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.

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.

10 top locations to learn Spanish this summer

If you want a little more from your holiday this summer, a language course is the perfect option. Not only can it be booked last minute, but you can get all the sand, sea, culture and history that you’d expect from a regular holiday. Spanish is our most popular language and with Spanish courses in Spain and across Latin America, there is a language course for every taste!

We’ve asked our language holiday advisors for their recommendations as to the best places to go this summer in Spain and Latin America. And who better to ask – they are the ones who have visited and taken courses in our many destinations.

It’s not too late to book – just take your pick, and get it in the diary!

Location Why Go?
1. Bocas del Toro, Panama Caribbean beaches and islands; excellent diving and surfing; laid-back, rustic vibe; close to the Costa Rican border; on the backpacker trail but still relatively unknown
2. Cartagena, Colombia Magnificent colonial city; Caribbean charm; friendly, warm locals; Colombian Spanish has a reputation for being particularly clear
3. Ibiza, Spain Exhilarating nightlife; spectacular natural scenery and beaches; ancient hill towns; mild climate year-round
4. Jaco Beach, Costa Rica Laid-back surfing and beach culture; relaxed but lively nightlife; courses include Spanish & surfing
5. Playa del Carmen, Mexico Beautiful beach; choice of watersports; lively nightlife; proximity to ancient Maya & Aztec sites
6. San Sebastián, Spain Golden beaches & excellent surfing; famous for its delicious pintxos (tapas); popular summer teen & children’s programmes
7. Santiago de Chile, Chile Southern Hemisphere skiing; vineyards and wine tasting; European in feel; leafy parks
8. Santiago de Compostela, Spain Off the beaten track; classic walking trails; history & culture; traditional bars and excellent tapas
9. Sosúa, Dominican Republic Watersports, especially diving & kitesurfing; attractive climate; cheap destination once there; whale watching in winter
10. Valencia, Spain Vibrant summer location; beaches and watersports including Spanish & kite surfing, impressive City of Arts and Sciences; the place to eat paella

More about Spanish courses in Spain

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Cactus offers Spanish courses in 12 countries worldwide. Courses are available from one week upwards, for all ages and levels, and can be combined with a range of activities from sport and cookery to music and art.

The 10 best places to learn English in the UK

The UK is a consistently popular destination when it comes to learning English. With a wide variety of landscapes, people, cultures and accents within a relatively small area, you get a lot for your money when you book an English course in the UK.

With so much on offer, it can be hard to know which is the right location for you. With this in mind we’re bringing you our 10 best places to learn English in the UK, to help you compare, choose and plan your trip. These are also the locations where you will find the best IELTS exam preparation and business English courses, which you will see links to below.

1. London


An English course in London or an IELTS exam course in London is an experience you will never forget. England’s vibrant, historic and multi-cultural capital has so much to offer students of all nationalities that it is unsurprisingly our most popular location to learn English in the UK. The large number of schools in London means that there is a course for everyone, no matter your age, level or budget, and the activities on offer outside class are infinite, ranging from cultural and sporting to entertainment, shopping, nightlife and more. Your London English course is the perfect way to experience one of the world’s most exciting cities. And for those wanting to take the reputable IELTS test, we offer a choice of long, short and part-time IELTS preparation courses in London.

English course London

IELTS exam preparation course London

Business courses in London for executives and professionals

2. Brighton


“London by the sea” is what they call Brighton, and if you take an English course in Brighton or an IELTS exam course in Brighton you will certainly be getting the best of both worlds. Buzzing city life accompanied by fresh air and great views – the sea in one direction and the picturesque hills of the Downs in the other – is a unique and enviable combination. On top of this you can expect a laid-back atmosphere, an emphasis on an outdoors, sporty lifestyle and top notch arts and cultural events. Come to learn English or take your IELTS preparation course in Brighton and you’ll realise that it’s a city unlike any other, and one that year after year attracts British and foreign students for courses and holidays.

