The Language Show Live & The Expat Show – Autumn 2015

Whether you want to learn a language for relocation, work, love or brain power, come and talk to Cactus at two fantastic shows this year – and make the most of our special show offers and spectacular course giveaways!

1. The Expat Show


11th-12th September 2015 – Olympia, London

Moving abroad is a big decision, especially if you are moving to a country where a different language is spoken. Cactus can help you make the process smooth and enjoyable by designing a bespoke language course to suit you and your family – be it through lessons before you go (evening language course or private tuition) or once you are in your new location (language course at a local school or private tuition). Speaking the language will help you integrate into the local community and feel at home much more quickly; it will also help you to make friends, give you confidence and make daily routine much easier.

Visit us on Stand A12 in the Relocation & Lifestyle Centre for a FREE language needs analysis and to claim your £50 voucher to put towards any language course! We will talk you through the best language learning solution for you and make sure you are fully prepared to follow your dream. You can also enter a competition to WIN one of 11 free language courses abroad!

2. Language Show LIVE


16th-18th October 2015 – Olympia, London

For anyone with any language interest, the Language Show is a brilliant source of inspiration, ideas, advice and offers – all of which will be brought to you by Cactus this year! We are passionate about languages and we would love to speak to you about your language learning goals – whether you are a teacher looking to go away with a school group, a parent, a student or someone who just loves languages. With our range of school group trips, evening language courses in the UK, language courses abroad and TEFL courses worldwide, we really do have something for everyone and are always happy to advise on the best language course for you.

Visit us on Stand 532 to enter a competition to WIN one of 11 free language courses abroad, or a free evening course in the UK!

And come along to our FREE language taster classes – a fun-packed half-hour session for beginners, available on a first-come, first-served basis. A great opportunity to try something new!

  • Friday 16 October            12:45 – 13:15      Dutch
  • Friday 16 October            16:30 – 17:00     Norwegian
  • Saturday 17 October       16:30 – 17:00      Hindi
  • Sunday 18 October          12:00 – 12:30     Portuguese
  • Sunday 18 October          15:45 – 16:15     German

We look forward to seeing you and, if you are signed up to receive our newsletters, we’ll drop you a friendly email nearer the time with full details of our special show offers.

See you there!

NEW adult evening courses in London – starting Jan 2015

Take your pick from 8 fantastic locations for our upcoming courses in January 2015

Cactus has added three new locations to its offering of evening courses in London. Ready for the next intake in January, these extra locations bring language courses closer to you, to make it even easier to access a course close to work or home.

Kick-start your new year’s resolutions with a language course and you’ll deserve a holiday to practise it all!

NEW for 2015 are:

  1. Canada Water
    This new school, just 5 minutes’ walk from Canada Water overground and tube station, boasts a cool and contemporary environment. It is ideal for those working in the Canary Wharf business district who want to join friendly and professional small group evening courses.
    Languages available: French, Spanish, Italian, German, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese
  2. Aldgate East
    We are excited to offer our first location in East London, conveniently situated between 3 underground lines (District Line, Circle Line and Hammersmith & City Line), the DLR station (Shadwell) and major bus routes. It’s right by Altab Ali Park, which connects the City at Aldgate to the Olympic Park at Stratford.
    Languages available: French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian
  3. Tottenham Court Road
    This is an excellent new addition to our selection of schools in Central London. Two doors down from the British Museum, it has 9 fully equipped classrooms and a student lounge to relax in outside class.
    Languages available: French, Spanish, Italian, German

Don’t forget that these new locations are in addition to our existing schools in Bond Street, Kings Cross, Holborn-Russell Square, Islington and Wimbledon.

Visit our website for full information and booking.


* Stuck for a present for a loved one this Christmas? *

Why not give the gift of language through a Cactus gift voucher – perfect for a male or female of any age!

Call us on 01273 930 960 for more info or order your voucher online.


