New Evening Language Courses London

Cactus is excited to be offering new evening language courses in London from October 2015, as well as new Junior language courses in London and Brighton.

Designed to bring language learning closer to you, our new locations for the autumn include adult evening courses in Clapham and Fulham and junior afternoon courses in Brighton. A language course is a great way to do something productive as the evenings draw in – there is a great social atmosphere, it will put a spring in your step and you will have new language skills to show for it at the end!

NEW Evening Language Courses London Clapham:

NEW Evening Language Courses London Fulham:

NEW Junior Language Courses London & Brighton (7-15 years):

Course Information

Our adult evening courses are available in 19 locations across the UK (including 10 locations across London). Courses fit easily into the working week, with one 2-hour lesson on one evening each week for 10 weeks. Many levels are available and it is easy to continue from one language course to the next and progress through the levels.

Our junior afternoon courses are a great way to help your child learn or improve a second language. Available in French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, these courses are divided into ages 7-9, 10-12 and 13-15 and include games, songs and other age-appropriate activities to make language learning fun.

Language courses London: Bond Street, Canary Wharf, Clapham, East London (Aldgate), Fulham, Holborn-Russell Square, Islington, Kings Cross, Tottenham Court Road, Wimbledon.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query, please visit our blog or get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter. Alternatively, feel free to contact us here or call to speak to one of our advisors on  01273 830 960.

Junior French Course Feedback: Montpellier

Cactus recently sent a 13-year-old boy on a Junior French Course in Montpellier. Here, his father gives feedback from a parent’s perspective and describes the importance of giving a child the gift of another language.

“Caspar attended the school at Montpellier when he was 13 (he will return for a fortnight this year). It is, and was, a big step for him – his first taste of semi-independence and that within an foreign culture. He had doubts before going, but thoroughly enjoyed. His words to me were ‘At home I am Caspar with the shocking blond hair, and am treated according to what people think I am. In Montpellier, I could be what I wanted to be. It was freedom’. The cultural experience was / is as important to me as the linguistic experience – there were students there from several countries and continents.

He stayed with Mme Meson, an excellent guardian who took care of Caspar. He will return to her this coming Summer. She has little English; or rather she chooses to use little English, thereby offering a semi-immersive experience in a home environment.

Junior French course MontpellierRegarding Caspar’s French, he had only a very basic knowledge before last year’s course (and his French is still elementary). However, he came away with a nascent understanding of grammar and a basic ability to understand spoken French, but lacking the confidence to communicate in the language – this bridge obviously takes some time to cross. He said that those who had spent several weeks at Montpellier had indeed succeeded in crossing into fluency – a matter of time and money.

My son is not overly gregarious. However, I hope that returning for a fortnight, to a familiar regime and place will give him further confidence to open up and attempt to communicate. On the back of this year’s course he will fly straight from Montpellier to stay with a family in Nantes. They have little English and so he will be forced to use the skills he will acquire in Montpellier.

Would you recommend a Junior French Course?

Junior French course Montpellier - Montpellier schoolYes, I would recommend the course as it offers a young adult both a personal and socio-linguistic learning curve within a regulated environment. Caspar was not the youngest student last year: there were 12 year olds at Montepellier, some more confident than others. It’s all a question of maturity. Any 12 year old will be amongst 14 / 15 year olds and there is, as you know, a huge difference in slight age differences during the teenage years. To be honest, I was more nervous of letting him go last year, than he was of going – both vigilance and homesickness were issues. The same is true this year; he is only just 14. There are always risks. But, these, we felt, were minimised last year as we always had the assurance that a family friend lived in Beziers (a short drive away). I also had some email correspondence with Mme Meson prior to his visit and she seems a good sort (which through experience, was proved and she was a delight to meet).

This year, he will fly out alone and without a family friend in close proximity. However, he will be  returning to familiar territory. We also feel more confident as we have faith both in Cactus (Laura is always helpful) and Mme Meson. Plus, he’s truly looking forward to going – which is a motivational triumph for a 14 year old boy.

Obviously being a minor poses logistic problems as only certain airlines allow children to travel unaccompanied. Air France do and they have a buddy facility (for which you pay extra) which ensures their safety, easyJet also allow children but, correct me if I’m wrong, not if under 12 and unaccompanied. Last year, Caspar travelled out with our family friend and I picked him up – an opportunity to meet Mme Meson and practice the limited French I possess.

