teacher training language courses

Teacher Training Courses: European Languages

Cactus offers Teacher Training Courses in London for fluent speakers of French, Spanish & Italian, and Teacher Refresher Courses abroad for non-native teachers

Teacher Training Courses in London

As the population of countries within Europe and around the world continues to diversify, and as globalisation makes it normal for us to mix with people of all languages and cultures (in schools, universities and the workplace), the demand for foreign language teachers is at an all-time high. People want to learn languages and we need qualified teachers to teach them.

In response to this demand, Cactus now offers teacher training courses for fluent speakers of French, Spanish and Italian who want to teach the language as a second language to adults. No prior teaching experience is required; the only stipulation is native or near-native speaker level in the language.  These courses are a great way to turn your language skills into a career in teaching whilst filling a widening hole in the market.

Teacher Training Courses – Advantages

  • Following a similar format to the CELTA course for English, these courses will prepare you for teaching your chosen language at different levels
  • You will observe qualified language teachers, learn how to plan a lesson and manage a class, and attend feedback and discussion sessions to help you progress
  • The combination of practical classroom experience combined with teaching methodology will give you valuable skills and confidence
  • You will meet like-minded people with similar goals
  • You can take a full-time course (4 weeks) or a part-time course (12 weeks)
  • Courses take place in London’s popular Covent Garden
  • You should find it easy to obtain paid work upon completion of your course (depending on location)

For a complete list of teacher training courses in French, Spanish and Italian, including prices and start dates, please visit the Cactus TEFL website page.

Teacher Refresher Courses Abroad

montpellier_squareIn addition to our Teacher Training Courses, Cactus also offers Teacher Training Refresher Courses for non-native teachers of French, Spanish and German.

These courses take place in France, Spain and Germany, and provide a unique immersive environment where foreign language teachers can advance their teaching skills, learn the latest approaches and network with other MFL teachers. They are a valuable way for teachers to develop professionally and remain at the forefront of their profession.

Teacher Refresher Courses – Advantages:

  • Develop your language teaching skills
  • Learn the latest techniques
  • Immerse yourself in the language and culture at the same time
  • Great environment in which to brainstorm ideas, create activities and discuss challenges specific to teaching languages in the UK education system
  • Opportunity to suggest language-related themes to include in course content
  • Leave feeling inspired and informed, and ready to share everything you have learned on your return to the classroom.

Please visit the Cactus Language website for full details of our teacher training refresher courses in Europe.

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.


Language training via Skype

For those wishing to learn a language the most flexible and economic way possible, language training via Skype is the ideal option.

At Cactus Language Training, Skype is fast becoming a popular and effective means of delivering language tuition to corporate and private clients who require results fast. Doing away with the need for a classroom, Skype, or video conference, requires no more than a computer, web cam and good internet connection – and for this reason it allows lessons in almost any language to be delivered to any location worldwide, any day of the week and any time of day, with no price variation.

Prospective students may be forgiven for thinking that they are missing out by choosing a computer-based course over a traditional classroom setting, but to the contrary. The feeling of learning via Skype is almost identical to being in the same room as the trainer. Your trainer is right in front of you, virtually, and the picture and sound quality is usually excellent; the optional use of headphones and a microphone makes listening and speaking even clearer.

As for course content, remote learning brings with it distinct advantages. For a start, your trainer can be based anywhere at all, meaning that Cactus can choose from its vast network of trainers to find the very best person for the job, given your specific interests and requirements. This facilitates the provision of very specialised business or academic-specific language by native language experts located anywhere in the world. Furthermore, since there is no need for the trainer to travel to the student’s home or office, there are no additional costs such as trainer travel expenses, and the minimum lesson duration is 60 minutes as opposed to the customary 90 minutes for face-to-face training.

Once you’re up and running, both you and your teacher will work from the same course book and learning materials, which ensures access to the same texts, documents, exercises, grammar and vocabulary. In addition, Skype’s chat box or messaging facility allows your teacher to write corrections or suggestions during the lesson, without interrupting you as you speak. Your conversation in the chat box is then available at the end of the lesson for you to copy and paste into your own personal documents for subsequent self study – and, crucially, all these notes are specifically geared to you and no-one else.

