The Times - 29 January 2011

This article in The Times Travel section is by experienced travel writer Will Hide and covers his recent trip to Cracow with Cactus to learn Polish.  He describes the ins and outs of getting to grips with the language and staying with a host family, giving him a much more authentic experience of the local life and culture.  Will comments: “My brain is under attack, my head throbbing.  For two hours I have been bombarded with a constant stream of Ps, Zs, Cs and Ys, plus those Ls with lines through them that actually turn out to be Ws.  I am in a classroom in Cracow on an intensive “learn Polish” course, the equivalent of mental bootcamp….Aneta, my teacher, takes me out for some hands-on lessons – shopping for vegetables in the market, ordering coffee and buying tram tickets, The Poles laugh at my mangled efforts, while the stallholder who listens to my faltering attempt to purchase half a kilo of tomatoes replies in broad Essex….The lessons forced me to use my brain in ways that I hadn’t since school.  And if you can order a few beers in the local language, then you have taken a small step away from being just another tourist. Na zdrowie!  Cactus (0845 130 4775) offers a week’s individual beginner’s Polish lessons from £359pp, including accommodation with a local family (you get a single room, breakfast and dinner).  EasyJet ( flies to Cracow from five UK airports.”

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