Janet May

Plunge In: Immersed up to your Nose in Spanish

It‘s distracting when monkeys hang from the trees over your homework.

At the Intercultura Language School in Samara, Costa Rica, there are many things to take your mind off studies: water so warm you barely feel it, a surfing beach just outside the gateway, yoga and salsa dancing after school.  It’s a wonder that any homework gets done: but you can’t avoid learning Spanish here.

The classes are not a push over. Spanish only, is spoken, and class size is six or less. This is not the place for those wanting to hide in the back and listen. Instructors patiently draw out the most reluctant speaker. They are inventive communicators, so students always know, more or less, what is going on.

Costa Ricans, or “Ticos”, are friendly and patient people. The village locals are accustomed to being interviewed by students on assignment.  Students can live with a family, and augment their learning with stories told around the dinner table. (Everything is more dramatic in Spanish.) But be warned, this may not be the most comfortable choice. Some families [as anywhere] are friendlier than others, and all live simply, no air-conditioning, bugs in the bathroom, and bland cooking.

Intercultura’s students are part of the community and contribute to the local economy in several ways. Many of the instructors are from nearby, and the school itself is integrated with the village. The school’s donations range from roof repairs to computers for the elementary school, and they also provide art and music programs for local kids on campus.

No question, these week-long, immersion classes are a memorable way to learn more Spanish. Just watch that the monkeys don’t eat your homework.