Studying Spanish in Costa Rica for One Week

Taking Spanish classes while you travel is a great way to learn Spanish, increase your confidence, and help you to speak with the locals.  As I studied Spanish at University, I didn’t need to take any additional classes, I just try to talk in Spanish as much as I can!  However, as most of you aren’t that lucky, I asked fellow travel blogger Tasha from Backpacker’s Wanderlust to write about her experiences learning Spanish in Costa Rica.  She spent one week at a Spanish School in San Jose, Costa Rica; read on to find out more!

Visit Central America is a dream for many people, especially Costa Rica.  I was excited to travel there, but worried that would struggle with a language barrier, so wanted to learn Spanish to make my travels easier!

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My Experience Learning Spanish in Costa Rica

Before arriving in Costa Rica, I had downloaded a few language-learning apps and tried to learn as much Spanish as possible. However, this soon got overtaken by packing, organising what I would do there and where I would stay. Learning the local language quickly got put on the back burner, especially as my trip grew closer.

Luckily, I had signed up with Intercultura, a local Spanish School located in Heredia, a small town just outside San Jose. This is where I would be studying for my first week in Costa Rica, and would be able to truly immerse myself in the language, and discover new parts of the country at the same time.

intercultura building - spanish school in Costa Rica
Intercultura – my Spanish School in Costa Rica

Walking into the school on my first day, a beautiful orange-plastered building greets me. Little accents of green are highlighted against bright pink flowers. It is unlike any school I have ever seen before. My dreamlike state was soon shattered by my first task of the day though, a quiz to asses my current knowledge.

To say this test did not go well would be an understatement, but luckily, I am placed in a small class to allow for a more one on one learning experience.

The teacher, Monica, is your stereotypical Latina: absolutely beautiful, with long dark hair and an extremely loud personality. She understands both English and Spanish and gets us all laughing. This makes starting class with a bunch of people you don’t know a lot easier!

inside the Spanish School in Costa Rica

Monica teaches us about the basics of Spanish, mainly the first things you would learn in any language. How to say your name, where you are from, what you do and how you are feeling. She then sets the first homework assignment which is to write a general paragraph about us, and read it aloud at tomorrow’s lesson.

The classes are scheduled for the afternoon, so it is perfect for my current jetlagged state – however the nervousness soon sets in. I am not the best public speaker, and knowing I am going to speak in front of the class makes me worried sick.

With a shaking voice, I manage to get a few sentences out. While I am struggling, I make the classic rookie mistake of saying I have 21 anuses (anos) instead of 21 years (años), but what can you do!?

ram luna dancers-watching Costa Rican entertainment after spanish classes in San Jose

That night we go on a trip to a local restaurant, Ram Luna, which has sweeping views over the valley below. With an open bar and buffet, we certainly have a good time. There are also local dances by performers in the most beautiful flowing dresses. I love that the school also organises trips so you get to know your classmates in a more personal setting, ultimately allowing you to make friends more easily.

In the morning, some of the teachers organise a cooking class to learn how to make some traditional Costa Rican food before school starts and the learning begins. We girls cook some delicious empanadas, while the boys just devour them! 

In class, we learn the Spanish alphabet and how to pronounce each letter, eventually learning how to spell our names. This comes in handy when we all go to Pizza Hut for lunch and need to spell it to the cashiers.

Exploring the town in Costa Rica where we had Spanish Class

That evening we met back up at a local bar where the school hired a bus to take us into San Jose to see a local band play & have some drinks. The alcohol gave us the courage to try out our newfound Spanish skills with the locals, which leads to an excellent evening.

The next day, it’s lucky our classes are in the afternoons, as a lot of people probably wouldn’t have managed it otherwise. With sluggish students and an overenthusiastic teacher, we try and finish off the remainder of our workbook before graduation tomorrow.

Completing the lists of she, he, his her, them and they, we form sentences and cram it all in. All we need to do to graduate is complete the book, and no one wants to be the only person who doesn’t finish! We spent the rest of the evening sitting down scribbling with a pen and paper trying to figure out all the answers.

Last day at Intercultura and the big day is here, graduation. Well as much as you can graduate from studying Spanish for a week. We really just know the basics, but that’s good enough. One by one our names are all read out and we are given a certificate. We take class photos and say goodbye to our teacher, but not yet to our classmates. Tonight, for the weekend, we are going on our first trip out of the capital with the people we have been studying with.

