by Christy Morgan
If you want to learn Spanish there are many beautiful countries to choose from for your immersion program. In my research I discovered that Costa Rica, Colombia, and Ecuador were the best places to learn Spanish because the local people do not have a strong accent, making it easier for new students to communicate.
Immersion is truly the best way to learn a new language. I experienced this for 2 weeks at Intercultura in Costa Rica. If you have the option to do a homestay during your course do it! Not only was this the more economical choice (private room and bathroom, with breakfast, dinner, and laundry service for $175 per week), it gives you a chance to speak only Spanish with your host family. You’ll get to experience amazing local food and have someone that knows the town well.
Once you choose the country you want to learn in, you then need to research the different areas and choose a location for your studies. Do you want to be by the beach, soaking up the sun and learning to surf in your free time? Or do you want to be in the city, surrounded by more locals, getting to know the culture, visiting museums and such in your free time. I was able to experience both the city of Heredia and the beach town of Samara during my courses with Intercultura. Here’s what I learned, which will help you in deciding what kind of location you want to do your studies in.
- More crowded, but this gives you more opportunities to practice your Spanish with locals. Also there are more choices for restaurants, shopping, bars, you name it. If you like people and having more choices the city will be a good choice for you. Though people in big cities tend to be less talkative and social, I found people friendly in Heredia.
- More professional attitude, so if you are someone that likes more structure and punctuality choose a city location.
- The cost of things like groceries and food at restaurants was cheaper in the city. There was this amazing outdoor produce market with rows of beautiful fruits and veggies (pictured above). I didn’t see anything like this at the beach.
- More chill environment, which means people are casual, service is slow, and more partying to all hours of the night. If this is your lifestyle already then head to the beach!
- Do you love to swim in the ocean and surf? Then the beach is probably a good choice for you, unless it will become a distraction from your studies. You are there to learn, so don’t forget to do your homework! The great thing about the Samara location of Intercultura is many places give discounts to students. The surf school next door lets you have a board for the week when you purchase a surf lesson ($35). If you’ve always wanted to learn to surf I highly recommend trying it there. The lesson was excellent and the waves are perfect for beginners.
- I found the food to be a bit more expensive at the beach, but more variety and healthy options since it caters more to tourists. In Samara there was local food, sushi, Italian, lots of seafood if you are into that and even a vegetarian restaurant. My cheapest meal was about $4 and most expensive was $20. So you can see there is quite a range.
- The school offers free classes outside of the language class like Zumba, latin dance, and yoga. Both campus’s offer these but it was really fun to take classes outside overlooking the beach!
Immersion in general
I found immersion learning to be the best way to learn Spanish. Living in a city of Spanish speakers forces you to use what you’ve learned, and encourages you to practice outside of class so you are able to communicate more easily. It’s like accelerated learning. I had locals tell me the whole time I was in Costa Rica they were shocked I had only a couple of weeks of classes. The program at Intercultura was the best experience. The teachers were amazing, I met so many beautiful people from all over the world, all while exploring a new country and culture. I couldn’t recommend it enough. I’ll be heading to Colombia to continue my studies through immersion in a couple of months!
Have you done immersion learning? What was your experience like?