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English Course Outline

The Cactus Course Outlines provide a learning framework for the Cactus Foreign Language Evening Courses. They are designed to provide you with a good idea of what you might cover over a 10-week period, and include typical themes, grammar and vocabulary fields. They are flexible rather than prescriptive, in that our teachers may decide to adapt their learning plans to the specific level, aims and interests of their classes. Use the tabs below to view the relevant English course outline for your level. If you want to cover the same course outline in a shorter period of time, we also offer One-Week Online Courses and 5-week Courses.

Beginner 1

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Greetings and introductions
  • The alphabet
  • Personal information: name, address, telephone number, email address, age, marital status
  • Countries and nationalities
  • Jobs and working
  • Numbers 0-30
  • The family
  • Describing people
Grammar
  • Verb to be present tense
  • Possessive adjectives
  • Subject pronouns
  • Question words and short answers
  • Verb to be negative forms
  • Possessive s’
  • Present simple of common verbs have, love, work, like
Cultural Content
  • Cultural differences when meeting and greeting people
  • English language in the world
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking
  • Lots of listening
  • Lots of pronunciation

Beginner 2

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Sports
  • Food and drinks
  • Languages and nationalities
  • The time
  • Things I like and favourite things
  • Everyday activities
  • Rooms and furniture
Grammar
  • Present simple
  • Adverbs of frequency
  • Questions and negatives
  • Pronouns
  • This and that
  • There is/there are
  • Prepositions of place
  • Was/were
  • Past simple irregular verbs
  • Ordinal numbers and dates
Cultural Content
  • English speaking countries
  • Popular sports in the UK and USA
  • Typical food in the UK and USA
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking
  • Lots of listening
  • Lots of pronunciation

Beginner 3

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Weekend Activities
  • Leisure time
  • More places in town
  • Colours
  • Clothes
  • Transport
  • Future plans
Grammar
  • Past simple regular and irregular verbs
  • Time expressions
  • Can/can’t
  • Adverbs
  • Requests and offers
  • Some/any
  • Present continuous
  • Present simple v present continuous
  • Future plans – going to, present continuous
Cultural Content
  • Celebrating events in the UK and USA
  • Popular public holidays
Skills Work
  • Lots of speaking
  • Lots of listening
  • Lots of pronunciation

Elementary 1

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Friends and neighbours
  • Cooking and food shopping
  • At the shops
  • More everyday activities
  • Small talk and gossip
  • Expressing opinions
Grammar
  • Who’s or whose?
  • Collocations
  • State verbs
  • Have/have got
  • Past simple and past continuous
  • Expressions of quantity
  • Definite and indefinite articles
  • Adverbs
Cultural Content
  • What’s in the news, the media in the UK and USA
  • Big cities in English speaking countries
Skills Work
  • Listening and responding.
  • Reading for comprehension.
  • Speaking activities to encourage interaction in class.
  • Writing assignments as homework.
  • Games to build vocabulary.

Elementary 2

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Future plans and intentions
  • Family history
  • Health, fitness, and sports
  • At the doctor’s
  • Parts of the body
  • Best things in life are free
  • Expressing doubts and certainty
Grammar
  • Going to, will and present continuous for the future
  • For and since
  • Always, ever, never
  • Present perfect or past simple?
  • Comparatives and superlatives
  • Have to/don’t have to, should/must (modal verbs)
  • Synonyms and antonyms
Cultural content
  • Formal and informal situations in British culture
  • British royal family
Skills Work
  • Listening and responding.
  • Reading for comprehension.
  • Speaking activities to encourage interaction in class.
  • Writing assignments as homework.
  • Games to build vocabulary.

Elementary 3

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Talking about feelings
  • Birth, marriage, death – life events
  • Book/film reviews
  • Big decisions
  • Social media
  • On the phone
Grammar
  • Past perfect and narrative tenses
  • Joining words
  • Passives
  • All tenses revision
  • First and second conditional
  • Bring/take, come/go
  • So/such
Cultural Content
  • The role of football (soccer) in British culture
  • Famous British people
Skills Work
  • Listening and responding.
  • Reading for comprehension.
  • Speaking activities to encourage interaction in class.
  • Writing assignments as homework.
  • Games to build vocabulary.

Intermediate 1

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Describing people, place, things
  • Work/life balance
  • Telling stories
  • Language and nationality
  • Facts verses opinion
  • Fairy Tales
Grammar
  • Compound adjectives
  • -ed and -ing adjectives
  • Adjectives for describing personality
  • Parts of speech, word formations
  • Past tenses, active and passive
  • Questions and answers
  • Homophones
  • Linking ideas
Cultural Content
  • Oscar Wilde and English literature
  • Small talk in British culture
Skills Work
  • Listening and responding.
  • Reading for comprehension.
  • Speaking activities to encourage interaction in class.
  • Writing assignments as homework.
  • Games to build vocabulary.

Intermediate 2

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Right and wrong, rules for life
  • Exploration
  • Have you ever….?
  • Friendship and school
  • Energy and the future of energy
  • Making arrangements
Grammar
  • Modals for advice, permission, obligation
  • Modals in the past and present
  • Simple, continuous, passive
  • Time expressions
  • Adverbs
  • Phrasal verbs, separable or inseparable
  • Verb + -ing, verb + infinitive
  • Will, going to or present continuous
  • May, might, could for future possibility
Cultural Content
  • Boarding schools and the private school system
  • State schools and the state school system
Skills Work
  • Listening and responding.
  • Reading for comprehension.
  • Speaking activities to encourage interaction in class.
  • Writing assignments as homework.
  • Games to build vocabulary.

