What Makes Costa Rica a Great Place to Learn Spanish

The friendly people, the safety of the country, and the clarity of dialect, gives Costa Rica the perfect environment for learning Spanish.
By Ben Espinola

By Ben Espinola

Ben is a traveling educator, writer, and musician originally from Greensboro, NC. He has done a wide variety of teaching, youth work, freelance writing and tourism temp jobs across numerous countries on four continents. He can usually be found struggling to learn a new skill or down at a nearby watering hole sharing a drink with local characters.

Costa Rica might not be the very first country that comes to mind when looking at places to study Spanish, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantastic destination for learning the language. Spanish is the official language of 20 countries and is widely spoken in diaspora communities or as a lingua franca all over the world. The choices of which Spanish dialect to study, as well as where to study abroad can be paralyzing, the array of options dizzying. While tourists flock to Costa Rica primarily for its natural beauty and diverse ecosystems, it is also an excellent destination for Spanish learners.

Where is Costa Rica?

Nestled between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica is a country renowned for its safety, stability and quality of life, standing out amongst its neighbors as a beacon of peace and prosperity in a region plagued with tumult. It is regularly ranked near the top in both the World Happiness Report and the Global Peace Index. One superb aspect of Costa Rica is just this, it is safe, and the people are happy and healthy. There may be a few unsavory neighborhoods in some cities, but these are not anywhere you are likely to end up by accident. Overall, you’ll be totally safe walking the streets during the day and have little to worry about in terms of crime and violence.

The Safety

Tico Lingo Homestay Accommodation

In the Central valley, you can get all the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle of a major Latin American city with little of the danger. Centrally located, this region is fantastic for studying Spanish. It’s a superb spot for a home base allowing you to reach all corners of the country in just a few hours. It’s convenient and easily accessible, further you’ll be surrounded by local people providing many opportunities to practice your Spanish in real world situations. By staying with a local homestay family and taking classes at a local Spanish school, you can imbed yourself in a community and expedite your learning process through an authentic immersion experience off the beaten tourist path.

The People

Given the beauty of the natural wonders Costa Rica has to offer, visitors often aren’t necessarily expecting the warmth and humility of the Costa Rican people to stand out so distinctly. Costa Ricans, or Ticos as they’re called in Spanish, are welcoming, kind and extremely proud of their beautiful country. Ticos are happy to help out and love chatting with visitors, making them fantastic language partners. volunteer in Costa rica with childrenOpportunities to practice your Spanish are everywhere: in the markets, the streets, the buses, the restaurants or bars. Chatting with local people is a superb way to improve your Spanish and to practice what you’ve learned in your lessons. With just the basics of Spanish you can converse about a surprisingly large amount, and with such friendly people, Costa Rica is a perfect place to start speaking.

The Clear Acccent

The variety of Spanish spoken in Costa Rica is one of the slowest and clearest Spanish accents. They don’t drop syllables or mush words together in the way you hear in some countries. The rhythm is slower too, making it easier to understand. Like any other Spanish dialect, there are some idiosyncrasies, but these aren’t nearly as challenging as what you might encounter elsewhere.

Overall, the friendliness of the people, the safety of the country and the clarity of dialect, gives Costa Rica an approachable and laid back vibe for learning Spanish. Immersion here gives the Spanish learner invaluable experience in a comfortable environment, making it an ideal place to study Spanish regardless of your level.

Keep on Reading

A group of women pose at the central market in Heredia Costa Rica

What is “Tico”?

Tico is a term used for a native of Costa Rica. Costa Ricans are usually called ticos by people of other Spanish-speaking countries as well.

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