If you would like to trial this smart new approach to language training and find out whether it’s for you, simply contact Cactus and request a ‘taster lesson’ at the standard hourly rate with no further commitment.

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. 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.

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.

How to Choose Your Study Abroad Program

When choosing to study abroad there are many things that go through your head – is it worth it? Will I really learn the language? Can I get enough course credit? All these questions and anxieties are completely normal and ultimately important to your decision making.

The first thing you should do if you are looking to study abroad outside of your home University program is to meet with your school advisor about what you want to do and what you want to achieve. The most important part of your education abroad is that you are rewarded not only in the experience but for the work you did while you were there.

Every University has a different list of criteria for issuing US credit for the courses you take abroad, so before booking a course you should always consult with your advisor on how many hours you’ll need to complete and what type of courses you’ll need to take to not only get the experience you want but the course credit you need.

By confirming the amount of hours you need to complete and having a detailed list of the documents you need from the institution aboard to submit to your home University, you will be well on your way to making your study abroad experience happen. Having this information at the beginning of your search will help you determine which program in which location is the best for you and allow you to make the best decision more efficiently.

Once you have that information, it comes down to how much time you can commit to studying abroad and how many credits you ultimately want to receive. Do you have a week, a summer, or a whole semester? Do you need 12 credits or just 3? Here’s a breakdown of types of study abroad programs and what will work best according to your goals:

Winter and Spring Break

If you want to make the most of the few weeks you have off for winter or spring break there are plenty of options around the globe. The best option for this short period of time would be an Intensive Language Course or a Combined Language Course. These courses are 30 lessons (25-30 hours) per week and focus on advancing your language skills as quickly as possible in the short amount of time that you are there. The standard rule is that 45 contact hours equals 3 credits, so take 2 weeks of the Intensive or Combined course and there’s a solid chance your University will issue you the credits for your time abroad


Doing a study abroad program in the summer is a great way to make sure you take enough hours of a course to gain the credit you need while still allowing you a varied amount of programs to choose from. You can take a Spanish and Mayan History Course in Merida, a Language and Culture course in Paris or Aix, a German and Music course in Vienna, or a Japanese and Traditional Culture course in Fukuoka, Japan. These courses will not only advance your language skills in a short time period but give you extra elements to the course to provide your home university with good reason for issuing you more course credits.


If you’re going abroad for an entire semester, it’s most important that you focus on a program that offers you variety to allow you to get the most credits for your time abroad. The reality is that if you’re looking for a whole semester of credit, taking just a language course won’t be enough. Focus on the programs that offer language courses as well as cultural courses so you can get a well rounded academic semester. A good example of this is the semester program in Malaga, which offers a Spanish course as well as courses on Spanish history, literature, economy, and media. Taking this type of program will not only make your time more enjoyable, but will make it much easier to transfer credit upon your return when you are able to present varied course syllabi and assignments for approval.

Ultimately, the options are endless, but the more organized you are about your goals with study abroad, the more likely you are to gain the credit you need and make the most out of the experience.

Still need advice? Feel free to contact us for information on possibilities and programs.

Get the year off to a cracking start with an evening language course in North America

* New courses start January 10th onwards in locations across the US & Canada *

1. Cactus is welcoming in 2012 with courses in 16 languages and 6 locations across the US and Canada, so there really is something for everyone! Choose from Boston, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Toronto or Vancouver.

2. Learning a language is an excellent resolution as it will give you a skill that will last way longer than the average resolution – and one that will come in handy on vacation later in the year!

3. If you’ve had a hectic festive season, then it’s proven that giving your brain a workout is the perfect way to de-stress. Learning a language stimulates your mind, stretches your imagination and, ultimately, helps your brain to relax…in fact it can be as effective at reducing stress as opening a bottle of wine.

4. If you’ve decided to de-tox in January then going to an evening language class – and doing home study during the week, if you’re diligent – will take your mind off going out. It will also save you from spending money!

5. We have improved our levels structure so you can be sure of a consistent teaching framework that falls in line with other internationally-recognized language level systems. So what you learn on our courses will be more easily recognized outside of Cactus.

