Our top 5 locations for winter sunshine

If you want to escape the cold, the rain and the January blues, this one’s for you…

Check out our five great places for winter sun where you can swap boots for flip flops and duffle coat for swimsuit. Just make sure you send a postcard to make your friends envious back home…they won’t believe it’s all in the name of education!

1. Buenos Aires


If there’s one place sure to lift your winter mood it’s Buenos Aires. You just can’t help but be swept up in the colour and vibrance of this thrilling capital city of Argentina. Whether it’s the food (thick, succulent steaks like you’ve never tasted), wine (rich Malbecs are Argentina’s forte), dance (from impromptu tango in the streets to extravagant evening shows), shopping (boutiques, galleries, antique shops and more), nightlife (don’t even think of going out before midnight, and be prepared for daylight when you emerge) or architecture (old-world cafes alongside magnificent colonial buildings), there is something here for everyone. Add to this the summer sunshine between December and February and the relative good value of the Argentine peso, compared to western currencies, and you’re in for a real treat at little expense. Choose a regular Spanish course or up the ante by adding some dancing, polo, horse riding or volunteering to your adventure.

Spanish courses in Buenos Aires

2. Cape Town


If you want to get away for more than the usual week or two, or are even considering a job or lifestyle change, then head to South Africa for a TEFL course. A fantastic destination from mid-October to mid-February, when it basks in temperatures in the high twenties, this is the ideal place to spend 4 weeks learning how to teach English as a foreign language. When your head isn’t buried in a textbook, the treats that await you make it all worthwhile; the fascinating cultural melting pot that is Cape Town, delicious African and international cuisine, world-class locally-produced wines, pristine coastline, magnificent countryside and diverse flora and fauna. And once this is all over you have a passport to travel the world with your prestigious CELTA qualification – no need, then, to ever winter in the cold again!

TEFL courses in South Africa

3. Martinique


Our latest must-visit location is the Caribbean island of Martinique. Ok, we’re kind of biased as two of our team have recently taken a French course in Martinique, and come back with infectious enthusiasm for this palm-fringed island just north of St Lucia. They were overwhelmed by the friendliness and hospitality of the locals, the delicious local food, the clear turquoise waters, the beautiful climate, the excellent French tuition, beautiful accommodation, and activities such as diving and dancing. As a place to learn French in the winter, it doesn’t get much better than this – we’re hooked!

French course in Martinique – a first-hand review

Sun, sea, sand and French…in exotic Martinique

French courses in Martinique

4. Galapagos


New year, new you – change your life with a 4-week CELTA course in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. You can obtain the most prestigious English language teaching qualification whilst interacting with the unique flora and fauna of these beautiful islands and participating in sustainable development and environmental protection projects. The aim of this course is for you to of course gain your teaching qualification, but also to educate the local community and make a difference. It’s a once in a lifetime experience! Next start dates 11th January, 8th February, 21st March 2016.

CELTA course in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

5. Rio de Janeiro


With verdant rainforests on one side, stunning mountains on the other and endless stretches of white sand beaches, Rio boasts one of the most spectacular urban settings in the world. There’s more to this spectacular city than Carnival, although if you can catch this week-long haze of samba, fiesta and hedonism it’s probably quite an appropriate introduction. And if you visit in winter this is exactly what you can do, as Carnival takes place February 5th-10th 2016 – the perfect antidote to winter back home and a great excuse to let your hair down. Solve the problem of finding accommodation at this popular time by staying with a local family whilst taking a language course – you don’t get better immersion in the language and culture than this!

Portuguese courses in Rio de Janeiro

Cactus offers language courses in more than 20 languages and 120 destinations worldwide. We also run adult evening and junior afternoon courses in the UK, which are the ideal way to learn the basics or brush up on existing language knowledge in advance of a holiday or business trip abroad.

Sun, sea, sand and French…in exotic Martinique

Assistant Director of Studies Leticia Artiles has taken many language courses, but this one might top them all…

This is the fourth time I have taken a week of to do a language holiday. I think I can admit I am addicted to them. French was the chosen language. The experience last year in Antibes (see my review here), on the coast of France, was fabulous: I did not think it could get any better, but I was absolutely wrong.

Living in England makes you want to choose a sunny destination, and France in summer is very sunny – but I wanted something different this time, something further and more adventurous. A place where I could have French immersion and where I could feel I was definitely on holiday.

Among the wide range of destinations that Cactus has to learn French, a very special one stands out: Martinique! Do they speak French there? Oh yes, they do (apart from creole). Is it a good holiday destination? It’s an island and it’s in the Caribbean Sea. Just in case that was not enough to make me choose it (and it really was enough!), it’s part of France, which means you need no visa if you are a citizen of the European Union, plus they use the Euro.

It was clear that the experience was going to be a good one, but I did not imagine it would be as good as it was. I went this time with a work colleague but this is the perfect destination to go with your family or also on your own.


