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National Language Fair returns to San José

May 10, 2011

The Costa Rica Multilingüe Foundation will host the country’s second National Language Fair on May 13 and 14 at La Antigua Aduana in downtown San José.

The fair will feature culture displays from countries across the globe and showcase an array of language learning opportunities available for Ticos throughout the country.  Institutes such as Costa Rica’s Association of Cultural Interchange will be hosting a scholarship lottery for high school and university students to volunteer in foreign countries as well.

“This opportunity is really unique in the country and this is one of the only places for people to go and win scholarships from all the national institutes,” said Marta Blanco, the executive director of Costa Rica Multilingüe. “That’s one of the things they have to do to participate, the organizations have to give us scholarships for students.”

In addition, the fair will mark the launch of a national survey to gauge the English proficiency of Costa Ricans. Blanco said the survey will target students as well as professionals from various sectors of the country’s economy. The presidential council on competiveness and innovation originally proposed the survey in October 2010.

“If we don’t know, we can’t make decisions. This will help us decide how to give out public moneys,” Blanco said. “For example if we can see that engineers are graduating with very low levels of English then we should start rethinking what we are doing in public and private institutions.”

While students and employees from different sectors cannot be forced to take the survey, Blanco said she expects people will want to collaborate.

It will be conducted online over a period of several months in collaboration with the Banco de Costa Rica, the National Training Institute and the Costa Rican Electricity Institute.

“Costa Ricans are always willing to let people know what their current level of English is,” she said. “This will give them a photograph of how far they have come and what they need to work on.”

The fair will also feature an array of cultural entertainment provided by foreign embassies in Costa Rica. Activities will range from martial arts and origami classes to a German theater production.

The National Language Fair is a group effort by several private and public institutions. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 13 and 14. For more information, visit www.crmultilingue.org or contact Marta Blanco at crmultilingue@casapres.go.cr or 2207-9485.

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