Comments from Our Students
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I have been involved with education and educators for many years – even teaching a bit at Harvard – so I am familiar with how real learning happens. The methods used by the Costa Rican Language Academy WORK! I spent the first month of a 5-month exploration of Costa Rica at the CRLA, and, as I had hoped, I received a solid foundation in Spanish that allowed me to start speaking with the fine people of this country.
The classes are small, the instructors smart and effective, and the methods are fun. I began to speak and understand before I knew it! CRLA makes Spanish an experience of living, not a long slog in a dry textbook. It's really fun.
And the CRLA offers much more than language instruction. There are Latin dance classes, cooking classes, conversation periods for extra practice- as well as any kind of help you need in finding great tours of Costa Rica, or finding you way in San Jose, or whatever your discover you need. The staff is absolutely wonderful.
So I’m off to put my Spanish to good use. You will not go wrong in starting here in learning to communicate will a huge part of the world's population! ¡Hasta luego!
Dr. Jeff Stewart
In the last 3 years, I have been in Costa Rica many times and have taken several weeks of classes at CRLA. I am very pleased with this experience and have learned much more Spanish in these classes than in anything else that I have tried.
The instructors at CRLA are friendly, professional, and most important patient. I began by taking basic group classes and now take private lessons that are more focused on business matters. I highly recommend both types of classes.
In short, I continue to take classes at CRLA because I am very pleased with the instruction I have received.
Edward Stevenson Esq., C.P.A.
USA, July, 2011.
We want to thank you sincerely for the great experience Daniel had at CRLA and throughout Costa Rica.
His elevated Spanish skills have been especially noticed by his high school Spanish teacher and by our many Spanish-speaking friends. We saw his teacher a few days into the school year and she excitedly announced: "Daniel just wants to speak Spanish all the time. He doesn´t want to use English at all in class." In fact, Daniel takes every opportunity to practice his Spanish with friends, business owners, really anyone who is a native speaker or fluent. This was definitely not the case with the young man we sent to you a couple of months ago.
We knew you could teach Spanish but we had no idea you could teach emthusiasm so successfully.
Daniel speaks glowingly about his experiences throughout the country and the friends he made...Thank you for delivering much more than we ever expected. We´ll be sending him back soon.
Rick Shaughnessy, CA, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org. Sept. 2011.
Thank you for allowing us to participate in this lovely program. We had a wonderful time!
Thank you for helping coordinate an incredibly successful program. We all had a fantastic and meaningful experience and I hope to send many more groups.
Anna, Towson University, USA, 2009
I chose the Costa Rican Language Academy, I was the most skeptical
person you could imagine. I asked dozens of questions about
the program and even e-mailed the available references.
Now that my stay is over, I´m only sorry that it went
by so fast. The reason why my experience was so worthwhile
is because of the people here. I felt like the entire staff
really cared about helping me and making me feel comfortable.
Also, it was so easy to make new friends. There are many different
activities available so not only do you learn Spanish, but
you LIVE IT and ENJOY IT. I´m returning to my country
as a better Spanish speaker, a better dancer, and now I
can even cook!
Nina Hilario, USA
10 weeks I was attending Spanish classes at the CRLA in San
José. Besides studying grammar, discussions about the
world, and practicing the language, I learned a lot about Costa Rican culture, the way people live, their cuisine,
their mentality. They are very friendly and helpful and at
school we were like a big family. For my trips on the weekends
they recommended me places to visit and did the reservations.
In the afternoon we could choose between dancing, cooking
and conversation class.
With my host family I felt very welcome and more like a member.
During meals we spent hours of discussing, laughing and getting
to know more about the other culture. I know that with my"
tico" host family and the CRLA I will always have a second
Karin B., Switzerland
I would like to thank you for a wonderful experience with your school. For the first time I have come across an institution which delivers exactly as they promise on the website. Me and my son have felt well looked after, safe, and all our needs were taken care of in a happy friendly way. The quality of teaching and all the services was excellent. I shall recommend this school to everyone I know and meet, and try and come back again to you. Thank you very much. Pura Vida.
Varum and Shabnam Frei, Switzerland, Dic.2009.
