What will I learn on a Weekend Crash Course?

Cactus Weekend Crash Courses comprise 10 hours of class time, spread over one weekend. The idea sounds nice – taking your knowledge further or picking up the basics of a language in a relatively short space of time. But how much can you actually learn during those 600 minutes if you are completely new to the language?

That was something I wanted to find out and so I decided to sign up for a crash course and try my hand at Italian. I had visited the country a few times and hoped I would have been able to chat to people in their mother tongue. I recall trying to communicate with the locals who didn’t speak English and think that even the sketchiest knowledge of Italian would have helped. But it is not just about speaking – it is also helpful to be able to read the menu in a restaurant or to catch the meaning of newspaper headlines, for instance.

A weekend crash course is clearly not going to make me fluent, but it certainly offers a flying start, getting to grips with the basics and initial feel of the language. After all, that’s what most people are after when learning a language for a trip abroad: the basics, being able to get by and getting an insight into the country, people and culture.

Cactus’ weekend crash courses offer just that, so I signed up. My class was small, only 4 people, which made the course feel quite intensive and is obviously good for progress. The classes are very interactive with a lot of active participation. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and the teacher is easy to approach, which makes it easy to get stuck in, have a go and ask questions, without feeling “silly”.

As the course is Level 1, designed for beginners, we start from scratch: alphabet, tricky parts of pronunciation and how to greet and introduce ourselves. We learn how to offer some basic personal information such as age, profession and nationality. Numbers and the most basic verbs are also covered. In terms of grammar we get to know about articles, gender of words and the declination of verbs. However, the syllabus of the course is not set in stone. On the contrary, our teacher asks us what we would like to cover in the latter part of the course.

At the end of day one I feel excited but a bit overwhelmed with all the new information. It takes some time to take it all in, so revision between classes is a great way to consolidate all the things covered. Homework given by our teacher helps us to revise the contents of the first day before we enter the classroom again.

On the second day of the course we focus on food and drink vocabulary. Going through these topics also gives us an introduction to the Italian culture – it is an undeniable fact that Italy is known for its cuisine especially. Ordering at a bar, café and restaurant is covered exhaustively, which is logical, as these situations are the ones a traveller to Italy is most likely to confront.

We practise all the topics covered on the course through different means – role plays, exercises, listening etc. For instance, we get to write and perform a dialogue about having a dinner in a restaurant, including all the interaction between the waiter and the customers from the moment they enter the restaurant to the point they ask for the bill.

We also learn how to tell the time, seasons, months and days of the week, and practice all the topics covered on the course through different means – role plays, exercises, listening etc. We leave the last class armed with a stack of material for independent study and revision, and as I leave the classroom, I find myself walking through central London, day-dreaming of sipping espresso at a café in a cobbled square, eating delicious gelato flavours e naturalmente parlando italiano fluidamente…

I don’t know if my original purpose was just to pick up some basics or to try an experiment – now I just know I want to learn more of this beautiful language!

Cactus runs Weekend Crash Courses in Italian and other languages in London. We also run 10-week, 5-week and 1-week courses in many languages and in locations across the UK.

Top 5 German course destinations this autumn

Here are our pick of the top 5 places to visit this September and October.

1. Berlin

Berlin is a city that is renowned internationally for its lively and varied cultural scene, and the array of festivals and shows taking place throughout September and October are testament to that. Some of the scheduled events include the Berlin International Literary Festival, Musikfest Berlin (2nd-21st September), the Berlin Festival (10th-11th September) and the Pyronale (3rd-4th September), where international pyrotechnics companies compete to put on the best fireworks display at the Olympic Stadium. On a sporting note, there is also the Berlin Marathon (26th September), one of the biggest marathons in the world, and in fact the event where Haile Gebrselassie set the new world record in 2008.

2. Vienna

If you choose Vienna as your study destination this autumn you’ll be totally spoilt for choice when it comes to free-time activities. Along with the usual sights and museums, you’ll be able to experience Vienna Fashion Week, the Vienna International Film Festival, the Long Night of the Museums, the Wien Modern contemporary music festival and perhaps best of all, Choco Vienna, where chocolatiers show off their finest creations for your consumption! Definitely not one to miss…

3. Munich image

Munich’s mass of leafy streets and array of parks make it a really pretty place to be as the seasons change and the green and yellow turns to orange and brown. That aside, there’s one thing in particular that attracts the tourists at this time of year – Oktoberfest. One of the biggest beer festivals in the world, it’s hugely popular with locals and tourists alike and will certainly give you an insight into one side of German culture! For anyone with more refined cultural tastes, September also sees the Open Art festival (10th-12th September) and the AnderArt festival, Munich’s annual free festival of world cultures with music and performing arts from around the globe.

