moving abroad checklist

Moving Abroad Checklist: Learn the Language

Whatever your reasons for moving abroad – retirement in the sun, the opportunity to enhance your career or the pursuit of a more fulfilling lifestyle – you are sure to have a moving abroad checklist to help you prepare for life in another country. If you are relocating to a country where another language is spoken, the most important thing you can do is learn the language: even the basics will make a huge difference to your experience.

Moving Abroad Checklist: Learn the Language!

5 reasons to learn a language before you move abroad

  1. Knowing some of the language before you arrive will give you the skills and confidence you need from the very moment you set foot in your new location; knowing that you are prepared will also make the run up to your move less stressful. If you have children, this is just as important to help them adjust to a new life abroad.
  2. Taking language classes before you leave will help you to learn about the culture of your host country, too – from popular music and typical foods to cultural etiquette and greetings – thereby reducing culture shock when you arrive.
  3. There are many ways to learn a language before you move abroad, so you can pick the method that suits you best (or combine a few): evening language courses in 19 locations across the UK, private language tuition or a language course abroad.
  4. You may need to sort out housing, banking, schooling and other essentials before you arrive in your new country, and some knowledge of the language will vastly help with this. Depending on where you are moving to, you cannot always rely on the locals to speak English.
  5. Leaving loved ones behind can make any move abroad a little harder. By learning some of the language before you go, you are giving yourself the best chance of making friends in your new environment: meaningful exchanges with the locals will then help you to feel settled, and a smooth cultural transition is proven to maintain psychological happiness. Then all you need is to install Skype to call friends back home!

5 reasons to continue classes once you are there

  1. Learning a language in situ is a great way to meet people. Whether you want to take private language training in your home or office, or take an in-country language course at a local school, you will be making contacts and perhaps longer-term friends.
  2. Having a language course set up when you arrive will provide some consistency and routine in an unfamiliar environment. It will also make you feel good that you are doing something positive – all of which will help you to settle in quickly.
  3. Taking classes in-country is an excellent way to learn the local accent and the specific vocabulary of that country, which will help you to feel and sound more like a local.
  4. If you are emigrating with your family, your children will likely be immersed in the language and pick it up quickly. Show them an example by learning it too – and because you don’t want to be left behind!
  5. If you are relocating for work, language classes can be invaluable in keeping you up-to-date with important business language, familiarising yourself with business etiquette and helping you to establish successful business relationships. Knowledge of the language is a key factor in making the experience positive for everyone involved.

expat-show-large-2015Visit Cactus at the Expat Show in London at London Olympia on September 11th-12th. We will give you a FREE language needs analysis and a £50 voucher towards any language course.

Cactus Language Training is a leading provider of private and corporate language training. We specialise in language training for relocation – in any language, anywhere in the world.

Where are the Best Language Schools in the World?

Good value and quality tuition in the world’s best locations…these are the best language schools in the world

Cactus’ recent appearance on the Guardian website in an article entitled “Top language learning holidays – in pictures” coincides perfectly with our brand new Top 10 Schools page.

Designed to give inspiration for the best places to learn a language, these schools are not just our most popular; they also offer great value and quality teaching in some of the most exciting locations across the globe. Whether you fancy learning Portuguese in Brazil or French on the glittering Côte d’Azur, you can be sure that our Top 10 schools offer the best and cheapest ways to study a language.

Currently topping our Top 10 list is Babylon Idiomas Seville, a small and friendly school located in the heart of Seville’s flamenco neighbourhood of Macarena. This makes an excellent choice when it comes to learning Spanish in Spain, or perhaps you’d prefer to combine your lessons with sailing or kite surfing at Taronja Valencia (number 6)?

Whatever your preference, there is something for everyone in our Top 10 Schools…our clients are a savvy bunch, and if these are the places they book time after time, they must be on to something.

Cactus offers language courses in over 25 languages and 120 destinations worldwide for adults, juniors and professionals. We have over 15 years’ experience providing study abroad courses, and you can book in the knowledge that you will receive the highest levels of customer service as well as a price match guarantee.

Use our website to browse language courses by location or language, or feel free to call us to chat through the options on 0845 130 4775 (UK local rate).

