Volunteer and Learn Spanish in Costa Rica
Immerse yourself in the Costa Rican Culture
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Group Size: Varies
Trip code: CRSV
Duration: 6-8 weeks
Learn to speak Spanish in a language school in San José, Costa Rica and join beginner, intermediate or advanced level classes for four weeks. Discover Costa Rica, one of Central America’s most safe and stunning destinations, and volunteer at community or conservation projects, helping kids or protecting wildlife.
- Join our Costa Rican language school and improve your Spanish skills: Enjoy 4 weeks of Spanish language classes suited to your skill level, from beginner to intermediate and advanced level
- Stay with a local Costa Rican family, immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture and improve your conversational Spanish skills!
- Salsa your way through some daily Latin dance lessons, take part in weekly cookery classes, learn to sing in Spanish and add in an extra weekly conversational Spanish session
- Improve the lives of local kids and communities, volunteering in orphanages, day-care centres, nurseries, primary schools, and children's homes
- Volunteer with Costa Rica’s wildlife in a sanctuary for rescued animals or in national parks: Patrol beaches and coastlines on sea turtle protection programmes
On arriving into San José you’ll be invited to attend a welcome meeting, where you will receive information on your upcoming placement and get to know a bit about the local area. Receiving a school ID card, a list of important contact telephone numbers, and practical information about living and travelling in Costa Rica, this meeting will cover a wide range of topics from safety tips, rules and etiquette for living with your host family, information about your Spanish course, a briefing on the school facilities and some information on the afternoon cultural activities which are held at the school. You will also be given maps of the area, bus timetables, bank and money information, and tourist information. This is your chance to answer any burning questions, and can find all the answers you need in a question and answer session at the end.
First day of class
On your first day of class you should plan to arrive at the language school by 8am (unless told otherwise). As other students will be starting at the same time, the school will want to assess your language level and place you all in the relevant ability band class to suit your needs. For this you will be asked to participate in an oral language test and complete a written exercise. The staff will then be able to decide if you are ready for the beginner, intermediate, or advanced classes, and your first lesson should begin at 9am!
On the first teaching day your host family will accompany you to the school, and collect you after class.
Spanish Language Classes
Classes will usually run Monday to Thursday, every morning from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. Then there is a lunch break from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Afternoon classes run between 1:00-2:00pm. You have 20 hours of Spanish lessons per week included.
After the first day, you will make your own way to and from the school from your homestay location. Public buses are very easy to use and cheap, and they run every 10-15 minutes from 5:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. Taxis are also very cheap and recommended if you are travelling at night.
After your Spanish classes you can take part in the inclusive afternoon cultural activities:
• Latin dance classes are held every day from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. and 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
• Cooking classes are held on Wednesdays from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
• Conversation classes run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
All these cultural classes are conducted in Spanish, so you can improve your conversation skills and fluency.
Choose from volunteer placements at schools or childcare projects, or work with wildlife. Our staff at the language school will assist you with travel arrangements to your chosen volunteer project. Placement itineraries will vary depending on the type of placement. You will receive full details about the project, location and accommodation during your volunteer project orientation.
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When first joining this package, you should arrive into San José (Juan Santamaria International Airport) on a Sunday, where you’ll be met by our team and taken to your accommodation. Your programme will finish on a Sunday morning.
Part one: Spanish Lessons
To make the most of your Spanish skills and to help you get to grips with the language that little bit quicker, you’ll be experiencing a true taste of real Costa Rican culture living in one of our home-stay placements. Staying with a local host family you’ll be welcomed with open arms and be immersed in San José life in no time!
As a new part of the family, you’ll be kept safe and enjoy clean accommodation in your own room, unless you’ve specifically chosen to share with another language student or are travelling with a friend. Free to come and go as you wish you’ll be provided with a door key, but please don’t abuse this privilege, and be sure to let your host family know where and when you’ll be out so they won’t worry unnecessarily about you.
Breakfasts, dinners and a laundry service will be provided by your host family, and they’ll be happy to cater for any special dietary requirements as long as you let us know from the start when you book your place. A weekly change of bed linen will also be provided, though you’ll need to bring your own towels.
