Top spots in Brooklyn: according to staff at the Brooklyn School of Languages

Cactus talks to staff at the new Brooklyn School of Languages to get the low down on the coolest places in town…

1. Dennis Chase – Director of Studies

Dennis is originally from Connecticut and moved to New York five years ago. He originally moved because of his wife’s job but he loves the restaurants, nightlife and jazz clubs of the city.

Dennis’ Top Tips for Jazz in New York:

Low end: Fat Cat in Greenwich Village

Great for: Live jazz, ping pong and foosball

Mid range: Smalls in Greenwich Village

Great for: Feeling like you’re back in the 1950s

High end: Smoke on the Upper West Side

Great for: Top level musicians and excellent food menu

Dennis’ Top Tip for your stay: Check out Barclay’s Center.

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2. Eva Kramer – Administrator

Eva is a born and bred Brooklynite, from the Fort Greene area. She loves Brooklyn because it is less touristy, quieter and calmer than Manhattan. Once you cross the bridge there is a change of pace and things are more residential.

Eva’s Top Tips for Eating Out in Brooklyn…

Brunch: Olea in Fort Greene

Great for: Mediterranean and Turkish style breakfasts

Lunch: Farmer in the Deli in Fort Greene

Great for: the biggest and cheapest hero (baguette style sandwich) in Brooklyn

Dinner: Fortune House in Brooklyn Heights

Great for: hot and sour soup

Dessert: Junior’s in Brooklyn Heights

Great for: the original New York cheesecake

Eva’s top tip for your stay: don’t go home without visiting Coney Island and the Transport Museum.

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3. Mathilde Brouillet – Head of Admissions

Mathilde has lived in NYC for three years but she is originally from Paris, France. She likes Brooklyn because although it’s very close to Manhattan, it’s quieter and has a real sense of community.

Mathilde’s Top Tips to avoid culture shock in New York…

Tipping: Everyone is expected to tip in New York – even if you think the service was bad. A good rule of thumb to follow is:

Happy – 20%

Ok – 15%

Not happy – 10%

Plan before you arrive: NYC can be overwhelming with so much to do and see. Mathilde recommends going online before you arrive to find out what’s happening during the time you are there and to plan what you want to see. Good places to start are Time Out and

Medication: Bring your own if you need it as medication is very expensive, especially compared to Europe.

Thank to Dennis, Eva and Mathilde for giving us their top tips for Brooklyn and New York. If you’re heading there, don’t forget to look these places up! And feel free of course to give us recommendations of your own…

The Brooklyn School of Languages offers year-round adult English courses, junior summer camps and daytime and evening foreign language courses.

Junior sports camps in the UK

A language and sports camp is a unique and ingenious concept to encourage children to combine their love of sport with learning English. As far as ‘educational’ holidays go, this one’s a winner if you have a sports-mad teen in your house and long summer holidays ahead.

In the UK the specialist sport is football, which is entirely appropriate given that it is a national sport and passion here. The UK boasts one of the most popular and wealthy sports leagues in the world – its football Premier League – as well as some of the world’s most famous football clubs. It is in conjunction with two of these, Manchester City and Liverpool FC, that Cactus offers specialist summer sports camps, where students aged 12-17 years receive English language classes in the morning and football training in the afternoon, in addition to a range of fun social and cultural activities. All of this takes place in a fully supervised and secure environment, to ensure the health and wellbeing of students while they are away from home.

The great thing is that these programmes attract students from all over the world, so there is a true mix of nationalities and abilities, with teens often making life-long friends on these camps. It is a sure-fire recipe for success both in the classroom and on the football field!


The Manchester English & Football Summer Camp is available with host family accommodation, residential accommodation, or as a day camp only. It runs from Monday 1st July to Friday 9th August and can be booked from one week upwards.

Girls and boys are both welcome on this course, as long as they are neither complete beginners nor international standard players. The FA qualified football coaching takes place on four afternoons each week at the state-of-the-art Platt Lane Complex, one of Manchester City’s training grounds and home to The Youth Academy for young Manchester City players. Students learn key football skills such as dribbling, turning, shooting, passing, teamwork and ball control, and play 5-a-side and 11-a-side games.