* Above image is of Brooklyn which appears at number 2 of our top 10.

French course in Antibes: Cactus staff review

Operations Manager at Cactus, Leticia Artiles Gracia, tells us her reasons for learning French and how much she enjoyed immersing herself in the language in Antibes

I love and enjoy doing many things. But if I had to choose two, they would definitely be: travelling and learning languages.

What if you are given the choice to combine both? That is exactly what I have been doing once a year since I joined the Cactus team, almost 4 years ago. This time I took a 1-week holiday and went to do a French course in Antibes.


I must admit that this was a bit of a risk as French is not really my favourite language. I have tried to study it many times without success and not because I find it difficult: I am Spanish and that helps a lot when it comes to understanding the language, its structures, its spelling, etc. The real  reason behind my lack of interest in French is that I have never had a real motivation to learn this particular language.

Now I do have one: I am learning Arabic in Morocco and the Moroccan dialect uses a lot of French terms and in many cities of Morocco they use a high percentage of French words.

So, there you go, if I want to communicate with people in Morocco, I need to improve my French too!

So I decided to give myself another chance and instead of going for a normal course I thought: why not to go there for a week and immerse myself completely in the language and the culture? I am so glad I did.

A language holiday is such a good choice for a solo traveller. The General Course is perfect in terms of number of hours. I had to get up early in the mornings to go to the school but then at midday I was free to go and enjoy my free time while practicing what I had learnt in the classroom. During the 3 hour class we practiced all skills: listening, reading, writing, speaking.

My teacher & classes

My teacher could not have been better. You could tell she was highly qualified and experienced and she managed to motivate us to produce as much language as we could. I was placed in a higher level than I expected and that was very encouraging. I cannot say it was not a challenge, but it really pushed me to try and learn as much as I could in a week.

The whole class was entirely in French, not a single translation in English and the teacher did not allow us to use dictionaries or applications to translate. What was not understood at first was explained using different techniques such as: giving examples, using synonyms, mimics, sounds, anything! My vocabulary grew by the days and my oral expression and understanding were definitely improving. The course was complemented with a grammar book created by the school with clear explanations and examples.

Due to the fact that the week I was there was low season, we did not manage to get enough people together to do any of the extra activities the school offers. These included city tours and a wine and cheese tasting evening. Next time I will have to go when it’s busier but that would also mean more people in the classes. The class size at this time of the year is between 6 and 8 people, perfect if you want to make the most of the week.

Although most of the students were in their early twenties, there were also quite a few people over 30. I managed to meet people of my age not so much in the classroom as in the residence where I stayed. This one was definitely the best choice as most people were over 25 and it was a nice and quiet place to stay that invited you to relax and study during your free time.

There was where I met Diana, a Dutch lady, with whom I shared lovely chats (in French!), nice seafood and wine dinners and entertaining excursions in and out of Antibes. We agreed that although we both spoke much better English than French we would try to speak French as much as we could and so we did.

Antibes & the surrounding area


Antibes has a lot to see; it’s a lovely and picturesque town on the Côte d’Azur, full of small cafés, restaurants and shops. It has a beautiful beach really close to the school, perfect to run to right after the classes for a couple of hours. There is also a traditional market right in the heart of the town. It is a place that allows you to travel back in time.

The residences are in a more touristic area called Juan les Pins, a lively place perfect for partying. From my point of view, Antibes is much more authentic – it has the perfect southern French taste! People are very lovely, although there are many tourists. You still get that personal treatment and after going to a café twice, they already know what you want.

I managed to visit Nice and Cannes. My favourite was definitely Nice, a very charming city with a mix of traditional architecture and modern buildings and a great promenade to enjoy a pleasant walk in the evening. There is also a nice waterfall at the top of the mountain definitely worth visiting.

Other class mates visited other small cities and they all sounded very nice too. I wish I had gone for 2 weeks so that I could have had time to see a lot more.

All in all, the experience was extremely positive. Now that I have experience learning French in a country where it´s spoken I can´t wait to do it again.

Leticia learned French in Antibes with Cactus. Cactus offers French courses in many locations across France and Canada, as well as evening and part-time courses in the UK and the US.