Spanish Classes in Costa Rica – One of the biggest questions we get at the Costa Rican Times is where should I go to learn Spanish in Costa Rica? There are so many schools, how do I pick and choose? We sent one of our writers around to start attending classes at different schools in Costa Rica and she is now reporting back.
My experience at Intercultura Language School was everything I could have hoped for and more. I’m so happy to be able to call this place my Spanish school. This language institute is in the beautiful town of Heredia, which is a metropolitan area about thirty minutes from the capital and the international airport. I chose this area because it’s full of activity. There is also another campus, which is in Samara, a beach town. Students have the flexibility to study at both campuses and make the most of both the city and the beach.
The staff at Intercultura were so helpful and willing to help me get adjusted and learn about all that the school offers. Every time I had a question about my class, what I was learning, where I could find something, or the many activities available, they had an answer for me. I was treated like part of a family.
From the first day, I was impressed with the school. Annia Delgado and Robert Flescher gave a great orientation that included information about the homestays, getting around Costa Rica, and frequently asked questions. It also included a tour through the center of Heredia, including a restaurant, souvenir shop, and the Central Market, where we learned about local fruits and vegetables.
The school connects students with homestays, apartments and hotels and they make sure that they are satisfied with their stay. Each setting has its own advantage. Whether you want the comfort of knowing that you have your own privacy or the security of not being alone is totally up to you.
Every morning, Carlos Araya was at the door with a smile on his face, genuinely welcoming each student. The reception desk is the next thing you see, where Geovanna Castro was always excited to talk to me. She knows about each student’s situation and asks thoughtful questions about their families, weekends, and lives. The staff had the patience to hear me out even when I tried to speak in my broken Spanish, on the first day. This is a school that truly cares about and respects their students. There was never a moment where I felt rushed or unimportant. Laura Ellington and Adelita Jimenez founded the school and are the founding directors and Marcelo Arroyo is the executive director and Spanish department head. They have implemented a communicative teaching method and an interactive learning environment that really pays off.
I’ve learned more in my four weeks at Intercultura than I did in 3 years of studying on my own. The communicative approach works. On my own, I had previously tried to learn all of the grammar. It worked to the extent that I could understand, but it wasn’t until the practice I got at Intercultura that I could really speak. Last week, I was able to confidently speak to a group of Spanish-speaking friends for the first time. I spent a whole day with them, able to communicate because of the guidance I received at this school.
I love that the focus of the classes was on talking about real life issues and situations. Many people are afraid to go to a language school because they think it will be as it is in U.S. high schools, meaning endless practices that have no relevance in real life. Who doesn’t remember having to write crazy things like, “Three red elephants have eaten apples” in a foreign language? Intercultura uses the opposite of this tedious approach. The classes are about interesting topics. They help you learn not only the language, but the culture. The discussion topics also help you see your own culture through different eyes. While learning grammar, you are having conversations that actually interest you. It’s helpful to hear corrections and learn from mistakes made during a normal conversation. The emphasis of the class is on the learner speaking and communicating clearer each day. This approach builds confidence and ability quickly.
My teacher, Jesus Cardenas, was excellent. I would recommend him to anyone I know. He was entertaining and really good at reminding us of things we already learned but temporarily forgot. He kept the class
moving forward, while still making time to go over more basic topics that were causing confusion. No one was left behind. The whole class progressed together, even though each classmate had different strengths and weaknesses. In addition, Jesus tied our personal stories and topics of interest into the grammar points we were practicing each week.
The classes were small, which meant I received more attention. Classes flowed easily and everyone had the opportunity to participate and discuss a wide variety of topics in Spanish. Intercultura changed my perspective of what it means to be in classroom setting. These classes provided total immersion in the language. They helped us achieve fluency and accuracy in a natural way.
I got a chance to meet and interact with students from all over the world who came to Intercultura to learn and practice their Spanish skills. At Intercultura, there is always someone interesting to get to know. I have made many friends, of different ages and backgrounds, and we have had many unique experiences together while discovering all of the beautiful places in Costa Rica.
There was never a dull moment at Intercultura because there were always different activities going on that were designed to engage us culturally. For example, I had my choice of participating in dance classes, Costa Rican cooking classes, lectures on a wide variety of subjects, film class, and my favorite, “intercambios,” which connected me directly with native Spanish-speakers. These activities provided me with a great opportunity to practice listening and speaking Spanish. All of those outlets helped give me the confidence to use my Spanish outside of Intercultura, as well as learn new skills and engage in important discussions that concern the Costa Rican society and my daily life here.
This school provides its students with so many options to get involved, while receiving excellent benefits in the process. Since Intercultura has a broad network within its community, there are many places where you can volunteer. In this way, you can use your new Spanish skills to help out organizations with missions to serve the community. Some of the most popular volunteer placements are in schools and daycares. Involvement in the real life community makes your Spanish improve greatly.
I can now live here or return to the States with a whole new outlook on life and a new set of skills in my toolbox. Thanks to Intercultura, I have a better idea about how to communicate effectively. I highly recommend this school because, while there are quite a few schools in Costa Rica, none measures up to Intercultura’s standards, reputation, and success. Take advantage of the 20th Anniversary Special, which is a $50 discount for each additional week at the school. This special applies to group classes at any point throughout 2014.
If you would like to start classes at this school go to their website here