6. When times are tight employers will be looking for that little extra in job applicants. Knowledge of a foreign language is an asset in itself, but it also shows initiative and an appreciation of other cultures, which is valuable in today’s global society.

7. Learning a language enhances your ability to learn in other ways too. If you need a kick-start after the Christmas break, learning a language will encourage cognitive development in areas such as mental flexibility, creativity, problem-solving and reasoning.

8. There are some excellent foreign language movies coming out in 2012, and there’s no better way to appreciate them than with an understanding of the language and culture. Here are 10 foreign language movies to rent on DVD in 2012.

9. With a reduced number of children learning a language at school in 2011, let’s lead by example and show that learning a language is a passport to other cultures and a huge asset when you travel.

10. Let’s face it, January can be a bit depressing sometimes. The excitement of Christmas is over, yet the days are still short and the weather can be miserable. If there was ever a time to take an evening course it’s now. Having a goal such as learning a language will make the weeks pass quickly and make you feel that you’re using the dark evenings productively!

Cactus runs evening and part-time language courses in centers across the US and Canada. Courses run on regular start dates throughout the year, starting in January.

What will I achieve in a 1-week course?

Attending 4 hours of classes every day for a week is great for anyone who needs to learn the basics of a foreign language very intensively. It is also ideal for anyone who needs a refresher course in a foreign language that they have previously learnt, as the courses are available in a range of levels, not just beginner.

Currently, Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish are all available in this format.

These courses are not intended to provide in-depth coverage of complicated grammar and vocabulary; they are designed to simply cover all the basics that you need in order to get by. They aim to fulfill the same kind of purpose as CD–based or online holiday preparation type-courses, but being face-to-face are much more beneficial and enjoyable.

One of the main attractions of the week-long courses is that students benefit from a face-to-face tutor who they can go to with any specific questions or queries, rather than being left to their own devices. Students also get to meet new, like-minded people. Class sizes are small, which ensures that your tutor always has enough time to dedicate to you and your learning, and tutors are all qualified, and either native speakers, or native-speaker level. An intensive course offers similar benefits to a full immersion course and you will see results fast.

Classes are intended to be fun, interactive and stimulating to ensure the maximum possible gain in terms of language acquisition.

What’s good about a one-week intensive course? A Cactus Spanish teacher tells us:

La verdad es que fue una pasada. Los alumnos increíbles, muy activos y con muchas ganas, yo pensé que el jueves y el viernes estarían demasiado casados, pero para nada. Al ser pocos pudimos practicar mucha lectura y conversación para pronunciación y la verdad es que verlos el lunes al empezar a verlos el viernes, había una diferencia abismal. No pensé que en una semana pudieran avanzar tanto. Todo perfecto y creo que los alumnos muy contentos también o por lo menos eso me dijeron a mí.”

English translation:

It was great! Incredible, really active, keen students. I thought that on Thursday and Friday they would be really tired, but no way. As it was a small group we were able to do a lot of speaking, reading and pronunciation practice. Amazing to see the change in the students between Monday and Friday. I never thought they would advance so much. Everything was perfect and I think the students were really happy – at least that’s what they told me.”

And comments from his students back this up:

“I have been doing weekly Spanish evening classes (with another tuition provider) since October which are good but I hear very little Spanish spoken. This intensive course at Cactus has increased my confidence enormously both in speaking and in listening/comprehension (though I still have a long way to go as Spanish is spoken so quickly!).”

“Good mix of listening, translation, grammar, pronunciation.”

“Manuel is an excellent teacher. I would certainly want to do more courses at Cactus if the teaching is as good.”

“Manuel is very professional and has a very nice manner.”

“Writing doesn’t feature very strongly but I don’t mind. I can practise written exercises on my own.”

“Great opportunities to hear Spanish spoken on tape and by the teacher.”

“Lots of opportunities to listen to spoken Spanish – on tape or from the teacher – which is EXACTLY what I want!”

For full listings of our week-long courses, information on how to book and to test your level, please visit the Language Courses UK website.

Learning Spanish in Brighton & Seville: Cactus staff review

I began learning Spanish when I started working at Cactus in January. Having been to Spain on family holidays and travelled around South America, it felt like the obvious language to learn, as it would be the most beneficial for me and my interest in travelling.

