Where is the best place to take TEFL?

The world is your oyster when it comes to training and teaching English, but where is the best place to take TEFL?

With ELT (English Language Teaching) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses available in locations ranging from London and New York to Buenos Aires and Shanghai, your teaching qualification really is your passport to a new life elsewhere, if that’s what you wish. The question is, where?

If you don’t already have a strong preference for a particular country, location or course, a good starting point is to think about where you eventually intend to teach. There are various advantages to taking your ELT course in the same place you hope to teach, as follows:

  • You will be perfectly placed to start looking for a job before you have finished your course, with good access to local job vacancies
  • Schools prefer to see teachers face-to-face, so you will be able to visit and attend interviews in person
  • Some training centres guarantee you a job if you pass your ELT course with them
  • It makes sense logistically and financially
  • You will meet people on your course who also planning on staying in the city/area, meaning that you have a ready-made network of people; this is particularly helpful if you are venturing on your own

If you speak a foreign language, you might naturally gravitate towards a location where that language is spoken; this will enable you to keep up the language and it will prove incredibly useful when it comes to settling in to a new place.

Whatever stage you’re at, visit Cactus TEFL or call 0845 130 4775 for advice about any aspect of ELT courses or jobs.

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

What is the difference between CELTA and TESOL?

The Cambridge CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL are the two key qualifications recognised by the British Council and reputable English language schools worldwide.

They are the most prestigious English language teaching qualifications you can obtain, and will enable you to teach English almost anywhere in the world you choose.

In reality, there is little to differentiate the CELTA from the CertTESOL. Both courses can be done over 4 or 5 weeks full-time, or 12-20 weeks part-time, and the overall aim is for you to become a confident, competent teacher of English.

Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Min 120 hours over min 4 weeks Min 130 hours over min 4 weeks
Min 6 hours’ teaching practice Min 6 hours’ teaching practice
Accredited by the Cambridge University examining board Accredited by Trinity College London
Includes a component that teaches you a new language

Teaching practice is a very important component, as this takes place in front of your peers and/or real students, and gives you a real feel for what it’s like to stand up at the front of a classroom and deliver a class.  Whilst 6 hours is little time to actually spend teaching, the preparation involved in planning the lessons, as well as time spent watching your peers in action, ensures that you firmly grasp the process of lesson planning and gain the confidence and ability to teach in real life.

Your CELTA or CertTESOL will also work on your language (grammar) awareness. If you would like to brush up your English grammar and gain confidence in the language you are teaching, the Cactus online English Language Awareness has been specifically created to prepare teachers with the grammar they need to teach English. Normal price £95 / reduced price £50 when you book your 4-week course with Cactus TEFL.

Unless you are already set on a particular course, your decision as to CELTA versus TESOL may well boil down to factors such as location and price. For advice on these and other English Language Teaching qualifications, visit Cactus TEFL or call 0845 130 4775 to discuss the options available to you.

Cactus TEFL is an admissions and advice service for quality teacher training courses worldwide. We work with the majority of well-known course providers to offer CELTA, Trinity CertTESOL, equivalent and online courses in over 90 locations across 36 countries. You will receive free, impartial advice every step of the way, and you can trust us to help you choose the right English language teaching course for you.

Cactus Worldwide Blog: February 2014 – Focus On TEFL

Focus on: Cactus TEFL Special Offers


Hello, and welcome to the February 2014 edition of the Cactus Worldwide blog! And also, welcome to our agency – Cactus Worldwide – where our team of experienced course advisors are here every day to discuss options with you and help set up a varied range of unique language-learning or language-teaching experiences, all over the globe, throughout the year, for all of our fantastic students.

This month’s blog is all about the special offers we currently have available to those of you considering taking a TEFL course this year, in the U.K. or abroad.

If you have any questions about any of the special offers that you read about here, please feel free to contact our experienced TEFL admissions advisor, Peyman Shameli, directly via and he’d be happy to answer any questions.

