FAQ's - Intercultura Spanisch Sprachschule

Beautiful, Colonial Intercultura Spanish Language School in Costa Rica

 

Was macht Intercultura Language School and Cultural Center besonders?      

We have highly qualified, well-trained teachers; a range of cultural activities included free of charge; homestays within walking distance to school; a colonial city campus and a beautiful beach-front campus; interaction with local Costa Rican students through our English (ESL) program; and many tours and activities available. Our program is recognized in the U.S and Europe for its academic excellence. We have been chosen by such entities as Washington University, the World Health Organization, the Organization for Tropical Studies, Duke University, UNC and the American Heritage Association to offer semester, language and intensive programs to groups and individuals. We also have a rigorous, ongoing evaluation system and professional development program that helps us continually improve our academic programs and extra-curricular services. Lastly, we are committed to giving back to the communities that host us, which we do via our non-profit children’s education program in Sámara, and through a variety of volunteer programs, as well as giving ongoing material and financial support to more than ten area non-profits. 

Where is Intercultura located?

Intercultura has two campuses in beautiful Costa Rica. 

Our Heredia campus is located in the colonial and university town of Heredia, in the downtown area, 5 blocks from the Central Park, 2.5 blocks from el Palacio de Deportes Gym and Heredia's soccer stadium, 4 blocks from the Central Market, and 12 blocks from Costa Rica National University.
Our Sámara campus is located directly on the beautiful sand beach of Sámara in the Guanacaste province.  Playa Sámara is a small rural pueblo on the Northern Pacific Coast that is close to Nicoya, the colonial capital of the region, as well as several indigenous areas where traditional Costa Rican pottery and handicraft are still made.

 

Can I study at both campuses or only at one?


You may choose to study at only one campus or a combination of the two, space permitting.

What is the difference between the Heredia campus and the Sámara campus?

Though the Spanish programs and academic standards are the same in both campuses, the location is the major difference between the two.

Heredia is a major city and transportation hub located just outside of San José offering the same sort of comforts and accommodations common to large cities.

Sámara is a small, rural beach community located on the Pacific coast of Guanacaste, approx. 5 hours from San José. 

 

 


What are the texts and method used?


Intercultura uses its own language textbooks, CDs and DVDs, plus supplementary texts, realia, current events materials, newspapers, films, news programs, literature, interviews, etc. The method used is the Communicative Approach, emphasizing communicative skills in real-life settings. A strong cultural component contextualizes the language for meaningful learning.

Do you offer highly advanced/superior levels? 


Yes, we have advanced and superior levels that have been approved by Duke University, Montana State, Lindenwood University, and Austin College among others for both undergraduate and graduate level credit in our regular intensive or semester programs. We often have Spanish teachers and other advanced speakers come for refresher courses, or to study cultural and literary course-topics.

Can I get university credit through Intercultura?


Intercultura gives U.S. transfer credit through an associated U.S. university for an extra fee, or by set programs through colleges such as: University of Washington, Austin College, UNC/Duke University, & Montana State College.

When do classes start?


New classes start every Monday, except when that Monday falls on one of Costa Rica's National Holidays. 

When is the campus closed?


The school is closed on Costa Rican National holidays including the following dates: January 1, Semana Santa (Holy Week), April 11, May 1, July 25, August 15, October 12, and 2 weeks at Christmas.

How long are the classes?


Group classes are taught for 4 hours per day Monday to Friday, for a total of 20 hours per week.  There are 2 short breaks given during those 4 hours.  Our class structure is broken down into one unit per week, so students can study with us for as little as a week, or as long as a year or more.

How often will I change teachers?


Students often change teachers every one or two weeks.

Can I take private classes?

During the low season, we are happy to provide both private and semi-private classes.  During the high season, there are sometimes not enough resources available to provide private classes, so they generally cannot be confirmed until the week before, although group classes are always available.

What are the average ages of students at Intercultura?


In order to take regular group classes, students must be 18 or older.  We also offer special programs for other age groups, such as our Teen Camp sessions for students ages 13-18.

Age Range by month, in percentages:

January

February, March, April, May

June, July, August

Sept, Oct, Nov & Dec
Nov Déc

50+

17%

18%

11%

21%

36-49

21%

20%

16%

22%

23-35

24%

21%
23%
25%

18-22

34%
35%
43%
30%

Under 18

4%
6%
7%
2%

 

Are kids accepted into regular group classes?


In order to attend our group classes, students must be 18 or older.  However, we offer specialized teen programs from July to August, and young students (including children) can often take private classes with us during our low season.
Students under 18 may be eligible to register for private classes, please contact us for more information.

