Costa Rica, which literally means “Rich Coast”, offers a level of natural beauty that renders it worthy of its name. Located in the heart of Central America and among the most progressive and stable countries in the region, Costa Rica is a treasured travel destination. With its accentuated, slow, accurate and clear pronunciation, Costa Rican Spanish is regarded as one of the best spoken in the world, making the country an ideal destination for Spanish language study abroad. Language learners will love the Pura Vida lifestyle of Costa Rica and the warm Ticos who truly embody their national mantra.
Costa Rica abounds with Spanish language schools and numerous opportunities to gain Spanish language fluency. Those who want to study Spanish in Costa Rica will be able to choose between programs in a city, a small community, or even a beach town, which all offer an intensely Costa Rican experience.
San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica and the hub of economic and political activities. The cityscape does not always offer the best of views, with its decrepit infrastructure, outdated commercial buildings, crumbling sidewalks, and potholed streets. But nevertheless, beyond this gritty downtown facade, San Jose unveils a charming maze of quirky spots, sophisticated boutique hotels, refined international restaurants, contemporary art galleries, colonial mansions, and historic neighborhoods.
Monteverde is a small community in Puntarenas, and is an important ecotourism destination in Costa Rica. Nestled between two primary cloud reserves, Monteverde is a lush mountaintop paradise. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve boasts multi-century old strangler fig trees, virgin rainforests, and a rich biodiversity with its share of endangered species. The reserve attracts wildlife lovers, bird watchers, and scientists from all over the world.
Playa Flamingo. Located in the vacation province of Guanacaste, Flamingo Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica, offering an ideal vacation getaway, with fine white sand, pristine blue waters, lush vegetation, refreshing lagoons, and a rich variety of outdoor activities. Language students in Flamingo Beach will have access to several secluded lagoons and beaches amidst incredible mountain formations.
Language Study in Costa Rica
Spanish is the most prolific language offered by language schools in Costa Rica. Language students can choose to take private, semi-private, group classes, or a combination of all these options. Some courses taught at language schools in Costa Rica provide transferable University credits. Most language programs in Costa Rica are offered throughout the year, and tend to be flexible to the needs of each student. Students will find courses taught by a variety of instructors, from university professors to local college students or elementary teachers.
Almost all language programs in Costa Rica are highly immersive, taking advantage of the colorful Costa Rican culture and the surrounding natural beauty to help individuals get a well-rounded learning experience. Therefore, language students will have plenty of opportunities to practice their Spanish outside the classroom, all while exploring numerous beaches, volcanoes, national parks, traditional Costa Rican towns and farms, and other incredible local attractions.
Along with exploration and learning through experiencing the country and culture, some language schools in Costa Rica offer cultural classes and excursions, such as traditional Costa Rican cooking classes or salsa and merengue dance lessons, and even surfing lessons. Taking learning even further, some language programs give participants the chance to earn various other certifications on top of their language skills, including yoga and scuba diving certifications, or participate in volunteer projects.
Costs & Affordability
Students can find Spanish language programs in Costa Rica for less that $200, with discounts often available for long-term programs. Additional costs usually mean additional benefits, activities, or course components, so you will get what you pay for! Most language study programs in Costa Rica offer reasonably affordable packages that include basic essentials, such as meals and accommodation.
The cost of living in Costa Rica is generally lower than that of the United States, but it is not as cheap as you might expect. While you can enjoy a vacation-worthy lifestyle in Costa Rica that is much more affordable than what you can have in the United States or other comparable countries, it is a noteworthy fact that Costa Rica has the highest cost of living in Central America and the rest of Latin America. To put this price difference into perspective, a Big Mac costs about $4 in Costa Rica, compared to less than $3.50 in Mexico, Colombia, and Peru and about $2.50 in Venezuela.
Language learners in Costa Rica can easily learn some tactics that will help ease any budget constraints and lesson overspending, like skipping chain franchises or fine restaurants and opting for sodas, which are small, tico-run eateries that offer meals for $2 to $4 as opposed to $10 to $15 at larger restaurants. It is also best to utilize local markets for fresh produce and baked goods if you are looking for a deal; you can buy a large pineapple for only $1, a bunch of bananas for less than $0.50, and a fresh loaf of bread for $1 to $2 at local markets.
Accommodation & Visas
Most language programs in Costa Rica offer participants the opportunity to live in homestays with local Costa Rican families, an arrangement that fosters deeper cultural immersion. Some programs also offer accommodations in student apartments, private apartments, hostels, and hotels, which can be ideal options for students who want more privacy or independence.
Citizens with a valid passport from most nations can stay in Costa Rica for 30 to 90 days without a visa, although evidence of onward travel is typically required. You may be refused entry to Costa Rica if you are unable to furnish evidence of return or onward travel, which may come in the form of a return ticket or a ticket for travel to another country.
Benefits & Challenges
The Pros of a Higher Price Tag. The cost of living in Costa Rica may be higher than that of other countries in Latin America, but its higher standard of living offsets the extra monetary costs. With slightly higher costs comes plenty of options, in terms of consumer goods, amenities, services, and housing. During your language program in Costa Rica, you can choose to go easy on your budget and live like a local, or spend a little more and live like a king.
Safety. By choosing to attend a language school in Costa Rica, you will also be choosing to study Spanish in one of the most politically stable, safe nations in the entire region. Costa Rica has a reasonably low crime rate, especially in comparison to other nations in Latin America.
Reliability & Structure. Although you may have to deal with rough roads (literally) to get from point A to point B, strolling along a secluded, untouched beach or hiking through Costa Rica’s cloud forests will make all the transportation woes worth it. You may also have to deal with an overall lack of punctuality, in terms of language classes starting on time or appointment times being abided by, but eventually you will come to love the laid-back, slow-paced pura vida lifestyle. Through studying Spanish in Costa Rica, you will learn how to live simply and worry-free.