Anyone planning to move or travel to Costa Rica should at least acquire a survival level of Spanish to survive and enjoy what the country has to offer. If you don’t learn Spanish, you will always be a “stranger in a foreign land”.
Here are some helpful tips.
- Check with other expats who have studied Spanish in Costa Rica and ask for a recommendation.
- Look for schools that have been around for more than ten years and have a proven track record.
- BE CAREFUL of the internet! Many schools are not what they are supposed to be. Just like the multitude of sites offering retirement information, anyone can create a site offering their services as a language school. Be sure and do your research to see who you are dealing with.
- If you can, check out at least three schools in person. Sit through a class or two to see if the teaching methods are compatible with your learning style.
- Don’t make your choice based on price alone. In some cases, you get what you pay for.
- Make sure the teachers are bilingual so that they explain grammatical concepts to you in English.
- Be careful if a school tries to sell you too much of an intensive program. It takes time to learn another language. You’d better get only a few hours of instruction a week at first. Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed and discouraged.
- If you are not satisfied with the school you have chosen, find another one.
- Many schools offer individual lessons online, so you can study from your home or office.
- Remember that it takes time and practice to learn Spanish. Hone your Spanish survival skills first to handle most everyday situations you’ll encounter living here.
It’s entirely possible to travel and/or live in Costa Rica without knowing Spanish, but you’ll definitely benefit more when you can communicate without mimicking pig’s ears in restaurants and repeating town names in 4 different tones before you find the right pronunciation and remember practice is key so if you are taking language lessons in Costa Rica you should keep practicing inside and outside the classroom .
Christopher Howard has been running monthly relocation/retirement tours in Costa Rica for over 30 years. See www.liveincostarica.com. He is also the author of the one-of-a-kind bestseller, “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish”, which can be purchased through www.costaricabooks.com or amazon.com