5 Tips for choosing a Spanish school in Costa Rica

If you have ever researched Spanish schools in Costa Rica you’ve probably noticed there are a myriad of schools to choose from. From the mountains to the sea, there is a Spanish program in Costa Rica for everyone, however, not all schools are created equal. As you continue to research your ultimate study destination in Costa Rica, keep these pointers in mind.

1.) Think about the location/region you want to study in. This may seem obvious but in addition to the campus you will be studying at you also want to be comfortable where you’re living. Do you want to be in a mountainous region of Costa Rica or in a coastal area of Costa Rica? Do you prefer a tropical climate or a cooler climate? Do you want more peace and quiet or a buzzing nightlife? These are just some of the questions you will want to ask yourself. Keep in mind that you will only spend on average about 20-hours a week in class so you will have plenty of time to explore the area you are staying in and it’s important to find the right fit.

2.) Bigger is not always better. Some Spanish schools make their claim to be the ‘largest’ school or have the most amount of locations. While this is not necessarily a negative thing, it doesn’t mean that bigger is always better. Larger schools can sometimes feel more detached and like an ‘institution’ rather than an intimate learning environment, which is important in language learning. Do you want to feel like a number or like part of a family?

3.) Teaching Staff. You also want to consider who the teaching staff are. Are they native Spanish speakers from Costa Rica? Do they have degrees? Are they interns or professionals in their fields? The teachers in any Spanish language program are integral to any program and can make the difference between a good and a GREAT experience learning Spanish in Costa Rica.

4.) Culture and Activities. Another important part of a Spanish language course is to see if any cultural, adventure or social activities are available as well as any type of volunteer programs. Some common types of activities in Spanish language programs are dance classes, cooking classes, weekend excursions to nearby areas, hikes, tours, etc. Also, you may want to inquire whether the program offers a homestay option. A homestay is where the school places students with local Costa Rican families. This is a very fun and effective option to not only learn more Spanish but also learn more about the Costa Rican culture.

5.) Customer Service. Customer service can sometimes be subpar in language programs due to a high volume of students or a lack of administrative knowledge of how to properly handle new clients. How are your first interactions with the school? Did they reply promptly and answer all of your questions? Did they seem friendly, helpful and efficient? As they say, first impressions are important and if you are not getting treated well from the start then you may not be treated well later either.

Of course there are many factors to consider when choosing a language school in Costa Rica and above are just a few. Follow our blog for future articles and tips for studying abroad in Costa Rica.

Nervous about studying abroad? Don’t be!

With social media posts about wild travel experiences or the occasional negative post on a travel experience to a foreign country, many students may be nervous about traveling abroad to study for the first time.

Rest assured that thousands of students, including families, have studied safely in paradise with Nosara Spanish Institute since 2010 and we’re proud to say many of our students are repeat visitors to Nosara.

With a few simple measures, you too can experience the peaceful, educational and transformative Pura Vida of studying in our little jungle town on the beach.

First, our campus is located in a central area of Playa Guiones and the Tourist Police office is only a short walk from the school. In case of medical issues, the closest bilingual doctor’s office in town is only a 3-minute walk from the school.

Second, to help protect against any unforeseen issues, we highly recommend students purchase travel insurance. Many options can be compared and purchased easily online.

Lastly, below are some commonsense steps that will help ensure your studies here in Costa Rica are both safe and enjoyable:

– Do not leave anything of value unattended at the beach (including flip flops)
– Remember to close and lock windows and doors at night or when you leave
– Never leave anything of value in your car, especially at the beach
– Carry a flashlight at night
– Do not share your travel plans or information with people you do not know
– Only book tours or accommodations through known businesses

Pura Vida!

Yoga and Spanish come together

Learning a new language can be an immensely rewarding brain strain. Like the practice of yoga, it requires attentiveness, patience, flexibility and the ability to accept where you are at any given moment. Often times, people arrive to a class with rigid expectations and find themselves taken aback when things don’t come as quickly as they had hoped.

Both studies can take a lifetime to master. Breathe. Embrace the process of acquiring a new skill, whether it’s learning to conjugate a verb or master a handstand. Understand that as new information is introduced into the brain, it takes a bit of time to process. Take a deep breath and let it flow freely. As Pattabi Jois, founder of Ashtanga yoga famously quoted, “Practice, and all is coming”.

Buena suerte y Namaste from Nosara Spanish Institute

You can learn more about our Spanish and Yoga Program here: Nosara Spanish Institute – Yoga and Spanish

Spanish Institute – Teacher Spotlight

Nosara Spanish Institute recently welcomed our newest instructor, Julio Lopez Brenes.

Julio has over 18 years experience teaching Spanish at some of the most renowned Spanish schools in Costa Rica. He also has a BA degree in Spanish philology (language development/linguistics) and an MA degree in Educational Management. Julio is currently working on his MA in Teaching. He excels at creating a fun and dynamic learning environment for all levels.

