A word to the wise: though JanetC has some lovely recommendations, do yourself a favour and do *not* refer to San Francisco as 'San Fran', or 'Frisco'. Either of these will mark you as a tourist, and earn you the disdain of the local set. Call it 'San Francisco', or 'The City', as we do.
A few sayings you can try out on your visit: Iechyd da (cheers) Diolch yn fawr (thanks very much) Twll dîn pob Sais! (Down with the English!) All street signs are in Welsh and English and while everyone in shops and pubs speaks English, a lot of people are also Welsh speakers.
Fantastic, fantastic school! I have travelled through Central and South America for the last nine months and I have tried three other language schools and this one is the best by far. Great location, my teacher is excellent (although quite strict) and my host family were really, really nice. I have completed two weeks here and I am signing up for one week more, even though I should be moving on. Highly recommended.
Central Buenos Aires, Viamonte 927
I live in Barcelona, and when I arrived I thought it would be a good idea to learn a bit of Spanish. Two-and-a-half years done the line, I now realise that although that´s a great start, it´s even more appreciated by the locals if you speak their own language, Catalan. So just try "Gracies" said like "gra-si-ess" or "bon dia" (good day) or bona nit (good night - like the Geordie "neet") and remember that the majority of the people here don´t feel Spanish so don´t wear a "torro" t-shirt (the famous bull logo).
Instead, buy something with the now famous Catalan donkey logo - and you will make lots of friends in this beautiful city.
A really fun way to learn Spanish quickly in Buenos Aires. Sessions are two hours and the lessons are really interactive. For anyone who wants to learn the basics of Spanish quickly I would recommend this course.
Stunningly located between the Eifl and the sea, this deserted quarry village was inaccessible by car until the 1980s, when it was regenerated to provide residential Welsh courses.
Welsh Language and Heritage Centre, Nant Gwrtheyrn, Llithfaen, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 6PA
Tel: 01758 750334
"'Ark at ee!", "Gert Lush", "They's me daps mind", "'Ow bis me babber?" The dialect is being reclaimed by the locals with confidence. If a word finishes in 'a' then 'wl' is attached. Idea becomes 'ideawl', Asda 'Asdawl'. A Bristolian dictionary is available for any left struggling to comprehend. Cheers drive.
On the buses, in the streets;
Vamos Spanish Academy is a language and cultural school based in Buenos Aires. It is an absolute hidden gem, the staff are fantastic and very helpful. We took a Yerba Mate workshop, a cultural workshop and they organised a tango class for us. They arranged bike tours too but the weather did not permit - something for next time.
A beautiful and not too strenuous hill walk leading to the Iron age fort of Tre'r Ceiri with the option of visiting the National Welsh Language centre.
The site of Tre'r Ceiri a name that probably means Town of the Forts, is a sprawling hill top settlement with significant stone ramparts. It has been described as the most 'dramatic and impressive Iron age hill fort in Britain'.
The site is indeed impressive, due to the fact that remnants of around 150 Iron age huts can be explored. The huts are extremely well preserved with some huts standing at over one metre high.
The drama is provided by the setting; Yr Eifl is the name of the highest peak of the mountains that form the backbone of the beautiful Llyn Peninsula.
This site is ideal for those that enjoy combining a walk with an interesting goal. A not too strenuous hill walk at 574 metres along fairly easy terrain through hills covered with heather and gorse will be rewarded with a fascinating historical site and stunning views.
The summit offers views of the Snowdonia mountain range to the north, to the west the Irish sea and at your feet a birds eye view of the beautiful Llyn Peninsula. On a clear day Ireland itself can be spotted.
For refreshments and further interest this exploration can be combined with a visit to the Welsh National Language centre in "Nant Gwtheyrn' a village that closely hugs the coast beneath Yr Eifl. The village housed the families that quarried the Port Y Nant stone quarry that produced granite suare cobbles or sets.
After the decline of the quarry the last residents left in 1959. The village was deserted throughout the 60's and 70's except for a period when inhabited by hippies. In 1978 work started on improving the steeply inclined road that leads to the village and the houses, the chapel and community hall were modernised. The modern facilities now house accommodation for up to 58 educational residents and the chapel is now also used as a local community centre. There is a cafe bar and restaurant in the village and a pub called the 'Tafarn Y Fic' in Llithfaen.
Take the A499 north of Pwllheli. At Llanaelhaearn, take B4417 towards Nefyn. Less than a mile from the junction for the B4417, there is a footpath on your right,
alternatively carry along the B4417 until arriving at the village of Llithfaen here you will see a sign to Nant Gwrtheyrn National Welsh learning centre here you will find Upper Porth Y Nant car park, it is possible to take a different path to the summit and ideal if you want to visit the centre.
Tre'r Ceiri hill fort
NPRN: 95292; Map Reference: SH34SE; Grid Reference: SH3734044670
Nant Gwrtheyrn, Llithfaen, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 6PA
Google map: bit.ly/i0h67u
Utatlan is a small Spanish school that I came across, and subsequently studied at, in Quetzaltenango, a great alternative place to study Spanish instead of more touristy Antigua Guatemala. I want to give the tip to others that they consider studying at this school if they want to improve their language skills at the same time as experiencing life in Guatemala. There are several Spanish schools here, and I'm sure some others are good too but the reason the school is so good is that the co-ordinators and teachers are all young and very friendly as well as highly professional. Not only did I learn a great deal of Spanish but they also helped me plan my travel plans after study and introduced me to life, culture and nightlife of this amazing small city. I stayed with a host family during my weeks of study (organized by the school), and they were lovely too. This option is certainly the cheapest in terms of accommodation and the best for practising Spanish and learning about Guatemalan life.