Halloween vocabulary in German

Der Herbst (m.) Autumn / Fall
Der einunddreißigste Oktober 31st October
Allerheiligen All Saints Day
Das Halloween (n.) Halloween
Der Kürbis (m.) Pumpkin
Die Hexe (f.) Witch
Der Besen (m.) Broom
Der Friedhof (m.) Cemetery
Die Kerze (f.) Candle
Die Maske (f.) Mask
Die Verkleidung (f.) / das Kostüm (n.) Disguise / Costume
Das Skelett (n.) Skeleton
Die schwarze Katze (f.) Black cat
Die Fledermaus (f.) Bat
Die Spinne (f.) Spider
Die Vogelscheuche (f.) Scarecrow
Die Kürbislaterne (f.) Jack-o’-lantern
Der Vampir (m.) Vampire
Der Kobold (m.) Goblin
Die Mumie (f.) Mummy
Das Ungeheuer (n.) / das Monster (n.) Monster
Der Teufel (m.) Devil
Die Süßigkeiten (pl.) Sweets / Candy

German course in Brighton: Cactus staff review

Language Course Advisor Alessia Ungari tells us how her German evening course has given her a real passion for the language

Since I was at primary school I’ve been learning foreign languages and over the years I’ve become a more and more dedicated learner. When I heard that Cactus was offering me the chance to take a language course I was really excited. I speak Italian and Spanish fluently and wasn’t sure whether to brush up my French knowledge or to start with a completely new language. I decided to enrol on a German course, although I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to learn a word.

Why German then? Mainly because my relatives live in Switzerland and I’m used to hearing the language since I was a child. But I never learned more than a few words and expressions, such as “Danke”, “Auf Wiedersehen” and “Kartoffeln”. I wanted to surprise them, and the idea of being able to communicate with my little cousins made me very eager to begin lessons.

One of the advantages of Cactus courses: the timetable. As I’m a full time employee, I couldn’t really find time during the week, but studying one evening per week can definitely fit into everyone’s schedule.

The day of the first lesson arrived and I left my work place a bit anxious to meet my classmates and teacher. All I knew about my course was that the tutor was a native German speaker and that there were 6 students in total, including me. All students were in the room at 7pm and the teacher had already prepared the materials necessary to start. For the first hour we had to fill in a questionnaire and played a warm-up game to get to know each other and very soon the atmosphere became pleasant and enjoyable. The lesson went smoothly; Rebecca, our tutor, showed us the lesson plan and asked more about our preferences and expectations from the course. It was a nice feeling to know that we all could express our personal needs and that Rebecca was flexible regarding the course content.

After the first session passed I felt much more relaxed, and despite my tiredness, I was already looking forward to the second lesson.

I couldn’t expect to understand everything at beginner level, but I was really surprised to notice my quick progress over the 10 weeks. My understanding improved, I was much more confident with my speaking and I enjoyed the variety of activities and the great interaction with the group.

In short, my overall experience has been awesome and I haven’t stopped learning since: I’m currently attending the German Elementary 1 programme and all the concerns and the anxiety I had on first day have gone.

My Wednesdays are now exciting and I can’t wait to do my homework during the break to get prepared for the next lesson!

Alessia took a 10-week German evening course in Brighton. Cactus runs evening and part-time courses in a variety of languages and at many levels in locations across the UK and in the US.

Oktoberfest or “d’ Wiesn” to the locals

To help you survive this annual German festival we have come up with some essential phrases and vocabulary…

Every year over 6 million people flock to the city of Munich in Germany to be part of the world famous German festival, Oktoberfest. And what exactly do you do? Drink beer from 6 of Munich’s brewers for 16 days! However, there are plenty of other things to do in this charming city in southern Germany, such as trying the delicious local food and taking a ride on the world’s largest portable rollercoaster!

Finally, if you really want to join in the festivities, why not try dressing up? Ladies traditionally wear a Dirndl, which is a Bavarian dress with an apron, and men wear a Lederhosen, which are leather shorts with embroidery.

Impress the locals with our top 10 Oktoberfest phrases and vocabulary!

