FAQs about travelling to Cape Town

What is the best time to travel?

Cape Town is attractive all year round. Unlike much of the rest of Africa, Cape Town has a seasonal climate with spring, summer, autumn and winter. The seasons are opposite to the seasons in the northern hemisphere, so if it is summer in South Africa, it is winter in Europe. During spring time (September to November) the temperatures are mild and people come from all over the world to visit the west coast during its flower season or to see the whales in Hermanus. In summer (December to February) the weather is warm and temperatures can reach the lower 30’s; most people go to the beaches and do outdoor sports. Autumn (March to May) also offers warm weather and there is hardly any wind. This is the best time to enjoy nature at its most colourful, visit wine estates or to do outdoor sports, like surfing. Winter (June to August) can be rainy and cool at times, but also sunny and warm. Capetonians spend most of their time at one of the city's many great restaurants, bars or theatres.

Is it safe to be in Cape Town?

As a tourist, you will experience Cape Town to be a safe city, as long as you follow the same rules that apply to most big cities (don’t display valuable items, avoid deserted streets, especially at nights, etc.). We will inform you about these rules on your first day of school.

What is the weather like in Cape Town?

January and February can be very hot, with temperatures as high as 32 – 34 C. There are plenty of daylight hours and the wind can be strong at times.
March to April is warm, sunny and the wind drops considerably. May and June are the autumn months. This is when sunny days alternate with rainy days and the evenings become cooler.
July and August are the winter months. It seldom freezes in Cape Town and on a sunny day it can easily reach 20 C. However, there are rainy days and evenings become colder.
September and October, it rains less frequently and the daylight hours increase by the week. During November and December you may find occasional hot days, but usually there are mild temperatures and a little rain. For the current weather in South Africa see www.weather.news24.com/sa/cape-town

What kind of food is served in South Africa?

South Africans eat a variety of food including pasta dishes, chicken and rice, fish and rice, meat (beef, lamb and pork) and vegetables. Local meat is sometimes also available, such as ostrich or kudu. You may get to try traditional dishes such as pap (corn meal), boerewors (spicy beef sausage) and vetkoek (deep fried dumplings with either sweet or savoury fillings).

Do I need any vaccinations?

No vaccinations are required except for travellers going to the north-eastern areas of South Africa, where anti-malaria precautions are recommended. However you should consult your doctor for advice. Students coming from South America or travelling through a Yellow Fever belt need to ensure that they have their Yellow Fever vaccination.

Spending money?

For accommodation options that provide meals, ZAR500 – ZAR1000 a week should be sufficient.

Do I need a visa?

For a stay in South Africa of up to 90 days, you can travel on a visitors' visa. Some nationals need to apply for a visitors' visa at the nearest South African embassy in their home country, other nationals will receive the visa at the port of entry. For a list of countries as well as the latest information please visit the homepage of the department of home affairs.

You can extend a visitors' visa once while you are in South Africa by a further 90 days. However, if your visa is endorsed to attend a language school, you will not be able to extend your visa.

If you intend to stay for more than 90 days, you need to apply for a visa in your home country. Details will be given on request.

Do you offer sightseeing tours and assistance with travel arrangements?

The Good Hope Studies Social Club organises activities for students to get in touch with local people and learn more about South Africa and its culture. Activities are organised based on the students’ interests. You can find the current programme and book online under “Activities in Cape Town“. Some activities are free of charge; for others, transport and entrance fees apply. All guided tours start at both centres. We have a dedicated travel advisor at the school, who manages our social programme and also helps students with booking additional services such as car hire, Kruger safaris, overland tours, etc. We are also available to assist students in booking sightseeing tours that may not be on the social programme for that week.

What sports are available in and around Cape Town? 

Cape Town is great for almost any sporting activity. Close to school, students can play tennis, swim at a public pool, train at one of the well-equipped gyms, or rent a bicycle from the school.
Cape Town is also well-known for its many excellent golf courses, for surfing (at Muizenberg beach and Big Bay, along the West Coast), for the hiking trails up Table Mountain, for diving, horse riding, sky diving, sand boarding and much more.

FAQs about learning English in Cape Town

Which school location would you recommend?

Good Hope Studies started with its first English language school in Newlands in 1995. We chose this particular location because we believe that this is by far the best area for a language traveller. Here students can study in a peaceful and relaxing environment, often taking advantage of the good weather by having English lessons in the gardens. Breaks are spent relaxing in the garden around the pool area. At the same time, it is only a short walk to public transport and the main shopping centres of the suburbs. Some students prefer the hustle and bustle of a major city. They would like to be close to the main tourist attractions and experience Cape Town city life. For these students, we have opened our City Centre language school in the heart of Cape Town. The schools are identical in terms of their main facilities. The choice of the location is more a personal preference: a lively city centre versus a relaxing, upmarket suburb.

When should I arrive?

For any Cape Town based programmes, arrival and departure dates are based around our accommodation requirements. Your day of arrival should be a Sunday and day of departure should be a Saturday. Additional days of accommodation can be booked. For volunteer projects outside the greater Cape Town area, the days of arrival and departure depend on the projects and are mentioned in the project descriptions.

What kind of accommodation do you recommend?

We offer a range of accommodation to suit everyone’s taste. However, we do recommend living with a Host Family, as it is an excellent opportunity to practise the language, to get an insight into the South African lifestyle and to receive excellent local advice about where to go and what to do.