The programme includes:

  • 15 English language classes per week
  • 8 hours of FA qualified football coaching
  • Accommodation if chosen, in a host family or residence
  • A full excursion programme


The Liverpool English & Football Course is offered with accommodation in a secure, supervised hotel near to the school and Liverpool city centre. It runs from Monday 1st July until the end of August and can be booked from two weeks upwards.

Participants must have an elementary level of English but can be complete beginners in football, making it ideal for teenagers that are mad about football as well as those who just want to learn more about it. Coaching takes place for three hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons and is given by coaches who have produced the like of Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. Students learning football under their guidance will learn about Liverpool FC’s spirit of fair play, their commitment to attractive football, the sporting achievements and traditions of this historical club and the pride that comes with wearing the famous red jersey.

The programme includes:

  • 15 English language classes per week
  • General English & football vocabulary, including the history & culture of Liverpool FC (to help students get the most out of their coaching sessions)
  • 9 hours of football coaching by coaches trained by Liverpool FC Academy
  • A look at the history, culture & traditions of Liverpool FC
  • Excursion to Anfield, tour of stadium, visit to museum, LFC rucksack & other goodies
  • Full board accommodation in a secure, central hotel

These junior football programmes are a perfect example of how learning a language is best done doing something you love. Surrounded by English, your child will learn as much on the football pitch as he or she does in the classroom, communicating with locals and other students of the same age in a safe and friendly environment. Most importantly, they will come back refreshed and confident in the language, energised after their sports training and armed with a long list of friends to visit around the world!

Please visit our website for full details and prices for each course: Manchester (host family), Manchester (residence), Manchester (day camp), Liverpool (hotel).

Cactus specialises in organising language courses for individuals and groups, having done so since 1999 for clients all over the globe and for diverse needs and budgets. Our expertise in the field of face-to-face tuition is second-to-none. With an extensive network of approved teachers and a strong in-house academic team, we are able to tailor a language course to suit your specific learning needs, anywhere in the world and whenever is convenient to you.

We offer language courses for Under 18s in many languages and locations across the world.

Junior Holiday Camps in the UK

Any parent with children of school age will be familiar with the task of keeping them entertained during the school holidays, no more so than during the long summer break. To find something social, active and educational is ideal – and that is exactly what a junior language holiday, or camp, in the UK offers.

Taking place during the summer holidays, a junior language holiday gives under 18s:

• A unique opportunity to learn English where it is spoken

• The chance to mix with others of the same age in a safe, fun & international environment

• Quality English language tuition in small group classes – leading to a natural increase in fluency & confidence

• A varied & exciting activities programme – the perfect way to try new skills & make new friends

• Safe & comfortable accommodation – with local host families or in residences

• Full in-country support & on-site supervision – meaning that youngsters feel secure & parents can rest assured their children are in good hands

• Motivation on returning home to keep up the language they have learnt and achieve better grades – whether at school or applying for a British university.

UK Locations

The UK is a popular destination for a junior English holiday as it offers a fascinating variety of cultures, landscapes and traditions. With this in mind, Cactus offers a range of programmes in both England and Scotland to suit different tastes and budgets, for children aged 8 -18 years.


London Camps

• Camden

• Kingston

• Regents Park


Seaside Camps

• Brighton

• Southampton


University City Camps

• Cambridge

• Oxford


Real England Camps

• Cheltenham

• Nottingham


Scottish Camps:

• Edinburgh


Football Camps:

• Manchester

• Liverpool

Special English & Football Courses

Worth a special mention, Cactus’ English and Football courses in Manchester (15–18 years) and Liverpool (12-17 years) are a must for any sports-mad teen. An absolutely brilliant way for your child to combine his or her love of football with an English language holiday, these football summer camps offer young sports enthusiasts the chance to improve their English whilst receiving FA qualified football coaching in partnership with two of the country’s premier clubs – Manchester City or Liverpool FC. A sure-fire recipe for success both in the classroom and on the football field!