4. Zurich image

Zurich is a city that isn’t always an immediate choice for a German course, but it should be! It has loads to offer whether you’re a culture vulture, a sports fan, or a food and drink enthusiast. This autumn there are events that all of these types of people will enjoy – on a cultural level, you can enjoy the Long Night of the Museums, the Circus Monti, the Zurich Film Festival, and Jazznojazz Festival, sports-wise you can take part in SlowUp Lake Zurich, when people cycle, stroll or skate around the lake to raise awareness of pollution. There’s also the exciting ‘Freestyle’ (25th-26th September), with top BMX riders, in-line skaters, skiers and skateboarders. Finally, any wine conoisseurs can head to Expovina, Switzerland’s largest wine exhibition held on 12 boats anchored in Zurich’s beautiful Bürkliplatz dock.

5. Hamburg image

With plenty of festivals and events happening during the autumn, Hamburg is a great place to spend time.  During September and October you can enjoy the Hamburg Festival of Cultures, the Reeperbahn Festival and the Hamburg Film Festival, as well as the usual attractions. Anyone going to Hamburg has the added benefit of affordable courses, and more flexibility in terms of the intensity of courses too.

Please visit the Cactus Language website for full listings of German courses in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Cactus staff get linguistic: practising what we preach

At Cactus we deal with languages every day, we take bookings for evening courses, we send people all around the world for language holidays and we hear different languages on a daily basis as we get phone calls from far and wide. Moreover, our current staff represents a total of eleven different nationalities. But still, do we really practise what we preach? Are we ourselves making the effort to learn languages in our pastime?

A quick question round in the office seems to give a positive answer – 88% of our employees have taken part in Cactus courses, either in the UK, abroad or both. 

And let’s not forget our New York branch where you can find a further 5 employees. One of our US staff took a German Level 1 evening course with Cactus in the Big Apple, and is soon going to test the skills acquired in real-life as she is moving to a German-speaking country. Italian learned in the classroom in Brighton was also quickly put into use when our Head of Marketing attended a wedding in Monterchi, Italy, half-way through her beginner course.

The range of languages studied by Cactus employees covers 10 languages, including Hindi, Japanese, Polish and Russian. What’s more, this list only includes the languages they have studied with Cactus – most of the staff already speak several languages on arrival at Cactus.

In general Spanish is by far the most popular language offered by Cactus, and this seems to hold true among our staff as well. Spanish is the most commonly heard answer when you ask any of us about the language courses we have taken during our time at Cactus. Besides taking Spanish evening courses in the UK, Cactus members have tried Spanish immersion courses in places such as Buenos Aires, Málaga and San Sebastián. If you decide to practise your skills in an authentic environment, you often also have the chance to combine the lessons with some fun after-class activity – it can be French and surfing in Biarritz or Spanish and salsa in Havana, to mention just a few combinations our staff has tried on their holidays!

The position of the second most popular language among Cactus staff is held by another Latin-based language, French. In France, the seaside city of Biarritz has attracted many of us.

Italian ranks high as well – our employees seem to be fond of Italy as many different corners of the country have been explored by members of Cactus: Florence, Taormina, Tropea, Cagliari and Alghero. Portuguese and German follow on the popularity list after these three languages, but several members of staff have also tried their hand at Japanese and Arabic.

The top 5 courses taken by Cactus staff:

1. Spanish Cactus Level 1

2. Spanish Cactus Level 2

3. Italian Cactus Level 1

4. Japanese Cactus Level 1

5. Arabic Cactus Level 1

The 5 most popular languages studied by Cactus employees:

1. Spanish

2. French

3. Italian

4. German

5. Brazilian Portuguese

Pichilemu: not your average surfing destination

When you think of all the places to surf in the world, Chile probably doesn’t feature at the top of your list. Yet, with waves over 25 feet and life post-earthquake returning to normal, the small town of Pichilemu in central Chile is fast becoming a top spot to catch a wave.

