Anyone thinking of relocating or traveling to Costa Rica should at least acquire survival level Spanish to survive and enjoy what the country has to offer. If you do not learn some Spanish you will always be a “stranger in a strange land”.
Here are a few useful 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 track record.
- BE CAREFUL of the Internet! Many of the schools are not all they are cracked up to be. Just like the slew of sites offering information on retirement, anyone can put up a site offering their services as a language school. Be sure and do your research to see whom you are dealing with.
- If you can, check out at least three schools in person. Sit in on a class or two in order to see if the teaching methods are compatible with your learning style.
- Do not 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 which tries to sell you too much of an intensive program. It takes time to learn another language. You will be better off only receiving a few hours of instruction weekly in the beginning. Otherwise you will get overwhelmed and discouraged.
- If you are not happy with the school you chose, then look for another one.
- There are many schools that offer individual classes on line, so you can study from your home or office.
- Remember it takes time and practice to learn Spanish. Hone your Spanish survival skills first to handle most of the daily situations you will encounter while living here.
It is definitely possible to travel and/or live in Costa Rica without knowing Spanish, but you sure get more out of it when you can communicate without pantomiming pig ears at restaurants and repeating city names in 4 different tones before finding the right pronunciation and remember practice is the key, so if you take language classes in Costa Rica, you should keep practicing inside and outside of the classroom.
Christopher Howard has been conducting monthly relocation/retirement tours to Costa Rica for over 30 years. See www.liveincostarica.com. He is also the author of the one- of-a-kind bestselling, “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish,” that may be purchased through www.costaricabooks.com or amazon.com