English courses Brighton

IELTS exam preparation courses Brighton

Business courses in Brighton for executives and professionals

3. Oxford


Oxford has earned itself a reputation as an academic centre of excellence, as much for students attending its prestigious university as for foreign students wanting to learn English or take an IELTS exam course at one of its many language schools. Wherever you come from you will have doubtless seen images of the city’s historic architecture, rising spires and attractive cobbled streets, and in real life it is every bit as beautiful. Take an English course in Oxford or an IELTS preparation course in Oxford and you can proudly be part of the city’s flourishing student life, with plenty of opportunity to practise your English outside class, be it to rent a bike or have a pint in one of the city’s traditional pubs.

English course Oxford

IELTS exam preparation course Oxford

English mini-group executive course Oxford

4. Manchester


One of our most popular UK cities, Manchester offers a good dose of British northern life mixed with first-class entertainment facilities, abundant sporting opportunities, excellent shopping and no end of places to eat and socialise. As a place to learn English, it is modern and exciting, with a rich historical and cultural heritage. Take your English course in Manchester and you will quickly get caught up in all that there is to do, yet should you ever want a slower pace of life, the scenic Pennine Hills are just on the doorstep waiting to be explored.

English course Manchester

Business English course Manchester

5. Cardiff


Here’s a little secret: if you are looking for a place to learn English that is a little different, a place of stunning river valleys, pristine sandy beaches, rugged landscapes dotted with castles and supremely warm, friendly people, you must come to Wales. This small but magical country will steal a little piece of your heart before you know it. Take your English course in Cardiff and you can enjoy all that a thriving capital city offers, with the stunning Welsh countryside easily explored on weekends with friends that you make in class. The Welsh accent is often described as melodious, with a distinctive musical intonation – and although English is spoken everywhere, you may even find you pick up a few words of Welsh!

English course Cardiff

6. Cambridge


Cambridge is famous the world over for its prestigious university, unique traditions and active student life, meaning you are just as likely to see a student with his or her nose in a book as you are punting down the river beneath bridges and willow trees. For a place so well known, Cambridge is surprisingly modest in size, making it easy to get around and lending a friendly, intimate feel to the city – ideal for practising your English with the locals. As well as learning English, taking your English course in Cambridge will give you a great insight into the British culture and, with its central location, easy access to the rest of the UK.

English course Cambridge

7. Liverpool


It’s not just the innovative language school in the heart of the city that attracts students to learn English in Liverpool – although this could be reason enough if school and course are paramount to you. With contemporary learning facilities, quality teaching and outstanding value for money, you are in excellent hands if you take your English course in Liverpool. And this is without even mentioning all that Liverpool has to offer. Whether you’re after music, culture, legend or sport, you can’t help but be swept up in Beatles mania, football frenzy and cultural utopia, making this lively northern city an unforgettable place to learn English.

English course Liverpool

8.  Bristol


Located in England’s picturesque south-west, Bristol is a wonderful – but often overlooked – location for students wanting to learn English. Known as the cultural centre of the West of England, it has struck the perfect balance between a buzzing student life, attractive surroundings (leafy Georgian streets, meandering waterways and a thriving waterfront) and a fantastic nightlife. As a student taking an English course in Bristol, you can expect to be treated as an individual at the supportive, family-run English language school, but not have to vie with hoards of foreign visitors as you might in other UK locations.

English course Bristol

9. Bath


With picture-postcard views everywhere you turn, you can’t help but fall in love with Bath, a beautiful city in England’s south-west. Perfect sand-coloured rows of Georgian houses, wide tree-lined crescents and quaint boutiques line the cobbled streets and the sparkling River Avon winds gently through the centre. It has an upmarket, wealthy feel, but the large number of students at its university add a young and lively element. If you take an English course in Bath you will inevitably visit the famous Roman Baths, but there’s plenty more to do here and you’ll soon discover why it’s such a popular place to learn English.

English course Bath

10. Edinburgh


Scotland has a distinct identity that shines through in its history, culture, traditions and accent, all of which combine to offer the most fascinating language learning experience. Take your English course in Edinburgh and you’ll soon see that it’s best discovered on foot, with attractive Georgian streets, impressive statues and countless cafes leading you to famous landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street and The Royal Mile. Time your trip in the summer to catch the dazzling Edinburgh Festival or join in the unmissable Hogmanay celebrations at new year. Whatever you do, life north of the border certainly won’t disappoint.