Safety & Welfare of Students

Most parents sending their children away will have understandable concerns about their safety and welfare. However all junior programmes are fully supervised to ensure not just the security of the youngsters but also their general wellbeing whilst they are away from home. All programmes offer excellent staff/student ratios, emergency contact numbers for students and parents, and on-site medical support. On top of this, supervisors and staff are friendly and approachable, with many years’ experience in dealing with younger students; they maintain a close eye on students at all times and provide support should a student be missing home or have any concerns. All of this ensures that students derive maximum benefit and enjoyment from their stay.

Support from Cactus

Having visited and vetted all the locations and schools that we work with, parents who are unsure where best to send their children can call to discuss their wishes with one of our multi-lingual advisors, and at the same time benefit from in-house academic support. Knowing that you can always call about any aspect of your child’s trip and speak to an experienced member of staff is a valuable benefit – especially when for many this might be their first time away from home alone.

Whichever junior language holiday you choose, you can be sure that your child will do much more than just sit in a classroom learning verbs. Every summer camp offers something different, but they all have these key benefits in common: they offer your child the unique chance to improve their English in a safe and friendly environment, try their hand at fun new skills, socialise with others of their age from all over the world and, most importantly, come back refreshed and confident in the language. A summer holiday well spent, for sure.

Please refer to our website for a full list of English junior holidays, prices and further information.

Cactus specialises in organising language courses for individuals and groups, having done so since 1999 for clients all over the globe and for diverse needs and budgets. Our expertise in the field of face-to-face tuition is second-to-none. With an extensive network of approved teachers and a strong in-house academic team, we are able to tailor a language course to suit your specific learning needs, anywhere in the world and whenever is convenient to you.

We offer language courses for Under 18s in many languages and locations across the world.

IELTS Courses in the UK

For any non-native speakers wanting to live, work or study in an English-speaking country, a qualification such as IELTS is almost indispensable. The world’s most favoured test of English proficiency, IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is recognised by universities and employers as well as professional, immigration and governmental bodies – putting you at a huge advantage whatever your objectives in your new host country.

With full awareness of the importance of IELTS, Cactus offers a vast range of IELTS exam preparation courses across the UK, to suit all needs, budgets and time allowances.

There’s no denying the allure of iconic, cosmopolitan London, boasting easy transport links and endless shops, nightlife and theatre right on the doorstep. Students coming here have the choice of 1, 2 or 4 week minimum courses in some of the capital’s best districts, including Soho, Islington and Wimbledon. Although the courses are academic, preparing students fully for their exam at the end, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the best of what London has to offer through the schools’ activity programmes and excursions in and around the capital.

Those wishing to experience another side of England have the choice of some fantastic cities in the North and South of the country. The prestigious cities of Oxford and Cambridge are ever popular, as is laid-back and trendy Brighton – while those willing to brave the more inclement weather of the north will be rewarded with cheaper prices, friendly locals and a great student atmosphere. Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield are all great alternatives to London, with courses available from just one or two week upwards.

Cactus goes beyond booking your course, however. Over the years we have built up a strong, in-house academic team, and as a student you can come to us for valuable academic support should you want to chat about your IELTS progress at any point.

You can also rely on us for fair, non-inflated prices and visa support for non-EU students.

There is no doubt that preparing for an IELTS exam will open the door to you in a number of ways – be it to further your studies, increase your job opportunities or simply master your written and spoken communication in English. With Cactus’ impressive range of locations and courses, and their own team of academics on hand to help and advise, taking the next step to English language fluency has never been so easy.

Quick Links to IELTS Courses in the UK:


Russell Square (4 week minimum course)

Euston (4 week minimum course)

Wimbledon(2 week minimum course)

Kings Cross (1 week minimum course)

Soho (1 week minimum course)

• Islington (part-time course)

Regional SOUTH Courses:

Bath (2 week minimum course)

Brighton (2 week minimum course)

Bristol (4 week minimum course)

Cambridge (4 week minimum course)

Cardiff (4 week minimum course)

Oxford (2 week minimum course)

Regional NORTH Courses:

Liverpool (1 week minimum course)

Manchester (1 week minimum course)

Nottingham (2 week minimum course)

Sheffield (2 week minimum course)

Cactus specialises in organising language courses for individuals and groups, having done so since 1999 for clients all over the globe and for diverse needs and budgets. Our expertise in the field of face-to-face tuition is second-to-none. With an extensive network of approved teachers and a strong in-house academic team, we are able to tailor a language course to suit your specific learning needs, anywhere in the world and whenever is convenient to you.