Surfers come here from far afield to take advantage of the southwest Pacific swell and enjoy the laid-back, beach resort lifestyle. Punta de Lobos is where they’re all headed – a few miles outside of town, this popular surfing beach offers regular, high waves as well as stunning views from the cliffs and the rocks. As such it was worthy host of the Quiksilver Big Wave event in May 2010, which attracted 24 of the world’s top big wave riders and a total $30,000 in prize money – half of which was pledged to help with the relief effort after the 27th February earthquake and tsunami.

You don’t have to be world-class to enjoy surfing at Pichilemu, however. Although it’s great for advanced surfers, this is good spot to start even as a beginner, as the point break in town has a sand bottom which makes it safe.

And what if you’d rather stay on dry land? The rolling hills and forests of the region offer plenty of other outdoor pursuits such as mountain biking, kayaking and horse riding, while the less energetic can enjoy bird-watching, wine-tasting or yoga. Whatever you do, you can work up an appetite safe in the knowledge that the town offers a number of good restaurants, especially those specialising in seafood.

Cactus’ Spanish & Surf course in Pichilemu is a great way to learn Spanish and get a feel for the local surf culture. Courses take place in a great new school right in the centre of Pichilemu, with an amazing view of Puntilla Beach. Available from one week upwards, with accommodation provided in a host family if requested, this is one place worthy of a postcard home.

Cactus also offers surfing courses in many other locations across the globe.

10 good reasons to choose one-to-one language training

The advantages of one to one training don’t stop there though, and other benefits include the following…

1. You can go at your pace. Because one-to-one training courses are tailored solely to your needs, it’s much easier for the tutor to go at exactly your pace. If you learn in a group there can be less flexibility when it comes to how much time you can dedicate to each topic or grammatical area.

2. You get the optimum chance to speak and practise the language you’re learning. Although all teachers in a group scenario will try to ensure that all students get equal opportunity to speak in class, sharing tuition with other people will always mean that you have slightly less ‘talking time’. Whilst this suits some people very well, others are keen to get as much time to speak as possible, which is best achieved with one-to-one tuition.

3. You get to dictate any specialist areas that you’d like to cover in your training. A real benefit of one-to-one training is that you can ask your tutor to include specialist topics or vocabulary in your lessons – something that it would be trickier to do in group lessons. This can be great for people who have a specific hobby or profession that requires them to know technical words or phrases.

4. You can choose the time and location that suits you best. People who live outside of big cities or towns can sometimes find it hard to get to schools and colleges for evening language courses. For people in this situation, private, individual tuition can be a great option. Tutors can come to your house, or a convenient location close-by can be found. Equally, for those who are unable to get out in the evenings, individual tuition can take place at any time of day.

5. You learn more intensively and therefore more quickly. When you learn ‘one on one’ with a tutor, the learning is always going to be more intensive. For this reason, it’s great for people who want, or need, to learn quickly as you can progress from level to level in a shorter space of time.

6. If you miss a lesson it’s easier to re-arrange it so that you don’t miss out on a week’s content. For some people, committing to be in a set time and place every week just isn’t feasible. It could be that they work shifts, or have a job that demands long, unpredictable hours, but in any case is very useful to have a more flexible set-up when it comes to foreign language lessons. As long as enough notice is given, it’s not normally a problem to re-arrange a lesson so that you don’t ‘lose’ a week.

7. You can focus on the skills that you need most help with. Normally out of the four skills in language learning – speaking, listening, reading and writing – you will find some easier than others. With one-to-one tuition you can spend more time working on those that you find more difficult – something that is not always possible in group classes.

8. You can learn more about your tutor and their cultural background. With one-to-one training, it’s inevitable that you’ll have more of an opportunity to get to know your tutor. For this reason, you’re likely to learn more about the culture of the countries where the foreign language is spoken than in other training scenarios.

9. It’s less intimidating for shy or beginner students. Generally speaking it has to be said that foreign language classes attract sociable and friendly people, but group-scenarios can nevertheless be daunting for particularly shy, or beginner students. If this is something that you think would impede your learning, one-to-one lessons are much less intimidating than being in a group and having to speak in front of other people.

10. It’s easier to pursue points that you haven’t understood. Most teachers in a class situation will always encourage students to speak up if a point covered in class hasn’t been fully understood, but in reality students can sometimes feel awkward and embarrassed to say so. For this reason, if you feel that you’re likely to need extra explanations, you might feel more comfortable learning one on one with a tutor.

Please visit the Cactus Language Training website to submit an initial enquiry or to test your language level.

