July 2009 issue

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Beauty of Cape Town

Cape Town in South Africa is one of the world’s must-see cities, with its mountains and beaches, sunny disposition and a beautifully eclectic mix of architectures. Gillian Evans takes a look.

In comparison to many English language learning destinations around the world, Cape Town is in an enviable position, as Helga Frank at Cape Studies points out. She describes it as a “cosmopolitan city with everything to offer – spectacular views, breathtaking beaches, history, landscape, a Mediterranean climate and affordability”.

All this, of course, makes a big impression on its visitors. As Prijie Moodley at Eurocentres Cape Town, observes, “There are some cities which occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of travellers [and] Cape Town is one of them.”

Set along the mountainous Cape peninsular which slopes into the Atlantic Ocean and with the majestic Table Mountain rising up from its centre, Cape Town is unsurprisingly South Africa’s most visited city. It boasts diverse architecture, shaped by the many cultures that have made it their home, from the minarets brought by Muslim slaves to the Cape Dutch style, which takes its influences from the Netherlands, and the Georgian and Victorian architecture brought by the British. Bo-Kaap, one of Cape Town’s oldest residential areas, is made up of brightly coloured nineteenth-century Dutch and Georgian terraces and a labyrinth of winding alleyways. “Cape Town is a unique mixture of old and new world,” relates Craig Leith of Good Hope Studies. “It is both a first world city and a developing one. There is a huge range of cultures, ethnic groups, traditions and heritages that make it different to any other city in the world.”

Cape Town has many tourist sites including Table Mountain, the top of which can be reached by hiking or cableway; the breathtaking vista of Cape Point; Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for almost 20 years; the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, with its restaurants and shops; the Kristenbosch National Botanical Gardens, which host live concerts; and the beautiful beaches in and around Cape Town, including Clifton, Camps Bay and Noordhoek.

Cape Town’s many attributes means there is an almost limitless range of activities on offer. Moodley recommends picnicking alongside a colony of African penguins at Boulders Beach, diving with Great White Sharks, abseiling off the top of Table Mountain, sand boarding in Atlantis and partying the night away at a township shebeen (bar). Leith highlights the fact that Cape Town offers some of the best land-based whale watching sites in the world, and for adrenaline junkies, he suggests bungey jumping off the world’s highest commercial bridge jump, measuring over 200 metres.

And Frank at Cape Studies mentions the wonderful food available thanks to the many different nationalities in the city, including African, Cape Malay, French, Turkish, German, Portuguese and Afrikaans. In fact, she says, studying in Cape Town is like having the “world as your oyster” as there is so much to experience.

Sue Camilleri of EC English notes that language travellers in Cape Town like to do the same as language travellers the world over: shopping, eating, drinking and clubbing, and Cape Town is an ideal location for all these activities. “Cape Town has a profusion of all of these things at very affordable prices and at first class standards of quality,” she says. She mentions the Waterfront as a student hotspot owing to its many shops and restaurants, and Camps Bay and Clifton as popular beaches. For nightlife, most students head for Long Street, which is lined with pubs, clubs, and restaurants and, according to Camilleri, “is a buzzing hive of activity right into the early hours”.

According to Megan Kayster, Student and Social Coordinator at International House Cape Town, the city also hosts many festivals and events. These include the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, the Cape Town International Jazz festival, Cheese Festival, Whale festival and South African Navy Festival. Frank says that among the most popular is the Klopse Carnival, which has origins that can be traced back to the time of slavery. “[This festival] consists of different bands playing traditional music in flamboyant outfits marching down the streets of Bo-Kaap,” she relates.

“All these events offer students the chance to see the many diverse cultures that Cape Town is host to,” states Kayster. “As a result they leave Cape Town feeling like they have had a total cultural and learning experience and in most cases want to come back.”

Language schools make good use of this rich palette of activities. Among those on offer at Good Hope Studies are mountain hikes, surfing, visits to an ostrich farm, the school braai (barbeque) and dinner at a township (slum-like settlements). At Cape Studies, activities include a social programme where children from underprivileged backgrounds meet language students. Camilleri at EC points out that experiencing townships and getting to know some of their people can be an unforgettable experience for many language travellers.