UK Events: Brighton Festival

The Brighton Festival is a 3-week arts festival held each year in May in and around Brighton.

This tourist Mecca of the south coast is inundated with day-trippers and weekend breakers for most of the summer, but if you can visit during the festival this is a great time to come. Busy? Yes…but worth battling the crowds? Definitely.

The festival is jam-packed with acts and performances from top international actors, dancers, singers, comedians, authors, journalists and musicians, which means that there is something to cater for all tastes and interests.

Brighton Festival’s Children’s Parade is a spectacular gathering of more than 4000 participants, which forms the opening event of the festival each year. There is usually a theme assigned to the parade, which this year will be the elements – earth, air, fire and water.

The Brighton Festival Fringe is a series of performances by newer or less established artists, or those whose type of act is not covered by the main festival. It’s a great place to discover new talent or to see a type of performance that you have not seen before. Most of the shows are less expensive than the main festival events too.

Tickets go quickly, so it’s worth booking sooner rather than later!

10 reasons to learn English in Dublin

Below are some of the top reasons to choose Dublin as your English study destination.

1. Friendly people and a unique culture

Irish people are famous the world over for their open and friendly nature, and Dublin is no exception. Local people will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and will love teaching you about their city, their customs and the culture that is so unique to the ‘Emerald Isle’. Integral to the traditional Irish way of life is family, religion and music and dance, and the same importance is still attached to these aspects of life today. Irish people tend to be very proud of their celtic roots, and the traditional music that is still played so widely around the country very much reflects this.

2. A fun-loving city with a lively atmosphere

Dublin is well known for its nightlife, in particular the area around Temple Bar, and outside of lessons you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practise your English in the city’s bars and restaurants and experience what the Irish call the ‘craic’ (fun). Going out in Dublin can be expensive, but the ‘inside’ knowledge you’ll gain from staff at the school or the host family you stay with will mean that you can avoid the tourist traps and head to the less expensive and more authentic places.

3. Standard English with a nice accent

A standard form of English is used in most of Ireland, although it is spoken with a soft accent that many people consider to be one of the nicest in the English-speaking world. The accent that you’ll hear in Dublin is easier to understand than some of the others in Ireland, and you’ll enjoy listening to it – if you’re lucky you might even pick it up!

4. Small enough to get around easily

For a capital city, Dublin is relatively small in size, which makes it really easy to get around. Much of the city centre can be explored on foot, and if you want to venture further out of the city into the suburbs or the surrounding towns and villages there’s a really good network of buses and trams to get you where you need to go. Dublin also now has its own bike-sharing scheme, whereby anyone over the age of 14 can pick up a rental bike from one of the 42 stations around the city – it’s a really quick and easy way to get around, and you can choose a long term hire card (10 euro) or a 3-day card (2 euro).

5. The same currency as many European countries

For European students who want to learn English, Dublin can be a great option in that the currency in Ireland is the Euro. Not only will you have to get used to using a foreign currency, it will also save you having to incur fees exchanging money before you go and during your stay.

6. Easy access to and from Europe, the Americas and the Middle East

Dublin has its own international airport just outside of the city where you can take flights to and from all kinds of cities in Europe, America, Canada and the Middle East. There are scores of airlines that operate from the airport, including low-cost carriers like Ryanair, Aer Arann and Germanwings, with whom you can get inexpensive flights if you book in advance.