Intermediate 3

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Sharing and kindness
  • Why on earth…? What on earth…?
  • The digital world
  • People that make a difference in the world
  • Clichés
  • Biographies
Grammar
  • Second and third conditionals
  • Might have/could have/should have
  • Articles, possessives, all/everything, pronouns – revision
  • Phrasal verbs with out and up
  • Reported speech
  • Indirect questions
Cultural Content
  • Famous British people of the 20th Century
  • The British media – the role of the tabloids
Skills Work
  • Listening and responding.
  • Reading for comprehension.
  • Speaking activities to encourage interaction in class.
  • Writing assignments as homework.
  • Games to build vocabulary.

Upper Intermediate Lower

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Plastics and the environment
  • Fake news
  • Home sickness
  • The boomerang generation
  • Applying for a job
  • Lego and Ikea
  • Advertising
Grammar
  • Revision of the tenses
  • Make and do
  • Narrative tenses
  • Antonyms
  • Future forms
  • Take and put
  • Expressions of quantity
Cultural Content
  • The BBC – a British institution
  • The role of parenting and family in British society
Skills Work
  • Focus on listening, speaking and communication
  • High level reading
  • Development of writing style and tone
  • Pronunciation/accent work to achieve reduced L1 interference

Upper Intermediate Higher

Topics & Vocabulary
  • Love and relationships
  • Extreme weather
  • Living in the past
  • The Vikings
  • Inventions and discoveries
  • Milestones in life
Grammar
  • Modal verbs / probability and in the past
  • Echo questions
  • Expressions with ‘get’
  • Relative clauses
  • Present and past participles
  • Adverbs and adverbial collocations
  • Used to/be used to and would
  • Articles and determiners
  • Metaphors and idioms of the body
Cultural Content
  • The British obsession with the weather, moaning and queuing
  • British poets
Skills Work
  • Focus on listening, speaking and communication
  • High level reading
  • Development of writing style and tone
  • Pronunciation/accent work to achieve reduced L1 interference

Advanced

Functional Language
  • Developing an argument and defending a point of view
  • Challenging arguments and opinions
  • Expressing beliefs and expressing opinions tentatively
  • Summarising information, ideas and arguments
  • Deducing and inferring
  • Justifying an argument
  • Expressing caution and expressing reservation
  • Expressing empathy and sympathy
  • Evaluating different standpoints
Lexis
  • Vocabulary specific to the topic and subject areas
  • Phrases and expressions relating to the language functions listed above
Topics &Culture
  • Experiences and feelings
  • English literature – plays and novels
  • The economy, recession and cost of living
  • Memory and versions of reality
  • Living abroad, immigrants and ex=pats
  • War and peace
  • How to be happy
  • Gender roles
  • The role of music
  • The placebo effect
  • Life changing experiences
Grammar
  • Tense review
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Adverbs and adverb collocations
  • Verb patterns Infinitive/-ing form
  • Modal auxiliary review
  • Avoiding repetition
  • Adding emphasis
  • Mixed conditionals
  • Relative clauses and participles
  • Discourse markers
  • Passive constructions and reporting
  • Future forms
  • Linking devices
Pronuntiation
  • The clear pronunciation of topic and subject-area specific vocabulary
  • Sounds with minimal interference from the first language
  • Various features of pronunciation which only occasionally deviate from an internationally intelligible model
  • A range of stress and intonation patterns, pitch and volume to convey subtle shifts in meaning and attitude

Understanding Language Levels

If you are taking a language course with Cactus you can find out more about our language levels and how you can track your progress using the ‘can do statements’ below. These statements outline the key things that you should be able to say and understand once you have completed each level. Can do statements are officially recognised as a set of performance-related scales describing what a learner is able to do in a foreign language, in accordance with the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and the CEFR defined levels.

CEFR Levels

If you are taking a language course with Cactus you can find out more about our language levels and how you can track your progress using the ‘can do statements’. These statements outline the key things that you should be able to say and understand once you have completed each level. Can do statements are officially recognised as a set of performance-related scales describing what a learner is able to do in a foreign language, in accordance with the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and the CEFR defined levels.

Beginner (A1)

  • You can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type
  • You can introduce yourself and others
  • You can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, what you do, people you know and things you have
  • You can ask and give directions
  • You can order food and drink
  • You can make very basic travel and accommodation arrangements
  • You can have a basic conversation, provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Elementary (A2)

  • You can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas including basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography and employment
  • You can communicate in simple and routine tasks, requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters
  • You can describe, in simple terms, aspects of your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need
  • You can comfortably ‘get by’ when visiting the country, albeit with some difficulty.

Intermediate (B1)

  • You can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • You can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken
  • You can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest
  • You can describe experiences and events
  • You can talk about dreams, hopes and ambitions
  • You can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans
  • You could consider working in the country using the language (e.g. bar/counter work, waiting service in cafes or basic office work).

Upper Intermediate (B2)

  • You can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation.
  • You can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible, without strain for either party.
  • You can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
  • You can do business with speakers of the language in most run-of-the-mill situations.

Advanced (C1)

  • You can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning
  • You can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions
  • You can use the language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes
  • You can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, logical flow of text, and clear awareness of the audience.

Proficient (C2)

  • You can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read
  • You can summarise information from different spoken and written sources
  • You can reconstruct arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation
  • You can express yourself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely
  • You can differentiate finer shades of meaning, even in the most complex situations.

How to book with Cactus

Select language

Simply select which language you would like to learn and from the box below and click lets go.

Take level test

This is a quick test to help you find the right course for your current level of knowledge.

Book your course

Use our simple online booking system to select your course.