1.      £47 off the Cambridge CELTA course in April in Krakow, Poland!

Now only £868 for the 4-week CELTA course starting 7th April (finishing 9th May).

Click below to find out more about this last-minute offer and apply now!

Full-time Cambridge CELTA course in Krakow in April with British Council and Cactus TEFL – now just £868

2.       £50 off the Full-Time March Trinity CertTESOL + £100 off the Part-Time April Trinity CertTESOL in Oxford Circus, Central London!

Established in 1962, St George International operates out of a new purpose-built centre, situated in the Fitzrovia district of Central London. Although only three minutes away from busy Oxford Circus underground, the school itself lies in a wonderfully quiet back street.

The centre is widely regarded as being a specialist in the field of EFL, having run high-quality, good-value teacher training courses in Central London since the summer of 1993. Since then, over two thousand trainees have successfully passed through their doors as newly-qualified English language teachers of the globally-recognised Trinity College London Cert TESOL.

Click below to find out more about the 2014 special offers and apply now!

Full-time Trinity CertTESOL in March with Cactus TEFL & St George International – now just £845

Part-time Trinity CertTESOL in April with Cactus TEFL & St George International – now just £895


St George International, Oxford Circus, Central London

3.       Free Course Book (Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener, worth £30) for every successful Trinity TESOL applicant in 2014 @ British Study Centres in Brighton! Exclusive to Cactus TEFL

BSC in Brighton was opened in 2008 and is located in a beautifully refurbished, four-storey Victorian house between Brighton and Hove, with a garden, a terrace and a 5-star cafeteria, and in an ideal location with the beach, Brighton attractions and city centre only 15 minutes away. The school has 15 spacious classrooms with large windows, a fully stocked study centre and library, a computer room as well as WiFi throughout the building. This school is not only newly-renovated, well-resourced and a pleasant training environment, it is also a real, thriving workplace where students can experience the reality of teaching.

Every little helps, and this year they are offering every successful Trinity TESOL applicant applying via Cactus TEFL a free copy of arguably the most highly-regarded text in the EFL industry – Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener – worth £30.

Click the link below to take advantage of this special offer!

Trinity TESOL in Brighton with Cactus TEFL & British Study Centres


The garden at British Study Centres in Brighton

4.       Free Course Book (Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener, worth £30) for every successful Trinity TESOL applicant in 2014 @ Athena Teacher Training in Bournemouth! Exclusive to Cactus TEFL

Just two minutes from Bournemouth’s long sandy beaches and city centre, Athena Teacher Training forms one of Bournemouth’s largest language schools and prides itself on offering a friendly, professional atmosphere in which to develop the teaching skills vital to all good teachers.

The school is offering every successful Trinity TESOL applicant applying via Cactus TEFL a free copy of arguably the most highly-regarded text in the EFL industry – Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener – worth £30.

Click the link below to take advantage of this special offer!

Trinity TESOL in Bournemouth with Cactus TEFL & Athena Teacher Training

5.        Discounted Part-Time Trinity Cert TESOL course in Oxford this March – now only £795!

ISIS Oxford are offering £55 off off their part-time Cert TESOL course starting 4th March – normally £850, now just £795.

This 14 week part-time course leads to the award of the Trinity Certificate in TESOL. Along with the RSA CELTA, this is the most widely accepted qualification for teachers of EFL/ESOL, with recognition from schools and colleges worldwide and bodies such as the British Council and the QCA. You can anticipate a demanding but enjoyable month, at the end of which you will have the tools and the confidence to take up a first TESOL position either in the UK or abroad.

If you’re interested in taking a last-minute Cert TESOL course this is a wonderful opportunity to study in the beautiful, iconic city of Oxford at a reduced price.

Click the link below to find out more and apply!