7. Lots of events and attractions to enjoy image

Quite simply, you will never be short of things to do in Dublin. The city is home to an array of entertainment and sporting venues, including O2 and Grand Canal Theatre for gigs and concerts and Croke Park and Landsdown Road stadiums for domestic and international sports events. Dublin also hosts several festivals each year, including the fantastic St Patricks Day celebrations in March and many more cultural and literary festivals throughout the year. As the capital city of Ireland and the seat of Irish parliament there are plenty of grand buildings and monuments to enjoy, including Customs House and the old university buildings of Trinity College and University College Dublin. And of course, there’s the world-famous Guinness factory, a piece of history in its own right and one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions!

8. A long and interesting history to explore

Dublin has a really long history that dates back to the 10th century. Over the centuries the city changed hands several times, and saw some bloody battles – perhaps the most severe during the revolution of 1919-1921, which resulted in the establishment of the Irish Free State. There is a huge amount to learn about Dublin (and Ireland’s) history in the city, which you can get by visiting museums such as the National Museum of Ireland (Archeology, Decorative Arts and History and Natural History), the National Leprechaun Museum and the James Joyce Museum. James Joyce was by no means the only successful writer or poet to come out of Dublin – also counted amongst Dublin’s greats are Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, WB Yeats and Seamus Heaney.

9. Attractive surroundings and nice architecture image

Dublin enjoys a fantastic location at the head of a lovely bay and close to hills and mountains. There’s a range of sandy beaches where you can enjoy nice walks and picnics in the summer, and to the south of the city lie the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, which provide some great hiking opportunities and some lovely views of the city.

Within Dublin itself there are some lovely squares and parks, but one of the city’s finest features is its architecture. In addition to its splendid public buildings, Dublin has lots of 18th century architecture, including impressive Georgian mansions, many of them with historical association. It’s the southeast area of the city centre, around Baggot Street, Merrion Square and Fitzwiliam Square, where most of the original townhouses remain.

10. A great base from which to explore the rest of Irelandimage

As the principal city in Ireland, Dublin has by far the best transport links to other cities and areas of the country. Should you wish to take a day or weekend trip to Cork, Waterford, Galway or Limerick for example, you would be able to take a train or bus direct from Dublin and be there within a couple of hours at the most.

Cactus offers a range of English courses in Dublin, including General, Intensive, Individual and Combined English. Also available are Juniors English courses, Teacher Refresher courses and a range of Exam Preparation courses. For full listings of courses in Dublin and Ireland, please visit the Cactus Language website.

Is Vietnam the new Spain when it comes to TEFL?

It might finally be the case that fledgling Teflers are veering off the beaten track to Spain for a taste of English teaching further afield. Further east, to be precise.

In a survey by Cactus TEFL, about 45% of respondents about to embark on a TEFL course cited countries in Asia as their main region of interest.

Schools in Asia that have previously found it difficult to meet the demand for English with a steady supply of native-speaking, qualified teachers have been offering enticements for new teachers. Many now match the Jet scheme “standard” of providing flights, accommodation, and bonuses.

And the move seems to be paying off.

Private English teaching establishments in China, Vietnam and Thailand are expanding rapidly.

ILA Vietnam is currently on the lookout for some 150 qualified teachers of English. The company’s director, Tony Williams, estimates this figure will double within the year.

Williams says that new teachers now look beyond pay and conditions when making a decision about where to apply. “Newly-qualified teachers are armed with all the right questions these days,” he says. “Career pathways and evidence of solid academic management is as important as a decent rate of pay and working hours.”

In Thailand, another large school group, ECC, offers reimbursement of 50% of a teacher’s Celta course fees in return for a year’s teaching in one of their schools.

Other schools also offer to pay for the return flight home provided the teacher stays on for predetermined contract duration – typically one year.

The need to tie teachers in may raise an eyebrow amongst the more sceptical teachers and lead them to ask, “Why wouldn’t I want to stay a year anyway?” It may be that the requirement has something to do with contract conditions, course durations, and the regime in a school. But also, the wide cultural and climatic variance from life back home could lead would-be Teflers to consider Tefl in Asia as no more than a six-month job option.

