Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin, so it is not a bad idea to help your students and children learn how to speak it. More than 30 countries like Spain and countries in Latin America speak Spanish, but it is also spoken quite widely in the United States. However, when it comes to choosing where to take your student group to experience a real Spanish language Immersion, it can be hard to choose.
We at Costa Rica Explorations believe that Costa Rica is the best place you can choose for a Spanish language immersion trip for many reasons.
First, Costa Rica is a country with vast experience in tourism service that will guarantee students they will get quality service when it comes to transportation, guiding, food, and lodging.
Second, Costa Rica is a safe, pacific, and stable country, where students can feel secure, and parents and teachers can be confident of their children’s safety.
Third, Costa Ricans are friendly, helpful people that will make sure students have a great time and accomplish their goal, to learn or improve their Spanish.
Now if you are wondering whether Costa Rican people speak the “right” kind of Spanish for your students or children to learn, remember that the Spanish language that most countries use around the world is Castilian, which comes from Northern and Central Spain. This is the same for Spanish in Costa Rica.
In different parts and countries in the world, the way Spanish sounds could make it seem incredibly diverse, but grammatically speaking it is basically the same as it comes from the Spanish Castilian. The main differences with the Spanish language amongst Spanish-speaking countries, besides the way it can sound, are the slang and cultural expressions.
Costa Ricans speak very clear Spanish, and they don’t talk as fast as other countries, this makes it easier to understand and therefore practice and learn.
What is a Spanish immersion program?
When we talk about immersion, we mean a commitment from the students, teachers, and travel companions to only speak Spanish during their stay. Also, a commitment from the program provider to create those experiences that ensure a full Spanish-immersion experience. At Costa Rica Explorations, we stand by that commitment!
To begin with, we have created unique Spanish immersion programs based on the opportunity to stay with homestay families in Turrialba, Cartago, Costa Rica. Turrialba is a very traditional and relatively small community that not only will guarantee students a real taste of Costa Rican culture but also, they will spend time with Spanish-only speakers, which will provide an authentic opportunity to apply what students have learned in the classroom in real life.
Another thing that we put much thought and consideration into at Costa Rica Explorations is to make sure student groups are accompanied by professional, dedicated, bilingual local Costa Rican guides who can lead the entire trip in Spanish. By doing so, we make sure there is a real immersion, but at the same time, make sure that if students need to communicate in English, they can be understood.
Also, in our programs, we create activities that lead to reflection about the students’ experiences and learning processes, like journaling, group meetings, and others. What really makes this a language immersion, however, is that the reflection meetings and journaling activities are all conducted in Spanish. The same way, other adventures and educational tours, or simple activities like ordering food in restaurants, are always organized in Spanish, to make sure the immersion is complete.
What are the benefits of a Spanish immersion program?
There are many ways to learn how to speak Spanish. One of them is within the Spanish classroom at school. The programmed teaching and constant follow up help to create and maintain a learning process that helps the students get the knowledge to develop the skill of speaking Spanish.
However, the best way to learn any language is to be immersed in it, being forced (in a positive way!) to use what you know and learn new things fast to keep on.
That is why participating in a Spanish immersion trip to Costa Rica under the guidance of professional guides, Spanish teachers and partners will provide your students with authentic language experience with constant grammar practice. It will also put them in contact with a lot of new vocabulary acquisition while using and practicing the vocabulary they already know.
We don’t doubt that teachers and school curriculums try their best to provide students with the best possible learning experiences, but nothing is better than authentic practice! That’s why an international Spanish immersion student program offers the best opportunity to fully embrace the Spanish language.
Another thing to consider is that this kind of student trip is an opportunity for the students to earn credits towards their middle school, high school, or college Spanish Language requirements. Many Middle School, High Schools, and Universities have already done that.
How can teachers integrate classroom learning into an international Spanish immersion student trip?
Another vital thing to consider when planning your Spanish immersion student trip is that your partner in the destination country should work hand-by-hand with the Spanish teacher to make sure students reach set goals and expectations. We at Costa Rica Explorations know from experience that organizing a trip with the guidance and partnership of the teacher is the best way to succeed.
Our trips take into account the following important considerations:
- Creating activities that will target objectives and learning goals defined by teachers, such as specific grammar practice and vocabulary practice.
- Having students complete a daily guided journal in Spanish in which Costa Rica Explorations and the Spanish teacher work together to provide writing prompts to students. Our program will give students space and time to complete and reflect upon these prompts.
- Assigning students specific tasks to allow them to authentically interact with homestay families and service partners using Spanish. For example, creating and undertaking interview questions for homestay parents and homestay siblings; learning and recording the words of traditional songs, legends, local phrases and sayings, riddles, jokes, and others; or learning and cooking a recipe!
- Some of our Costa Rica Explorations programs also take it to the next level and have our visiting students integrate within local public schools to participate in authentic student exchange activities.
Why working with Costa Rica Explorations is your best bet for your Spanish language immersion student trip
First, we would like to reemphasize that a Spanish language immersion trip is the best possible opportunity for Spanish teachers to enhance their classroom experience and for their students to learn and improve through a hands-on experiential approach to learning and to practice the Spanish Language.
We at Costa Rica Explorations have the experience and partners to provide the best possible experience for those teachers and students that are looking for this kind of immersion.
Many times our students leave their Costa Rica Explorations program saying, “My goal was to have a true conversation in Spanish, and I achieved my goal!” However, what makes it even better is that they usually comment on how they didn’t even realize they were doing it, because it was so natural (and necessary) to communicate with their homestay family and guides.
Ready? Starting Planning Your Spanish Language Immersion Trip Today!
Contact us using the form below to have a preliminary discussion and explore planning a potential trip for your students.
Mónica Quesada is an award-winning photojournalist from Costa Rica who loves to show off her country! That is why she has also worked as a photography tour leader since 2007 and she has been the leader of volunteering programs since a very young age. You can see her work at www.mqcphoto.com.