airport, and every effort is made to ensure that students feel as safe and comfortable as possible.

The above prices are for the language course only. Accommodation in a carefully selected host families can be booked in addition to each course, with all meals included.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query, please visit our blog or get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter. Alternatively, feel free to contact us here or call to speak to one of our advisors on 00 44 (0) 1273 830 960.

teacher training language courses

Teacher Training Courses: European Languages

Cactus offers Teacher Training Courses in London for fluent speakers of French, Spanish & Italian, and Teacher Refresher Courses abroad for non-native teachers

Teacher Training Courses in London

As the population of countries within Europe and around the world continues to diversify, and as globalisation makes it normal for us to mix with people of all languages and cultures (in schools, universities and the workplace), the demand for foreign language teachers is at an all-time high. People want to learn languages and we need qualified teachers to teach them.

In response to this demand, Cactus now offers teacher training courses for fluent speakers of French, Spanish and Italian who want to teach the language as a second language to adults. No prior teaching experience is required; the only stipulation is native or near-native speaker level in the language.  These courses are a great way to turn your language skills into a career in teaching whilst filling a widening hole in the market.

Teacher Training Courses – Advantages

  • Following a similar format to the CELTA course for English, these courses will prepare you for teaching your chosen language at different levels
  • You will observe qualified language teachers, learn how to plan a lesson and manage a class, and attend feedback and discussion sessions to help you progress
  • The combination of practical classroom experience combined with teaching methodology will give you valuable skills and confidence
  • You will meet like-minded people with similar goals
  • You can take a full-time course (4 weeks) or a part-time course (12 weeks)
  • Courses take place in London’s popular Covent Garden
  • You should find it easy to obtain paid work upon completion of your course (depending on location)

For a complete list of teacher training courses in French, Spanish and Italian, including prices and start dates, please visit the Cactus TEFL website page.

Teacher Refresher Courses Abroad

montpellier_squareIn addition to our Teacher Training Courses, Cactus also offers Teacher Training Refresher Courses for non-native teachers of French, Spanish and German.

These courses take place in France, Spain and Germany, and provide a unique immersive environment where foreign language teachers can advance their teaching skills, learn the latest approaches and network with other MFL teachers. They are a valuable way for teachers to develop professionally and remain at the forefront of their profession.

Teacher Refresher Courses – Advantages:

  • Develop your language teaching skills
  • Learn the latest techniques
  • Immerse yourself in the language and culture at the same time
  • Great environment in which to brainstorm ideas, create activities and discuss challenges specific to teaching languages in the UK education system
  • Opportunity to suggest language-related themes to include in course content
  • Leave feeling inspired and informed, and ready to share everything you have learned on your return to the classroom.

Please visit the Cactus Language website for full details of our teacher training refresher courses in Europe.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.


Halloween vocabulary in Spanish

otoño Autumn / Fall
el 31 octubre 31st October
el día de todos los Santos All Saints Day
Halloween Halloween
la calabaza Pumpkin
la bruja Witch
la escoba Broom
el cementerio Cemetery
la vela Candle
el disfraz Disguise / Costume
el esqueleto Skeleton
el gato negro Black cat
el murciélago Bat
la araña Spider
el espantapájaros Scarecrow
el vampiro Vampire
el duende Goblin
la momia Mummy
el monstruo Monster
el diablo Devil
los caramelos Sweets / Candy
moving abroad checklist

Succeeding in International Markets: Weekend Events

In a world where international clients are ten times more likely to do business with someone who speaks their language, taking the time to understand the language and culture of your business clients has never been more important.

Indeed, it has been estimated that the UK economy loses around £48 billion each year, or 3.5% of GDP, due to poor language skills, a lack of cultural understanding, and the assumption that everybody speaks English [source: Language skills deficit costs the UK £48bn a year, The Guardian].

With our expertise in delivering high quality language tuition combined with cross-cultural training, Cactus has designed a series of intensive weekend events entitled ‘Succeeding in International Markets’. These courses will equip you with the skills and confidence you need to establish and develop successful business relationships in specific markets, and gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

The Key Components to Success – Course Features:

  • Acquire valuable insights into B2B and B2C cultural behaviours and norms that will enhance your negotiation techniques and marketing strategies
  • Understand management and communication styles, values and attitudes, to help win business in your target market
  • Adopt correct body language, gestures and etiquette that will leave a favourable impression on your partners and clients
  • Learn essential phrases and expressions in the target language that will help you to establish positive relationships with colleagues, partners, clients and suppliers
  • Gain practical strategies for overcoming the challenges of conducting business in specific markets (see list below)
  • Network with like-minded professionals

Succeeding in International Markets – Available Courses:

Register your interest in Cactus’ business weekend courses now.

Succeeding in International Markets courses run throughout November 2015 in Holborn, Central London.

“If I want to sell you something, we speak English. If you want to sell me something, dann sprechen wir Deutsch.” Willy Brandt, Former Chancellor of Germany

Cactus Language Training specialises in organising language courses for individuals and groups, having done so since 1999 for clients all over the globe and for diverse needs and budgets. We are able to tailor a language course to suit your specific learning needs, anywhere in the world and whenever is convenient to you. In addition to language training we also offer cross-cultural training, translation services, HR language assessment and elocution and pronunciation.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.

