Language is, in addition to a form of communication, a way of understanding the everyday practices of the speakers, an ideological expression that hides or reveals our way of decoding our environment, and the way we live. To learn a new language is, undeniably, to be born again, to learn everything all over again; it is to possess a new life. In this context, language immersion programs are one of the most organic ways to obtain cultural understanding of the language.
During language immersion programs, communicative skills (speaking, reading, reading, and listening) are traversed by a fifth and no less important skill: culture. The evident cultural manifestations - like art - are more and better understood through the language and in other more abstract, and more profound, cultural expressions. As with moral values - language is essential to make culture more concrete, performative, and understandable.
It is vitally important that the approach to second language acquisition is mediated by the factors that are intrinsic to culture, society, ideology, and human practices.
5 Benefits of Language Immersion in Costa Rica
These are some of the contexts that position Costa Rica as a perfect destination for Spanish immersion programs. Costa Rica is a country that, due to its historical processes, has differentiated itself from other Latin American countries, making it a great place to experience safe, dynamic, interesting, and ultimately effective and unforgettable immersion language learning.
The historical contexts of this small piece of the tropics make many consider Costa Rica the most solid democracy in Latin America. Costa Rica is a country that, since 1948 (when the army was abolished), has not invested money or energy in military institutions, and that says a lot to the world. For those interested in social movements, education, public health, and human rights policies, Costa Rica can, thus, also be seen a destination that encourages not only learning Spanish, but also learning about the progress and challenges facing these issues, including clear advantages and concrete problems.
Nature is another component that captivates visitors and locals. It is always impressive to think of the ratio between the size of the country and quantity of species that coexist in "tiquicia." With a landmass of only 51,100 square kilometers, the Republic of Costa Rica is home to 52 species of hummingbirds, 1251 varieties of butterflies, 148 types of frogs, 70 specimens of lizards, 250 species, and five of the world's seven marine turtles, which nest in the beaches of Costa Rica. In addition, more than 25 percent of Costa Rican territory is protected through environmental conservation programs. Who said you can’t mix nature with Spanish immersion in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica´s wonderful environment covers different types of territories that make each corner of the country special: an irregular Pacific coast of 1016 kilometers with more than 100 beaches and 212 kilometers of Caribbean coast;,a chain of mountains that crosses the country from the northwest to the southeast and houses 112 volcanoes, as well as sheltering the geographical areas that protect the main urban centers of the country. This geographic diversity will inspire you to explore, and of course, continue your Spanish immersion in Costa Rica in new places.
4. The People
History, politics and nature are combined with human resources. Around the country, you will find welcoming smiles ready to share their knowledge and ideas that have been learned via an empirical, sometimes mythical and often superstitious, but always interesting, worldview. The first step to learning about the culture, is speaking with the people. You can’t experience Spanish immersion in Costa Rica without interacting with the local people.
Latin America is undoubtedly a region of the American continent that involves large and complex processes of recognition, identity processes, and political crises, all of which makes this territory, which is a product of colonization, a universe of cultural exploration. Routines, foods, personal relationships, the climate, understanding of political contexts, cinema, music, architecture, entertainment customs, driving etiquette, educational values, peace and war, hygiene habits, body perception, aesthetic criteria, folklore, and values; these and many other aspects are in the repertoire that a Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica can show you. The depth of cultural discovery depends on the individual student.
How to Find the Best Spanish Immersion Programs in Costa Rica
The process of immersion language learning is determined primarily by human contact with Spanish speakers. Native teachers trained in grammatical, linguistic, social, political, and cultural issues make Spanish immersion programs in Costa Rica flow in contextualized explanations that develop an understanding proportional to students´ language level and communicative competencies. This is why Spanish immersion in Costa Rica is so beneficial for those set on learning Spanish.
In addition, Spanish immersion programs that include a homestay allow students to be positively exposed to the different cultural expressions that thrive individually in each of the selected houses, giving students the comfort of an extended family and a new family in this new cultural experience. Integrating “Spanish” into your list of skills can give you the option of understanding not only words, but intentions, which allows you to understand the social dynamic of Costa Ricans and the cultural dimensions of Latin America in general.
As Bronislaw Malinowski said, “All cultures, in one way or another, reflect common human needs,” and Spanish immersion in Costa Rica will allow you to have a respectful and integrated approach to that dimension. Language is the bridge to have access to culture, a bridge that is strong, stable, and capable of sustaining the semantic twists that cannot be learned in books and dictionaries.
This article was contributed by Intercultura Costa Rica, an immersion focused Spanish language school with campuses in both Heredia and Samara, Costa Rica. Each program offered by Intercultura Costa Rica allows participants to live and learn in Spanish, while being immersed in the local culture.