To those students who have chosen the Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) to learn Spanish, I say, "Congratulations, you made the right choice!" As a former student who has studied 4 months there, I can say this school will meet your every expectation. If students take advantage of all that the school has to offer, they will leave Costa Rica speaking a lot more Spanish than when they arrived. Through its Spanish lessons, cooking and dancing activities, conversational classes, and staff, CRLA has an environment that will provide students a better understanding of Ticos and their friendly culture. In all aspects of the school, quality is premium.
The Spanish teachers are fantastic and very knowledgeable. Professional and well qualified with their degrees from area universities, they make classes fun, productive and effective. They will squeeze every bit of Spanish out of you before you leave! As with all subjects, styles vary among students when learning Spanish. Teachers do a great job to accommodate individual needs to maximize the student's time at the school. Also, not all learning has to take place in the classroom. Often teachers take their classes out to the city, some heading for a stroll to the downtown area of San Jose for sightseeing or great shopping, while walk to the museums or nearby butterfly garden. These "field trips" enhance the learning process as different topics are discussed between students and teachers as well as getting a free personal tour of Costa Rica! For those students who want to hone their conversational and listening skills, extra conversational classes are provided twice a week, and it's free!
After many hours of learning Spanish, students can unwind and relax in the afternoon through the dancing and cooking classes, or catch up on email in the computer room, or just lounge with other students and teachers in the tropical garden. The salsa classes provide another fun part to the learning process while showing off your new dance moves. For those students who want to become chefs, cooking classes will open you to a new culinary delight.
But the best secret at the school are the incredible staff. In fact, it is what stands out at the school. Morning greetings from the security and maintenance personnel to the excellent customer service from the front office staff, to the delicious lunches made by the soda will make your experience relaxing and put you at ease. The from office staff provides countless information for your weekend plans, best spots in Costa Rica to travel, and the always needed bus information. They are professional, extremely flexible and will make sure you have a great time while in Costa Rica!
Students will have everything at the school that is needed to learn Spanish and enjoy their time in Costa Rica. This will be one of the best decisions you have made! Pura Vida!
Everett, Massachusetts, USA
August 11, 2004
chicas y chicos! Mañana tengo que regresar a Suiza.
Muy triste para mi! Porque estos 3 meses en Costa Rica pasaron
demasiado rápido. Pero fueron 3 meses muy bonitos.
La gente costarricense, la escuela con todos sus profesores,
la dirección, las chicas de la recepción, Benedicto,
Isabel, Gloria y mi profesora muy buena, simpática,
loca y finalmente ella es una amiga maravillosa. También
mi familia Daisy y Pascual Durante. El país, el sol
y su gente.
¡TODOS eran PURA VIDA!
Yo aprendí muchísimo de español, la cultura
costarricense y los bailes en las clases de Frank y Victor.
Muchísimas gracias por este tiempo inovidable. 100000000000
I have now returned to Canada and I just want to say how much I appreciated my month of study at CRLA in January.
Everything about my experience with the school was first rate: Your helpful e-mail communication before I arrived in Costa Rica, the airport transport, my wonderful homestay, the excellent (and very patient!) instructors, and the friendly staff at the front desk. I couldn't believe the staff already knew my name by the second day I was there, and they helped me in so many ways, including travel plans for my second month in Costa Rica.
So please pass on my thanks to veryone there. I have a long way to go to become proficient in Spanish, but that is no fault of the school. I need to preactice much more. Who knows? I may be back again.
Costa Rica is such a beautiful country and the poeple are "muy amables".
Best wishes to all,
March 7, 2007
I was a student at CRLA about two weeks ago and I cannot thank you enough for the awesome experience I had while in Costa Rica . Everything about the program was wonderful, from the home stays to the classes. My Tica family really made me feel welcome. The dinners were "muy rico", the laundry service speedy, and my mom always made sure that my bed was made and my room clean. I also had a lot of fun playing with my little brothers. Being the second oldest of seven, that really made me feel at home.