Hello my name is….what is your name? Hallo, ich heiße ….. Wie heißt du? – (Great way to make new friends!)
Another beer please Noch ein Bier, bitte.
I need a re-fill, please! Nachschenken, bitte!
It’s tapped! O’zapft is! (b)
I want to buy beer tokens Ich möchte Biermarken kaufen
Which way is the Wiesn? (Large field where Oktoberfest takes place) Wo geht es zur Wiesn?
Next round is on him/her! Die nächste Runde zahlt er/sie!
Cheers! Prost!
One, two, drink! Oans, Zwoa, Gsuffa! (b)

Rollercoaster die Achterbahn
Beer tent das Bierzelt
Family day (prices are cheaper) der Famillientag
Waiter/Waitress die Bedienung
Sausage die Wurst
Beer mug der Bierkrug
Pretzel die Brezel
Ticket die Fahrkarte
Music die Musik
Bartender der Wirt

(b) indicates that it is in Bavarian German

If you find yourself wanting to expand on your vocabulary, also visit for a whole dictionary of essential Oktoberfest words.

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.

Take a German course in Vienna this April and enjoy the Easter Markets

One of the best-known Easter markets in Vienna is that held in front of the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace. This year over 58 exhibitors will be showing off their wares, ranging from Easter eggs and handmade souvenirs to regional and national culinary offerings. Children are offered the chance to make marzipan Easter Bunnies at a special workshop, to go hunting for Easter eggs and at the children’s museum, all whilst the adults enjoy “Jazz at the Easter Market.”

The Old Vienna Easter Market at the Freyung, is another market with a beautiful setting, this time in the beautiful main square in the Old Town. Each year, the largest mountain of Easter eggs in Europe is constructed here, normally consisting of 40,000 painted Easter eggs. Another market is the Arts and Crafts Market Am Hof, which also offers stalls celebrating Easter traditions and offering decorative crafts.

Click here to learn more about Cactus Language’s German language courses in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the UK and the US!

German Courses: Hamburg – Why It’s a Great Place to Learn

In actual fact, Hamburg (formally known as the ‘Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg’) is Germany’s second largest city, both in terms of size and overall population. The port of Hamburg is the central hub for trade with Eastern and Northern Europe. As a container port, Hamburg holds second place in Europe and seventh place in the world.

Perhaps a lesser known fact, Hamburg has over 2,300 bridges – more than Venice and Amsterdam combined!

Although traditionally an important centre for trade, Hamburg is now a real media hub, and also has a thriving tourist industry. Popular amongst visitors to the city are:

– the harbour (Hamburg’s oldest and liveliest area)

– the Speicherstadt area in the east of the city, and its ornate warehouses

– the nightlife centre of St Pauli and the Reeperbahn (Hamburg’s infamous red light district)

– the weekly fish market (Fischmarkt) that takes place on the waterfront

– the impressive town hall (Rathaus), located in the commercial district

Hamburg is a very cosmopolitan place, and is home to many students who attend the large university there. If you’re looking for a place with oodles of history and culture, and fantastic nightlife to boot, look no further.

10 little-known facts about Cologne

Cologne is a great place to take a German course, with plenty to keep you occupied outside of lessons. Below are ten little known-facts about the city, which we hope will inspire you to visit!

1. Located on the Rhine, Cologne is Germany’s fourth-largest city and one of the oldest cities in the country too.

2. Cologne’s impressive Cathedral is Germany’s second largest religious building. Every year thousands of tourists climb the 509 steps to the top and their efforts are suitably rewarded with a magnificent view of the city and its surroundings. For a while, after its construction in 1880, the cathedral was actually the highest structure in the world.

3. Cologne is known as the city of churches, with 12 large Roman churches located within the medieval city walls.

4. It is home to a museum dedicated entirely to chocolate!

5. Cologne has a top-quality array of cultural attractions. It is home to over 40 museums and more than 110 galleries.

6. Every year in July, Cologne hosts Germany’s largest high-altitude musical firework display – the “Cologne Lights” (“Koelner Lichter”). The impressive display and accompanying party atmosphere attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

7. Cologne has its own beer, which is known as Kölsch. The name Kölsch is protected by law so that only beers brewed in and around Köln can bear the name. It’s a pale, straw-coloured beer that is said to be refreshing and sweeter than other German beers.

8. Cologne is home to one of Europe’s largest Pride events. During the first weekend in July every year, more than half a million participants and visitors come together in Cologne’s city centre to party. Besides having fun, the event does focus on current political issues, which are always expressed through the parade’s theme.