It became apparent how little Spanish I knew on a holiday in Croatia with friends last year. We shared a minibus across the island of Hvar with five Spanish lads, so attempted to communicate with our new ‘amigos’. They felt they needed to apologise for their poor English, which we assured them was very good. As part of our language exchange, we tried to demonstrate our best Spanish. This was embarrassingly limited to cerveza, vino and basic words such as agua and sol. A language course was definitely necessary.

In the first lesson of my Level 1 (beginners) 10-week Spanish course in Brighton, our teacher Carola asked us to write down all the Spanish words that we knew. Between the eight students in the class, our list was quite sparse. Very enthusiastically and interactively, Carola patiently ensured this would change. The two hours flew by and the sense of achievement from what we had learnt by the end of the lesson was incredible. This was the pivotal moment; and 10 months later, now at the end of the Level 3 course, I’m still excited to be learning and improving my knowledge of the language all the time.

As I work with colleagues of various nationalities who can all speak impeccable English, they, along with Carola and my current Spanish teacher Raul, all emphasised how immersing myself in the language and culture was crucial to develop my understanding. I therefore chose to take a 1-week Spanish course in Seville, a city I had never visited but about which I had heard so many wonderful things.

It was immediately apparent when I landed at Seville airport that I would be using the vocabulary I had learnt from the very start. First of all I had to buy a ticket on the bus, and half an hour later I was asking for directions from locals that could not speak English. Here was my big test. Much to my surprise, the lady I asked understood what I was asking and walked down the street with me to my destination, speaking in Spanish along the way. My question made her believe I understood more than I actually did. The fact that I also got the gist of what she was saying gave me a huge boost of confidence.

When I arrived at the school, it became apparent that the staff would speak in Spanish as much as possible to give students total language immersion. If they were not understood they tried to explain with actions, drawings, noises and other words, only using English as a last resort. This is a very effective method and I started to recognise words I was hearing in the classroom, street, restaurants and shops. We were also taught about Andalucía’s cultural heritage, along with the history and importance of areas and buildings around the city. The school provided daily activities including visiting cultural spots in the province, playing sport and watching Spanish films.

Seville is a fantastic location to take a course, providing a linguistic challenge as the locals do not respond in English or Spanglish, as can happen in other towns and cities. It is also a beautiful, old city with lots to see; perfect for language students. I certainly feel more confident with speaking and comprehension and have improved a huge amount since beginning my Level 1 course in January. I am now eagerly looking forward to starting the next level, planning more trips to Spain and eventually mastering the language.

Cactus offers language courses in more than 30 languages, in 60 countries and 500 destinations worldwide. We also run our own language courses in the UK and in the US/Canada, which are the ideal way to learn the basics or brush up on previous language knowledge in advance of a holiday or business trip abroad.

Learning Italian in Brighton & Venice: Cactus staff review

I have always wanted to learn Italian. A few people around me asked me why I wanted to learn a language which is only spoken in one country. For me, languages should be learnt because you are in love with them. Italian represents a different world of ideas embodied by Pirandello, Dante, Machievelli and Umberto Ecco but also Dylan Dog. It will sound like a cliché but I thoroughly enjoy Italian food too.

I have found that doing an evening language course it is the most cost-effective method to learn Italian in Brighton. I could have gone for private tuition but I also wanted to enjoy the social aspect. A language course is a fantastic way to meet like-minded people who are passionate about traveling and languages. I must admit that I have not been disappointed. All the students in my class are really nice and friendly. They are all fantastic learners too. After ten lessons, we are able to communicate formally and informally to people and are able to interact in Italian for most of everyday life situations such as ordering food in a restaurant, finding our way, writing an email or speaking on the phone. I am now able in my job at Cactus to talk in Italian to my Italian teachers and even to write emails in the language of Dante.

My teacher Roberta Bonfa’ has been truly amazing. Roberta is very dedicated and energetic. The classes were always fun and informative. She has always been incredibly supportive and has given me and all the students the opportunity to send her emails in Italian. She has met the requirements of the course curriculum but as my group progressed pretty quickly, Robert asked us what we wanted to learn. For instance, we have studied the lyrics of a famous song called ‘Caruso’ as a girl from my group liked this song.