English course Edinburgh

Cactus offers a variety of English courses across the UK and in other countries worldwide. Courses include General English, Business English, Academic Year programmes, exam preparation courses and Under 18s summer camps.

Top 5 Spring festivals in Spain

Fiesta time is upon us! If there’s anywhere that knows how to throw a good party, it’s Spain. These festivals are the perfect pick-me-up after the long winter months, and a great incentive to learn a little Spanish too!

1. Moros y Cristianos, Alicante: 21st-24th April 2015


Of the 150 or so locations in Spain to celebrate Moros y Cristianos, there is no beating the celebrations that take place in Alcoy, Alicante. The festival dates back to the 16th century and commemorates the Battle of Alcoy in 1276, when the Christian army of Saint George helped defeat the Moorish troops lead by Al-Azraq. In homage to St George, the people of Alcoy made him their patron saint and vowed to hold a festival in his honour each year…and what a festival it is. With 28 armies in mock battle, intricately-made costumes on show, a spectacular procession and breathtaking firework displays, the streets are full and the atmosphere is electric in this fitting tribute to the battle that expelled the Moors from Spain.

Spanish courses in Alicante

2. La Feria de Abril, Seville: 21st-26th April 2015


Little may need to be said about what is arguably Spain’s biggest fiesta. The solemnity of Semana Santa the week preceding Easter is cast aside as the vibrant Andalucian city of Seville erupts into the much-anticipated April Fair, a week-long party of flamenco dancing, horse shows, bullfighting and more. This is Spanish fiesta at its best. The only problem is what to see and how to reserve enough energy to stay up all night and join the locals at what they do best – party, party, party!

Spanish courses in Seville

3. Patios de Cordoba: 4th-17th May 2015


Exploring a city’s streets is one thing, but knocking on somebody’s door and entering through heavy wooden doors that are kept closed for 50 weeks of the year is a real privilege. And this is what Patios de Cordoba grants you – the chance to enter into the cool shade of private homes and feast your eyes on their patios which have been lovingly adorned throughout the year with all manner of flowers, plants and decorations. Lemon trees, geraniums, roses, carnations, fountains – the list is endless, but the colour and scent won’t fail to impress, and nor will the chance to enter hidden corners of Andalucia away from the rush of modern life.

Spanish courses in Cordoba

4. Horse Fair, Jerez: 10th-17th May 2015


You don’t have to be a horse lover to enjoy Spain’s best horse fair, the Feria de Caballo in Jerez. Taking place in its famous sherry-producing town, Jerez de la Frontera, could be incentive enough. Or maybe you’ll be won over by the sight of impeccably-dressed locals riding through the streets and ladies dressed in bright flamenco dresses, ready to wow the crowds with their Sevillanas dance displays. But most of all you can’t help but be impressed by the supreme skill and care taken to train and groom the horses that star in this annual show. If there is one performance not to miss, it’s the Dancing Andalusian Horses – a true equestrian ballet, fully choreographed, accompanied by traditional Spanish music and costume. You’ll swear you didn’t know horses could do that type of thing…

Spanish courses in Seville

Spanish courses in Marbella

5. San Isidro, Madrid: 15th May 2015


If you want to experience the most quintessential of Spanish traditions then head for Madrid during its San Isidro festival. Not only is this the world’s most important bullfighting festival, it is also an excuse for flamboyant Spanish fiesta in the form of music, dancing, fairs and what is known as a romeria, or pilgrimage, to the shrine of Madrid’s patron saint, San Isidro. Las Ventas bullring plays host to the much-anticipated bullfights, concerts are held in the beautiful Plaza Mayor to concerts, and Vistillas Park is transformed into an open-air dance hall. Book tickets to specific events in advance, or just turn up and soak up the exhilarating atmosphere.

Spanish courses in Madrid

Cactus offers Spanish courses in many locations across Spain as well in countries throughout Central and South America.