9. According to new rankings, Cologne’s Schildergasse is Germany’s most visited shopping boulevard. Bustling with over 13,280 visitors per hour, it just beat Munich’s “Kaufingerstraße” to the top spot. The whole city is known for its abundance of shops, and is simply a haven for anyone who likes to shop…

10. Cologne was the hometown of Italian expatriate Johann Maria Farina, who created a fragrance and named it after the city. Eau de Cologne or “water from Cologne” is still famous the world over, and is still produced in Cologne today.

Find out more about German courses in Cologne, the rest of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Top 10 FREE things to see and do in Berlin

Here’s our pick of the top ten free things to do during a visit to the city:

1. Go to see Checkpoint Charlie

When the East and West were divided, Checkpoint Charlie was the name given to the manned crossing point where you could officially pass from one side to the other. Although the wall came down in November 1989, the checkpoint remained an official crossing for foreigners and diplomats until German reunification in October 1990, when the guard house was removed. A copy of the guard house and sign that once marked the border crossing now stands where Checkpoint Charlie once was, and serves as a great indicator of how life was during the Cold War era.

2. Take a stroll around Potsdamer Platz

Lying about one kilometre south of the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz is a public square where the old road from Potsdam passed through the city wall of Berlin at the Potsdam Gate. Throughout the cold war it was left as wasteland, but since reunification, has been extensively re-developed. These days it consists of three developments known as Daimler City or the DaimlerChrysler Areal, the Sony Centre and the Beisheim Centre.

3. Take a free walking tour of Berlin

A great way to learn about Berlin and its history is to join this free tour. It begins at Starbucks Cafe on Unter den Linden and takes in all the sights within the area, including the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and more. Start times are 11am, 1pm and 4pm every day.

4. Make the most of ‘free admission Sundays’

On the first Sunday of every month, tourists can take advantage of free admission to all the state museums, including the Pergamon, Alte Nationalgalerie, Altes Museum, Ägyptisches Museum, Gemäldegalerie, Neue Nationalgalerie, Sammlung Berggruen, and the Museum for Gegenwart. You’ll have to be prepared for crowds, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to see some of Berlin’s best museums.

5. Visit the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate

Germany’s impressive Parliament building, the Reichstag, is well worth a visit. Entry is free, and you can wander round on your own, as there are no guided tours on offer. Climbing to the top of the glass dome will give you some great views of the city, and the exhibition of black-and-white photos portraying the history of the Reichstag since its birth in 1894 is fascinating. Once you’ve taken a look around the Reichstag, you should head to the nearby Brandenburg Gate and take a photograph of Berlin’s most iconic structure.

6. Walk around the Holocaust Memorial

This might not sound like an especially uplifting thing to do during a visit to Berlin, but the Holocaust Memorial is definitely worth visiting during your stay. Although horrific, the holocaust is nevertheless an important part of recent European history to learn about, and the information centre under the memorial will allow you to do just that. The memorial itself though is worth seeing quite in its own right – opened in May 2005, it occupies a huge site just south of the Brandenburg Gate, and is made up of more than 2,700 giant concrete slabs. It’s a very unique sight to behold and has attracted more than a little controversy over the years. Designed by architect Peter Eisenman, it is intended to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere and represents a ‘supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason’.

7. Take a look around the Volkswagen showroom

Of course, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for any car lovers it’s an absolute must. Located on Friedrichstrasse at the corner of Unter den Linden and spread over three floors, the VW showroom contains every type of car under the Volkswagen brand for you to see. In the basement, you can also find information on the developments in space travel which the company has been involved in.

8. Explore the Eastside Gallery

Showcasing 1.3km of undisturbed Berlin Wall, the Eastside Gallery contains more than a hundred pieces of art – all painted directly onto the Wall. The gallery is open-air, so not one for a rainy day, but it’s definitely worth a look.

9. Walk around the Treptower Park

Located in former East Berlin, this massive park’s central area is dominated by the huge 1949 Soviet Memorial. Treptower Park’s burial ground is said to contain the remains of five thousand soldiers who died in the Battle of Berlin, and is lined by marble sculptures depicting scenes from the war.

Berlin actually has a lot of parks and green areas to enjoy, all of which are free.