The staff at school could not have been friendlier or more helpful. They were always willing to answer my questions, no matter how many I had, or how pointless they seemed. The free juice and coffee was great, and now I'm addicted to the stuff. I stocked up on the Cafe Britt for me and my family. The little "soda" was convenient as well, making it possible to have a good but inexpensive lunch.
. . . Again, thank you so much for everything. I miss your beautiful country and am definitely planning on coming back. Costa Rica, Pura Vida!!
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
August 21, 2004
I am writting to express my appreciation for the instruction I received in the advanced Spanish course I recently completed. I have attended two other four-week courses in intermediate Spanish at other well-known schools here in Costa Rica, and I can tell you that my experience at CRLA far exceeded my experiences elsewhere.
... Outside of class, I found the atmosphere at CRLA invigorating. I felt the whole school was organized to offer its students the most value for their money. This came through in so many ways -the included afternoon conversation classes, the dance classes, and the cooking classes (not to mention the always available complimentary coffe and fresh fruit drinks), and the good food (at reasonable prices) offered by the cafeteria. The staff in reception was always helpful and friendly.
In short, I would recommend CRLA to anyone considering the study of Spanish in Costa Rica. I will be back for another course, as soon as I am able to integrate my recent learning into my daily life here in Costa Rica. Meanwhile, I wish you and CRLA continued success.
Dr. Grady D. Bruce
February 13, 2007
vigorous program was challenging, yet rewarding and extremely
fun. The small classes let us get to know our professors on
a one to one basis. They not only taught us but became our
lifelong friends. Being at the Academy was like having a second
family. Everyone was warm and caring and catered to our individual
needs One month at the Academy was like 3 years of high school
Spanish. We felt daily progress as we were able to communicate
more and more efficiently with every hour at class.
If you want to learn Spanish in a fun and exciting way, The
Costa Rican Language Academy is the place. We loved every
minute of our stay here and are planning on returning many
Kevin Prehn & Travis Hansen, U.S.A.
The small size of the classes, often times
one-on-one, and the diversity of instructors and students afforded
me the opportunity to experience many different accents and
teaching styles. Your instructors are intelligent, patient,
kind and extremely professional. I can see that you academy
has hired the very best.
Without a doubt, the greatest aspect of my experience here in
Costa Rica has been your homestay program. I could never have
hand-picked a more perfect family to live with. They were wonderful!…
Your homestay program alone is worth the price I paid for the
entire program. My Tico family is truly my second family and
I am certain that I will come to visit them again in the future.
Edward Joseph Klaas II, Atlanta GA, U.S.A.
10 febrero 2003
Dear Laura and all the staff at CRLA
I am writing on behalf of all the pupils and staff from Queenswood School who have just enjoyed 12 superb days in Costa Rica.
It is no exaggeration to say that our visit to your beautiful country exceeded our expectations in every way.
We found the Costa Rican Language Academy to be run extremely professionally, from the provision of free water, juice and coffee to the excellent standard of teaching and the small number of students in each class. I know that every one of our pupils appreciated the enthusiasm and dedication of the teachers and that they thoroughly enjoyed their lessons - whether Spanish language, salsa or cookery.
Similarly, the host families were without exception friendly, welcoming and patient. Several of our students formed close relationships with their Costa Rican 'mamás' and were very sad to have to return home. I, myself, much appreciated my host family - Amalia and Gerardo - and felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet such warm and kind people.
We thoroughly enjoyed all the visits that we did and we very much appreciated your flexibility when we asked for last minute changes. All the guides with whom we came into contact were interesting and caring. I would never have believed it possible to learn so much in so short a time.
I firmly believe that our students' experiences in Costa Rica will have changed their understanding of the world for the better and I cannot recommend highly enough your organisation. I very much hope that we will be able to return in the future.
Head of Languages
have been in the travel industry for seven years and Costa
Rica is a country I wish to return to over and over. Your
school is now my family too!
Sherilyn Fraess, Saskatoon, Canada
the second time in my adult life, that I can share all my
thoughts and my feelings in a real community, aside from my
own family. Everyone at the Costa Rican Language Academy :
administrators, families, employees, teachers and students
all make up a unified family with the main goal of developing
the communication ability in Spanish, and for some also in
cooking and dancing.
