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High School Spanish Immersion
Costa Rica
Overview
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Costa Rica

2020 Sessions

Two Week – $3,695
Monteverde Summer 1:  June 13 – 27
Flamingo Summer 2:  June 27 – July 11

Four Week – $6,995
Monteverde+Flamingo:  June 13 – July 11

Natural Immersion in Monteverde…

Tucked away in the heart of the highland cloud forest, the towns of Monteverde and Santa Elena offer SPI participants an ideal location to experience the authentic “tico” way of life. Monteverde’s lush hills provide a spectacular backdrop, and there is a plethora of outdoor activities that afford students the opportunity to improve their Spanish skills and immerse locally. Live the good life with SPI in Costa Rica – Pura Vida!

Pura Vida in Playa Flamingo…

Flamingo Beach is renowned for its breathtakingly beautiful beaches, crystal-clear water and peaceful, small-town environment. Despite its quaint size, Flamingo offers students a vast array of adventure activities beyond fine tuning their Spanish skills! Some activities include kayaking, zip-lining, surfing, horseback riding, snorkeling, wildlife hikes, or just relaxing!

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Costa Rica Program Overview

Academics & Leadership

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Academic Overview

School: Local language institute

Course Hours: 40 Hours of Spanish Language & Culture 20-40 Hours Community Service (40 Hours for Month)

Spanish Language & Conversation:  Students are broken up into levels and attend Spanish language and conversation classes Monday – Friday in the afternoons. The courses focus on developing Spanish communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities; these include writing, oral expression, film, music, food, and literature.

> Spanish levels 1 through AP/IB
> 5-10 Students per Class
> Certified native instructors with advanced teaching degrees

Community & Volunteer Service

Students engage in volunteer service work 2-3 days during the week. The volunteer service component is designed to immerse students in the local community as they make a positive contribution. Students will earn a certificate of completion of volunteer hours ranging from 12-24 hours.

Service Hours

Two Week:  12 Hours
1 Month: 24 Hours

Costa Rica Volunteer Projects:

> Home Repair
> Public Works Projects
> Orphanages & Youth Outreach
> Nature Park Preservation

Activities & Excursions

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Elective Activities

In addition to SPI’s volunteer service program, students will have the exciting opportunity to enhance their experience abroad by participating in optional elective courses and activities! Electives range from sports activities to unique cultural events, and are designed to further engage students into the local culture and, of course, to just have fun! Specific electives will vary per program and are based on student interest and weather. Upon arrival abroad, students will choose which electives they wish to participate in.

Costa Rica Elective Activities:

 
> Elective Courses:  Salsa/Latin Dance Course, Surfing Course (Flamingo), Adventure Course – Zip Line, Rafting, Climbing, Horseback Riding (Flamingo), Canopy Tour, Costa Rican Cooking and Gastronomy

*Optional elective activities may have an additional cost

Travel Excursions

From visits to world class museums to magnificent hikes through lush mountains, students explore the most important monuments, cities and natural wonders in the Monteverde and Flamingo Beach regions. Weekend and cultural day travel excursions help students dynamically use the language of study and interact with the local community.

Possible Travel Excursions:

 

> Liberia (Arrival City)

> Puntarenas & Beach Trip (Monteverde)
> Santa Elena Reserve (Monteverde)
> Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Nature Preserve (Flamingo)
> Tamarindo & Brasilito Beach (Flamingo)

Safety & Supervision

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On-site Directors & Staff

Directors and on-site staff are professional multilingual educators and caring leaders who serve as international “moms and dads”. We maintain a highly personal student to director ratio of typically one director for every eight students. Directors actively participate in all aspects of the immersion experience focusing on student well-being, cultural adjustments, and daily check ins to ensure active student participation.

Daily Supervision & Free Time

To ensure student safety, on-site directors are available 24 hours a day and carry local cell phones at all times. Directors check-in with students on a daily basis in the mornings, afternoons and evenings and monitor all aspects of the program. At SPI, we believe in the educational value of giving students a structured amount of free-time on certain afternoons. Students are expected to abide by SPI’s standards of conduct at all times, and we implement a “buddy system.”

Curfew:  9-10 PM (Costa Ricans are in bed early!)

Pre-Requisites

Age Requirements: In grades 9-12
Language Requirement: 1 year of Spanish

AP/IB Prep

Upper level courses incorporate AP/IB course material, themes & exercises to prepare students for these classes

Flight Information

We can help with your flight, all of our guidelines and info available on our Flight Information page.

What's Included

All SPI Programs include books, tuition, room and board and more. View What's Included.
Itinerary

Cost Rica - 2 Week Monteverde Itinerary

Day 1

Depart for Liberia, Costa Rica!

¡Bienvenidos! Get to know your group with an orientation meeting and then meet your tico homestay!

Day 1
Day 2

Orientation Tour & First Day of Spanish Courses

Enjoy an orientation tour of Monteverde and visit to the enchanting Santa Elena Cloud Forest. In the afternoon, meet your Profesor/a and class after a language placement exam.

Day 2
Day 3-6

Regular Courses, Elective Activities + Volunteer Service Work

Make a difference with morning volunteer service and elective activities followed by afternoon language and conversation courses. Your journey to fluency has begun!

Day 3-6
Day 7

Explore the Beautiful Beaches of Isla Tortuga

Discover the amazing Isla Tortuga with its pristine beaches, crystal clear blue water, and postcard-perfect natural beauty.

Day 7
Day 8

Quality Time with Homestay & Friends + Group Activity

Tico Sundays are the perfect day to take in the local culture, spend time with your homestay, and take advantage of the natural wonders around you!

Day 8
Day 9-13

Regular Courses, Elective Activities + Volunteer Service Work

Be amazed by the progress you’ve made in your language skills and your ability to thrive in a new culture!

Day 9-13
Day 14

Travel to Guanacaste Coast near Liberia

Bid farewell to your beloved Tico homestays before exploring the picturesque Guanacasta Coast. Lounge on sparkling, pristine beaches and swim in the crystal blue waters of the Papagayo Gulf!

Day 14
Day 15

Depart Costa Rica for Home

¡Buen viaje! Return home with amazing memories of Costa Rica!

 
Day 15

Cost Rica - 2 Week Flamingo Itinerary

Day 1

Depart for Liberia, Costa Rica!

¡Bienvenidos! Get to know your group with an orientation meeting and then meet your tico homestay!

Day 1
Day 2

Orientation Tour & First Day of Spanish Courses

Enjoy an orientation tour of Monteverde and visit to the enchanting Santa Elena Cloud Forest. In the afternoon, meet your Profesor/a and class after a language placement exam.

Day 2
Day 3-6

Regular Courses, Elective Activities + Volunteer Service Work

Make a difference with morning volunteer service and elective activities followed by afternoon language and conversation courses. Your journey to fluency has begun!

Day 3-6
Day 7

Travel Excursion to Rincón de la Vieja Volcano

Discover the awe-inspiring Rincón de la Vieja National Park; marvel at the lush green valley framing the grand volcano at the center.

Day 7
Day 8

Quality Time with Homestay & Friends + Group Activity

Tico Sundays are the perfect day to take in the local culture, spend time with your homestay, and take advantage of the natural wonders around you!

Day 8
Day 9-13

Regular Courses, Elective Activities + Volunteer Service Work

Be amazed by the progress you’ve made in your language skills and your ability to thrive in a new culture!

Day 9-13
Day 14

Enjoy a Final Day Exploring the Region

Soak up the splendor of the Guanacaste coast before bidding farewell to your beloved Tico homestays.

Day 14
Day 15

Depart Costa Rica for Home

¡Buen viaje! Return home with amazing memories of Costa Rica!

 
Day 15

Cost Rica - 4 Week Itinerary

Day 1

Depart for Liberia, Costa Rica!

¡Bienvenidos! Get to know your group with an orientation meeting and then meet your tico homestay!

Day 1
Day 2

Orientation Tour & First Day of Spanish Courses

Enjoy an orientation tour of Monteverde and visit to the enchanting Santa Elena Cloud Forest. In the afternoon, meet your Profesor/a and class after a language placement exam.

Day 2
Day 3-6

Regular Courses, Elective Activities + Volunteer Service Work

Make a difference with morning volunteer service and elective activities followed by afternoon language and conversation courses. Your journey to fluency has begun!

Day 3-6
Day 7

Travel Excursion to the Beautiful Beaches of Isla Tortuga

Discover the amazing Isla Tortuga with its pristine beaches, crystal clear blue water, and postcard-perfect natural beauty.

Day 7
Day 8

Quality Time with Homestay & Friends + Group Activity

Tico Sundays are the perfect day to take in the local culture, spend time with your homestay, and take advantage of the natural wonders around you!

Day 8
Day 9-13

Regular Courses, Elective Activities + Volunteer Service Work

Be amazed by the progress you’ve made in your language skills and your ability to thrive in a new culture!

Day 9-13
Day 14

Travel to Playa Flamingo near Liberia

Bid farewell to Monteverde before settling into your new home next to the picturesque Guanacaste Coast. Lounge on sparkling, pristine beaches and swim in the crystal blue waters of the Papagayo Gulf!

Day 14
Day 15

Quality Time with Friends & Meet Summer 2 Participants

Enjoy a relaxing Sunday taking in the good life, and meet Summer 2 participants upon their arrival.

