Mid-winter I often start to get itchy feet, especially if I’m housebound in the northern cold. I start to dream of warm places and adventures outside my four walls. For years, before we started traveling full time, we’d plan a mid-February escape, an early spring break of sorts, to break up the long winter’s night.
Where to go and what to do?
Here are three ideas for how to take your winter or spring break beyond the boring beach resort and make it something truly uncommon and unforgettable: (more…)
As the language of everything from Shakespeare to international business, English is one of the world’s most important methods of communication. While many have the chance to acquire it during their school years, adult learners shouldn’t be put off by its inherent quirkiness and large vocabulary. As can be seen below, the benefits far outweigh any effort required to learn it.
Those who like to travel will find that the ability to speak English makes the experience far more rewarding. Not just in terms of being able to speak to locals, but for interactions with other travellers too.
According to the British Council, English has special or official status in more than 75 countries. It’s spoken as a first language by 375 million people and as a second language by approximately 375 million people. Estimates suggest that one in every four people is able to speak a little English, with numbers increasing year-on-year.
English is the primary language of books and newspapers around the world. The ability to read and understand English also opens up the possibility of enjoying the historical achievements of English literature. Dickens, Milton, Bronte, Locke, Blake, Hardy and Coleridge are all far more enjoyable when read in their original language.
Approximately 75% of the world’s mail is written in English. The internet, too, is a hotbed of English communication. Estimates suggest that 36% of the internet’s 200 million users communicate in English – a number that is growing daily as more and more people get online.
In the West, English continues to be the favoured language for popular music. While young people tend to use the lyrics of songs to help them learn the language, older learners do better by enrolling on dedicated courses, such as those offered by Skola.
The ability to speak English increases an individual’s employability – which is a big plus in these economically gloomy times. The language is vital in a range of professions, for example, more than two-thirds of the world’s scientists read in English. With this in mind, there are numerous specialist English courses for adults providing tailor-made instruction for particular careers.
A mastery of the language provides job opportunities outside of English-speaking countries, as well as in them. Multinational corporations employ English-speakers in offices around the world. English is also the first language of organisations such as the European Union, the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, and NATO.
Few other countries in the world offer such a vibrant and flamboyant culture as Spain. Visitors to the country can enjoy a whirlwind of delicious tapas, vibrant flamenco, incredible scenery and artistic wonders.
Learning Spanish is a valuable life skill and a great focal point for any family holiday. Naturally some locations are more suitable than others and here is a look at five of the best.
Nestled on the shores of the stunning Costa Blanca, a family getaway to Alicante is a beach getaway like no other. The seaside location boasts beautiful Mediterranean weather and stunning sandy beaches. At its core Alicante is a peaceful and friendly port city, with a renowned university and charming, rustic Old Town.
As the second largest town in the Valencia region, it strikes just the right balance between lively and safe, cosmopolitan and approachable. When you’re not hitting the books studying, there are also plenty of bookstores, ice cream stands, museums and nightlife to keep every member of the family entertained.
The perfect family trip to Spain should really showcase the best of Spanish culture. In Granada you will discover the wonders of flamenco, the taste of true tapas and the sounds of classical Spanish guitar.
The hub of authentic local culture is also surrounded by some of the country’s most stunning natural scenery. Beaches, mountainsides and woodlands combine to make Granada an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The student population means the city also contains a real buzz and passion, the perfect environment for learning a new language.
If you prefer a smaller, more intimate experience of Spanish life, Córdoba is a small Andalucía city that’s the perfect size for a family visit. The stunning World Heritage Site offers a blend of fascinating history, architecture and customs.
The surrounding scenery is also some of the most beautiful in the country, with views over the Sierra Morena mountains and the Guadalquivir River.
Another university city that bursts with culture and excitement, Salamanca is the ideal location for language travel or themed holidays.
Arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, the stunning old-world architectural elegance features sandstone facades and Renaissance design. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the culture here feels anything but stale. There are cafes and tapas bars in abundance, and the city winds its way around the beautiful Tormes River.
Time spent in Seville will help to educate your family on far more than the wonders of the Spanish language. The city is a melting pot of fascinating history, customs and traditions, the perfect place to immerse yours family in the local way of life.
The iconic orange trees are scattered throughout the architecturally rich churches and plazas. The city is also home to countless festivals, events and exhibitions that celebrate the rich local culture of present and past.
Seville is also the fourth largest city in the country, which may or may not appeal to some families more than others. If you’re unsure what sort of location is right for you, it’s always best to speak to the industry experts.
ESL Language Studies Abroad specialise in placing families in the ideal location for mastering the language, as well as truly immersing themselves in the fascinating culture.
If you happen to be entering Southeast Asia on holiday with your family, there’s a fair chance that you’ll be doing so through Bangkok. It’s tempting to just blow off a big city and head out of town and south for the beach, or up north into the culture rich northern region. May I encourage you not to do that? Take a couple of days, sleep off your jet lag, and explore Bangkok a bit with your kids.
Bangkok is brimming with accommodation options, from the seedy backpacker hostels on Koh San Road to the five star executive class hotels downtown. If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to search for family suitable Bangkok hotels, probably somewhere between those two extremes. I recommend looking for something with a pool (Bangkok can be very hot!) and something located very close to the train, as public transport in Bangkok is fantastic, but getting to and from it can be challenging and cabs aren’t always cheap. (more…)
The stockings were stored in the basement with care, while the family absconded and took to the air.
I wanted a family experience.
I wanted adventure.
I wanted to run away from the ball of Christmas tree lights in my basement.
Thus, this year, instead of buying illuminated penguins and piling up haphazardly wrapped presents, our family will spend the holiday on the shores of the Red Sea, and if all goes well, we will explore the ancient Nabatean ruins of Petra.