12 avenida, 4-31, Pasaje Enriquez, Zona 1,Quetzaltanango, Guatemala.
Google map: bit.ly/L8nElV
The school is based inside this beautiful colonial 'passageway' that is on one side of the central park.
As a tourist, I got a lot of hassle in India from rickshaw drivers, shopkeepers, hotel owners and general touts. The best thing I ever did was to learn to say 'I don't want it', 'Go away' and 'That's too expensive' in Hindi. It makes people stop hassling you faster than anything you could say in English, possibly because it shows that you're not a brand-new arrival to India. Also good is to learn 'my name is...' which gets a great response from local people rather than just replying in English.
Get a phrase book or (better) get someone to teach you when you arrive.
If you intend on staying in Beijing for a few months, try learning Mandarin at the Hutong School. It is situated in a beautiful courtyard in the middle of a hutong area. They give you all sorts of support, have apartments to stay in, organise trips, it's a great way to live in Beijing!
Having had the experience of being let down so many times before in various countries, and found that word-of-mouth works in general, I'm passing on a top tip for a competent, lively and professional young teacher of Spanish (or 'Castellano' as they call it there) that I had recently in Buenos Aires. Her name is Marina and she gives classes to all levels (she dragged me up a couple!) in cafés or apartments. She usually does an initial interview to size up the level and then takes it from there. Speaks good English. Great teacher. Catch her at firstname.lastname@example.org and habla, habla, habla!
Far from the madding crowd, yet only 30 minutes from central Florence is San Giovanni Valdarno, a delightful, small medieval town in the heart of Tuscany, unstressed by tourists and traffic, where it is still possible to savour the taste of Italian daily life. Il Sillabo is a gem of a school, family owned and operated, that really makes students feel at home. Extra classes in History of Art, Drawing and Painting, Italian Literature, as well as fantastic food and wine.
We are a group of people who practice English every Friday at a coffee shop in Buenos Aires. It's an easy going and informal meeting, free, just for fun.
We have been meeting every Friday for over 6 years to practice our English. All are at a level that enables us to speak English fluently, which is a requirement to participate.
We like to chat about ordinary things but travelling is our favourite subject. Every Friday, foreign travellers who are on holiday in Buenos Aires and are interested in meeting "porteños" visit us. This kind of exchange and sharing of cultures and points of view means learning and developing for all of us. Tourists, backpackers, expats are all welcomed. If you are in Buenos Aires learning or practicing your Spanish, you can join us for dinner afterwards. At dinnertime we are free to use any language we choose. If you are interested in participating e-mail us for further details.
Studying at the Escuela Montalban in Granada, Spain has for me been a great experience from both a cultural and linguistic point of view. The Spanish classes, always organised in small numbers, are interesting and dynamic, and the teachers always make sure to create a fun and relaxed atmosphere so that it becomes a pleasure to learn Spanish! You also study in a truly international atmosphere with students representing cultures from all over the world, which you discover in addition to the Spanish lifestyle. What I enjoyed most about this Spanish school was the staff and the students’ friendliness and openness, which definitely helps to make you feel at home in a foreign country. I would definitely recommend this school to anyone who is looking to improve their Spanish in a friendly environment and keep great memories of Andalusia!
C/ Conde Cifuentes, 11
18005 Granada, Spain
Just a tip about buying a ticket and recognising the train. This site is ace for planning times reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/e.
Worth writing down the journey details and the Romanian for 'first-class ticket' and handing it over - no English spoken at the train station when I was there. But the Lonely Planet guide came to the rescue.
Once you have found the platform watch out. The noticeboard flagged two separate trains - one to Targa Mures and one to Bucharest. The Bucharest train stops at Sighisoara.
But the trains appear to arrive joined as one - late. So it can be confusing.
What seems to happen is that the first-class carriage is always carriage three.
If you are on the same train as me be prepared for 50 year-old rolling stock in first class.
The scenery is fantastic. Ranging from the awesome pollution of Copsa Mica to shepherds and their flocks.
Str. Garii 1-3
It's a phone translation service that makes travelling in China much easier. You sign up online for a certain number of minutes and then add credit when you run out. All you need is a mobile phone, which you can pass to anyone you need to speak to and they can interpret what you want to say. Best part is it runs 24 hours a day so it can be really useful when it's 3am and you've realised you've lost the address of the hotel you're staying in.
Using it with international roaming can be a bit pricey (as you're using a UK network's roaming rates) so I'd recommend getting a Chinese SIM card which means it's a local-rate call from anywhere in the country.
Last time I checked they were about to introduce a SIM card delivery service but might be worth checking first. We bought our SIM cards at Beijing airport.
A hostel close to the centre of Granada, the Bearded Monkey is friendly and lively without being dominated by hard-partying backpackers.
Arranged around a central courtyard lit with twinkling lights, the (public) bar sells local beers, decent food and its own compilation CDs, as well as running DVD nights from the owner's great selection, for a small donation.
Check the noticeboard for good value Spanish lessons by local teachers (Anjelica is recommended) and trips to the nearby Lago de Apoyo, where the Bearded Monkey has a cabin, the Monkey Hut, with terraces running down to the lake - an excellent swimming spot.
Avenida 14 de Septiembre, opposite the bomberos (fire station).
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