Julio teaches a fun filled Salsa class and we are very excited to have him as valuable addition to the team.

Julio Bio Pic

What is your Spanish level?

What is your Spanish level?

At Nosara Spanish Institute, we focus on specific language learning stages derived from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (“CEFRL”). CEFRL includes levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 and sub-levels a,b and c at each level. This is not only very effective for determining your initial level, but also allows us to monitor your progress over time.

Before beginning classes, each student takes an online placement test that, in addition to an oral assessment, lets us know exactly at which level you should start.

If taking group classes, we place you with other students at your level (a maximum class size of 6). If taking private classes, we’ll know just where to start your lessons.

Find out more about CEFRL here.

You can begin the Reservation and Placement Test process here.

Nosara Spanish Institute is a boutique Costa Rica Spanish language school located in idyllic Playa Guiones, Nosara.

Five reasons to learn Spanish at Nosara Spanish Institute

Costa Rica’s natural beauty, culture and safety record has made it one of the most popular destinations in the Americas to visit and study.  There are also countless outdoor adventure options to supplement your language vacation, including surfing, zip lining, canopy tours, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and fishing.  Here at Nosara Spanish Institute (NSI), we offer all the above excitement, in addition to a passion for academics, culture and customer service. Below we list five top reasons we think that NSI is the ideal place to study Spanish in Costa Rica:

1. Location:  While location isn’t fundamental to creating a great school, it certainly appeals to many of our students. Tucked in the northwest corner of the Nicoya Peninsula with no direct freeway access from major cities, Nosara embodies an idyllic, off the beaten path setting with unspoiled beaches, mountains and valleys. It is not uncommon to be held up in ‘traffic’ by dozens of cattle or to witness livestock and horses feeding along the side of the road. Nosara’s elite status as part of a National Wildlife Refuge results in the noticeable lack of any high-rises on the beaches or in town. And because it is illegal to build within 200 meters of the high tide line, overdevelopment is not an issue. Nosara’s beaches remain pristine and the town is teeming with birds, monkeys and iguanas. Our beaches also boast some of the most consistent surf in Guanacaste, with year-round warm water, offshore winds and a sand bottom beach break.

2. Academics:  Paramount to operating any successful language school is, of course, a commitment to academics. This is something we at Nosara Spanish Institute take seriously.  And while you may not receive a report card for your performance, it does mean that we are dedicated and passionate about teaching the Spanish language.  Our curriculum is based off the Common European Framework of Reference for Language learning. “CEFRL” is based off years of research and academia on how people best learn languages.  This isn’t meant to imply that you will be learning European Spanish, but is used to distinguish between different learning levels, from A1 on the beginning spectrum, to C2 at the advanced level.  At NSI we monitor students and closely follow their level progression. Our University educated staff has over 50 years of combined teaching experience, which, along with our progressive curriculum translates into a very effective language learning experience.

3. Culture:  Nosara Spanish Institute’s location in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica makes it an ideal place to learn and experience the culture of Costa Rica. Often touted to be at the heart of Costa Rican culture, the Guanacaste region is characterized by what many of us envision Costa Rica to be like:  Cattle ranches, farms, men on horseback and yearly ‘corridos’ (rodeos).  The people and culture of Guanacaste are some of the friendliest and most generous people in the country.

4. The campus:  We are proud to have newly renovated Nosara Spanish Institute. We believe that studying in a comfortable environment with a relaxing vibe goes a long way toward enhancing the learning experience. We like to think of our new digs as outdoor jungle coffee lounge, meets study hall, meets international traveler hangout. NSI offers modern, comfortable and inviting classrooms and lounge areas for students to relax, eat and study. It’s not uncommon to hear monkeys and see iguanas lounging around school as well. As far as location, the NSI campus cannot be beat. We are a one-minute walk to town, a one-minute walk to restaurants, stores and shops and and an eight-minute walk to the best surf break in Playa Guiones. We are also a short walk along the jungle path to the world famous Nosara Yoga Institute and the brand new, Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort. We’ve got our own post-surf outdoor shower and students are allowed to swim in the pool at the fantastic French bakery next door. What more can you ask for?

5. Customer Service:  Nosara Spanish Institute’s commitment to customer service is something unmatched in many language schools.  As a smaller, boutique language school we are able to provide a more personal service to our students.  Whether it is a personal local airport pick-up by one of NSI’s owners or help in planning your arrival and accommodations, our staff at NSI is second to none in student satisfaction and retention.  In addition, our administration staff holds years of experience in the Study Abroad and Student Affairs sectors at the University level, making us well equipped to assist students from all over the world.

So if competent language instruction, surf, yoga, unspoiled beaches and a stellar location sound appealing, we encourage you to visit and spend a few weeks or more with us here, living, learning and immersing yourself in culture at Nosara Spanish Institute.