Part-time Trinity Cert TESOL in Oxford with Cactus TEFL and ISIS Oxford


6.       10% off a CELTA course in the Sevilla sunshine this March, with Cactus TEFL & Clic! – but be quick, offer only valid for applicants applying before Friday February 21st


The Andalucian ‘Clic Sevilla’ school building

Are you considering teaching English in Spain this year? If so, we highly recommend taking a course in-country, as this offers many significant benefits, such as a valuable in-country contact for jobs advice and support. Trainees taking their TEFL course abroad also benefit from teaching students native to that country during their teaching practice sessions, so they graduate from the course already highly equipped with knowledge of these learners’ specific academic and cultural learning needs.

This highly popular school in Sevilla, called Clic, is part of an international network of schools (for teacher training and teaching Spanish as a foreign language) located in the heart of the town, just 10 minutes’ walking distance to the cathedral and 2 minutes to Plaza Nueva. The building is a very well-equipped Andalucian house with a reception desk on the ground floor, training director’s office, teachers’ room, classrooms, internet access, kitchen, vending machines and common room on the second and third floors and a large roof terrace. The school also owns its own cafe/bar (serving drinks and tapas) on the same street. This provides an excellent meeting place for both teachers and students from all over the world.

Interested? Visit the link below to find out more about the course and download an application form for the 17th March CELTA course!

Cambridge CELTA in Sevilla with Cactus TEFL & Clic International House


The ‘Clic’ cafeteria in Sevilla

We hope this selection has been of interest, and may have given you some ideas for some bargain study options for the year ahead. Any Qs at all, please feel free to contact me directly and I’d be happy to help.

Happy planning 😉

Best Wishes,



Oliver Donovan
Agency Product Manager


Junior programs in New York: NEW activities for 2014

Summer junior courses in 2013 at Brooklyn School of Languages were a huge success and 2014 sees the arrival of an even more exciting range of activities for our young students.

Taking place in the vibrant neighbourhood of Brooklyn, just a stone’s throw from Manhattan, these courses are aimed at students aged 14 to 17 wishing to improve their English with others of the same age during the summer vacation. Taking the form of a summer camp, this is an immersion program that includes general English lessons, ‘creative arts’ workshops, full board accommodation in host families and a full program of activities and excursions – all within a safe and supervised environment.

The new activities for 2014 take place as 3-hour workshops on two afternoons a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is a great chance for students to practice an activity they love or try their hand at something new. The perfect complement to the morning language classes, they are also an opportunity to mix with other students and practice English in a relaxed atmosphere, encouraging spontaneous conversation and new friendships.

Our choice of activities for 2014:


Art: bead-making (image 1, above), mosaics, glass-blowing, collage exploration, printmaking, drawing and watercolor painting (image 2, below). These and the majority of art skills are taught by two Brooklyn-based art centers, ‘Private Picassos’ and ‘Urban Glass’, specialists in teaching to both young and adult students.


Dance: zumba, salsa, jazz and hip hop (image 3, below), contemporary, Afro-Haitian and Brazilian-Samba fusion. For students who love music and dance, this elective is perfect. Dance is a great way to improve fitness and body awareness in a fun and modern environment, and students are lucky to be able to practice all variations under the expert guidance of one of the world’s leading dance companies, the Brooklyn-based Mark Morris Dance Group.


Acting: as a way to improve the language, there are few activities better than acting. Theater games, improvisation, monologues and plays – all of these strengthen the young actor emotionally and linguistically, by enhancing collaboration, communication skills, ingenuity, listening, focus, compassion, self-reliance and above all, confidence.

Digital Photography: this workshop teaches students the wonderful art of visual story-telling. They will learn how to make the most of their camera’s manual functions and record their trip to New York with photos they had only dreamed of. The tutor is award-winning freelance journalist Johnathon Henninger.

For more information on these activities as well as all other aspects of the junior program, including prices, a photo gallery and general FAQs, please visit the Brooklyn School of Languages website.

For further advice and information feel free to contact us on or telephone +1 347 763 6905.

We look forward to making 2014 a fun, educational and memorable summer vacation for young students from across the globe.