Gap year options: the best courses for you

Those lucky enough to have a gap year stretching ahead of them – be it before or after university, as a career break, or in retirement – have a wealth of opportunities at their globe-trotting feet. Travel invariably comes into the equation, but the tricky part is working out what exactly you want to do and how to make the most of your precious time out.

Wherever you’re going, one of the best things you can do when setting foot on foreign soil is learn some of the language. Whether you’re backpacking across the globe, taking overland trips, participating in sports and adventure programmes, looking for paid work, or hoping to teach or volunteer, knowledge of the local language – even if just the basics – can make the world of difference to your gap year. It can get you out of many a sticky situation, to say nothing of enhancing your general experience and enabling you to ‘get under the skin’ of a place. And, when you get back – not that you want to think of this right now – the fact that you have learnt a language will impress future employers who will see that you have both gained a new skill and shown initiative and creativity.

With this in mind we’ve compiled a list of language programmes that combine particularly well with gap year experiences. This list is by no means exhaustive; Cactus organises courses for many ‘gappers’ and there are many options to choose from. These are just a few to whet the appetite…so take a look, be inspired, and see the world!

Language & Volunteer Programmes

Many people with a year off want to volunteer in some way. With Cactus, you can study Spanish for 4 weeks and then use your newfound language skills on an 8-week volunteer placement in social work, education, community development, health care or environmental care. Most volunteer organisations do not require you to learn any of the language before taking a placement, but by doing so you will get much more out of your volunteer experience and the volunteer organisation, in turn, will get much more out of you. Spanish & Volunteer programmes are available in Buenos Aires and Cordoba in Argentina, and in Antigua, Guatemala.

Language & Activity Courses

A big hit with Cactus clients, our Language & Activity programmes are the perfect way to combine language learning with a fun activity such as salsa, tango, diving, surfing, cookery, wine tasting, photography or yoga. Of particular appeal to gap year students is the coastal town of Jaco Beach in Costa Rica. This laid-back, surfy town is a great place to simply hang out, but with its warm climate, Pacific surf and golden beach, you’re likely to be tempted by the surfing, yoga and photography courses…

Alternatively, why not try your hand at Samba and Brazilian dance in Salvador, salsa in Barcelona, diving in La Ceiba, Honduras, or skiing in Chambery?

Long-term language courses in cheaper locations

If you just want to take a straight language course before embarking on your gap year adventure, you can enrol on a General Course in any of our locations. Available from 1 week upwards, at all ages and levels, these language courses are a great way to meet people from across the globe and take part in a range of cultural and sporting activities outside class. If you study for a few weeks or more, we recommend the following good value courses in locations which are great places to stop and spend some time: Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Valencia.

Language & TEFL Programmes

Teaching English abroad is a great way to experience a new culture whilst earning some pennies to fund your adventures overseas. Taking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) course at the beginning of your travels will give you all the skills necessary for a teaching job in your location of choice. And if you add a short language course to your TEFL course you really will be fully equipped for life in a foreign country!

Cactus TEFL offers combined language & TEFL courses in the following locations:

– Spanish & TEFL in Cusco, Peru

– Spanish & TEFL in Buenos Aires, Argentina

– Spanish, TEFL & Chill Out in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

– Spanish, TEFL & Chill Out in Barcelona, Spain

– Spanish & TEFL in Cadiz, Spain

– Portuguese & TEFL in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

– Portuguese & TEFL in Lisbon, Portugal

– Thai & TEFL in Pattaya, Thailand

– Khmer & TEFL in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

– Vietnamese & TEFL in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

English courses in Australia – how to choose your destination

Currently, Cactus offers English courses in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. All are vibrant, cosmopolitan cities but there are certainly differences between them.

Below are short summaries of what each city can offer, which may help any prospective students decide which to choose as their destination. 


1. Has a fantastic arts scene, and is in fact known as the arts capital of Australia. It hosts a huge variety of exhibitions and events all year round.

2. Is said to offer a low-cost of living and a high quality of life – an enviable combination for anyone.

3. Is surrounded by some stunning scenery, with the Mount Lofty Ranges close by and some of Australia’s nicest beaches in the vicinity too.

4. Is well-known as a very multicultural city, and as such is very welcoming of foreigners. The multiculturalism is reflected in both the entertainment and restaurant scene too, which makes it an interesting place to be.

5. Is a very compact city, which makes it very easy for students to get around and means that no accommodation is ever too far from the school.