The gift of another language

Our hope, when sending Caspar to France, is that we are giving him the gift of another language. We in Britain are bullishly monolingual which, in our opinion is not a good thing (Caspar is also studying Japanese). I’m sure this is partly why you might be considering sending your child to Montpellier. Whatever you decide, I hope they will, one way or another, realise your linguistic ambition for them.”

Thank you to Ian for taking the time to give us his valuable feedback on Caspar’s Junior French Course. We look forward to sending Caspar to France again this year.

Caspar took a Junior French Course in Montpellier with host family accommodation. There is also the option to take a Junior French Course with residential accommodation. Both courses include 20 French lessons each week, an exciting programme of activities and excursions, all meals and full supervision. Contact us or visit our website to find out more about our Junior language courses and summer camps.

Expat Show Free Tickets: London Olympia

Are you considering moving abroad? Whether you are thinking about relocating for work or emigrating for an improved lifestyle, the Expat Show in London promises to be an excellent source of information and advice from the experts.

As leaders in language training for relocation, Cactus is exhibiting at the Expat Show and we have FREE tickets for anyone wishing to visit – available until 6th September!

Expat Show Free Tickets

Expat Show free ticketsOrder your Expat Show free tickets here








Why visit Cactus at the Expat Show?

Moving abroad is a big decision, especially if you are moving to a country where a different language is spoken. Cactus can help you make the process smooth and enjoyable by designing a bespoke language course to suit you and your family – be it through lessons before you go (evening language course or private tuition) or once you are in your new location (language course at a local school or private tuition). Speaking the language will help you integrate into the local community and feel at home much more quickly; it will also help you to make friends, give you confidence and make daily routine much easier.

Visit us on Stand A12 in the Relocation & Lifestyle Centre for a FREE language needs analysis and to claim your £50 voucher to put towards any language course!

We will talk you through the best language learning solution for you and make sure you are fully prepared to follow your dream.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.

Cactus TEFL Guide: TEFL Explained

If you are considering embarking on a career teaching English, the Cactus TEFL Guide is a handy booklet that tells you everything you need to know about the world of TEFL.

Covering useful topics such as TEFL as a career or a gap year option, the different types of TEFL course and TEFL course survival tips, the Cactus TEFL Guide is an invaluable resource from the TEFL experts.

Feel free to browse our TEFL Guide below, and contact us if you need any further information or TEFL advice!

Cactus TEFL Guide

Cactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. Cactus works with well-known course providers to offer CELTA, TESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. Cactus TEFL also offers free post-course careers advice and support, as well as access to our very own TEFL jobs board and job alerts.

CELTA Course Non-Native Speaker Experience

Can I take the CELTA course as a non-native speaker? Cactus Office Manager Claudia Ohde tells us why doing the CELTA course as a non-native speaker is not just ok – it’s an advantage!

Here at Cactus I have always been surrounded by many qualified English teachers who had lived in many different places teaching English before they joined Cactus. As a keen language learner and traveller myself, I had always envied them for the freedom to live and work abroad. However, I didn’t consider doing a Celta course myself since I didn’t feel confident enough about my level of English. So I decided to take the Celta equivalent course for teaching German as a foreign language instead. Unfortunately this course was no longer offered in the UK due to insufficient demand.

Our Academic Director encouraged me to jump in at the deep end and do a Celta course instead. So I downloaded the application form for the Celta course and signed myself up for the Cactus English Language Awareness Course to brush up my grammar knowledge and prepare myself for the Celta course.

To my big surprise I passed the application process and was offered a place on the Celta course.

CELTA course non-native speaker experience

We were a group of 18 students on the course, of which 4 of us were non-native speakers. When we were allocated to our teaching practice groups I felt a great relief that I was starting with the elementary level and not with the upper-intermediates. Right from the start it became clear that one of the most difficult tasks was to grade your language according to the level of the students – one of the tasks non-native speakers seemed to manage much more easily than the native speakers.

Some of the requirements such as reducing the teacher talking time to a bare minimum were as unexpected and difficult for non-native and native speakers alike. However, when it came to teaching grammar the non-native speakers had a definite advantage again – having learnt the language ourselves not only gave us a better foundation of grammar knowledge, but also enabled us to empathise with the learner and to understand their difficulties with certain aspects of the grammar (for example the present perfect tense!).