Marcel Bouvier, Quebec, Canada
my whole life (I am 42 years old) I have never met better,
nicer or more interested teachers than at the CRLA. I had
only had 20 hours of Spanish lessons before my visit to Costa
Rica, but after 48 lessons at the CRLA I was able to understand
almost everything in everyday conversation and I felt a lot
more confident when speaking the language.
You find all kinds of people at the school: young, old, couples,
singles from all over the world, but most important you find:
people who are there for the same reasons as you: to learn Spanish
and often also to see beautiful Costa Rica. You will be almost
certain to find someone to travel with if you want to. And the
school staff offers great service, they will book tickets, trips
and hotels for you.
I will always consider both the family and the people at the
school as my friends and I already plan to return to Costa
Rica, hopefully in November this year. If you have some questions
about the CRLA I'd be pleased to answer them.
Pia Marie Nothlev, DENMARK
...The people of Costa Rica won me over.
The teachers and staff at the academy became my nuclear family-
so much so that a typical day at school for me lasts from 9am-5:30
or 6pm. I just won´t go home! I really love this school!
The teachers are A-1 and really know their stuff. I´ve learned
a lot more than just grammar from my Spanish teacher, Gilberto.
We discuss literature, history, science, folklore, etc. He really
tailored the class to fit my interests and those of the other
students (when there were others) and made it a pleasure to
learn. In the cooking class (and outside of it, too) I learned
to make many Costa Rican dishes. Isabelle is always around to
answer questions and give recipes, advice or comfort. And as
for the dance class... let´s just say that I´m an addict! Not
a day goes by that I´m not in the group class- in addition to
my daily private lesson. I´ve danced professionally (salsa)
before I came here, but Rafael has significantly raised my level
All the staff are very generous with their time and resources
and are always willing to call around to find out prices, make
reservations, etc. for my crazy projects or travel plans. It´s
a big help. And they´re very flexible with scheduling and payment.
Nothing is set in stone- unlike some other local language schools.
I have friends in two of the larger schools and they can´t believe
everything that we get here for the same price (or less). I´m
just glad that I made a good choice of schools; it´s really
hard to tell the difference just looking at WEB pages.
Of course, you only get out of it what you put into it. There
are many opportunities here to learn and meet wonderful new
people, but it´s up to the individual to take them. For me,
all it was was a small investment of time- 3 ½ months. But really,
just 3 ½ months to gain friendships that will last a lifetime.
Friendships with people who don´t understand english, but don´t
need to because I speak Spanish now and we understand each other
I wholeheartedly recommend this school and would be happy to
answer any questions that anyone might have. I hope that my
letter helps you to make your decision and who knows? maybe
I´ll see you down there. I plan on going back...
Elisa Llamido, California, USA
and I had a rich and rewarding experience this last four weeks.
Not only did we study and speak Spanish for 4-5 hours per
day with some of the most patient, involved and professional
instructors we have ever had the occasion to meet, but we
also had the opportunity to explore the beauty of the land,
learn to cook Costa Rican style, and dance the salsa with
the champion dancers of the country.
We heartily recommend the school to anyone interested in learning
to speak Spanish and in immersing themselves in the culture
of a lovely people.
Mary & Tom Burton, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.
Hi! I am just arriving from a three week immersion and training in San José. Following the recommendation from your book readers, I chose to enroll at CRLA. My expectations were high. I was not disappointed, far from it. The commitment and professionalism of the professors, the quality and the flexibility of this school is material for textbook in management and education. As the school was closed for Good Thursday and Good Friday in this very Catholic country, and as I wanted private classes for these days, it took thirty seconds to open the school for me and find a teacher willing to take me. Even more, that teacher made sure with my regular teacher that their lessons would be coordinated.
You can see that the whole experience is coordinated and integrated from the moment the taxi driver from the school picks you up at the airport and starts to teach you Spanish! My home stay is an experience I will cherish the rest of my life also.
Thanks for your sound recommendation and for keeping listening to your readers and conveying their experience.
Michel Grant, Montreal, Québec, Canada.
