Cactus at the Language Show Live 2011

When: Friday 21st- Sunday 23rd October

Where: National Hall, Olympia (stand CZ17)

We are pleased to be attending the Language Show Live once again, and this year our theme will be: Teach with Cactus – Learn with Cactus. We’re really looking forward to talking to potential (and existing!) teachers and promoting our wide range of language courses both in the UK and abroad.

As usual, there will be some great offers for those who come and see us, including:

– downloadable Spanish courses for £15 (usually priced at £70)

– a 10% discount on our part-time language courses

– the chance to win a 2-week Spanish language course for you and a friend in Malaga!

Entry to the Language Show Live is free; all you need to do is register your attendance online.



This year Cactus has also been involved in the official show programme with some language taster sessions and three-hour language plus classes.

Language Taster Classes:

These FREE half hour beginners sessions in Czech, Greek and Turkish, taught by experienced Cactus teachers, enable people to try a language lesson before they commit to a longer course.

The taster classes are free to attend, but you need to book a space. Tickets will be issued on the day and on a first come first served basis, so we recommend that you get to the show early to avoid disappointment. Class tickets are available to collect from the ‘Taster Class Ticket Desk’.

The schedule for taster classes is as follows:

Fri 21st Oct Greek Beginners 13.30 – 14.00

Fri 21st Oct Czech Beginners 15.45 – 16.15

Sun 23rd Oct Turkish Beginners 12.00 – 12.30

Language Plus Classes:

Cactus is also running Beginners Intensive Language Plus classes in German and Japanese. The classes are 3 hours in length and are run by professional, experienced teachers in an informal setting.

The schedule for language plus classes is as follows:

Fri 21st Oct German Beginners 14.00 – 17.00 Classroom 2

Sun 23rd Oct German Beginners 10.15 – 13.15 Classroom 2

Sun 23rd Oct Japanese Beginners 13.45 – 16.45 Classroom 2

Advanced Booking Rate – £25 when booked between 3rd-20th October

** Get 30% off the price – which means you can learn a language for just £17.50 instead of £25 – by entering code EXHFRIEND14 when booking your class in advance online at

Standard Booking Rate – £30 when booked on site at the event

Classes are selling out quickly, so please book early to avoid disappointment!

For the full schedule of Intensive Classes please visit

Want to follow in the footsteps of Jonathan Dimbleby and explore South America?

His journey took him from south to north through the continent, and enabled him to visit Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. It was the presenter’s second documentary series about this little understood continent – the first was aired in 1978, when the majority of countries were very different to the way they are now.

The series showed some of the most interesting and beautiful parts of these countries and the fascinating way of life of their peoples, and will hopefully dispel some of the misgivings that people who have not yet visited South America may have about going there. The image of Colombia and Brazil especially has been tainted by a reputation for drugs-related crime and violence, but as anyone who watched the series can see, all of the countries featured are fantastic places with fascinating histories and cultures and most are now safe and welcoming for tourists.

Whilst Jonathan Dimbleby enlisted the help of translators, anyone who visits these countries with some knowledge of Spanish (and Portuguese for Brazil) will arguably be able to get an even better insight into the way of life and culture.  Cactus offers Spanish and Portuguese courses in all five countries that he visited, and taking a course there would enable you not only to improve your language skills, but also to meet local people and benefit from their knowledge about the surroundings and the people who live there.

All three episodes will be available to watch on Iplayer for another few days (from 3rd October 2011), and anyone who is interested in learning more about this fantastic part of the world should definitely search them out.

Currently, Cactus offers courses in Pichilemu, Pucon, Santiago and Valparaiso in Chile, in Sucre in Bolivia and in Merida in Venezuela.  Spanish courses are available in Bogota, Cartagena, Leticia and Medellin in Colombia, and Brazilian Portuguese courses are offered in Maceio, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia and Sao Paulo.

Will a rise in UK students going to university abroad help foreign language learning?

Whilst one of the main attractions for British students is that the lectures, seminars and administration can all be done in English, studying and living in a foreign country will surely call for some level of proficiency in the local language.