10. Head out to the Berlin hinterland

Admittedly, this may cost you a small train or bus fare, but once you arrive at the hinterland you can enjoy all that nature has to offer for free. Consisting of forests, lakes and beaches, the hinterland has long been popular with city dwellers who want to soak up some country air and enjoy the Great Outdoors.

Currently, Cactus works with two German schools in Berlin, each offering a range of courses at a variety of levels. Included in the course offerings are General, Intensive and Individual German, and the more specialist options of Teacher Refresher courses, Juniors course and Christmas/Advent courses. Find out more on the Cactus Language website.

10 interesting facts about Heidelberg

It’s a great place to take a German language course, not only because of the beautiful surroundings but also because the huge array of entertainment options on offer and the compact nature of the city.

Here are ten facts about Heidelberg that you may not already know:

1. Heidelberg University is the oldest in Germany

Established in 1386, Heidelberg’s Ruprecht-Karls-Universität remains one of Germany’s most prestigious universities and will celebrate its 625th anniversary in 2011. It counts an impressive array of national figures amongst its alumni, including the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

2. Heidelberg is home to a hidden amphitheatre

Hidden from view from the town at the top of the surrounding wooded hills, the ‘Thingstätte’ was built in 1935 by the Nazi party and was designed by Heidelberg native Albert Speer.

It was used by the Nazi party during WWII for rallies and solstice festivals. It is now preserved as a monument, but it is still used for many festivals and cultural events throughout the year.

3. The first bicycle was invented by a graduate of the University of Heidelberg

Invented by Karl Drais, a student at the University of Heidelberg, the ‘Laufmaschine’ represented the beginning of mechanised personal transport. It was also nicknamed the Dandy Horse and was the first means of transport to make use of the two-wheeler principle, even though it didn’t have pedals.

4. The city hosts superb firework displays during the summer

Known as the ‘Schlossbeleuchtung’, Heidelberg hosts a fantastic firework display on the first Saturday of June, second Saturday of July and first Saturday of September every year.


The show starts with the Heidelberg castle being lit up as though it is on fire. This is to remember the times in 1689, 1693 and 1764, when the castle went up in flames! After a few minutes of the castle ‘burning’, the fireworks begin. The fireworks are launched from the old bridge and last for about 15 minutes. The fireworks exploding over the old bridge with the castle looming in the background is really something to see.

5. Heidelberg is featured prominently in various poems and novels

The city is mentioned in works by the likes of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, and Mark Twain, who spent several months in Heidelberg in the late 19th century. The novel ‘The Reader’, made into a film in 2008, was also set in the city.

6. Heidelberg escaped bombing in the Second World War

Unlike many German cities, Heidelberg was not destroyed by air raids in World War II and therefore still has original buildings from the later Middle Ages and early Renaissance. It has been suggested that the city escaped substantial bombing because the US Army wanted to use the city as a garrison after the war (there remains a large US base outside the city today).

In fact though, as Heidelberg was neither an industrial centre nor transport hub, there was nothing of particular strategic interest to the Allies, who focused extensively on nearby industrial cities such as Mannheim.

7. The first evidence of human life in Europe was found in Heidelberg

In 1907 a jaw-bone was discovered in a gravel pit in Heidelberg – it is the earliest evidence found of human life in Europe. The ‘Heidelberg Man’ is the name now given to a member of this extinct human species, considered closely related to “Homo erectus”.

8. It’s home to the world’s biggest wine barrel!

The Heidelberg ‘Tun’ is the biggest wine barrel in the world and holds 220,000 litres. The vat (Fass) was built in 1751 and sits within Heidelberg’s famous castle.

9. One in every five Heidelberg residents is a student

As you might expect from a city with a university as prestigious as that of Heidelberg, a large proportion of the population are students. This gives the city a very lively feel and ensures ample social and cultural offerings for visitors and inhabitants to enjoy.

10. The German Pharmacy Museum is housed in Heidelberg Castle

Also housed in the castle grounds is the ‘Deutsches Apothekenmuseum’ which displays a large collection of old equipment and medicines used in a pharmacy in past centuries.

Cactus offers a range of German courses in Germany. For full details and to book please visit