Midway through the course we swapped teaching practice groups and I was now confronted with a broad range of upper-intermediate students (some of whom were rather advanced) and my nerves started playing up much more before the teaching practice sessions. Error correction on the spot and having to explain the meaning of words spontaneously presented quite a challenge at times. However, in retrospect now that I’m teaching German as a foreign language I can say that this isn’t so much easier in my native language! I’m probably just more confident in admitting when I don’t know the answer to a question straightaway.

CELTA course non-native speaker conclusion

Looking back, the Celta course has been the best course I have ever taken, one of my biggest challenges and achievements. Passing the course with a Pass B showed me that it isn’t all about having perfect English. I’m now in the position to compare teaching English with teaching my mother tongue and I’ve realised that the advantage of knowing what your students are going through is a major advantage in connecting with them.

Whether you are a non-native or native speaker I can highly recommend taking a CELTA course or Trinity CertTESOL course. It was a very steep learning curve but it was a very rewarding experience. I wouldn’t want to miss the invaluable feedback during teaching practice which greatly boasted my confidence in the classroom!

Cactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. Cactus works with well-known course providers to offer CELTA, TESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. Cactus TEFL also offers free post-course careers advice and support, as well as access to our very own TEFL jobs board and job alerts.

Cactus Portuguese Teacher Book Success

Cactus has always been proud of the teachers who work for us, as they are all carefully selected for their skills, experience and personality.

Tres historias diferentes para aprender portugues - Ian Costabile - Cactus Portuguese teacher

This month we are delighted that our Brazilian Portuguese teacher Ian Costabile, based in Liverpool, has published an excellent book to help students learn Portuguese.

Três Histórias Diferentes para Aprender Português, or ‘Three Different Stories to Learn Portuguese’, is a collection of three stories cleverly designed to help Portuguese language students learn new vocabulary and sentence construction.

For anyone learning Portuguese – either Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese – this book uses different vocabulary, tenses, verbs and sentence structures in each of the three stories to maintain interest and cater to different abilities and interests. Above all, the stories are fun, making language learning fun!

Find out more about Ian’s book on his blog Português Azul – where you will also find plenty more inspiration and tips for learning Portuguese.

Cactus Portuguese Teacher

Ian moved from Brazil to the UK in 2009 and it was then that he started to teach Portuguese. A keen musician, he found that many of the people he performed to were interested in the Brazilian language and culture. Members of a local capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) group also came to him for Portuguese lessons. Since then, Ian has qualified as an interpreter and now teaches Portuguese at GCSE and A Level in an Academy in Liverpool.

It was in 2014 that Ian became a Cactus Portuguese teacher on our Portuguese evening courses in Liverpool. When asked how he found working for Cactus, Ian replied, “I find teaching for Cactus a great experience. It’s a very organised and competent company. All the groups of students that I taught through Cactus so far were very committed to learning and enjoyed every single lesson. Through Cactus I have met people from different backgrounds who showed a huge interest in Brazil, Portugal and Mozambique. I also became friends with other Cactus teachers and staff.”

We wish Ian the best of luck with his book! Anyone wishing to purchase his book can do so on Amazon.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.



Cactus Evening Course Reviews

If you are considering doing an evening language course, first hand feedback and course reviews are a great way to find out what it’s really like. Below are course reviews from our April 2015 intake of evening language courses across the UK.

Chinese (Mandarin) Beginner 1, London Bond Street

“Amazing teacher. Great way to build up language skills. A lot of practice and repetitions for everyone. Really enjoyed it!” Camille

French Beginner 1, London Bond Street

“Tabara is very patient and an excellent teacher. I hope to have her for our next course. Teachers can only do so much in 2 hours – students need to do a little extra between classes to stay up to date. Tabara ensured we had homework but never piled it on us. Loved her classes.” Marcelle

German Beginner 1, London Holborn-Russell Square

“Peggy was fantastic. I found her very easy to talk to and very helpful. She is a great teacher. We had various exercises each lesson and I have learnt a lot from grammar and vocabulary, with lots of reading and writing too. I think I’m well prepared for the next level and I hope it will be with Peggy again.” Joanna

Turkish Beginner 1, London Holborn-Russell Square

“A great introductory course. Harika was a great teacher; it was obvious she cared about the students’ learning and she made sure the lessons were engaging and well planned. The course was exactly what I was looking for and the teacher made sure we all understood. I feel I made good progress – more than I expected.” Ambreen

French Beginner 1, Liverpool

“My Tutor was very good and I’ve made lots of improvement. Now I can go to Paris on my own and be able to communicate.” Bibi

Spanish Beginner 2, Liverpool

“Immersive learning is intensive and a bit like being thrown in at the deep end, but it is very effective! We covered a variety of topics as well as going in depth on grammar use, pronunciation, etc. We had more written and listening work than the Beginner 1 course, which was very helpful.