Do you have any childcare for children that are not studying? 


Yes, this is offered at very affordable rates, generally in the homestay, with the “señora” of the family.

How many students are there in a regular group class?


Group classes have a maximum of 6 students, with an average of 3 to 4 students during our low season and 4 to 6 during our high season. 

What will my host family be like?


We have carefully selected our host families and trust you will find them to be helpful, welcoming and friendly throughout your stay.  Keeping that in mind, please do not expect the same standard of living as in your own country.  Families are generally middle-class, which means you may be sharing a bathroom or sleeping on a bed with a foam mattress and you will see your fair share of insects! 

How do I get to the school or my homestay from the airport?


We include free airport pick-up in Heredia for students staying with a host family, and students staying in local hotels can either get their own taxi at the airport, or through Intercultura. 

Unfortunately the distance from the closest airport (Liberia International Airport) to Sámara, does not allow us to offer the same service to students studying there, but there are several options: 
1. Students can fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, and stay with one of our host families in Heredia.  This special transportation package costs $85 and includes airport pickup, a night in the homestay, dinner if applicable, breakfast, and the bus ticket to Sámara.  The host family will take the student to the bus stop in the morning. 
2. Another option would be to fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport and then to take either a public bus or a semi-private bus such as Interbus to Sámara the following day. 
3. For students who wish to fly in to
Liberia International Airport, we will gladly arrange for a taxi to take you to Sámara.  

Emergency contact numbers for any arrival problems are included in the confirmation package.

What other activities does the school offer?


Activities included in your tuition include Latin dance, cooking, intercambios (conversational exchanges with native Costa Ricans), films, study halls, typical Tico festivals, football or volleyball games, book fairs, yoga (Sámara only), story-telling with music, arts and crafts, community service projects and presentations or talks.  We also offer periodic special activities such as concerts, art exhibits, plays, soccer games, and eco-hikes. Tours and excursions can be created at the request of students at additional cost.

Are there any tours/excursions available?


Our on-staff tour guide or reception can organize half day, one day, or weekend trips for students, or if you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, they would be happy to give you travel advice.  Tours are not included in the class price, so students will need to plan accordingly.  Since classes end on Fridays, groups often leave directly after class for their various excursions and return by Sunday evening to be ready for the following week's classes. 

Can Intercultura help me find volunteer work?


Yes. This is set up through our volunteer coordinator, and you can follow the link to find out more information about our Volunteer Program. Depending on which campus you are studying at, we offer different volunteer placements, such as  turtle conservation projects, local health clinics, elementary or high schools, national parks, and much more. 

Will I have access to e-mail at the school?


Yes, we have school computers available to students at no cost, and free wireless. If students prefer, they can also go to a local internet café.

How do I get from the Heredia city campus to the Samara beach campus or vice versa?


We can arrange a private shuttle for groups of 7 or more people between the campuses at a reasonable cost.  Most students however, opt for the public bus (approximately $8 one way) or hire a private shuttle such as Interbus.

What is the weather like in Costa Rica?


It is rainy in the afternoons/evenings from May to November. Light rains from May to August, heavier from September to November. Climate is usually still warm and sunny in mornings. The best time to come depends on whether you prefer smaller classes (in low season, August – December), no rain (late November to May), or to be here in high season (Jan-March and late May to August). Temperatures average around 86-95 F (30-35 C) year round.

What should I bring with me to Costa Rica?


 

In the city most people wear jeans/skirts, t-shirts, tank-tops, etc. with comfortable shoes. Also bring a couple sweaters and a light jacket for evenings and some excursions as it can get cool in the mountains. At the beach, people wear shorts, skirts, tank-tops and sandals/flip-flops. You may occasionally need a long-sleeved t-shirt at the beach at night. While each students' needs will be different, we generally recommend the following:

 

Shorts, casual pants/skirts, jeans, hat/cap, sweater/sweatshirt, t-shirts/tank-tops, swim suits, 1 set of dress-clothes, dress shoes, sneakers, sandals/flip-flops, towel/washcloth, notebook & pens, all prescription medicine (as it may not be available here), sunscreen lotion (30 SPF or more), Spanish travel dictionary, insect repellent/bug spray, sunglasses, tote bag/day backpack, ziploc type bags (to keep stuff from getting wet), umbrella, rain jacket/poncho, ear-plugs, reading material, camera, alarm clock, first-aid kit (w/ allergic reaction medications), small flashlight, contact-lens solution, cell phone (rent one or activate your own for use in Costa Rica)