All of our host families live in nice residential neighbourhoods, and are only a 10-20 minute bus ride from the Spanish school. You can let us know on your application what type of family you would like and any preferences you may have (pets, diet, smoking, etc.) and we will make every effort to place you with the best family to suit your needs.
Though your accommodation may be a little more basic than a hostel or hotel stay, it will still be safe, secure and comfortable and the perfect place to experience real Costa Rican life and language in a loving and hospitable environment.
Home stay families are all friendly and caring and are carefully chosen by our language school managers. There are a number of different family dynamics to choose from when you book, and if you have a preference (such as staying with married couples, with or without children etc, or would prefer non-smokers, no pets etc) you can let us know when you book. Your selection is not guaranteed, but we will do our best to find you the most suitable spot. All of our host families have a genuine natural enthusiasm for helping out foreign students, and are selected due to their open-minded, friendly, outgoing and protective attitudes. As they take you around the local; hotspots and cultural attractions, you’ll also find your families are fairly talkative (ideal on a language course!) and love to share their interests, hobbies and activities with you as you learn from each other. Evaluated on a regular basis, students are asked to complete a feedback form at the end of their stay so that staff can ensure a good placement service is maintained
During your stay you should bear in mind that the majority of our host families do not speak English. As they are used to accommodating students who don't speak Spanish however, they are always very patient and have become incredibly imaginative, communicating using basic words and sign language. One of the advantages of the homestay is the opportunity to practice your spoken Spanish and learn conversational Spanish from your host family. If there is a serious need, the staff at the school all speak English and can serve as translators where necessary.
Part two: Volunteer project
For all of our projects you will either be staying in a volunteer house or in a home stay with a local family. Accommodation choices will vary depending on the specific projects you attend, as the locations, commute distances and demands of each are different, with some programmes (such as the teaching, wildlife and turtle projects) in rural locations across the country, and others (orphanage volunteering) centred in the city.
However, no matter what programme you attend, your experience will remain interesting, with free time to improve upon your Spanish skills and experience a real taste of Costa Rican culture and everyday life!
If you’re staying with a local family, this can be a fantastic way to quickly get to grips with the culture and lives of the Costa Rican people. If you’re living with other travellers in our volunteer houses, you can enjoy sharing your experiences with other like-minded volunteers, and will receive all the same facilities and benefits you would enjoy were you to stay with a local family. Wherever you stay, you’ll be kept safe and enjoy clean accommodation in shared rooms.
Breakfasts & dinners are provided. Vegetarian diets will be catered for as long as you let us know in advance, and you’ll find that Costa Rican food is generally healthy and simple, consisting largely of rice, beans, pasta, grains, meats, vegetables and a variety of seasonal fruits and juices.
The minimum age to participate on this programme is 18 years.
British nationals will not require a visa in order to enter Costa Rica, and can remain in the country as a visitor for up to three months. Before departing for your trip, you should make sure that your passport will remain valid for six months or more after your entry date.
If you are travelling in to Costa Rica from a country at risk of Yellow Fever you must ensure that you obtain the required Yellow Fever vaccinations and bring a Yellow Fever certificate with you when you enter Costa Rica.
According to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, visitors arriving from Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, French Guyana, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia and Sudan are required to produce an International Certificate of Vaccination stating their protection against the disease. Certificates of immunisation are valid 10 days after the original date of vaccination, and you should consult your GP for more information.
On this particular programme, as you’ll be working with children, you’ll need to undergo an enhanced DBS previously known as CRB, or Criminal Record Bureau check and will need to have a clean criminal record.
DBS checks may list past convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings, and if applicable will show whether or not you have been barred from working with certain vulnerable groups. Non-conviction information such as fixed penalties may also be included.
There is an addition cost for the DBS check, please speak to your travel advisor at the time of booking. The DBS process is in 3 stages:
1. Once we receive your booking payment, you will then be sent an online application link for the DBS check, which you will need to complete.
2. Once you have completed the application, the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) will need verification of your identity - to do this you will need to take 3 original documents to your nearest crown post office and use their DBS and ID verification service. This costs approximately £5 and is payable directly to the Post Office.
3. Once the post office verification is done it usually takes up to 2 weeks for your DBS to be processed, and your DBS will be sent to you directly in the post.