“One thing that always happens is that when students go on township tours and see how millions of people are living in shacks, etc, making a living and trying to help underprivileged people, such as Aids babies – even though they are also underprivileged themselves – they come back with a much more positive idea about life in such conditions,” relates Camilleri. “Many township dwellers are positive and happy that it helps students who come from first world countries and first world conditions put their own lives into perspective.” She concludes, “Cape Town can be a very holistic experience given its pace of life, its beauty and what it has to offer students”.

Agent viewpoint

“Students who are looking for something out of the ordinary are well advised to choose Cape Town because it combines the exotic, African lifestyle - with a gorgeous scenery and seaside - with a familiar “Western” lifestyle. What strikes students most about Cape Town is the contrast between rich and poor, white and black - and, at the same time, the merry, easy-going lifestyle of the locals.”
Wolfgang Bauer, Carl Duisberg Centren, Germany

“Our clients choose Cape Town because it is a new and exotic destination, the cost of living is very low, there are very few Spanish-speakers and the English accent is very clear. Our students enjoy the unusual outdoor activities such as safaris and shark diving. They are very surprised at the low cost of living in the city and the fact that it is so cosmopolitan. The people are very friendly and open to foreigners; there are many different nationalities living in Cape Town which also means that the food is very international.”
Miguel Varela, Global International Studies, Colombia

“Our clients generally choose Cape Town due to the very reasonable living cost, beautiful nature and there´s no need for Brazilians to get a visa for stays less than 90 days.”
Luiza Vianna, CI, Brazil

“I deal mostly in the Saudi market. At first my clients were very sceptical about South Africa, thinking that it is like the whole of Africa – wild, very poor, no infrastructure. When their friends would tell them about Cape Town, they couldn’t believe it. And when they arrive they get the shock of their life. They generally choose Cape Town because they feel at home regarding their culture and Islamic religion. In Cape Town they can practise their culture and religion without feeling they will be alienated.”
Mohammed Petersen, Maiden Travel & Tours, South Africa

“Students are very much impressed by the quality and tastiness of the South African food as well as the hospitality and authenticity of local people. Fresh fish everyday or game food (like kudu or impala) served with a kind and welcoming attitude are wonderfully unexpected! Cape Town is also suggested from an economic point of view: the cost of living is low.”
Olivier Grollimund, ESL Soggiorni Linguistici, Italy

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

Feltom Malta  
Perth Education City
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  
International House
      World Organisation  
Feltom Malta  


Malta Tourism


Perth Education City

Bics (Business & Intl

Berlitz Canada  
Elmwood School  
Richmond School
      District #38  
Stewart College of

IH Xi'an  

      Latinoamericana de
Andean Global
      Studies Spanish
Estudio Internacional
      Sampere, Ecuador  
South American
      Language Center  

Bell International  
Britannia Student
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa, Spain,
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Malvern House
      College London  
Shakespeare College
Spinnaker College
Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's
St Giles Colleges  
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
TUS Advertising  
Twin Group  
      (Ireland, UK, USA)
University of Essex -

Home Language
(Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, The Netherlands, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, USA, Wales)

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  


Galway Cultural
      (via Impact Media)  

Kai Japanese
      Language School  

Clubclass Residential
      Language School  
EC English
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
Feltom Malta  
Malta Tourism

Seafield School
      of English  

EC Cape Town  
      Cape Town- One
      World Language
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language
      Training Centre
      Cape Town  
Interlink School
      of Languages  
International House
      Cape Town  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Teaching
Shane Global
      Language Centres -
      Cape Town  

Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL  
Pamplona Learning
      Spanish Institute  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
(Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, USA)
Eurocentres International  
(Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, USA)

Califorinia State
      University Northridge
ELS Language
      (Canada, USA)
San Diego State
University of
      California San Diego
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)

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