Living in Costa Rica

Living in Costa Rica: An Expat Story

Intercultura is Cactus’ partner school in Costa Rica and its founder, Laura, tells us about living in Costa Rica and realising her dream of setting up a quality Spanish language school

I came to Costa Rica for the first time in the summer of 1990 to study Spanish and fell in love…with the language, the country, the people, the music, even the monsoon-like rains. When I went home 6 weeks later I was determined to come back at some point, become fluent in the language and spend more time in this country that already felt like my adopted home. Three years later, I had graduated from college, spent a year in Asia travelling and volunteering, and I was ready to get back to Costa Rica.

My first year, 1993, was spent working at a language school in San José as a receptionist. I was thrown in at the deep end, answering the phones in Spanish, and while overwhelming at first, it definitely helped me to improve my Spanish – quickly! When their marketing coordinator left they asked me to step in, which I did. My degree was in Literature, and I had never taken a business course in my life, but I found the process fascinating and enjoyed learning a new skill in an intercultural context. I met a lot of people, worked long hours, and at the end of the year chance put me in contact with two colleagues who were starting up a school.

Living in Costa Rica: the start of Intercultura

Heredia Costa RicaThey asked me to come on board as a partner in the project, and I accepted in a temporary capacity, still thinking I would be going back to the US or England before too long. The beginning was rough, especially after we lost the partner who was the financial backer, but with lots of luck and a $600 loan from a friend, Adelita Jiménez and I ended up starting the school, which we named Intercultura, in Heredia.

We had a lot of help along the way: the owner of the house was an older gentleman, Don Jorge Vargas, with two daughters who were teachers, and he was incredibly kind to us. He gave us our first reception desk, lowered the rent, and eventually ended up selling us the building purely on the strength of an IOU, as we had no collateral to put up for a loan. A university group from South Florida contacted us and again pretty much on trust decided to send us their 40-person group down for a month-long Spanish immersion course in the summer of 1994. Their deposit was what allowed us to furnish the school with tables, whiteboards, chairs and the million other things we needed before the group arrived.

Costa Rica classroomThe first couple of years were lean. Adelita and I did everything between the two of us; Spanish teacher, tour guide, cleaning lady, receptionist, you name it. My Tico host family was supremely generous, happily letting me live with them for almost nothing and welcoming me into their lives, and for this they have my eternal gratitude and affection. Adelita’s family was also great to us, providing many a shared lunch during the early days at the office.

Finally, a couple years later, we were making enough to hire a receptionist and buy some furniture for the apartment I was living in by then. The school had taken off, we had 8 Spanish teachers, had opened a low-cost English as a Second Language school for locals, and were doing a beach program in Playa Dominical (then later Jacó) for one week each month. We had made it! Along the way, I was able to study for a Licenciatura in Linguistics and Translation, get my Masters in Cultural Anthropology, and learn French and (some!) German.

Spanish courses in Sámara

Playa Samara living in Costa RicaIn 2001 we decided to look for a permanent home for a beach campus, and chose Sámara for the friendly local community, as compared to other beaches like Tamarindo where we felt like foreigners dominated the population. We wanted a place where we felt like we were in Costa Rica, where we could integrate into the community, and hopefully make a positive difference in the area. Sámara was the ideal place, and once again, we were extremely lucky to meet many generous people along the way who helped us tremendously. Homestay mother Cristina Castillo sold us the first part of our oceanfront property, again with just an IOU to guarantee payment on an installment plan. Jorge Salazar from El Lagarto gave generously of his time and introduced us to everyone we needed to know locally, especially the mothers who would become our first families for the foreign students to stay with. And the whole community in general welcomed us, gave us good advice, and made us feel like this was the place we needed to be.

After several years of travelling back and forth between our main campus in Heredia and our Sámara beach campus I decided to make the move to live full time in Sámara and dedicate my efforts to helping the school grow and reinforce our participation in the community. One of the things I am most proud of is the non-profit association CREAR, which we started in 2005 to provide year-round, free supplementary education to the local children. It also offered periodic workshops for adolescents and mothers, support for community initiatives in general, such as the first public library in town, and volunteer groups and materials for a variety of construction projects in the local schools and community center. In addition to its dedicated coordinators, many local community members continue to volunteer their time and expertise to teach and coordinate activities with us.

Living in Costa Rica: hope for the future

living in Costa RicaNow it’s 18 years later, and I’m still living in Costa Rica. In 2010 our daughter Ela was born. She will have the incredible good fortune to grow up playing on this beautiful beach, speaking two languages, and living in the wonderfully supportive and diverse community that makes up Playa Sámara. People often ask me what’s next. All I can say is that I hope to see Samara develop in a sustainable way, with environmental safeguards in place and new businesses that are committed to giving back to this town and making it a better and safer place for everyone; locals, foreign residents and tourists. Issues such as security, recycling, children’s education and local employment opportunities are among the topics that need long-term attention from all of us, but I think we’re off to a good start this year with the new mayor, Marco Jiménez, who is committed to these and many more issues.

To end, I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of the amazing people who make this area what it is…our incredibly dedicated administrative and teaching staff here at Intercultura, our wonderful homestay families, the great businesses and services in Sámara, and most of all the people who live here and make up our community.

Thank you Laura for contributing this article and to Intercultura for the images.

Cactus offers Spanish courses in Costa Rica through Intercultura in Colonial Heredia and Playa Sámara. Students have the unique opportunity to study Spanish in both historic Heredia and the idyllic beach location of Samara, and experience two very different Costa Rican lifestyles. Courses are available for adults and juniors, and there is even a Spanish & Surfing course to make the most of the excellent surf for which Costa Rica is renowned.

Cactus also offers Spanish courses throughout Central and South America.

Our tailor-made division, Cactus Language Training, specialises in language training for relocation for those considering living in Costa Rica.