If you prefer to be more independent, we recommend one of our Student Residences. For students who love the hustle and bustle of the city centre, we recommend our City Centre Residence, for thos studying at Newlands, we suggest to either stay at our Onsite-Residence Accommodation in Newlands (shared rooms) or our Student/Volunteer House (shared rooms). If you are looking for the most affordable form of accommodation, we recommend the Student/Volunteer House. 

For more comfort and for the students aged of 30+, we recommend Homestay-Plus, a Guest House or a Hotel.

How do students get around?

Public transport has improved quite a bit over the past few years and even though it is still not up to the standard of some other large cities, it is reasonably reliable, especially during daytime. There is a MetroRail line which connects the school in Newlands with all the host-families, the city centre and the beaches. In addition, there are minibus taxis. In areas where MetroRail is not available, bus routes are available with dedicated lanes. Minibus taxis and MetroRail do not operate at night. For the evenings, we recommend our school bus, renting a car or the use of private taxis.

FAQs about Volunteering

How many hours per day/week will I work at the volunteer project?

This varies from project to project, but the average working day is about 8 hours. 

Will I have at least one day off per week? 

Yes, you will. Most of the projects require volunteers to work Monday to Friday and the volunteers have the weekends to themselves. Others require them to work 5 days and they have 2 days off. This all depends on the specific project.

I’m a vegetarian – will there be vegetarian food available at the project?

If you inform us on the enrolment form that you are vegetarian, your project will have vegetarian meal options available.

How many volunteers are there at the project?

The numbers vary depending on the project and the time of year – it’s not possible to give an exact figure as they often change. Most Cape Town projects have more than 1 or 2 volunteers at a time and some of the projects in rural areas can have up to 10 volunteers at a time.

What nationalities are at the project?

Volunteers come from all over the world.

Why do I need to pay to volunteer?

The fee you pay covers the costs incurred by the project, the administrative costs incurred by Good Hope Studies, and, in some cases, a donation to the project. Though it varies from project to project, the fee may go towards the costs of accommodation, food, clothes, transport and excursions as well as volunteer training, preparation and supervision. Some of our conservation projects, such as the Shark Project, include specialised training with a certificate from the project (as well as the certificate from Good Hope Studies), and these projects are therefore more expensive than the social and community projects. For more information about what is included, please see our price list and our detailed project descriptions.

What kind of activities can I do during my free time at a project outside Cape Town?

The projects offer activities that are related to the area they are based in; this can be anything from visiting the Addo Elephant Park and Monkey Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay or Bungy jumping at the Stormsriver. It all depends on the project and where it is located. The projects offer assistance in booking these activities.

FAQs about Teacher Training Courses

What’s the difference between a 'TEFL Course' and CELTA?

TEFL is simply an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. There are hundreds of different TEFL courses offered all over the world which vary enormously in their length, quality, and in the recognition they receive. CELTA is the TEFL course designed by the University of Cambridge’s department of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) (see www.cambridgeesol.org) and is run at approved centres all over the world.

How are participants assessed?

Assessment is continuous, and is based on teaching practice and assignments. Progress is communicated to trainees through feedback and grading of individual lessons, through tutorials (at least one tutorial during the course) as well as through feedback on written assignments. Tutors agree on the final grade (Pass A, Pass B, Pass or Fail) in consultation with an external assessor, who visits the centre for a day to moderate grading and ensure that all Cambridge regulations are being followed.

What Methodology is encouraged?

CELTA is broadly based on the communicative approach. There is a strong emphasis on student involvement in the learning process and trainees are encouraged to think in terms of learning, rather than teaching.

What about Work Opportunities?

There is a growing demand for ELT professionals worldwide, and it is becoming more and more necessary to have CELTA in order to enter the global ELT profession. Many schools require CELTA as a minimum qualification, and most offer a higher salary to CELTA-qualified teachers.
In South Africa, the industry is generally smaller. However, in Cape Town ELT is now well established and more and more schools are opening here.

Is any preparation for the course required?

Candidates need to spend about 80 non-contact hours on the course, as well as the 120 contact hours. This is mostly time spent on lesson planning and writing assignments during the course, but also includes pre-course preparation.
To help you prepare for the course, you will receive a pre-course task to complete before the start of the course, and we will then send you an answer key a few days before the course starts. We also recommend that you purchase a methodology book (eg. Scrivener, Learning Teaching) and a grammar book (eg. Swan, Practical English Usage) which you can refer to while doing the pre-course task, as well as during and after the course.
While an official file will be provided for candidates’ portfolios and some stationery will be provided, we recommend that candidates have a personal file (with dividers) at home to keep course notes in order, as well as their own stationery.

Why is a Supplementary Course recommended before starting a CELTA Course?

Many candidates speak perfect English but have forgotten basic grammar rules and terminology which distracts their focus on improving their teaching skills. The Basic Grammar Course enables candidates to do the CELTA Course with more confidence and they will cope better with language analysis, lesson planning, teaching grammar and working on assignments. They would also be better equipped to deal with student questions.

Where is the course held?

City Centre School, 5 St Georges Mall, Cape Town, South Africa.

Can you help me with accommodation?

We can recommend the following accommodation options in the area (from lower prices/basic accommodation to higher standard/prices):

You may also prefer to stay with one of our Good Hope Studies host families. For further information and fees please have a look here.

Finally, you may prefer to rent a self-catering apartment in the city centre for the month: