Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Do the schools have free Internet and e-mail access for their students?
Q. How far is my home stay from the school?
A. All home stays are within walking distance of the school. The location of your home stay depends on the preferences you specified on your application.
Q. I’ve had some Spanish training before, but don’t really know the level I’m at, what class will I be in?
A. On the first day of class, each student is given a brief verbal exam to determine their proper level. There are 7 different levels so there is one just right for you. If you don’t feel challenged enough, you may be asked to be put up a level and the same goes for if you feel “over your head”, you can ask to be put down a level. We want our students to learn as much as possible all the time, so most likely, you will feel challenged.
Q. Can children attend your school?
A. Children must be at least primary school age, or they just don’t have the attention to receive structured classes. Our younger students receive classes from teachers specially trained in teaching younger students. Some parents bring their children to attend classes, if they are not old enough to take classes, at times we can arrange for supervision while parents are in class for a fee.
Q. Can I stay longer than I originally intended?
A. Sure, just try to give the school sufficient notice. Once you’re at the school, a week would be sufficient.
Q. I am allergic to cigarette smoke. Can I request a home stay with no smoking?
A. Yes, on your application in the section for “Family Preferences”, just note “No smoking”
Q. Can I request to stay in the same home stay with a friend?
A. Yes, just note this on your application in the “Comments” section.
Q. If I arrive early, let’s say on a Friday, can I go on a weekend tour or excursion before I start classes?
A. You sure can! Just let us know you’d like to do this in the “Comment” section of your application, and we’ll e-mail you the departure location, cost, etc. Your host family will also have this information for you too.
Q. Can I stay with my host family after I’ve finished taking classes?
A. Yes, but this must be arranged with the school before the end of your regular scheduled classes. The cost depend on the school, and if the family is available to keep hosting you.
Q. Can my friend or family member visit with me and stay at my home stay while there?
A. Yes, but again, this must be done through the school and noted on your application. The cost well depend on the school.
Q. When are classes available?
A. We are open year-round, and start new classes every Monday. We can accommodate special schedules. If you need to star in the middle of the week.
Q. Can I send in an application if I don’t know my flight schedule yet?
A. Yes, but be sure to keep us informed as soon as you get it. You can do this via phone, email or letter.
Q. Do you offer group discounts?
A. Yes, most school offer discounts for groups, it all depend on the school, most school will let the leader of the group gets free classes and home stay.
Q. If I bring a group, do they all have to be students from my school or the same level?
A. No, a group can be made up of any type of student, friend, family member, etc.
Q. Can I split my classes? Take 3 weeks, tour for 2 weeks then take 3 more weeks of instruction?
A. Yes, but you must sign up for all 6 weeks and pay for them at the beginning as if you were taking consecutive weeks. There is a chance you may get a different host family for the second three weeks.
Q. I can’t eat fried food, will this be a problem?
A. No problem, just note this on your application next to “Special Dietary Needs”.
Q. Is there a discount for students that share the same home stay?
A. No, our contract with our host families states that we pay the families per student.
Q. How much is deducted if I don’t stay with one of their host families?
A. There may be a deduction it all depends on the school policy.
Q. Are there any special shots or vaccinations needed before I come to Costa Rica?
A. No, Costa Rica boasts the highest standard of health in Central America. Nothing other than what is required in the US is needed. It is always a good idea to see that your shot record is updated and current before traveling abroad. See your family physician if you have any questions.
Q. Since home stays start on Sunday and end on Saturday following the last class, what do I do if I arrive early or depart late?
A. No problem, just note your early arrival time or late departure date on your application and we’ll find a home stay family that can accommodate you. Extra home stay days will have a fee.
Q. What is the difference between the Intensive and Standard courses?
A. The only difference is that the Intensive Course is two more hours of instruction per day, otherwise they follow the same syllabus.
Q. What can I do to prepare myself academically before the trip, anything special?
A. It would be a good idea to listen to Spanish radio, TV or take some of our online schools. Review any of your previous work or textbooks from prior courses. If you are new, you may wish to go to the bookstore and by a Spanish primer (some come with cassettes). Don’t buy a “phrase book”, get an actually primer that starts at the beginning with verb conjugation and vocabulary.
Q. How do you select your host families?
A. Each family fills out an extensive application, if acceptable, they are then interviewed. If this goes well, their home is then inspected for the appropriate accommodations, cleanliness and proximity to the school. If all is acceptable to the Spanish school, the hosts then attend a seminar that instructs them on being a proper host family, where their privacy ends and responsibility to students begins.
Q. Are cultural activities included in the tuition?
A. Some school have classes such as Latin Dance Class, Exotic Fruit Class, etc. Some also have afternoon excursions and trips available at extra cost. Also available for the weekends are overnight trips to many beautiful places throughout the country.
Q. What about renting a car while I’m in Costa Rica?
A. You can rent a car and you have the option of taking public transportation (buses and taxis) in Costa Rica is both inexpensive and reliable. For your information the lack of parking space and secure areas to park overnight a rented car could be a liability and unnecessary expense.
Q. How long can I stay in Costa Rica with my passport?
A. The law currently states that a visitor may stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days, after which they must depart the country for at least 72 hours. Most of our students that stay beyond 90 days visit either Panama or Nicaragua to comply with the law.
Q. How should I bring money to Costa Rica, and where can it be exchanged?
A. You should bring cash or Credit Cards. Bank are located all over Costa Rica and it is a simple process, requiring your passport to exchange cash. Also, ATM machines are available in some locations, but don’t count on them being your only form of money. Many larger hotels and restaurants accept credit cards.
Q. Can I have mail sent to me while I’m in Costa Rica?
A. Yes, but expect a delay of up to 3-4 weeks for letters from the US, Europe or Japan. Packages may take even longer and are subject to inspection. It is best to use the schools address for mailing purposes.
Q. I must stay in contact with my business while in Costa Rica, can I use the schools fax and telephone?
A. Yes, most school have a fax available to be used. Receiving messages is free, but students will be charged to send faxes and making any phone calls.
Q. Can I do volunteer work while I’m in Costa Rica.
A. Yes, and we can help you find an appropriate volunteer position. Acceptance is based on your experience in the field and your qualifications. Be sure to submit a resume or certificates when asking to be placed in a volunteer position.
Q. Do you offer private tutoring?
A. Yes, the cost is $15 per lesson, minimum two lessons per day.
Q. Is Costa Rica Safe?
A. Yes, the crime rate is low, especially when compared to that of other Central American Countries. Costa Rica does not have an Army, it was abolished by their Constitution and they are a Neutral country. They have been a democracy with free elections for over 100 years. 25% of their land is comprised of National Parks, Preserves and Refuges.
Q. How much will I learn in a specific period of time at your school?
A. This is one of the most common questions we receive, a good one, but difficult to give a precise answer. I must preface the answer by telling you that it depends on a few things; 1) a student’s aptitude 2) a student’s study habits 3) a student’s willingness to speak Spanish whenever possible and not fear mistakes. 4) the amount, if any, of prior language training a student has had 5) a student’s ability to speak any other foreign languages besides their mother tongue. So as you see, there is some ambiguity. That being said, another gage to consider is that Universities usually grant 1 credit hour for each 15-20 classroom hours at our school. This is equivalent to a years’ worth of college level classes for a 3 or 4 week course. A third gage I can offer is that in our Spanish schools experience, the fastest we have seen a student progress, is from Absolute Beginner to Advance in 3 months. This person also spoke other languages, and was an exceptional student. I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect. It is proven, that there is no faster way to acquire a new language than to take professional classes while being totally immersed in the culture.
Q. Can I pay with a Credit Card?
A. Yes, you can using a credit card, your bank may charge addition frees. Call your bank for more information.