Top 5 romantic places to learn a language

Love is certainly in the air around Valentine’s Day, but there are some places in the world that ooze charm every day of the year. With this in mind, here are our top 5 destinations for sharing a little romance whilst learning some of the local lingo.

1. Cologne, Germany


If you want a romantic European city break but something a little different from much-lauded Paris, then the German city of Cologne may just hit the spot. This is a place that inspires couples to fix padlocks to the railings of a bridge and, to ensure everlasting love, throw the key into the river below – and not just on Valentine’s Day. As the river Rhine collects keys of all sizes, so its visitors fall in love with the city too. Oozing with history, magnificent architecture, a stunning Cathedral, cobbled streets, boutique shops and traditional bierkellers, this is an unforgettable and charming place that is likely to steal your heart.

German courses in Cologne

2. Cartagena, Colombia


Some say that Cartagena is the most romantic city in South America, and it’s easy to see why. Sitting on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast, you can’t help but fall in love as you walk through the Old Town’s narrow cobbled streets, tropical flowers spilling down from balconies above, the infectious beat of salsa on every street corner and warm days drawing to a close as the sun dips below the horizon each night. The natural warmth and affection of the locals, coupled with an inherent love for life, is nothing short of infectious.

Spanish courses in Cartagena

3. St Petersburg, Russia


A city steeped in history, legend and intrigue, St Petersburg is an unexpected yet wonderful choice if you want to whisk away your loved one. It has no shortage of romantic spots, such as the spectacular Heritage, the fairytale-like Winter Palace and the elaborately decorated Mariinsky Theatre, home to the city’s best ballet and opera and a wonderful opportunity to dress in your finery. Special moments should be saved for a cruise along the Nevsky Prospect, which is equal if not better than a boat ride on the Seine in Paris. And when it comes to eating out, St Petersburg is a treasure trove of exquisite places to dine.

Russian courses in St Petersburg

4. Québec City, Canada


Québec City is one of the oldest cities in North America and as such is full of history, character and charm. It is a perfect romantic winter getaway, celebrating its Winter Carnival just before Valentine’s Day – a perfect excuse to wrap up warm, play in the snow and dive into a friendly bistro for a chocolat chaud. Amongst the city’s many magical spots are the Quartier Petit Champlain, an enchanting European-style neighbourhood of boutiques and cobbled streets, the magnificent Château Frontenac and the UNESCO World Heritage treasure of Old Québec. This is a place that makes you feel warm on the inside even when it’s snowing outside.

French courses in Québec City

5. Florence, Italy

florence duomo

It would be impossible to talk of romance without including Italy. Although the whole country is synonymous with amour, Florence is a wonderful place to base yourself. In the heart of Tuscany, surrounded by rolling hills dotted with cypress trees and vineyards, its historic centre is a magnificent concentration of some of the world’s finest art and architecture. Head for one of the city’s magnificent squares, such as Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Repubblica, which make perfect spots to sit down to a real Italian gelato and watch the world go by. Wander hand in hand through the city’s cobbled streets beneath magnificent Gothic and Renaissance architecture and indulge in delicious Tuscan food by night; for a romantic couple’s escape, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Italian courses in Florence

Cactus offers language courses in locations across the world, for all ages and levels.

5 reasons why learning Spanish will make you thin

Yes, you read it right. Forget going to the gym. If you want to make yourself attractive, make it your new year’s resolution to learn Spanish!  Here’s why…

1. Learning Spanish burns calories! Make your brain work and the mere process of thinking will suck up glucose and oxygen from the bloodstream. Flexing your mental muscle to learn a new skill will also give you a natural endorphin high that will make you feel good about yourself – bonus!

2. Spanish food is more healthy than many Western diets. It’s long been known that a Mediterranean diet offers numerous health benefits such as reduced heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes. Rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, pulses and unsaturated fat from oil and nuts, you are also likely to lose weight eating these low GI foods.

3. Spanish nightlife makes you burn energy! Anyone who has spent time in Spain or Latin America will know that the night starts late, and goes on until the early hours. It’s completely normal to dance the night away with nothing but a bottle of water in hand, collapse in bed as the sun is rising…and then go on to do it all again the next night. Infinitely more fun than any treadmill.