It has been widely documented that universities in Holland, such as Maastricht, are already seeing an increase in the number of British students, an article in the Guardian in March 2011 stated that the universities of Valencia and Milan are also seeing a rise in UK interest.

Although it’s a shame that for some British students, attending a university in the UK is no longer even an option, might the rising numbers of Brits in foreign universities help the current situation regarding foreign language learning in the UK?

Please leave us your comments below…

More on evening and part-time language courses in the UK

More on tailor-made and one-to-one foreign language tuition

More on foreign language courses abroad

Language World 2011 conference and exhibition:  7th-9th July 2011

The Language World 2011 conference and exhibition is a two-day celebration of language teaching and learning. There is a varied line up of speakers, ranging from key figures in language education to teachers who want to share their classroom experience.

There will also be a range of workshops to attend on subjects such as teacher collaboration across curriculum areas, sectors and schools; the international dimension; and the links between languages and sport in the run-up to London 2012.

For full details of the event and to book your place please visit the Association for Language Learning website.

Cactus attends ATB8 Modern Languages Teachers’ Conference in York

The conference is open to modern languages teachers from independent schools across the North of England, and includes both a range of seminars and an exhibition. Alex was there to talk about Cactus’ school group trips abroad and juniors language programmes, both of which are becoming increasingly popular amongst independent and grammar school pupils especially.

Alex commented:

“It was great to be able to attend the ATB8 conference at St Peters school. It was a successful event, with lots of interest in our school groups and juniors programmes, and it was fantastic to be around so many people with a passion for foreign languages. The school itself made a great venue, it’s one of the top schools in the North of England and actually one of the oldest too – there was a list of headmasters on the wall that dates back to the 8th century!’

Conference attendees this year included representatives from Manchester Grammar School, Bradford Grammar School and Pocklington Grammar School – in fact, it was a lucky teacher from this school, Nikki Whatford, who won our prize of a week-long Spanish language course and accommodation in Malaga. We hope that she enjoys her course!

Find out more on the ATB8 Conferences recognised as one of the ‘100 publications that most changed TEFL’ is a well-established and popular website geared towards EFL teachers. A recent article on the site lists the 100 publications that most changed TEFL – one of which is the Cactus TEFL site.

Cactus TEFL has been in existence for almost a decade now, and right from the start has offered a unique service to prospective and existing EFL teachers.

Our unbiased approach to advice and admissions, and our huge network of respected contacts within the TEFL industry helped us to produce a comprehensive, up to date and neutral website, which continues to attract a large number of visitors each week.

Whilst there are lots of TEFL related websites around today, when the site was first launched this was not the case and it was relatively hard for anyone interested in TEFL to find the information that they needed.

Our aim was always to provide visitors to the site with the facts to allow them to make an informed decision about whether TEFL is for them, and about the type of course that they should take. In addition, our course listings have provided practical help in comparing locations, start dates and prices. In this regard, our format was an early version of the price comparison sites that have become so popular today.

Over the years, thousands of would-be TEFLers have used the site as a resource to research TEFL and how to become qualified before making the decision to take a training course. Thousands more have gone a step further and used the site as a free admissions portal to apply for the TEFL course of their choice.

We’re delighted that the site has been recognised for its worth, and are happy that we have been able to help so many people begin their TEFL journey over the years.

For more information on TEFL courses, and details of TEFL opportunities around the world, please visit

Endangered languages: a glimmer of hope

Enduring Voices, run in conjunction with the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, aims to preserve endangered languages by identifying locations where languages are most at risk, and then documenting the languages and cultures within them. These locations comprise those that harbour the planet’s most unique, lesser understood and most threatened languages.

The sad and shocking reality is that, if current trends continue, more than half of the world’s 7,000 languages will die out by the year 2100. That’s one language every fortnight. And with every language that disappears, so too does the culture and history intrinsically linked to each one. Stories, songs, traditions and knowledge passed down from generations will be lost, as will local knowledge about the land, traditional remedies and privileged knowledge about the natural world. To make matters worse, some of these language have not yet even been recorded, and some exist only in verbal form, rather than written – making them even harder to preserve.