The Brooklyn School of Languages runs year-round adult English courses, a junior summer school and evening and part-time foreign language courses.

Studying English in Brooklyn, New York

Learn English in Brooklyn, New York

Learn English in Brooklyn, New York

Anyone thinking of studying English in New York might be forgiven for thinking that Manhattan is the place to go. For sure it’s the iconic, pulsating heart of the city that never sleeps, and an absolute must on any Big Apple itinerary. As a place to study, however, there may well be somewhere that eclipses Manhattan, and that place is Brooklyn.

Sitting across the water from Manhattan, the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge connecting the two, Brooklyn is one of five boroughs of New York City. Vast in area and population, it is a city in itself and a very fashionable one at that. Those choosing to learn English in Brooklyn will find that it’s a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities and brimming with creative talent; it is the place to meet people, enjoy world-class music, pass the hours in a trendy bar or restaurant, wander down leafy, brownstone-lined streets or enjoy a lazy afternoon in a verdant park.

In fact you need never venture further afield as everything is here in Brooklyn; should you want to, however, you can be in central New York in minutes. Brooklyn is perfectly located just over the bridge from Manhattan and there are no less than nine subway lines on the steps of the school or within a few minutes’ walk – Manhattan being just one subway stop away. In this sense you get the best of both worlds – Manhattan just minutes away, whilst enjoying the friendly, neighbourhood feel of Brooklyn. It’s an authentic New York experience minus the stress of big city living and, uniquely, the chance to be part of a real New York community.

The diversity of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods

Even within the Brooklyn community you can enjoy the diversity of many different neighborhoods. The language school is located in Brooklyn Heights, New York City’s very first suburb and one that is characterised by charming townhouses, brownstones and authentic mansions. Just steps from the school is the famous Brooklyn promenade, a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by, enjoying magnificent views of the Manhattan skyline across the East River and the Statue of Liberty over in New York Harbor. Bordering Brooklyn Heights just to the south is the historic, tree-lined Cobble Hill neighbourhood, home to the peaceful setting of Cobble Hill Park.

Other neighborhoods within the borough re-affirm Brooklyn’s emergence as a cutting-edge centre for arts, music and culture. Over 50 different arts organisations are located in Brooklyn alone. The famous Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is located in Fort Greene, a prominent cultural destination that also boasts the Brooklyn Music School and various theater, dance and performing arts centers, among them Spike Lee’s very own film works company. Those wanting to join the hip young crowd of the city should head for Williamsburg, hugely popular for its many bars, restaurants, shops and cafés, as well as its open air summer concert venues. Williamsburg is a very ‘cool’ place to be right now, not just within Brooklyn but within New York as a whole; a steady stream of Manhattanites will cross the river to spend evenings and weekends enjoying the infectious buzz and social life of this hip neighborhood.

Finally, no mention can be made of Brooklyn without highlighting its beautiful centerpiece, Prospect Park, designed by the same people who built Manhattan’s Central Park. Home to a small zoo, Brooklyn’s only lake and excellent sports and leisure facilities, this is a great place to relax after class and meet friends. Flanking Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s highly desirable Park Slope neighborhood, awash with historic buildings boasting magnificent views of the park as well as first-class restaurants, world-class museums, cultural institutions, bars and shops.

Life as a student in Brooklyn

Despite Brooklyn’s size and variety of neighborhoods, a real sense of community prevails and, as a student in Brooklyn, you will still be accommodated close to the school – 30 minutes at most, meaning that you will spend less time travelling and more time meeting up with new friends and going out in the evenings. Those who choose to study in central Manhattan – or in the centre of any big city – may be faced with daily commutes of up to an hour, so staying just outside the centre can make a huge difference.

Whatever you want to do in Brooklyn, you will not be short of choice nor people with whom to practise your English – and you can do it all in the great city of New York without so much as having to step foot in Manhattan. Though of course you will – and should. You’ll just have the best of both worlds.