Day 15
Day 16-20

Regular Courses, Elective Activities + Volunteer Service Work

Spanish fluency is in your grasp and Costa Rica has become your ‘home away from home’!

Day 16-20
Day 21

Travel Excursion to Rincón de la Vieja Volcano.

Discover the awe-inspiring Rincón de la Vieja National Park; marvel at the lush green valley framing the grand volcano at the center.

Day 21
Day 22-27

Regular Courses, Elective Activities + Volunteer Service Work

Dreaming in Spanish yet?! Your Spanish fluency has allowed you to discover another world!

Day 22-27
Day 28

Enjoy a Final Day Exploring the Region

Soak up the splendor of the Guanacaste coast before bidding farewell to your beloved Tico homestays.

Day 28
Day 29

Depart Costa Rica for Home

¡Buen viaje! Return home with amazing memories of Costa Rica!

 
Day 29

Your Day Abroad in Costa Rica

MORNING

7:00 – 8:00 Breakfast with Homestay & Transportation

Enjoy a light breakfast of breads, cereal, and juice/coffee. You will either walk or have transportation provided to arrive at the morning activity or volunteer project.

9:00 – 11:30 Morning Volunteer Projects & Elective Activities

Two to three mornings per week, you will engage in meaningful service projects that help you connect with the community. On the other mornings, you will participate in exciting and new elective courses! Learn to surf, develop your photography skills, or zip line…

AFTERNOON

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch & Transportation to Language Institute

Lunch will be included after nearly all activities and volunteer projects. Some days, you will have a cooking class to learn how to prepare your own “tico” cuisine!

1:30 – 5:30 Spanish Language, Culture, and Conversation Courses

Be amazed at how quickly your Spanish improves with SPI’s master instructors at the institute in Monteverde or Flamingo! Classes are both engaging and fun

EVENING

5:30 – 7:00 Meeting with Directors and Evening Free-Time

In the early evening, you will have an informal group meeting to review tomorrow’s activities with directors. Before heading back to your homestay, enjoy time studying, exploring with friends, or taking a swim!

7:00 – 9:30 Evening Meal & Conversations With Your Homestay

Enjoy the evening practicing your Spanish while talking with your homestay around the dinner table. Costa Ricans are in bed early as they tend to be early risers.

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Testimonials
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"Costa Rica is such a beautiful country! When I stepped out of my homestay's house it felt like I was stepping into a National Geographic magazine!"

What SPI Alumni Say…

“From bartering prices at the local market to just simply telling your teacher about that day’s adventure, there were opportunities everywhere to practice and use my Spanish! Also, the food was delicious! I wish I could have taken back to America some of my mama Tica’s arroz con pollo!”

Cara, Virginia

“Traveling to Costa Rica with SPI was a trip of a lifetime that left me with endless memories and lifelong friendships. My teachers and directors were supportive and helpful through out the trip. I had one of the best times of my life and I know I will never forget my experience. Thank you, SPI, for giving me this amazing opportunity!”

Katie, New York

“This program was a great experience! Not only did I get amazing opportunities to practice and improve my Spanish, I was also able to completely immerse myself in Costa Rican culture and make friends that will last a lifetime.”

Nicholas, Pennsylvania
Enroll

Enrollment Form

The SPI Online Enrollment is best completed on a laptop/desktop and will take 15-20 minutes to complete. Parents and students should complete the enrollment form together. A $1,000 deposit is required to enroll and counts toward the final program price (you may pay with e-check or credit card.) Please have a clear face photo of the student ready for submission. All notifications, invoices, and pre-departure information will be sent via email. We look forward to your participation!
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On-Site Supervision Team Abroad

We hire bilingual high school teachers, university professors, and caring local staff who, as a team, serve as international “moms and dads” throughout the program. Directors actively participate in all aspects of the immersion experience: helping with housing adjustments, checking in on classes, and making sure students are taking advantage of the wonderful excursion and activity opportunities. All SPI staff go through extensive reference checks.

Training & Experience

Directors are selected based on their experience working with teenagers in an international setting, their ability to communicate fluently in the language of study, and their academic & professional background. All on-site staff go through an intensive training process.

Daily Supervision

Students are expected to be respectful of their directors’ guidelines and abide by the SPI standards of conduct at all times. SPI directors and program staff are available 24 hours a day. Directors check in with students on a daily basis in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings; they also frequently monitor all aspects of each student’s progress. Homestays and residence directors are contacted to learn how students are adjusting, and to handle any concerns. Daily curfews are enforced.

