An excellent way to study Spanish and to learn about Costa Rica at the same time is
to enroll in one of San Jose's many Spanish language schools. Language acquisition is
big business here, with at least twenty schools in and around San Jose offering
intensive Spanish classes. (Teaching Spanish is a popular cottage industry here.)
Throughout the country you'll find individuals who are eager to give you private, one on-
one Spanish lessons. Some schools keep the class size to three or four students,
ensuring each person maximum attention from the teacher.
Most schools offer programs that include living arrangements with a Costa Rican
family By interacting with a local household, you might learn
how Costa Ricans cook, where and how they shop, and how to deal with servants, as
well as other everyday routines of life that can be so different from back home.
Combining classroom study and a home stay with a Costa Rican family puts you in a round-
the-clock Spanish environment, speeding up the learning process. Some schools include
tours of farms, factories, archaeological sites, museums, conservation projects,
national parks, and other places of ecological and cultural importance as part of the
curriculum. Some schools will pick you up at your door every morning and return you to
your home stay in the afternoon.
An important observation about home stays comes from a former Student, who says:
"It's best to find a situation where you are the only guest in the home. When three
or four students stay in the same house, you'll find yourselves talking to one another
in English instead of to your hosts in Spanish."
No matter where you are in Costa Rica, there'll be a language school nearby You can
study Spanish in downtown San Jose, on the beach in Quepos, in the cloud forest at
Monteverde, or even in a typical rural village. The sheer number of schools makes it
impractical to list them here. Also, the varying quality of instruction makes it
impossible for this book to make recommendations; I just don't know enough about them to
vouch for their quality. The Tico Times, various tourist publications, and the Internet
are full of information about Tico language schools. Your best source for
recommendations are from those who have attended a language school in Costa Rica.