The school in Adelaide offers General, Intensive and Exam Preparation English courses at a variety of levels. It offers host family accommodation for students.

Brisbane… image

1. Is situated on the sub-tropical east coast of Australia and as such has one of the best climates in the country. It has hot summers and very mild winters, and lots of sunshine!

2. Has a real outdoor-focus and is fantastic for anyone who loves being outside and being active. Beaches, national parks and bush land are all within easy reach.

3. Has the amenities of a big city but has a nice, small-town feel and very friendly people.

4. Boasts a thriving entertainment scene, with a great selection of bars, restaurants, clubs and cinemas.

5. Benefits from a very relaxed lifestyle and a slower pace of life than other cities.

The school in Brisbane offers General, Intensive, Business and Exam Preparation English courses at a variety of levels. Students can choose between host family and residence accommodation.

Melbourne…. image

1. Is the second largest city in Australia and has the sophistication that you would expect of an economic and political centre.

2. Is often listed as one of the top three ‘most live-able cities’ in the world.

3. Has lots to offer in the way of history and culture. It has an array of exhibitions, museums and galleries and in 2008 was named a UNESCO City of Literature – only the second city in the world to receive this accolade.

4. Is known as a sporting centre, and has many sporting facilities, including Olympic Park and Melbourne Park. It also hosts the Australian Open Tennis Championships every year.

5. Offers opportunities for shopping, socializing and dining that are second-to-none. You will be spoilt for choice.

The school in Melbourne offers General, Individual, Combined and Intensive English courses at a range of levels. Students can stay in host-family accommodation.

Perth… image

1. Is famous for being the most remote city in the world, but this does have its benefits, including lots of space and friendly, welcoming communities.

2. Is located on the east coast, which means that it’s easier to get to and from countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam. The flight times are a couple of hours less than if you were in other parts of Australia.

3. Is said to be the sunniest capital city in Australia with over three hundred days of sunshine. In fact, it is often called the ‘alfresco city’ given that inhabitants spend so much time outdoors.

4. Has beaches in and around the city which are counted amongst the best in the world. There are endless stretches of white sands and clear blue waters, which is simply paradise for beach lovers and surfers.

5. Offers a really laid-back atmosphere, with just as much importance placed on socialising and being outdoors as on working and studying.

The school in Perth offers General, Individual, Combined and Intensive English courses at a variety of levels. Students can choose between host family accommodation and a room in a shared apartment.

Sydney… image

1. Is pretty much unrivalled in its selection of cultural, historic and social offerings. It has something for everyone, no matter what their interests or tastes.

2. Is a really multicultural city, with a population that comprises people from all over the world. There is lots of on offer for international students especially.

3. Is often referred to in the same breath as the likes of London, Tokyo and New York, and it certainly has the same vibrancy and buzz as these other cosmopolitan and forward-thinking cities.

4. Has the best of both worlds in that it has all that you would expect from a large, urban city, but it also has some great beaches and lots of nice green parks.

5. Has a great transport network which makes it very easy to get around the city and visit each distinct area and its highlights.

The school in Sydney offers General and Exam Preparation English courses at a variety of levels. Students are offered host family accommodation.

Learning a language through film

Some people can learn more quickly from reading in their target language, others from hearing it. Probably the best technique includes learning from both reading, speaking and hearing, since you use different parts of the brain for different activities. It’s quite common for students who have reached an advanced level of study in foreign languages to have difficulties in carrying out a simple conversation.

Especially if you are a beginning language learner, you will likely not understand much of the language when watching a movie. Native speakers talk rapidly, use slang, and often speak in accents or local dialects. Nonetheless, watching a foreign language film is a fantastic way to attune your ear to the sounds of the language. You’ll probably notice that by the end of the film, you’re able to understand bits and pieces of what you hear. Gather your friends together, make some popcorn, sit back and enjoy the adventure!

Movies with or without subtitles are a great way to hear the natural sounds of a language. You can close your eyes and listen or read subtitles to see how the translation differs from the original. If you have a DVD of the movie then you will have the opportunity to watch a few times, first with and then without subtitles, and you will be amazed at how much your comprehension improves.

Another important factor with modern foreign movies is the cultural insights you will have into another country and way of life.  Especially for people planning on visiting or working in another country and culture, you will be able to see the way people behave in different situations, and will be able to bridge the distance that separates you from the other culture.