The teaching was excellent – our teacher was patient, encouraging, explained everything clearly, incorporated individual needs and made classes fun.

We had everything we needed and were provided with any additional materials we asked for.

I couldn’t believe how much I learned in the Beginner 1 course, and the Beginner 2 course has built on that much more than I expected. I feel that I have learned a great deal in a short time and am much more confident in my abilities.” Shelley

Italian Beginner 2, Manchester

“The course is very good, the atmosphere and people are great and Fabiola is an outstandingly good teacher.” Marta

Japanese Beginner, Manchester

“The course was well planned out with a good amount of work set each week. Nicholas is a very good teacher with a good teaching style. He definitely knows his stuff and makes lessons enjoyable. I feel that thanks to the course I now have a solid starting point for continuing to learn Japanese.” Ben

Portuguese Beginner 1, Manchester

“Very effective and enthusiastic teaching. Sara always related our classes to everyday situations and aspects of Portuguese culture where relevant, which made the course interesting and fun.” Paul

Many thanks to all our students who take the time to submit course feedback, as it is important in helping us to monitor and maintain the quality of our courses.

Cactus runs 10-week evening language courses in locations across London and in other major cities across the UK: Manchester, Brighton, Bristol, Oxford, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield. Our next courses start in October 2015, with our best ever offering of over 20 languages in 19  locations.

Why not join us for a free taster class and chat to us about your language learning plans?

For more course feedback on evening courses, language courses abroad and corporate language training, please visit our blog. Feel free to get in contact with us by Facebook or by Twitter or contact us here.

language skills to succeed

Peer Teaching and Peer Learning in the Language Classroom

Why it’s just as important students listen to each other, as well as the teacher:

Language students tend to rely quite heavily on their teacher; looking to their teacher for all the answers, depending on the teacher to model the target language, believing that only the teacher can provide the solutions to their language learning problems. And teachers are often guilty of fostering a behaviour that encourages this perspective. However, there are plenty of ways to encourage students to see their peers as a good resource for new language and correct language, and to encourage them to listen to and rely on each other.

Why is it important that students listen to each other?

Surely students are better off ignoring their classmates whose language is full of errors, and just listen to the teacher who will model the language correctly?

  1. Get with the accent: It is very likely that whatever language someone is learning they will be speaking to other non-native speakers of this language in the ‘real world’. It is important to get used to a range of accents and to be able to ‘interpret’ the message that it being communicated, regardless of the first language of the speaker.
  2. Learn from mistakes: Students should be encouraged to identify and learn from each others’ mistakes. Rather than relying on the teacher to give the correct answer every time an error is produced, the teacher can encourage the students to correct each others’ mistakes. This can be via on-the-spot error correction, or by boarding errors and getting students to discuss corrections in pairs before feeding back to the class.
  3. Emerging Language: Students often use the classroom environment to ‘test out’ new expressions they have read or discovered outside of the classroom. This ‘emerging language’ can be a great resource for the teacher and for other students to learn from. Students can be encouraged to listen to each other to notice new and useful expressions/vocabulary. In open class feedback students can listen to count and note the number of new expressions that are used, for example.
  4. If you don’t know, ask: Students should be encouraged to ask questions about the language they are learning – not just to the teacher but to their classmates and other people they meet outside of the classroom. A language learner is never going to get very far by relying on only one source of information (the teacher) during their entire language learning journey. They should be asking questions and thinking about the meaning, form and function of the language as they advance and progress, wherever they are and whomever they are with.
  5. Building confidence: Peer teaching gives students the opportunity to clarify what they already know in their own minds. It is much more useful for the student to reinforce their own understanding of the target language by explaining to a peer, rather than listening to the teacher repeating something for them. It also engenders a ‘I actually know this stuff!’ feeling in the student, which is both motivating and rewarding.