Student Behavior Expectations

Since 1996, we have proudly attracted an academically-minded student body focused on improving their language skills and growing from cultural experiences. At SPI, we take our role as teachers seriously — we recognize that we are responsible for guiding students through one of their most life-changing experiences. We expect students not only to abide by our standards of conduct at all times, but also to serve as ambassadors of their local communities, schools, and cities.

No Alcohol Policy

SPI maintains a strict policy against the use of alcohol. Directors check in with students in the evenings; however, parents are expected to review our standards of conduct with their children and set clear family expectations prior to the start of the program with regards to their behavior abroad.

Afternoon Elective Activities

Our meaningful afternoon elective activities make local culture, art, architecture, museums, sports, and attractions come to life! Each program offers a variety of engaging activities designed to combine serious fun with truly inspiring “once in a lifetime” experiences. Electives are not included in the program price, and we suggest students budget $100 per week for participation in these incredible learning experiences.

Common Afternoon Electives

CULTURAL: Cooking, Dance, Art & Architecture, Museum & Theater Visits, Local Sporting & Cultural Events

SPORTS: Surfing, Volleyball, Soccer, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Hikes & Walks

ENRICHMENT: Photography, College Prep (Essay Writing, Admissions Prep), Photography, Guest Speakers

Sample Travel Excursions

SPAIN: Bilbao, Pamplona, Santander, San Sebastian, Guernika, Biarritz (France), Comillas, Picos de Europa

FRANCE: Bordeaux, Bayonne, Anglet, San Sebastian (Spain), St. Jean de Luz, Pyrenees Mountains

COSTA RICA: Liberia, Cloud Forest, Puntarenas, Rincon de la Vieja, Tamarindo Beach

ITALY: Florence, Orvieto, San Gimignano, San Vincezo, Castiglione della Pescaia

Our Screening & Selection Process

Students live with roommates in a local homestay or student residence that is experienced in hosting foreign students. SPI has worked with most participating homestays and student residences for a number of years, and they understand students are there to learn the language and experience the culture. SPI diligently screens each homestay and student residence facility with the following in mind: safety, location, cleanliness, and previous experience hosting students.

HOMESTAY EXPECTATIONS

Most homestays have hosted students for many years and take their jobs and duties as cultural ambassadors very seriously. Our foreign schools also work with each family on a year-round basis to ensure a positive experience is had by each student. It is critical to understand that most homestays come from humble means and different dynamics.

Location of Housing

All housing options are located within a 10-30 minute commute from the school. Students will walk or take the local bus, which is a safe and normal way for students their age to get around in our host cities. The majority of our housing options are located in the same areas where students will be close to each other.

Evening Curfews

Student curfews are set based on what a culturally appropriate weekday and weekend curfew would be for teenagers in the country of study. This is normally between 10 PM – 11 PM on weekdays and a little later on the weekends depending on location and group dynamic. As an important safety measure, program staff diligently monitor student curfews. Specific curfews are listed on each program page for your reference. 

Typical Housing Dynamics

Students are well supported in all housing options and are provided with: meals, a living and study space, laundry service or facilities, linens and towels. It is fundamental that students have an open mind to trying new foods and living in an environment different than “home” to benefit from this transformative experience!

HOMESTAY EXPECTATIONS
Although SPI homestays come in all shapes and sizes, the majority are older couples or single/widowed women in their 50s – 60s who have extra room in their home and are eager to host students. We have found this dynamic provides the best support, the most interaction, and the most culturally rich experience. Some homestays do have children, but students should keep in mind that homestays with children are busier and often offer less interaction — much like a busy American family.

Language Course Overview

The language courses focus on developing communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities that include writing, oral expression, film, music, food, and literature.

> 2 Hours – Grammatical Concepts

> 1-2 Hours – Conversation, Culture, Literature, Film, etc.

> Small class sizes with levels 1 through AP/IB

College Credit Opportunity

SPI uses foreign universities and accredited language institutes for coursework abroad. These institutions provide high school students, upon successful completion of their courses, with an official transcript that they may use to petition college credit from their future university or college. Official transcripts are first sent to SPI in September, and then we will mail an official copy of the transcript in a sealed envelope to each participant. You will mail the official transcript packet directly to your U.S. university once you are enrolled.

Credit Hours vs. Credit Granted

Most SPI language immersion programs give 30-80 contact hours, or classroom hours, enabling for a potential of up to 1-6 semester college credit hours by your university. Contact hours are treated differently at every school. Some schools will grant specific class credit for the hours (e.g., Spanish), although most give a general foreign language or elective credit. Normally, 15 Contact/Class Hours = 1 College Credit Hour.

IMPORTANT:  Due to the nature of college credit granting by each individual U.S. university, it is impossible for SPI to guarantee credit for any student.