We pile onto a bus with our bags and head to La Paz Waterfall Garden. True to the rainforest vibe in Costa Rica, the plants here are lush, there’s a cool mist in the air and there is no better place to see some magnificent animals.

Snakes, jaguars, hummingbirds and many other animals are dotted around the area. It doesn’t feel like you are visiting a zoo, it’s more like a garden that these animals call home, with cleverly placed enclosures and amazing flora.

Exploring Monteverde

In the evening, we head further into the heart of Costa Rica to Monteverde. Though not without an obligatory sunset class photo (header image). With rains setting in we decide a pizza party would make a perfect evening at the hostel we are staying at.

That morning was our last day with Intercultura, but instead of being in a classroom we were zip lining in Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. What an amazing experience! Flying high above the ground and even going on Latin Americas longest zipline was a great way to end the week!

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Arriving back at the school shortly after, we said goodbye to our guide and goodbye to Intercultura. Now it’s time to get out and explore Costa Rica on our own. With new friendships forged, some Spanish learned and many good memories, our time at Intercultura has been amazing.

You can find more information about Intercultura on their website here

tasha amy la paz waterfall - Studying Spanish in Costa Rica

About Tasha:

Tasha Amy is the creator of Backpackers Wanderlust which focuses on budget travel and backpacking the world. Based in New Zealand she holds down a 9-5 job while making the most of every opportunity to get out and explore our beautiful planet on the cheap.

You can find Tasha on her blog Backpackers Wanderlust,  or on Facebook and Instagram.

All photographs are courtesy of Tasha Amy, Backpackers Wanderlust.

If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to Costa Rica, get a quote now from World Nomads.

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Taking Spanish classes in Central America is a great way to learn as you travel! Read about Tasha's experience learning Spanish in San Jose Costa Rica


15 thoughts on “Studying Spanish in Costa Rica for One Week

  1. Bart says:

    This looks absolutely stunning with the adventures and immersion. I have done something similar but would love to check this out too! And explore Monteverde!

  2. Indrani says:

    I always learn at least 50 new words of a language before visiting a new country. I appreciate your efforts in this, In fact every traveler should have this habit it makes travel a more enjoyable experience.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I would love to do something like this. I have some basic knowledge of spanish but really want to take it to the next level.

  4. Tifanee says:

    I’ve been wanting to find an immersion program where I can go for one or two weeks. This is perfect! I’m definitely going to check it out and I like that they have activities too!

  5. Danielle Desir says:

    Besides learning Spanish I love that this school takes students on culturally immersive trips to not only expose them to Costa Rican way of life but to also get to know each other. I’d love to give this a try!

  6. Reshma says:

    Spanish is the language that I have been meaning to learn for some time now, and I think you had the best experience of learning a language along with traveling. It must have been fun!

  7. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Looks like fun Tasha. I learned Spanish in high school, then honed it by spending a few weeks in Peru and 4 months in Costa Rica, between 2 trips. In Cusco, I stayed in a local hood. Nobody spoke English, so I spoke Spanish only for 2 weeks. Wifey was in Iquitos. Fabulous immersive learning experience. Nice toucan shot!

  8. Jon Bailey says:

    This seems like a perfect way to combine a little bit of education, fun, and self-exploration all in one! Perhaps I should look into that too.

  9. michele h peterson says:

    Great post! You’ve captured the trials, tribulations and fun of trying to learn another language. The extra-curricular activities at this Spanish school sound fantastic!

  10. mark wyld says:

    Sounds like an amazing experience in an awesome destination. Experiences like this help immerse you into the local culture which is great

  11. Megan Indoe says:

    That’s a cool experience that you can do a crash course in a week! I bet you learn alot in that time especially since your immersed in a culture with Spanish all around!

  12. Danijela WorldGlimpses says:

    This is such a lovely experience. Would love to learn the new language abroad. I’ll actually consider it after this post. 😉

  13. Danni L says:

    I really empathised with your nerves over speaking spanish in front of the whole class- that gets me too. Afternoon classes are a great solution, for relaxed tourists, but the sights of Costa Rica are certtainly distracting!

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