Are you keen to study English abroad? Having troubles deciding where to go? Well I’d say you need to seriously consider putting South Africa at the top of your list. While the US, or UK might be the first places that come to your mind because of familiarity, they don’t have the same magical qualities as the Rainbow Nation does. I should know. I had the pleasure of living there for many years and it’s still one of my most favorite places in the world.
South Africa is a land of incredible contrast. With lush forest, to dramatic mountains, to breathtaking coastlines, it’s a country that has everything. South Africa also has delicious cuisine filled with meats, spices, and seafood. It also has unique in how multi-cultural it is (with 11 official languages). Above all, it is a much cheaper place to stay than other English speaking countries. All of this makes it the perfect place to learn English.
English is the Main Language
For starters, if you’re looking to learn English, you want to go somewhere where English is the main language. While South Africa has 11 official languages, make no mistake that English is the primary one. All your road signs, official paperwork, and schooling is in English.
One of the things that makes South Africa unique is while you’ll converse entirely in English, you will see people conversing in their native tongues as well. This includes Afrikaans for some of the white communities and an array of African languages among the black community like Zulu, Tswana, Xhosa, and more.
I also find the South African accent to be quite attractive!
English Language schools in South Africa
There are many language schools in South Africa but not all are created equal. Once you book your class, then you’ll need to sort out your accommodations which can be painful to navigate around the South African bureaucracy.
Enter Worddy, a great service that acts as a one stop shop to book your entire experience. From the English classes, to the accommodation, to visas, Worddy let’s you search, compare, and pay online with ease. The service is totally transparent and free because they are paid directly by the English school.
Book your language courses now with Worddy!
The People Are Friendly
One of the things that stood out to me most about South Africa was just how genuinely nice people are. Perhaps this has to do with the climate being nice year round or the beautiful landscapes or maybe people here are just nicer than other places I’m not sure!
In fact, it’s not just me because they were voted as the friendliest people in the world in 2016 by a survey on TripAdvisor. So other people from around the world all feel the same!
South African Climate
South Africa has some of the best weather in the world. It’s mild and temperate climate makes it the perfect place to travel and also to live.
While Cape Town and the Johannesburg area have different climates, they are never cold in comparison to colder climates in the UK or America.
In Cape Town, you can expect lows in the winter months to be around 10c and highs in the summer around 30c or so. There is an abundance of sun all year round. It is quite similar to the temperatures of the Mediterranean. If you fancy the weather in Southern Italy or Greece, than you’ll be right at home in South Africa.
South Africa is cheap
If you’re looking for an amazing place to learn English but also are budget wary, then South Africa will tick all your boxes. Compared to other English speak countries like Canada, UK, America, Australia, NZ etc, South Africa is by far the cheapest.
The cost of living in South Africa is far lower than the other countries as its currency, the rand, has weakened significantly in recent years. It’s likely that your home currency will be very favorable when converting it to the rand.
For example, a delicious steak dinner with wine at a nice steakhouse will cost you roughly $15-$20 USD. A nice cocktail at a cocktail bar in Cape Town will be roughly $5-8 USD. A cheap lunch at my favorite place Nandos (famous for its grilled chicken) will cost $5-6. All this money saving will mean you can have more budget to explore South Africa and its neighboring countries!
Cape Town is just amazing
Having traveled all around the world, it is without hesitation that I still say that Cape Town is the world’s most naturally beautiful city. The contrast between the mountains, ocean, and beach are unlike anything else I’ve seen.
There are so many stunning things to see and activities to do in and around Cape Town, it’s no wonder Nelson Mandela said “The Cape is South Africa’s gift to the world”. If you choose Cape Town as your city to learn English (which I would highly recommend), you’ll have endless amounts of things to keep you occupied in addition to learning English.
For example, the Cape Town culinary scene is booming and there’s everything and anything you’d want to eat here. The views are stunning and a climb up to Lion’s Head at sunset or sunrise will be something you’ll never forget.
Cape Town is surrounded by the most beautiful wine country in the world. If you like wine in any capacity, it is an easy 30 minute drive to Stellenbosch where you can enjoy delicious Pinotage and Chardonnays with the most beautiful views you can imagine.
And of course…a safari!
Last but certainly not least, you can go on a safari in South Africa! In fact, this is one of the main reasons people visit the country. It is famous for its huge national parks that are home to the famous Big 5.
A safari is an absolute must when staying in South Africa. There are so many different options to be had in South Africa as well, from budget camping trips to 5* luxury. Whatever your budget is, you’ll have the option to see the big 5 in their natural habitat.
The rest of Africa is accessible
If South Africa is not enough for you, there is an entire continent to explore in Africa. Whether you want to explore the red deserts of Namibia, or the stunning Victoria Falls, or go gorilla trekking in Central Africa, or visit otherworldly landscapes in Madagascar, there is something for everyone.
While it’s not like living in Europe where you can jetset to any country of your choice on a cheap flight, it is still more accessible than not. My favorite way of exploring Africa is with an overland tour. These tours are all by land and spend weeks traveling through different countries. For example, there are trips from Cape Town that will travel to Namibia, Botswana and ending at Victoria Falls over the course of 2-3 weeks. This will give you a general flavor of all the highlights in the area.
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