Even though teachers often secretly feel they should be ‘masters of their kingdom’ when they are in class, it is important to remember to constantly hand over to students. Look for new ways to make students independent learners both inside and outside of the classroom, to build their confidence, and to always facilitate, rather than dictate.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query that you can’t find the answer to, please get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter, or contact us here.

New One-Day Language Courses in London

If you want to learn a language but have limited time in which to do so, Cactus’ new one-day language courses are a perfect way to learn or improve the basics in a social, fun and effective environment.

Languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, Dutch, Russian and Turkish

Levels: Beginner and elementary

Location: London Holborn

2015 Dates: 17th October, 31st October, 7th November, 21st November

2016 Dates: 16th January, 30th January

Fee: £85 (includes 2-course lunch and 5.5 hours of language tuition)

Why take a one-day course?

  • Tangible progress and results in just one day
  • Full day of language practice in a fun, social environment
  • Delicious two-course lunch with teacher and classmates
  • Ideal preparation for travelling, holiday or a business trip
  • Get to grips with the basics before deciding to do a longer course
  • Great day out in London and ideal gift for a partner, family or friend
  • Convenient if you don’t live near a language school or have limited time
  • Real sense of accomplishment at the end of the day

Taking place on a Saturday from 10am to 5pm, courses include 5.5 hours of language tuition and a two-course lunch in a restaurant related to your chosen language – providing a relaxed environment in which to practise the language and socialise. At the end of the day you will walk away with a real sense of achievement, able to communicate at a basic level in the language and having enjoyed a great day with like-minded people.

As experts in the field of language learning, Cactus is the only provider to offer one-day courses for so many languages in the UK.

For advice, knowledge and inspiration on anything and everything related to language learning, please visit our blog, Facebook or Twitter pages, or contact us here.

My daughter’s language learning adventure: a parent’s perspective

An American mother shares her thoughts with us as her daughter goes to learn Japanese in Tokyo

“It is with delight that I write this blog for Cactus. Right from the beginning Cactus helped us embark on my daughter’s journey to Japan with confidence, enthusiasm, and trust that all would be well. And so it has been…

I can’t say that I was not a bit anxious sending Dana across the world on her own to learn Japanese in Tokyo. And, I can’t say that as each day successfully passes I don’t enter the next with some trepidation. That being said, having reached the midpoint of Dana’s stay I am pleased to share this parent’s point of view.

Dana is 19 years old and has always had a passion for Japanese. So when she suggested that she take a leave of absence from college to “find herself” and explore her passion, I was not surprised. In fact, I was impressed that she knew herself well enough to know that she was not feeling passionate at college and needed to explore. The hardest part for me was letting go and having the trust to let her do this exploration on her own.

tokyo-japaneseDana is accomplishing her objective. Through the impressive curriculum and faculty at the language school, Dana’s command of the Japanese language is developing every day. Her classes consist of students from all over the world and so she has expanded her social network with friends from places like Spain and Sweden.

Given the diversity of the students it has been inspiring to hear how friendly, helpful, compassionate, and tolerant everyone has been. This is a snapshot of what I hope for the world.

From what I can tell the school is located in the midst of fun and interesting places for the kids to explore. Having the freedom to get to these places easily has not only added to the “fun factor” but has given Dana the opportunity to practise her Japanese skills with the “locals.”

Do I miss her? Yes, a lot. However technology has softened the blow for both of us. We video-chat just about every day. In fact, we spend more time seeing each other and talking now than we do when we are living under the same roof. And, video- chat gives Dana the opportunity to stay connected to her dogs.

There are 25 days left of Dana’s adventure. I look forward to sharing the rest of the story.”

Dana studied Japanese in Tokyo with Cactus. Cactus offers language courses in over 120 destinations worldwide.

Dana wrote about her initial impressions of Tokyo when she first arrived and about her experiences mid-way through her course. For anyone thinking about taking a language course abroad, Dana’s articles offer a unique insight into life in a foreign country, including the fears and excitement that come with a long-term course. Thank you both to Dana and her mother Robin for contributing to our website, and we hope that future students (and parents of) will find their comments reassuring and useful.

If you have a language learning or language teaching query, please visit our blog or get in contact with us either by Facebook or by Twitter. Alternatively, feel free to contact us here or call to speak to one of our advisors on  .