Learn English in Cape Town
With Table Mountain over your shoulder and the deep blue sea at your toes, Cape Town oozes with beauty, style and culture, making it one of the most desirable language-learning destinations in the world. Keen to join in? Keep reading to find out how you can learn English in Cape Town today!
Be Cape Town!
At the very tip of Africa, Cape Town has drawn people from far and wide including a broad mix of regional cultures, African and overseas migrants. A true melting pot, the city is best experienced by getting to know the unique suburbs and areas that together form Cape Town's broader identity – one you'll learn is difficult to explain to friends and family back home.
- Bohemian – Every city has one – a bohemian neighborhood! Cape Town's Observatory and Woodstock (bohemia? A lovely coincidence) neighborhoods, with their Victorian architectural relics, coffee shops and lively artistic scene are Cape Town's best neighborhood for young bohemians and culture hunters.
- Natural – Nature-lovers will be left drooling upon a visit to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. With one of the world's most stunning landscapes, Cape Town and its surrounding areas are rich in flora and fauna that you'll struggle to find elsewhere. To the east of the city, you can also enjoy the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden!
- Beach-mad – Cape Town is a true surfers' paradise. With waves only the colder southern oceans can conjure, the city's local beaches blend surf culture and the relaxed Cape Town lifestyle, for an experience like no other. Try Big Bay for surf lessons and an amazing view of Table Mountain, or visit the stunning beaches of Camps Bay, Muizenberg and Clifton.
- LGBTI-friendly – Considered South Africa's LGBTI capital, Cape Town is a popular destination for gay travellers and those who like to tag along. The De Waterkant neighbourhood is the city's prime LGBTI neighborhood, where clubs, pubs and accommodation abound. For partygoers, Cape Town Pride is held in either February or March each year.
- Cosmopolitan – For many, Cape Town remains Africa's most international city. In fact, you'll find some sections of the city resemble places like San Francisco, Vancouver or Copenhagen, especially the stylish V&A Waterfront. Affluent residential areas like Camps Bay, Bakoven and Llandudno may also catch your eye!
Hungry for more South Africa? From Cape Town, discover one of the world's most culturally and geographically rich countries. Learn more about South Africa here!
Despite being set to the backdrop of the majestic Table Mountain, Cape Town has a dark past! But fortunately for both locals and visitors, the city – like South Africa more broadly – has embraced its history in an effort to help heal some of the wounds of the past. Here's what you should know:
- Where worlds collided – Cape Town has a complex history of immigration that has created today's fascinating mix of cultures. They include ancient ethnic and linguistic groups like the Bantu and Khoisan people; former slave communities from Madagascar and Indonesia; former laborers and skilled migrants from India; and the descendants of the country's European colonisers: Afrikaners from Dutch origin and South Africans of British origin.
- Apartheid – South Africa's complicated history has its roots in the arrival of Dutch and British settlers in the 15th century. Originally inhabited by the Strandloper people, the area around modern Cape Town became one of the country's most racially diverse. As such, the city's population was heavily segregated under Apartheid into dozens of neighborhoods for each of the many ethnic groups.
- Freedom – Since the end of racial segregation in South Africa, Cape Town has become one of the country's most liberal cities. Famous for its strong historical ties with Nelson Mandela and the African liberation struggle, the city hosts a robust intellectual and political culture.
Eat like a local!
In keeping with its rich migrant history, Cape Town is home to some delicious gastronomic options. Mixing African, Asian and European tastes, here are a few things you should try when you learn English in Cape Town:
- Ancient treats – Many visitors to Cape Town overlook the area's rich native history, and in particular its gastronomy. A few local restaurants and eateries serve up ancient treats and so-called Cape fusion food, while you might also look into specialized tours that take visitors into the wild to learn about ancient hunting techniques and to forage for edible plants.
- Modern African staples – The term "African" is as broad in ethnic terms as it is culinary terms. Mieliepap is a maize porridge popular among black and colored African communities in the Western Cape, usually served with a mix of sauces. Meanwhile, the "braai" or barbecue of Afrikaner origin is popular across the board.
- Wine and dine, with an emphasis on wine – Cape Town is a world-renowned destination for viticulture, and its surrounding wine-growing regions (known as the Cape Winelands) are brilliant for tasting tours, many of which include succulent lunches. But go easy and don't get all those tiny sips go to your head! You might miss the stunning views of places like Stellenbosch.
- Cape Malay and Indian – Herbs and spices abound with Cape Town's signature Cape Malay and Indian cuisine. While distant from one another, both culinary traditions conjure up some spicy treats in the form of curries. Try bobotie from Cape Malay cuisine and bunny chow from local Indian menus.
- Fish and chips – While not considered one of the world's most interesting eaters, the British have left their mark on Western Cape cuisine in the form of Fish & Chips. And with so much coastline, the Cape's capital is a great place for an afternoon snack of deep fried local fish and chips (french fries) on the side.
Save the date!
- Kirstenbosch Sunday Summer Concert – From November to April, enjoy Cape Town's pristine botanical gardens in a unique way. Given its reputation and the demand locally for quality artistic expression, this beautiful setting offer some wonderful world class live performances.
- Cape Argus Pick'n'Pay Cycle Tour – Fitness junkies, bikers and nature lovers rejoice, Cape Town's 100 km cycle tour will take you to places you might only dream of along the Cape Peninsula. Held in March, the city's biggest sporting event brings together almost 40,000 cyclists.
- Mother City Queer Project – The opening event for Cape Town's glorious summer events calendar, this colorful party in December is the warm up for Gay Pride in February.
- The J&B Met – Conjuring its English roots, Cape Town frocks up for the J&B Met horse races every January. Get your most extravagant dress and fascinators (fancy headware) ready, for a day of great wine and light-hearted betting.
- Kaapse Klopse/Cape Minstrels Carnival – Held every January 2, the Klopse or Cape Minstrels Carnival is a decades-old celebration unique to Cape Town. The tradition of Klopse dates back to the 19th century and sees mostly Afrikaans-speaking Cape colored troupes (known as klopse) hitting the streets in bright carnival wear.
- Transport – Cape Town's public transport system is rich in options but may seem overwhelming for foreign visitors. Difficult to explore on foot given the distances – not to mention all the highways! – travellers can choose from the public bus and train network. Meanwhile, popular mini-van transport is a quick and economic way to hop from place to place, though some visitors may find the lack of defined routes a challenge.
- Dress right – With Antarctica just over the horizon, Cape Town can get cold! Even if you're coming to learn English in Cape Town in summer, students are advised to bring a few warm jackets and a couple of pairs of socks. Summer days are generally warm and sunny, with nighttime temperatures often dropping with the sea breeze.
- Safety – Cape Town is a relatively safe city by African standards, with safety varying from neighborhood to neighborhood. Since tourism is a major element of the local economy, there is a vested interest on the part of all Capetonians to keep you safe. Use your common sense and ask us for advice. And don't forget to relax!
Are you ready? Check out our English courses today and learn how you'll be spending your first day learning English in Cape Town!