The safest option when making a decision is to opt for a school that conducts its interviews in the United Kingdom, with a day’s proper orientation that includes presentations, interviews, a chance to chat to existing teachers, and plenty of opportunities to ask questions, without fear that this could scupper your chances of employment.

Cactus TEFL offer a wide range of TEFL courses at a variety of destinations around the world.

Top 10 things to do in Boston

Amongst the list of things that you should definitely do during your stay in Boston are:

1. Walk the Freedom Trail

Boston has huge significance in American history, and the Freedom Trail is a path that leads through downtown Boston and passes 16 of the city’s most significant historical sites. Included amongst them are the Old State House, from whose balcony the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in 1776, the Granary Burying Ground where many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots were laid to rest, and finally, the Bunker Hill Monument, a granite obelisk that was built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Walking the trail (2.5 miles in length) will give you a great insight into the history not only of Boston itself, but also into the foundation of the United States of America as it is today.

2. Visit Harvard and MIT

Boston is well-known worldwide for its academia, in particular for being home to the prestigious universities of Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Harvard is not only one of the world’s best universities, it’s also one of the oldest, and a trip out to Cambridge to see its 210-acre campus is well worth the effort. To walk takes over an hour, but the subway will get you there in 10 minutes, so unless you have very comfortable shoes, this is probably a better option!

Although a more modern establishment, MIT also has a fantastic reputation worldwide. MIT buildings are scattered along Massachusetts Avenue, which leads out to Harvard, so can easily be visited in the same trip.

3. Take in a baseball game at Fenway Park

Aside from Harvard and the Independence Movement, Boston is also famous internationally for its beloved Red Sox baseball team. The Red Sox are one of America’s best baseball teams, and one of which Bostonians are hugely proud. The atmosphere at any Red Sox game will be electric and will give you an insight into one of Boston’s true passions.

4. Take a stroll through Boston Common and Boston Public Garden


As the starting point for the Freedom Trail, you will be guaranteed a glimpse of Boston’s attractive Common, but just next door is the beautiful Public Garden, which is well worth a visit in its own right. Aside from the historic monuments and statues, and the botanical park, there is also the famous lagoon with its swan boats. Even if you don’t want a ride on them, just sitting by the side taking in the views will keep you entertained. The park is particularly nice in the autumn as the leaves turn a mix of vibrant red and orange.

5. Spend an evening in one of Boston’s Irish bars

Boston is home to a huge number of Irish people, and people with Irish heritage, and there remains today a massive amount of Irish bars in and around the city. An evening in an Irish bar might not teach you an awful lot about the history of immigration, but you’ll be assured a really fun evening and some good ‘craic’ as the Irish would say!

6. Enjoy some mouth-watering delights in Quincy Market


Any food-lover who visits Quincy Market in downtown Boston will quite simply be in heaven. In fact, you could easily turn up at midday and be wheeled out 4 hours later! The indoor market houses food stall after food stall, all serving up some delicious offerings – whether you want local fare like clam chowder or New England lobster, or more exotic delicacies like Japanese noodles, there’ll be something to tickle your taste-buds…

7. Visit the Boston Aquarium

Another of Boston’s top attractions, the Boston Aquarium is located on the city’s waterfront, and is credited with revolutionizing the modern aquarium experience for visitors through its emphasis on a more natural setting for aquatic life. Visitors can see sharks, turtles, stingrays, penguins and even a Giant Pacific Octopus.

8. Have a pizza at Figs Restaurant

Boston is brimming with quality places to eat, but one of the best has to be Figs restaurant on up-market Charles Street. The restaurant has a nice intimate feel, and the pizzas are fantastic. It’s probably worth sharing though, as the size of a standard pizza would beat even the mightiest of appetites!

9. Have a beer at the original Cheers bar


Although it’s been off our tv screens for a while now, the sitcom Cheers was a worldwide favourite for many, many years. Just to the side of Boston Common is the original bar that the Cheers bar was based on (the Bull and Finch pub), and above it, a reproduction of the Hollywood set where the series was filmed. The atmosphere and the food are good, and anyone who remembers the series will especially enjoy the experience.

