needing recommendatoins on Language schools in Costa Rica
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Mar 8, 2013 11:42 AM Last Post By: SoloHobo
Mar 6, 2013 9:00 AM
needing recommendatoins on Language schools in Costa RicaI am needing recommendations on language schools in Costa Rica. Our son age 18 is wanting to do a language program with on on one tutoring or small group instruction and a home stay. He will probably be going in May for about one month or maybe more. I would like it to be a really good experience for him in trme sof learing the language and safety. Thank you.
Mar 6, 2013 9:22 AM
I cam to Costa Rica for the first in 2003, precisely to study Spanish by the way, and have managed to return at least once a year ever since. Since 2007, I also have been bringing a group of high school students to CR, who come to live in host families, attend a language school and travel around at the weekends.
The thing you and your son should ask themselves: what is the aim of high vacation?
If it is travelling around, getting to and picking up a good bit of Spanish, there are countless language schools thoughout Costa Rica, e.g. in Manuel Antonio, Cahuita or Sámara if you enjoy the beach, in the Orosi Valley, in the South, etc.
If learning Spanish is the priority, you should in my opinion concentrate on language schools in or around San José, because the mayor universities can be found there, and that is where the language schools contract their teachers.
The one I personally can recommend out of good experience is the Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) in San Pedro, based on personal experience of myself and my groups. They provide professional teachers, excellent host families and have a good staff that takes great care of the students' needs.
However, as I said: there are many other language schools, both in San José as well as around the country. Browse a couple of their websites and you should be able to find a place that oyu and your son can agree upon.
Mar 6, 2013 9:36 AM
Mar 6, 2013 10:06 AM
3Why Costa Rica? In my opinion Guatemala is the place to head for good quality, great value options. Cost is apt to be a fraction of what you'd pay in CR and 1-on-1 is standard in Guatemala and tough to come by and/or a big added expense in most other countries. Honduras has some good options, too. I've pasted below my opinions and experiences with Spanish schools from a previous thread. ¡Buena suerte!
You can search for schools by country or city using
but take the ratings with a grain of salt. Specific to Guatemala, try
but keep in mind that they haven't added schools for many years so some terrific ones (like the Cooperativa, below) aren't listed.
For bang for your buck, Guatemala leads the list of Spanish schools in CA, followed closely by Honduras. In both countries 1-on-1 instruction is the norm; in other CA countries and México it's hard to find and you pay dearly for it - sometimes 3 or 4 times what you'd pay for the same offerings in Guatemala. I HUGELY prefer 1-on1 instruction because I want my own strengths and needs, learning style, and desire for a break or a change of pace to drive the curriculum and instruction. Even in a small group - 2 to 4 people, that's unlikely to be the case as we're no 2 alike in this challenging language learning process.
In Guatemala Antigua, Xela, and the villages around Lake Atltlán are all popular choices. Antigua has the least effective immersion environment because there are dozens of schools and thousands of tourists at any given time so the infrastructure is largely English speaking. I'm not over fond of Xela; it's chilly at that higher altitude and it's a big (not so attractive imo) city and I'm just not a city person. The surrounding area is interesting, though, and here is a link to information about that area: http://xelapages.com/ . The lake is where I prefer to head.
In Honduras, I think Copán makes an excellent base for study - cute town, lots to do including museums, the ruins, a bird park, a butterfly place, hot springs, caving, and hiking. Although it gets a lot of visitors because of the ruins, they seem to be mainly day trippers or stick to their hotels and surprisingly few locals speak English (a good thing for Spanish acquisition). La Ceiba is a city and HOT so I haven't headed back there; the immersion factor is decent (though it's better in small towns imo because the locals get a kick out of helping you practice) and there are great outdoor activities in the area. The islands (and in general popular beachy places in all countries) make poor immersion environments but have their own appeal.
In any school, ask for what you want; if you're not pleased with your teacher or host family, fix it instead of going on week after week in a situation that doesn't fit your needs. I wouldn't commit to more than a week or 2 until you know the school and town is a good fit for you. Teachers in quality schools are so good at assessing your level and learning style that moving doesn't "cost" as much as you might think. If it feels right - don't move.
Here's a link to my photo collections with blog and travelogue links on the main pages; I'll refer you to collections below.
The following are schools I’ve attended and can recommend personally.
Academia Antigüeña is a good school in Antigua, Guatemala - strong teachers, cool activities, interactive host families, though I had 3 add'l students in mine which was common. Prioritizing homestays is really important in Antigua where many schools offer stays that are more like boarding houses than family stays. Several people have complained about staying with Olga, the secretary of the school, so I'd avoid that. Familia de Cesar Sactic is wonderful. Antigua isn't a good immersion environment but it's a good place to start if you haven't traveled in CA much. Guatemala 2009 collection http://www.spanishacademyantiguena.com
Cooperativa is my home away from home - I really love that place. Gorgeous garden setting overlooking Lake Atitlán in Guatemala - young, talented teachers, culturally important activities, interactive families (though a bit more humble lodgings than in the others), and heavy community investment. I have life-long friends there who have helped me start a non profit: http://www.becaproject.org
2007 and 2009 collections for study, 2010 and 2011 for more local photos - I'll be at least visiting there every year and usually studying for a few weeks. http://www.cooperativeschoolsanpedro.edu.gt
Ixbalanque in Copán Ruinas, Honduras is another great school you could consider - beautiful new school building, cute town, great staff and families. I've enjoyed their weekly activities, too, and there's lots to do in the area. 2005 and 2008 collections http://www.ixbalanque.com
Central American Spanish School with bases in La Ceiba and on Utila and Roatán is a good school; in La Ceiba my teacher and host family were really amazing. La Ceiba is HOT and I'm not much of a city person, though. The islands are poor immersion environments as English is widely spoken; lots to do though (I'm a diver). 2006 collection http://www.ca-spanish.com
Instituto Jovel in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico - beautiful school, well run, good staff and families. I enjoyed San Cristobal and surrounds but it's MUCH more expensive. 2010 collection http://www.institutojovel.com
If you contact any of them, please tell them hi from Stacey. :-)
Let me know if I can answer more questions!
Mar 6, 2013 11:23 AM
4in samara, there is intercultura which is a great language school -- at the beach. http://www.samarabeach.com for more information about the area.
Mar 6, 2013 9:28 PM
5Thank you for all the informatoin. I am looking into the Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) and other programs recommended. If the perons who wrote about this program , if you could tell me a little more about why you liked it, I would appreciate it. Our son would be doing the program along and he is 18.
Mar 7, 2013 4:55 AM
6Unless he wants to surf, I would suggest Guatemala for spanish immersion, lake Atitlan area is excellent.
The school in Playa Samara is a popular choice, and has good reviews on this forum.
Mar 8, 2013 10:51 AM
Mar 8, 2013 11:42 AM
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