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…
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