10. Take a day trip to Salem

Whilst there’s plenty to keep you entertained in Boston itself, if you fancy getting out of the city for a day one good option is a trip out to the town of Salem. Only half an hour or so by train from Boston, Salem was one of the most significant seaports in early America, but is better known for being the location of the infamous Witch Trials of 1962. A lot of the attractions are seriously kitsch, but it’s nevertheless an interesting spot to visit.

Cactus offers a range of English courses in Boston at a variety of levels.

Cactus TEFL: Answering all your TEFL queries

The Cactus TEFL website contains lots of information about the different courses that are available, the different capacities in which you can teach EFL, and where in the world you can work. This information has been gathered from various sources over the years – from industry bodies, from partner schools and from teachers who have applied for a course through us and kept in touch after gaining a qualification.

All of the Cactus TEFL team have worked within the TEFL industry, and our former colleague Jenny Johnson – highly experienced and respected in the TEFL world – represented Cactus TEFL at regular TEFL Q&A sessions with The Guardian, which you can find links to below:

Live Q&A: A beginner’s guide to TEFL, Mar 23 2011

TEFL careers — A graduate guide, 21 July 2010

Teaching English Abroad, Oct 7 2009

We have chosen five of the most frequently asked questions to post below, but would encourage anyone with another TEFL-related question to leave us a comment below. One of our specialist advisers will get back to you with an answer or some advice.

1. What is the difference between TEFL, CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL?

TEFL is the name of the industry you would be working in – Teaching English as a Foreign Language. In order to gain access to this industry, there are two key qualifications which stand out as being quite special in their international recognition – the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) and the Trinity College CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Both the CELTA and CertTESOL courses are types of TEFL courses.

2. Will a 2-day/online TEFL course give me a certificate in teaching EFL?

Courses such as these do award a certificate of completion. However, it is important to recognise that it is not the TEFL qualification that a lot of employers will require. When prospective employers ask, ‘have you got a TEFL certificate?’ what they are usually referring to is the Trinity Certificate TESOL, the Cambridge CELTA or a certificate gained from doing a course of equivalent length and value as these two.

The short courses, however, are ideal if you want a basic introduction to TEFL. If you are looking to teach on an informal basis, or if the kind of teaching that you are planning to do is voluntary or temporary, these courses are perfect. They are particularly beneficial to anyone who is looking to do a few months travelling, and perhaps pick up some casual work along the way.

There are some schools that will employ teachers permanently who have done a short or online course, but in Europe they tend to be smaller, locally-run schools or schools that are in locations slightly off the beaten track. In countries like China where there is a huge demand for teachers, it’s more common to be able to find work with a shorter course behind you – it’s sometimes more important in Asian countries for teachers to have a university degree than a four-week TEFL course certificate.

3. What are the requirements to get on a CELTA/Trinity CertTESOL course?

For native speakers of English, ideally you need to have the qualifications which would allow you to access a degree course – i.e. A-Levels or an equivalent. Having said that, certain schools may require you to hold a degree, whilst others will consider your application if you just have relevant life experience.

If you are a non native speaker, you will also need to be able to demonstrate your ability to use English to a very high standard – ideally you will need to hold something like Cambridge Advanced English (CAE), Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or IELTS level 7. If you don’t have an external qualification, the school will be able to test the level of your English, often by providing you with an additional language task to complete.

You need to be at least 18 years old, though some schools prefer you to be at least 20. There is no upper age limit for these courses.

4. Which countries have the most TEFL jobs?

You could, visa permitting, arrive anywhere your heart desires and offer your services as a TEFL teacher. Whether or not people wanted, or needed to learn English though, is another matter! In general, Asia tends to be the region with the most demand for English teachers – particularly China, Thailand and Vietnam.  The Middle East is another region where there are lots of jobs to be found, and also European countries like Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal. Russia is also a plentiful source of work, as is Australia, although the regulations and qualifications required there can be stringent. South America is another area of the world where it is relatively easy to find TEFL work, with Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile seemingly top of the list for jobs. The hardest places to find paid EFL work tend to be Africa and North America, where unless you have a green card it’s almost impossible to get work. Opportunities in the UK mainly exist within summer schools – competition for year-round TEFL jobs can be very high, and opportunities for paid ESOL work are now also relatively few and far between.