4. As many Spanish-speaking countries boast a warm climate, you are likely to wear less and therefore be more aware of your body. You’ll also be surrounded by typically attractive people and this will have a subliminal effect of re-programming your brain’s ideal body image, giving you impetus to tone up.

5. If you are living in or visiting a Spanish-speaking country – which you are more likely to do if you are learning the language – you are likely to burn more energy than back home. Travel through South America and you’ll be on foot, bike or skis exploring new places. Take a city break in Barcelona and you’ll be moving between shops, cafés, museums and beaches. Take a Spanish course and you’ll be walking to and from the language school each day and visiting places of interest without even thinking about the exercise.

And last but not least – and not necessarily a way to lose weight – your newfound Spanish skills will earn you street cred. Who’s not impressed when someone pipes up with a line in Spanish whilst on holiday or at work when a foreign client drops by? Learning Spanish will keep you in shape long after your biceps have withered.


Cactus offers Spanish courses in Spain and countries across Latin America. We also run Spanish evening courses for adults and Spanish afternoon courses for children aged 7-15 in London and locations across the UK.

10 great reasons to kick-start the year with an evening language course

Whether you’re determined to start the new year with a ‘new you’, need to prepare for a holiday overseas or want to improve your job prospects, now is the ideal time to take a language course!

1. Cactus is welcoming in 2015 with fun, engaging language courses in London and cities across the UK. We offer the five mainstream languages of French, Spanish, Italian, German and Brazilian Portuguese in most centres, plus rarer languages in our main centres. New evening courses start w/c 19th January 2015.

2. Learning a language is an excellent resolution as it will give you a skill that will last way longer than the average resolution – and one that might come in handy on holiday later this year!


3. If you’ve had a hectic festive season, then it’s proven that giving your brain a workout is the perfect way to de-stress. Learning a language stimulates your mind, stretches your imagination and, ultimately, helps your brain to relax…in fact it is more effective at reducing stress than opening a bar of chocolate.


4. If you’ve decided to de-tox in January then going to an evening language class – and doing homework in the week, if you’re diligent – will take your mind off the pub (that is, until your last night when you’ll probably all end up in the local tapas bar – but by then it will be March and it won’t matter!).

couple and bar sign

5. You can be sure of a consistent teaching framework that falls in line with other internationally-recognised language level systems – meaning that what you learn on our courses will be easily recognised outside of Cactus. Unlike many other providers, with Cactus you also receive a certificate of attendance on completion of your course.


6. When times are tight employers will be looking for that little extra in job applicants. Knowledge of a foreign language is an asset in itself, but it also shows initiative and an appreciation of other cultures, which is valuable in today’s global society.


7. Language learning makes you clever! If you feel like you need a kick-start after the Christmas break, learning a language will boost cognitive development in areas such as mental flexibility, creativity, problem-solving and reasoning.


8. 2015 promises a stellar list of foreign language film nominations in the upcoming Oscars, and there’s no better way to appreciate these films than with an understanding of the language and culture. Watch out for Ida (Poland), Mommy (Canada), Leviathan (Russian), Winter Sleep (Turkey), Wild Tales (Argentina) and Saint Laurent (France).


9. With a reduced number of children learning a language at school, let’s lead by example and show that learning a language is a passport to other cultures and a huge asset when you travel. Don’t forget we have new after-school language courses for kids aged 7-15 in London starting in January too!


10. Let’s face it, January can be a bit depressing. The excitement of Christmas is over, the days are still short and the weather can be miserable. If there was ever a time to take an evening course it’s now. Having a goal such as learning a language will make the weeks pass quickly and make you feel that you’re using the dark evenings productively!


Cactus runs adult evening language courses and junior afternoon language courses in schools across London and in cities nationwide. Courses are available at many levels and on regular start dates throughout the year, starting in January.

7 New Year’s Eve traditions to experience before you die

Out with the old and in with the new – from sending candles out to sea to wearing yellow underwear and eating 12 grapes at midnight, here’s why you should celebrate new year away from home this year.