We took a 20 hours of French in the mornings. This allows you plenty of time once classes have finished to go and explore the little paradise that this island is. The school also offers the option to combine French with kite surfing or diving lessons. Many other activities are also available.

The school is a small school based in the capital, Fort-de-France. We were staying in Trois Ilets in a beautiful apartment in an attractive tourist area. This area had very nice beaches, lovely restaurants to indulge in local food and bars with delicious cocktails. The school also offers other accommodation options such as host families or residences.

The fun started every morning when we had to go to the school by boat. Nothing better than starting the day early with the fresh breeze and 30 degree sunshine in your face.

The lessons were entirely in French; no other language was used in the classroom. Although my level was lower than that of my classmates, I think I managed to make a massive improvement. The methodology followed is very communicative and tasked-based, so it was a good way for me to learn not only from the teacher but also from the other people in the classroom. After a week my vocabulary had grown considerably and my pronunciation was much, much better. The teacher was excellent and she included a lot of cultural contents related to Martinique and to the ultramarine territories of France which I valued a lot as these are not usually included in other French courses. We even had the chance to learn the basic steps of Zouk and to try some traditional dishes, all at the school!


Our course included a diving lesson. We could have done more than one, but we had no idea how good it was going to be and we also wanted to make the most of our time on the island, explore the diverse landscapes, etc. Taking diving lessons is something that I recommend everyone to do. I never thought that those beautiful shapes and colours did actually exist under the sea. And all is perfectly organized through Cactus and the school.

There were not enough hours in the day, nor enough days in the week, to enjoy every taste of the delicious gastronomy and tropical fruits; to be amazed by every flower and animal; to appreciate every nice gesture and the will of locals to speak to you and explain to you their culture; to learn every step to dance the Caribbean rythms of zouk; to try some of their numerous brands of rhum…

A week was enough, however, to realize that it’s true what they say: Martinique is “a small island with a big heart”.

Cactus offers French courses in Martinique, France and Canada. We also offer French courses in the UK to help you learn the basics or brush up on existing skills before you head off.

French course in Martinique: a first-hand review

Cactus’ Alessia Ungari decides to learn French in one of our most exotic locations, Martinique, and doesn’t regret it for a minute…

Having started my French Elementary 3 evening course in Brighton with Cactus, I felt it was time to enhance my language skills with an experience on the spot. I wasn’t sure where to go; there were many cities in France that I could have chosen from. But browsing the Cactus website I realized that France wasn’t the only option if I wanted to improve my French. How many of you knew about MARTINIQUE? An island in the Caribbean sea, where the official language is French. The choice was irresistible!

Cactus helped me plan my trip: language course in the mornings, accommodation in a modern and bright residence in the Village Creole and airport transfer from Fort-de-France airport.

This is the perfect schedule for a language holiday, since it gives you the chance to learn the language every day in the morning, and leaves you free time for the rest of the day to discover the local culture, to explore the place and of course to boost your skills by practicing what you’ve learnt in class with the natives. Also, the school’s staff were always happy to advise about activities: every day was a new adventure!

One day we decided to rent a car, heading to the south of the island. I enjoyed driving whilst observing the amazing landscapes on our way: small villages where the locals’ hospitality and friendliness was beyond words.

An alternative to the car is the funny trip on the Taxico (Taxi collectif): a sort of shared taxi, smaller than a bus, that usually departs with no timetable, but when all seats are filled. We found it a convenient and cheap solution to go to the black-sand beaches of the North and to the east Atlantic coast where we enjoyed a whole day on the crystal-clear waters and trying to join a very traditional Caribbean party in the bar nearby.

One afternoon we managed to book, through the school, a diving lesson, called baptism in my case, as it was the first time. What an awesome experience to be 8 metres under the sea: colours, species and shells that I’ve never seen before. Cactus offers both diving and kite-surfing to combine with French lessons, and it’s definitely worth doing one of these activities if you are in Martinique. Also, it could inspire you for future hobbies – for example in my case I’m now planning to sign up for a diving course in my city!

Something that you can’t avoid if you are in the Antilles is the fascinating rhythm of zouk and compas, the two traditional dances of the Caribbean islands. In Martinique I was overwhelmed by this music while buying mangos and coconuts at the Grand Marché, walking in the street, and even during the last day at the school where the teacher showed us the basic dance steps and involved all the students in a fun dancing session. All this, followed by a traditional lunch with poulet Colombo, tropical fruits and local wine. We had lots of fun and unconsciously my French was progressing minute after minute.

Not far from the school is the Jardin de Balata, a botanical garden which contains many varieties of tropical plants and exotic flowers from around the world. As part of the tour in the garden, we did a walk on a bridge between the treetops. How exciting!

In a word, everything about my experience was perfect. I only wish it was longer. Thanks Cactus for this fantastic opportunity! I can’t wait to leave for another exciting language holiday soon 🙂

Cactus offers French courses in Martinique, France and Canada. We also offer French courses in the UK to help you learn the basics or brush up on existing skills before you head off.