Visit your local movie rental store and browse the foreign film section. Most films will be in the foreign language with English subtitles. Some university libraries have foreign videos that you can check out. Another alternative is to join an online DVD subscription service. Netflix has over 3500 foreign films available for rent—by far more than any other rental service. And some of the films are even available for download, so you can view them immediately upon joining Netflix .

Here is a short list of some recommendations from our teachers of good movies to watch in different languages.

French L’Auberge Espagnol (The Spanish Hostel)
Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (Amélie)
Le scaphandre et le papillon (The diving bell and the butterfly)
Italian Il Postino (The Postman)
La vita è bella (Life is beautiful)
German Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run)
Das Leben der Anderen (The lives of others)
Spanish Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)
Cantonese Gong Fu (Kung Fu Hustle)
Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs – and the movie ‘The Departed’ was based on this)
Portuguese Cidade de deus (City of God)
Central do Brasil (Central Station)
Japanese Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai)
Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story)
Polish Popiol i Diament (Ashes and Diamonds)

Top 5 reasons to choose Fort Lauderdale as your English study destination

There are plenty of good reasons to choose Fort Lauderdale as your study destination, but here are our top five.

1. A fantastic climate

Fort Lauderdale is located on the southwest coast of Florida, or the ‘Sunshine State’, as it’s also known. As its name suggests, Florida enjoys one of the nicest climates in America, with consistently sunny, warm weather. Fort Lauderdale itself has a tropical climate, with average monthly temperatures that are always higher than 18.0 °C (64.4°F).

2. Great beaches

Fort Lauderdale’s coastal location means that there are plenty of beaches in and around it to choose from. Some are bigger or busier than others, but all have lovely, white-sands and glistening turquoise waters. If you’re looking for a quieter, more rugged beach the Northern Beach Area between Oakland Park Boulevard and Sunrise Boulevard are nice, whereas the South Beach Area offers proximity to shops, restaurants and clubs. Most beaches offer watersports options too, so anyone who likes activities such as snorkelling, diving and waterskiing will have plenty to keep them occupied.

3. Attractive surroundings

Of course, sunshine always makes cities look more attractive, but Fort Lauderdale’s appeal can’t be attributed solely to the sun that shines on it. Its popularity as a yachting centre means that it has an array of attractive marinas and boatyards, and it also boasts an expansive canal system, which explains why it’s called the ‘Venice of America’.

4. Good entertainment options

Fort Lauderdale has long been known as a party place, but these days it offers a more cosmopolitan and up-market entertainment scene than previously. The area around Las Olas Boulevard in particular has scores of bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. You’ll certainly never be stuck for something to do in the evenings or at the weekend in Fort Lauderdale.

5. A range of cultural offerings

Sometimes beach resorts can be somewhat lacking in the cultural stakes, but not Fort Lauderdale. The city has a fantastic range of cultural venues and events, including the Bass Museum of Art, Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the Old Dillard Cultural Arts Museum.

Fort Lauderdale really is a city with something for everyone, whether you like the arts, the beach, sports, shopping, or enjoying a nice evening meal with a glass of wine. There’s no wonder that it is said to offer one of the best standards of living in America, and that it has become so popular with tourists and students alike.

Please visit the Cactus Language website for details of courses, levels, prices, start dates and to book.

5 cheapest places to learn English in the US

One-week general course (20 lessons per week)

Prices start from £229 for a 1 week course from 7th September 2010

1. New York Penn Plaza, New York Tribeca

2. New York Penn Station

3. Boston Campus, San Diego, San Diego (La Jolle), San Francisco, Seattle

4. New York Times Square, New York Soho, Boston City

5. San Francisco Downtown

One-week general course (20 lessons) + single room with a host family + breakfast + dinner

Prices start from £549 for a 1 week course from 7th September 2010

1. Seattle

2. San Diego

3. San Francisco, Boston Campus

4. San Francisco Downtown

5. New York Penn Station

One-week general course (20 lessons) + single room in a shared apartment or residence (no meals)

Prices start from £539 for a 1 week course from 7th September 2010

1. San Diego

2. New York Tribeca

3. Seattle, New York Penn Plaza

4. New York Soho

5. New York Grand Central

Please note: prices were correct at the time of writing, in July 2010, but are subject to fluctuation according to changing exchange rates.

Cactus offers a range of general, intensive, individual, combined and exam preparation courses all around the world. For full course listings, including prices, and to book please visit the Cactus Language website.