1. Germany

Marzipan pig with cloverleaf and mushroom on white

Fireworks at midnight to oust bad spirits, resolutions (gute Vorsätze) written on paper and then burned to make them come true, the exchange of marzipan pigs (Glücksschwein) to bring good luck for the new year…German traditions at New Year are touching, wistful and fun.

2. Italy


Expect to eat zampone, or stuffed pig’s trotter, if you’re celebrating new year in Italy. In true Italian style, the bigger the gathering the better – this is a time for friends, family, celebrations and lots of prosecco.

3. Scotland


One of the best-known New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world, at Hogmanay you’ll be treated to concerts, processions, fireworks and people bursting with pride singing Auld Lang Syne.

Beware of ‘first footing’! If you’re the first person to visit a house after midnight, you must take coal, whisky, salt or shortbread to bring good luck. In preparation for the chimes at midnight it’s also customary to clean your house, take out the ashes from the fire and clear your debts.

4. Brazil


For all the partying that has made Brazil so famous – and there’ll be plenty of this at ‘Reveillon’, or new year – there is one heart-warming tradition. Crowds gather along Brazil’s beaches, dressed all in white, to celebrate the Festa de Iemanja, the Goddess of Water, and little boats are sent out to sea carrying flowers, candles, rice and gifts to ensure a good year to follow.

5. Spain


As you would expect in Spain, celebrations for Noche Vieja, or New Year’s Eve, continue all the way through to the morning! Wherever you are, welcome in the near year by eating 12 lucky grapes at midnight, one with each chime of the clock. Eat them all and good luck will come your way the following year.

6. Greece


Get rich eating cake? You might just do so in Greece. Amongst the many special dishes that are prepared at New Year, the Vassilopitta, or St Basil’s cake, has a silver or gold coin buried within. Bite with caution.

7. Peru

Sports yellow female panties on white background

In a country known for its mysticism and spirituality, new clothes are perhaps not the first thing you would think of at new year. Yet don your best pair of yellow undies and you will be granted happiness and luck for the coming year. Alternatively, red underwear will bring you love and green underwear will bring you money. Easy…and no-one will ever know!

Wherever you are celebrating, a very happy new year from us all at Cactus.

If you have experienced New Year celebrations in other countries across the globe, please leave your comments below!

10 best chat-up lines in Spanish

Don’t let the language barrier stop you from chatting up the man or woman of your dreams!

Read on and you’ll have the confidence to walk right up and deliver a killer line, just when you need it…

1. ¿Crees en el amor a primera vista, o tengo que cruzarme contigo otra vez?

Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk past you again?

2. “Perdóname, pero he perdido mi número de teléfono. ¿Me puedes dar el tuyo?”

I’m sorry, but I’ve lost my phone number. Could you give me yours?

3. “Hola, soy tu hombre perfecto. Alguien ha dicho que me estabas buscando.”

Hello, I’m your perfect man. Somebody said you were looking for me.


4. “Hola, soy un ladrón, y estoy aquí para robar tu corazón.”

Hello, I am a thief, and I’m here to steal your heart.

5. “Debo estar muerto ya que estoy viendo un ángel.”

I must be dead because I’m looking at an angel.

Latino Dancers. Painting of Merenge or Salsa Dancing Couple

6. Esta es una canción excelente. ¿Quieres bailar conmigo?

This is a great song. Would you like to dance with me?

7. ¡Ay que curvas! – ¡y yo sin frenos!

Look at those curves – and I don’t have brakes!

8. Tu papá debe ser pirata, porque tú eres un tesoro.

Your father must be a pirate, because you are a treasure.

9. “¿Cómo te sientes al ser la más bella muchacha en esta sala?”

How does it feel to be the most beautiful girl in the room?

couple and bar sign

10. “¿Puedo comprarte una bebida?”

Can I buy you a drink?

Language note: These chat-up lines are mostly aimed at men chatting up women, but can easily be modified if you are female. Equally they are in the informal ‘tu’ form, but can be modified into the more informal ‘usted’ form.