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Nov 10th, 2004, 06:18 PM
  #1
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language schools

hola,

im a single, late 20's traveller, adventurous and out-going.
i will be in C.R. for about 3 months, im planning on language school at Wayra in Tamarindo and/or the Bienteveo School in Playa Cocles, south of puerto viejo. Can anyone vouch for either school, im a beginner and want the best experience near the beach. ive read alot about both towns and feel their both adequate, any suggestions? bender
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Nov 10th, 2004, 07:28 PM
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Hi Bender,
Congratulations, you will have a wonderful adventure! Can't vouch for either, but have driven by both, and have studied language in Costa Rica. Perhaps you will hear from someone who has attended one or the other. I'm sure most of the language schools are fairly comparable. Are you planning a homestay? Just one comment to make, and it's beside the point, because you want to be at the beach! But here goes!

The very best language experience possible is one in which you will not be around English speakers! You are going to run into a LOT of English in both Tamarindo and PV. There is so much English spoken in these two "gringo gulches" that the foreigners who run the businesses won't have much patience for helping you practice your Spanish. If possible, try to include some additional time in a smaller rural location with a homestay--a place where the Ticos are in charge! You'll be amazed at the difference it will make.

I studied in a small Tico town for a few weeks, then moved on to a beach location (Flamingo) for a week. Few people in Flamingo were interested in speaking Spanish with me. For them, it was easier to speak English, because most of them were either North American or European. If you are in an area inhabited mostly by Costa Ricans, they will delight in helping you learn their language, and will have a great deal of patience with you!

If it isn't possible, then do the best you can and have a great time! Pura Vida
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Nov 11th, 2004, 10:21 AM
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shillmac,
thanks for the advice. is there a school you would recommend, anywhere in costa rica? my plans are not finalized yet, a Tico town would be better for a few weeks. thanks, bender
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Nov 11th, 2004, 02:08 PM
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Yep, as a matter of fact. . .

Actually, I really do think most are comparable. I used CPI and had an excellent experience. I absolutely know that it is topnotch. My daughter received 9 hours of college credit through her 8 week study program this past summer.

What is cool about it is that it has 3 locations--San Joaquin de Flores, a small town about 5 minutes from the airport and in the province of Heredia. Another location is Playa Flamingo, just north of Tamarindo about 30 minutes. I've done both and can vouch for the fact that, in Flamingo, which is Americanized like Tamarindo and PV, I spoke very little Spanish out and about. In San Joaquin I was forced to speak to my family (homestay) every day and to everyone else in town in Spanish. It was a fantastic experience with heavy emphasis on the verb tenses by the profesors and profesoras.

Another location is in Monteverde--I didn't study at that location. You'll get the best instruction and learning experience in San Joaquin. You can tailor your study however you want at whichever locations you choose.

Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI). You can check it out online. Don't have the website off the top of my head right now. www.cpi.edu perhaps.

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Nov 11th, 2004, 02:10 PM
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www.cpi-edu.com
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Nov 11th, 2004, 05:25 PM
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shillmac, thanks for all your help!!
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Nov 11th, 2004, 05:31 PM
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Mucho gusto! Hope everything works out for you. 3 months--wow!
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Nov 12th, 2004, 02:54 PM
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Shillmac
Can you elaborate more on your CPI experiance in Flamingo? I had read a mixed review of CPI on another website and have thought about studying Spanish in Costa Rica this summer. Was the school in San Joaquin too isolating for a woman traveling alone? The thought of being able to be on a beach in the afternoons is very appealing.
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Nov 12th, 2004, 04:02 PM
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I absolutely loved both locations. I chose San Joaquin for the majority of my study because only there can you take the more intensive 5.5 hour program which I wanted to do. It's a good idea to do that during the 1st part of your experience for a good strong boost at the beginning!

San Joaquin a great place to be. My host family and I bonded so totally that I have since visited them many times and we talk on the phone at least once a month and exchange gifts every time I'm there. They will forever be a part of my family. I was in the country alone while in San Joaquin and so was my 22 year old daughter this past summer. Felt totally comfortable at all times.

The cool thing is that you will make friends right off the bat at the school and it is fun to do things with them in the afternoons or evenings.

The temperatures in San Joaquin are fabulous! Very temperate. During the rainy season, it is usually sunny in the a.m. with clouds moving in around noon. Sometimes it rains in the afternoon, evening, or during the night--but not every day.

Playa Flamingo has the reputation of being the "party campus". I don't know your age, but it is a popular place for teens and 20 somethings to study. Of course, because of the beach. I chose to go there because I had friends who lived and worked in the area. Many people who stay at Flamingo choose to stay at the bed & breakfast that is provided in lieu of a homestay. This is what my daughter did. I chose the homestay and stayed there only one night. Having just come from San Joaquin, I was used to walking downtown at night to use the internet or whatever. At Playa Flamingo, I was out in the country in the town of Potrero. I love Potrero and the family was very kind (I have visited them since as well), but it was just a tad too isolated for me, so I chose to move into a nearby town (Brasilito) and I stayed at a little hotel on the beach that I knew of and liked. $30 per night. The only thing about that is that you stop speaking Spanish so much and begin to use your English too much. But by this time, I was relieved to not have to think and speak in Spanish 24-7, so that was okay. After having been in a homestay with a very large (extended) family in San Joaquin, I welcomed the solitude and lack of afternoon and evening conversation. My classmates had a great time doing all the beach-y tours the school offered such as the sunset cruise, etc. I was content to just relax by myself in the evenings.

I know there are many wonderful schools in Costa Rica, but am sure that CPI must be near the top of the list as far as quality. I met a guy who was working on a master's degree in Library Science. He had actually researched some 90+ language schools in CR before choosing CPI.

My time was WAY too short. I studies only 2 weeks in San Joaquin and 1 week at Playa Flamingo. My daughter studied 5 weeks at San Joaquin and 3 weeks at Flamingo this past summer. Her experience was very good as well. She had some special circumstances, and the school bent over backward to work with us on that. They are very good people.

If you can manage time at both, you definitely should do that. I have heard mixed reviews of Monteverde. A couple of people have told me they enjoyed studying there, but the vast majority have said they would not choose that location if they had it to do over again. I think most felt it was just too much time to spend in the Monteverde environment. I can't elaborate on that because I haven't been there.
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