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.

Carnival fever in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Time to step into a whirlwind of shimmer, samba and non-stop partying!

Every year over 500,000 foreign visitors are attracted to the world’s biggest party, the Rio Carnival in Brazil. The festival causes the whole city to come to a complete standstill for a week as celebrations continue throughout the day and night. Traditional samba music is played and danced to and colourful costumes and floats parade through the streets.

This vibrant and colourful festival is usually held in February or the beginning of March, the week before Lent. The celebrations start on a Saturday and finish on fat Tuesday (Marti-Gras).

Check out our top tips and essential Brazilian Portuguese carnival vocabulary to make sure you make the most of your trip!

Top tips for Rio Carnival:

1. Organise and book your accommodation well in advance! The best hotels in the zona sul (South Rio) get booked up very early!

2. Buy your Rio Carnival ticket in advance. Tickets to watch the parade can sell out months beforehand – and although ticket prices to watch the Sambadrome parade can reach $200, it is definitely worth seeing! (The best viewing is in section 13).

3. Ensure you have your carnival costume ready and indulge in the Brazilian festival and culture. Let you hair down and dance with the locals and you’ll really feel part of the festivities.

4. Make sure you have plenty of money before the carnival starts, as banks are closed for the week and cash deposit machines are known to run dry.

5. The best form of transport for getting around the festival is a taxi, as they are not very expensive.

6. Make sure you get a map of the local blocos (street parties) so you can enjoy the after party into the early hours of the morning!

Essential words and phrases for Rio Carnival:

Hello Olá
Please Por favor
Thank you Obrigado (masculine)
Obrigada (feminine)
Dance Dançar
Sing Cantar
Lent Quaresma
The lady who holds the samba school flag Porta-bandeira
Partying Festejando
Music Música
Do you speak English? Fala Inglés?
I’m called Me chamo
Cool Legal
Street parties Blocos
Beautiful Belo
Colourful Colorido
Amazing Surpreendente
Costumes Vestuário
Floats Flutua

Carnival Phrases:

How much is a ticket? Quanto custa uma passagem?
I like your outfit Eu gosto da sua roupa.
How do you get to the parade Como faço para chegar ao desfile?
I think they are the best samba school Eu acho que eles são a melhor escola de samba.
Let’s dance! Vamos dançar!
I need to buy a costume Eu preciso comprar uma fantasia.
I love to party Eu amo festejar.
I’m so tired I have not slept in days! Estou tão cansada que não durmo em dias

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.