5. What happens if I’m a mature applicant? Can I still do the course/get work?

The impression given by the industry websites and many forums which discuss TEFL issues is that TEFL is an industry designed for the younger generation. There will of course be specific situations where schools will prefer younger staff, for example during summer residential programmes where students tend to be in their teens. There are also certain countries where you are unfortunately quite likely to encounter discrimination on account of your age.

However, if you are flexible and open-minded, and you’re not intent on earning a fortune, then TEFL is arguably more suited to more mature teachers. As far as employers are concerned your wealth of experience will probably mean that you are more at ease with groups and individuals from diverse walks of life, and you will better relate to, for example, the life issues that students face.

Also, a more senior teacher may have the business experience and knowledge which comes in very handy for a school’s company clients, who will not take too kindly to a very young teacher without much life experience.

Which countries have the most TEFL jobs?

When it comes to TEFL, it is often assumed that you can teach anywhere in the world that you want, and to a certain extent this is true…

You could, visa permitting, arrive anywhere your heart desires and offer your services as a TEFL teacher. It pays to do a little research beforehand, however, to maximise your chances of finding work.


When it comes to finding paid work in private language schools there do seem to be certain countries where there is much more work on offer than others. Long-standing hotspots in Europe include Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal. The Eastern European countries of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary all offer ample opportunities for work too, as, more recently, do Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Russia is also a plentiful source of work for today’s TEFL teacher.


Competing with Europe for the title of most popular teaching destination is Asia. There are thousands of jobs here, especially in China, where it was estimated last year that around 80,000 more English teachers are needed! Taiwan, South Korea and Japan all offer teaching opportunities aplenty too, and it is often in these countries where you can stand to earn some of the highest wages in the industry.

The South East Asian countries of Thailand and Vietnam are becoming veritable magnets for TEFL teachers – with their low cost of living and exotic nature it’s no wonder really.

Middle East

The Middle East is another area of the world where English teachers are in high demand, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE it seems. It’s worth bearing in mind that requirements can sometimes be quite strict though, not only in terms of qualifications and experience but also in terms of gender.


Interestingly, Australia is a country that is always in need of teachers as well. The English-learning industry here is big business, and there is a wealth of private language schools English which need qualified teachers. They seem especially keen, apparently, to employ people working on working holiday visas.

South America

South America is another area of the world where it is relatively easy to find TEFL work, with Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Chile seemingly top of the list for jobs. This part of the world can be a good option for teachers who want to teach fairly short-term, or in a variety of countries, especially as a lot of the work is ‘casual’.


Africa as a continent offers fewer opportunities for paid work in language schools, as is probably to be expected. Exceptions to this are the Northern countries of Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Libya where you sometimes see jobs advertised. South Africa also has options for anyone able to get a visa.

North America

Notably missing from the run-down thus far are Canada and the US, where unless you are able to get a green card it is unfortunately almost impossible to get work.


A good number of Brits who train in TEFL actually want to stay and teach in the UK, and there are certainly opportunities to be had. Britain has thousands of language schools that need English teachers, although competition for these jobs can sometimes be high. As with anything though, a lot of how successful your job hunt is depends on how well you market yourself, and to a certain extent, being in the right place at the right time. Doing your TEFL training course in a school you’d be interested in working for, or securing work at one of the thousands of summer programmes held at schools across the country can both be good ways of getting your foot in the door.

Aside from working in a private language school, there is also the option for anyone hoping to make money from teaching English to register as a freelance trainer with language training agencies such as Cactus, to advertise locally and offer private English tuition, or to work within the lifelong learning sector.

Volunteering opportunities for teaching EFL are always abundant too, whether in the UK or abroad. To do this abroad you would need to search out a specific programme with a volunteering organisation (of which there are hundreds), but possibilities in the UK are easier to source and arrange. The majority of this will be teaching immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers as part of council or charity-led schemes.

More about TEFL courses worldwide