I enjoyed my Italian course so much that I have decided to further my Italian skills by taking an Italian language holiday in Venice with Cactus. The accommodation facilities are in an old cloister on an island just opposite the main island. I can’t wait to be there!

I chose Venice because I have always dreamt to visit ‘la Serenissima’. Venice is a literary dream that I am looking forward to exploring and cannot wait to share ‘le mie photographie’. A presto!

Congratulations to our evening language course winner! April-July 2011

At Cactus we have come to the end of another term of evening courses, and are delighted to have chosen the winner of our feedback questionnaire prize. This is awarded to the person who we feel has given us the most useful and structured feedback, upon completion of their course, and the prize is a refund of their course fees.

In this case our winner, Geri Tuneva, will be taking a continuation course with Cactus, and so rather than receive a refund she has opted to receive a complimentary subsequent course from Cactus.

Geri took a Level 1 10-week evening course in Spanish at our centre in Kings Cross, London, with teacher Aurea Ruiz Marcos. All in all she found her course to be excellent and scored an outstanding 5/5 for each category. We haven’t picked Geri simply because she enjoyed her course, however; Geri gave useful feedback and suggestions that our team has taken on board, especially relating to our course materials and Facebook profile. Thank you Geri and we hope you enjoy your next course!

Language learning resources you find useful: “The podcasts you provided were really useful as it gave us some more to the classes than we could get in the 2 hours we had per lesson. Also, it gave us a chance to practice and think about pronounciation”.

Course: (5/5) ”The course was excellent and I really enjoyed each lesson. The classmates were really fun which lead to a great learning environment.

Content comments
: (5/5) “The content was generally great, there were some lessons that were much harder than others, it would be great to challenge us in each lesson. However overall it was all great and is a good beginners course as it covers basic things you need to get by when speaking with in Spanish”.

Teacher comments: (5/5) “Auri was amazing, really lovely and she made an effort to make us use more than 1 sense in order to learn more quickly – one of the exercises was to have us blindfolded and for us to be guided around an obstacle course. What a great idea, really fun and we definitely learned how to give directions in Spanish!!

Materials comments: (5/5) “The coursebook was really good, simple and understandable.”

School comments: (5/5) “So far you guys have answered all my emails promptly, even when I didn’t expect it, and this effort on your part really shows. Well done!

Language Minis comments: (5/5) “These did not follow the course structure exactly, but this was good as we learned some new things from the podcasts we didn’t get a chance to cover in class”.

Value for money comments: (5/5) “For the price I think this is a great course, and the great thing is that the textbook is included in the price. This is a big selling point of yours and you should promote it as much as you can”.

I really enjoyed…The whole course – Auri was fantastic, my classmates were great and the Kings Cross facilities were generally great too (apart from the toilets which were consistently out of toilet paper and soap). I really liked the structure of how were sitting – in a circle, as it felt like we could all contribute to the class openly”.

I didn’t like…The fact that the course books were so late, but I understand this was not your fault. The electric blackboard was giving us many problems as it was hard to use (especially if you are not very tall!). Other than that everything was pretty spot on!

I would have liked…The listening exercises were really good as it gave us a chance to hear how fast Spanish people speak, making it a bit harder than in class (but more realistic). We could have had a few more listening exercises, as I think this is really useful. In class we speak slowly and we all know the material we have covered – the listening exercises move us out of our comfort zone a bit more”.

Have you made any progress?Yes. I was a complete beginner before I started, I had never had a Spanish lesson in my life. Now I can talk about myself and my family and friends, give directions, talk about my likes and dislikes, etc. (all in present tense of course!!) 🙂 It feels great to get so far in 10 weeks of classes, and I feel very prepared for my trip to Spain this summer!

Would you recommend Cactus to others?I have already been recommending you guys to all my friends, and I know that at least 2 people will be booking their next language course with you.”

Why did you choose this course / Cactus?You guys have a very professional website which is very reassuring. You are such a big company but you are very responsive and it feels like you are a small company – which is great as you have a big reputation that you are clearly upholding. You should promote the fact that you are in so many countries and have such a great reputation a bit more – as this is one of the most reassuring things for people looking to start a new language.”

