Five reasons why you should do an Online TEFL Course

Cactus TEFL’s online English Language Awareness course is a great option for anyone about to embark on a TEFL course. The ideal CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL preparation course, it will give you solid, all-round knowledge of English grammar and save a lot of time when it comes to planning lessons.

If you don’t have time to take the course before you do your TEFL training, there are still plenty of reasons why it’s beneficial to complete it before you start your first teaching job:

1. Knowledge

There are certain countries where much of the English language teaching is based around conversation lessons, but the vast majority of TEFL jobs will involve as much emphasis on grammar as on conversation. Having a good working knowledge of the ins and outs of English grammar will help enormously when it comes to lesson planning – having to revise your grammar before you plan your lesson will add hours to your preparation!

2. Confidence

Making sure your English grammar is up to scratch before you step into the classroom will give you the confidence to deal with tricky grammar questions that students (particularly in high level classes) might have for you. You can avoid those embarrassing silences and any unnecessary stress when eager students quiz you on the differences between the past simple and the present perfect!

3. Reputation

Our ELA course was produced in conjunction with respected ELT teacher, teacher trainer and course book author, John Hughes. John is a highly influential figure within the TEFL industry, running ELT writing courses for Oxford University, consultation for language schools as well as his own popular ELT blogs and columns for The Guardian. The ELA course was also nominated for the British Council Innovation Award after it was launched, a wonderful and well-deserved accolade!

4. Employability

Doing the ELA course as a CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL preparation course, or prior to any other TEFL course, will look impressive on your CV and show that you are both keen and knowledgeable.

5. Value for Money

At just £95, ELA is great value for money. However, if you book your TEFL course through Cactus you will receive a discounted English Language Awareness course, at £50 reduced from £95 – plus a FREE English Language Methodology course.

Find out more about the English Language Awareness course and search TEFL courses worldwide with Cactus TEFL.


10 things you might not know about Chinese New Year

Wherever you are in the world, happy Chinese New Year!

1. The date of Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar and falls sometime in January or February each year. It falls on 19th February 2015 and celebrates the Year of the Goat (or Ram). 2016 will celebrate the Year of the Monkey.

2. Years in the Chinese calander are named after 12 different animals – the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each animal is associated with a particular element – water, wood, fire or metal – and particular characteristics are associated with each animal and the people born during the year of that animal. People born in the Year of the Goat are characteristically kind, calm, thoughtful and honest.

3. You can wish someone happy new year in Chinese by saying xīnnián kuàilè (new year happiness!) or xīnnián hǎo (new year goodness!).

4. Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first month and the celebrations continue for two weeks.

5. As well as being celebrated in China and Taiwan, it is also marked among Overseas Chinese communities, and in Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam and Japan.

6. Chinese New Year is a time when people return to their hometowns to celebrate with their families, so is not a good time to travel in places with large Chinese populations as everybody seems to be on the move.

7. During the festivities doors and windows are decorated with phrases related to happiness, wealth and longevity written or printed on red paper.

8. Before Chinese New Year people clean their houses thoroughly, which is believed to sweep away any bad luck. They also buy new clothes and shoes, and get their hair cut, all of which symbolise a fresh start.

9. On New Year’s Eve families have a big meal together. This may include fish, dim sum, dumplings and dessert.

10. On the first day of the New Year many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from eating meat, a practice which is thought to ensure a long life. The older members of the family present children and younger members with red envelopes of money, and people visit their elderly relatives.

Evening courses in Chinese

Cactus offers evening courses in Chinese Cantonese in London; next start dates are April and July 2015.

Courses are also available in Chinese Mandarin in London and across the UK; next start dates are April and July 2015.

Chinese courses in China

Cactus offers courses in Chinese Mandarin in China (Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai). Start dates are year-round.


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.

How to say ‘I love you’ in 25 languages

Impress your loved one with ‘I Love You’ in other language this Valentines Day…

Flowers, chocolates, champagne…dictionary? When it comes to love, it’s not just what you do, it’s what you say. Use our quick guide below to perfect those three little words that can make all the difference on Valentines Day.

Spanish: Te quiero / te amo
French: Je t’aime / je t’adore
German: Ich liebe dich
Italian: Ti amo

Arabic: Ana behibak (to a male) / Ana behibek (to a female)
Chinese: Wo ie ni (Mandarin) / Ngo oiy ney a (Cantonese)
Catalan: T’estimo
Croatian: Volim te
Czech: Miluji te
Dutch: Ik hou van jou
Farsi: Doset daram
Greek: S’agapo
Hindi: Main tumse pyār kartā hūn (male) / Main tumse pyār kartī hūn (female)
Hungarian: Szeretlek
Icelandic: Eg elska pig
Japanese: Aishiteru / Anata ga daisuki desu
Norwegian:  Jeg elsker deg (Bokmål) / Eg elskar deg (Nynorsk)
Polish: Kocham cię
Portuguese: Eu te amo
Russian: Ya tebya liubliu
Swahili: Mimi nakupenda
Swedish: Jag älskar dig
Thai: Phom rug khun (male speaker) / Chan rug khun (female speaker)
Turkish: Seni seviyorum
Welsh: ‘Rwy’n dy garu