Why are all these languages in danger of disappearing entirely?

As has been happening throughout history, some languages will naturally be more dominant or hold more prestige than others, and it is these languages that will tend to be spoken to the detriment of smaller, less important languages. Official language policies may also encourage people to speak a common language, sometimes in preference to their local, native tongue which is then deemed to be less useful. On the same note, government policies that force tribes to leave traditional ways of life, by destroying their natural habitat for economic gain, for example, directly contribute to the loss of indigenous languages as well as to local knowledge and customs.

And the more a dominant language spreads, the more importance it gains, and the more people want to learn it – sometimes resulting in parents not passing down the language of their ancestors to their children, in favour of the language that they think will help them progress further in the world and gain future employment.

So, although this is a naturally occurring phenomenon in human history, the rate at which languages are disappearing has accelerated over recent years and this is why the National Geographic’s Enduring Voices project could not come at a more pertinent time.

Fascinating language facts:

• More than 500 languages (more than 5% of the world’s total) are spoken in Nigeria alone. Some of these languages may only be spoken by a handful of people, many of these elderly.

• 80% of Africa’s 2,000 languages have no written form

• The Tofa language of Central Siberia is spoken by less than 30 people now, all of them elderly, and is likely to become the next victim of Russian-only government policies that force speakers of minority languages to use the national language

• Small populations of speakers such as those in Eastern India and Malaysia have potential to be wiped up by a single catastrophic natural disaster such as the 2004 tsunami

• Some languages such as Yami, on the tiny Irala Island south of Taiwan, are intrinsically linked to the local way of life; here on Irala, Yami contains the names for over 450 species of fish, which is the major food source – and of which, according to local culture, pregnant women are only permitted to eat 4!

• Oklahoma is home to the highest density of indigenous languages in the US

• The Andes mountains in South America, including part of the Amazon Basin, contains some of the most endangered languages, as Spanish, Portuguese and the most dominant indigenous languages replace minority ones

Read the article in full on the National Geographic website

Speaking a second language said to slow the brain’s decline with age

Mentioned in the article is a recent study that was presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington. It found that bilingual patients with probable Alzheimer’s were more likely have delayed symptoms compared to monolingual patients. In fact, the effect of speaking a second language produced a stronger effect on delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s than any drug currently used to control the disease.

It is largely believed that the same applies to anyone who speaks a second language, even if it that language is learnt later in life and not spoken to quite the same proficiency.

There are lots of great reasons to learn a new language, but this has to be one of the most compelling reasons to work on your foreign language skills.

Read the full Independent article

Read more about Cactus’ range of evening courses in the UK and North America, language courses abroad and tailor-made language training.

February 21st 2011 – International Mother Language Day

The aim of the day is to “promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by the peoples of the world” – in other words, to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. It is widely-held view that developing a better awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world will help achieve solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and communication.

The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were killed by police in Dhaka, now the capital of Bangladesh.

A day-long programme of events will take place at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, including talks on bilingual education and new technologies and measuring linguistic diversity on the internet. The day is an ideal opportunity for all types of people and institutes to embrace multiculturalism and multilingualism though…

Please let us know if you have any plans to celebrate International Mother Language Day!

Read more on International Mother Language Day

Cactus gains recognition as an ICEF-screened education agency

ICEF (International Consultants for Education and Fairs) is a well-established organisation that offers a range of solutions designed to help clients with their marketing and student recruitment initiatives. They are particularly well-known for their workshops, which are held all over the world and are widely regarded as the industry’s premier educator/agent networking events. Through the ICEF workshops, we can keep up to date with new schools and products in the industry, and spend time nurturing relationships with our existing partners – something that we attach a lot of importance to at Cactus.

ICEF’s industry-leading quality assurance processes are becoming increasingly recognised as an important qualification for active student recruitment agencies, which is great news for us.

Our recognition as an ICEF Agency is extended for a two-year period and can be renewed through ongoing participation in ICEF Workshops, and related quality assurance screening in subsequent years.

Please visit the Cactus Language website for full details of language courses and holidays that we offer around the world.