Why learn English in Brooklyn? At a glance…

  • It is very close to Manhattan, with stunning views
  • It boasts excellent transport links, including 9 subway stops right by the school
  • It is the place to be for great culture, music, bars & restaurants, its many diverse neighborhoods reflecting this
  • It exudes a friendly neighborhood feel, giving you the chance to be part of a real New York community
  • Most accommodation is within 30 minutes of the school
  • You can enjoy beautiful green, open spaces such as Prospect Park

For more information on learning English in Brooklyn please visit our website.


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.

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.

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.

What kind of people teach EFL?

The reasons why and when people choose to teach EFL can be loosely categorised, but not really the people themselves. They come from far and wide, from a variety of age groups and from a huge assortment of professional and academic backgrounds.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that every native, or near native, English speaker possesses a proficiency in the main skill that needs to be imparted – English. Granted, this doesn’t mean that everyone will be a great teacher, but the basic skill that they will be required to teach is there, and the rest can be improved.

There are lots of reasons why people choose to teach EFL, but there tend to be four main groups of people: people taking a gap year, people taking a career break, people who want a retirement or second career option and people who want a full-blown career in TEFL.

A gap year activity

So-called ‘gappers’ tend to be in the 18-25 bracket, and are normally taking a year out just before or after they have finished their studies. Sometimes the main impetus for them to train in TEFL is so that they can spend a year abroad in a specific country in order to hone or learn foreign language skills.  For others, it is simply a way for them to see new parts of the world and learn more about different cultures. Other gap year TEFLers may be teaching as part of wider volunteering type-projects, normally in developing countries around the world. TEFL can certainly be a ‘worthwhile’ project to undertake in this type of year off from work or study, and skills that are learnt through teaching will be a welcome addition to the CV of anyone trying to get onto the career ladder.

A career break option

Teaching TEFL as part of a career break is similar to teaching on a gap year in terms of its length and appeal -many people who take gap years or careers breaks have the same reasons for wanting to do so and are only looking to be away for a year or two at the most. Career breakers tend normally to be a little older – between 25 and 35 in general. Although sometimes both career breakers and ‘gappers’ train in TEFL with a specific goal in mind – to find a job in a certain area of the world and stay there for a set amount of time – others train in TEFL more as a ‘back up’ option. There is usually casual work available on the travelling route, and having a TEFL certificate in your back pocket will certainly come in handy if you come across informal teaching work and want to top up your funds along the way.

A second career, or retirement project

It’s interesting to note that one of the first questions asked by the majority of potential TEFL course applicants over the age of 45 is ‘am i too old’? This must mean, I suppose, that TEFL is still largely associated with this kind of gap-year/career break travel. The answer to the question of course though, is no. Trends over the last 10 years or so (admittedly before the recession struck) have been that people retire from their main profession earlier, and consider relocating to the likes of France and Spain to enjoy their retirement in warmer climates. Both of this things have encouraged far more people within this stage of life to consider TEFL, either as a way to ‘give something back’ via voluntary work in the UK, to make a bit of extra money via private tutoring, or for those who relocate abroad, as a way to integrate into the local community.

A long-term career

Often people who start off teaching TEFL as a gap year or career break option enjoy it so much that they end up making a career out of it. Other people, although less abundant in number, know right from the start that TEFL is the career path they want to follow and train for this accordingly. They may also choose to study for an MA in TESOL. It could be that they have permanent plans to relocate to a country and set up a school, or simply that they want to remain in the UK and teach or train within language schools, or the lifelong learning sector.

In short, there really is no one type of person who teaches TEFL, and one reason for why people choose to do so. The industry comprises a mix of short-term teachers and long-term teachers, those who are doing it for money and those who teach on a voluntary basis, those who teach in the UK and those who teach abroad. The good thing about TEFL is that there are opportunities and suitable courses for everyone, irrespective of what capacity they hope to teach in.

More about TEFL courses worldwide

More about TEFL in different countries around the world