Any other comments
: “It would be great if you guys had a forum or better yet a Facebook group for each language where people could join and practice the language as well as meet others with the same interests. I would like to meet other students on higher Spanish courses, not just beginners, as this is great for practicing but also for keeping in touch with people you’ve met along the way. We created our own Facebook group for our class where we post things in Spanish that we find and think are useful – this is really good as it engages you with Cactus and with your classmates even outside of class. This would be great for your branding and web presence”.

Cactus runs evening and part-time language courses in 41 locations and 24 languages across the UK. Courses are available at all levels, from beginners to advanced, and start on regular start dates throughout the year.

Making the most of your gap year: volunteering, work experience, TEFL and language courses

Whether you’re looking to fill a week, a month or a year before university or full-time work, there are plenty of ways for you to spend your time usefully and enjoyably whilst impressing your future employers…

With the academic year coming to a close, now is the time when many young people’s thoughts turn to what to do next. Many graduating from school or university will inevitably be moving onto university or a graduate job. Whether you have a few months or a full year ahead of you before the next chapter, however, there are still plenty of ways for you to spend your time usefully and enjoyably – all whilst satisfying future employers that you have not simply squandered time and money sunning yourself on a tropical beach.

That’s not to say that you have to rule out beach time though. To the contrary, there are some excellent gap experiences to be had on some of the world’s most coveted stretches of coastline: what line of interviewers wouldn’t be impressed with a Spanish-speaking volunteer placement at a turtle hatchery in Costa Rica, a TEFL course in Phuket or professional work experience within a Spanish company in Valencia? As long as you can prove you have learnt and ‘gained’ something – be that a language, a qualification or a skill – it will show that you have used your initiative and spent your time wisely. And no need to mention the spare time you had to relax on the beach outside all of this.

Volunteer Placements


There are even places where you can combine more than one activity. In La Ceiba, Honduras, for example, you can take a Spanish & Volunteer programme which combines learning Spanish with a two-month placement in special education for children with learning difficulties, with the Red Cross or teaching English, to name but a few examples. La Ceiba is also known for being one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to dive, so volunteers can easily gain their PADI certificate in the warm Caribbean waters during their time here. A few new skills up your sleeve and time well spent, most would agree.

Language and volunteer packages run from 12-20 weeks and are available in countries across Latin America, in a range of different fields including social work, education, healthcare and ecology.

All Language & Volunteer placements >

Work Experience


For a more professional working environment, our work experience language courses are ideal for few months’ stint before or after university. Ranging from 8-16 weeks in duration, they give you the unique opportunity to learn a language and then put your skills to good use on a professional work placement in locations as far ranging as China, Chile and Russia. Available in local companies specialising in fields ranging from design, fashion and marketing to IT and ecology, you are likely to find a placement that will coincide with and give you extra confidence in your future work plans. British citizens taking a work experience course within the Europe Union can also take advantage of being able to work freely should they wish to stay on.

All Language & Work Experience placements >



TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses are available the world over, from exotic beach destinations to some of the world’s most exciting cities. These are seen as a great way to get paid to see the world, bestowing you the valuable skill of public speaking in addition to a deeper knowledge of the English language and rewarding contact with the locals that you would not otherwise experience. In select destinations you can even add a language course and a week’s chill-out to your CELTA package, such as in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Mexico’s Playa del Carmen – the language element making a real difference to your experience and subsequent teaching job in your host country. The only thing is, you might not want to come back…

All TEFL courses >

Language / Language & Activity Courses


Of course the mere act of taking a language course is sufficient to gain a new skill – regardless of whether you combine it with a volunteer or work placement. Some gap year students choose to take a long-term language course to ensure they achieve a decent level in the language during their time away; you can either choose from one of hundreds of language courses or, at the upper end, enroll on an Academic Year course which particularly suits those with long-term aims in the language.


Other students opt for a Language & Activity course, a popular choice which combines learning a language with a fun local activity such as diving, surfing, dancing, music, cooking, wine tasting, painting or photography. A great way to share your passion with others from across the globe and come back having learnt a lot more than just the language, an activity course can fill just one or several weeks, acting as a ideal stepping stone before you settle down to full-time work or studies.

All Language & Activity courses >