"Letter sent to Lonely Planet Guide by Michel Grant from Montreal, Canada"
I'm interested in taking a Spanish course and wanted to know about your experience in Costa Rica. Thanks in advance. Helen.
1) Did you find the course beneficial? I FOUND THE COURSE VERY, VERY
"MUCHO BUENO" BENEFICIAL. I AM ABLE, WITH SOME HESITATION, TO ORDER FOOD, TELL THE TAXI WHERE TO GO, GET HOTEL RESERVATIONS, BUY THINGS........ AND I
COULD ONLY SAY 'HOLA' BEFORE.
2) How was your stay? MY STAY WAS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!! CRLA MADE IT FOR ME. THEY SET UP SOME SIDE TRIPS, GAVE ME VERY GOOD DIRECTIONS IN HOW, WHERE, WHEN TO GO PLACES. THEY EVEN MADE A COUPLE OF PHONE CALLS FOR ME AS TO RESERVATIONS AT THE ARENAL VOLCANO RESORT. AND THEY ARRANGED THE SHUTTLE RIDE THERE AND BACK FOR ME. ALSO I HAVE TAKEN MY GRAND-DAUGHTER WITH ME AND THE SCHOOL HELPED ME FIND A FAMILY TO STAY WITH WHO DID NOT MIND THAT KAITLYN (GRANDDAUGHTER) WAS WITH ME (SHE IS 5). ONE OF THE STAFF MEMBERS EVEN KEPT KAITLYN ONE DAY FOR ME WHEN SHE DID NOT WANT TO STAY AT THE SCHOOL WITH ME.
3) How long was the program that you took? I HAVE BEEN TO CR ON FOUR OCCASIONS AND HAVE TAKEN THE FOUR DAY, THREE HOUR CLASS EACH TIME. ON MY NEXT TRIP IN EARLY AUGUST I WILL MOST LIKELY TAKE PRIVATE CLASS WITH THEM..
4) Would you go again? If so, would you stay longer or shorter? I AM
GOING AGAIN. THIS TIME I WILL PROBABLY STAY A LITTLE LONGER AND TAKE THE PRIVATE CLASSES.
5) What other things did you like about the program or stay? THERE WERE A LOT OF THINGS THAT I LIKED. THE HELP AND ASSISTANCE I GOT WAS SO VERY HELPFUL AND SEEMED TO BE GIVEN WITHOUT HESITATION AND WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS. IN OTHERWORDS THEY SEEMED TO WANT TO DO WHATEVER THEY COULD TO MAKE MY STAY A POSITIVE ONE. THE HOUSE WHERE I STAYED WAS VERY NICE ALSO. THE FAMILY WAS
QUITE HELPFUL IN TALKING WITH ME IN SPANISH AND WE LAUGHTED TOGETHER WHEN I MADE SOME RATHER EMBARRASSING MISS USE OF THE LANGUAGE. THE FOOD WAS GOOD. ALWAYS PLENTY - GOOD CAFE' CON LECHE. ARROZ CON FRIJOLES, PAPAS FRITAS, ETC. AND THEY HAD US IN A ROOM WITH OUR PRIVATE BATHROOM AND SHOWER
(WITH THE SUICIDE SHOWER - YOU WILL KNOW WHAT THAT IS WHEN YOU GET THERE - IT'S AN AMERICAN JOKE) AND A PRIVATE TV AND WE (KATE AND I) HAD THE RUN OF THE HOUSE, OUR OWN KEY, ETC.
IN TOTAL I LOVED THE VISITS, KAIT WANTS TO GO BACK AND LIVE THERE 'FOREVER', AND WE WILL GO BACK. ACTUALLY I AM PLANNING TO VIST EVERY FOUR OR FIVE MONTHS OR MORE.
I DO NOT HESITATE TO HIGHLY RECOMMEND CRLA TO ANYONE..
Raymond Van Der Meer, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
Hello, My name is Brian Highfill. I was enrolled in your school for 4 weeks ( returned home August 13). I'm sorry I took so long to e-mail you but I wanted to let you know that I had so much fun. I stayed just a few blocks away at the Aparthotel Los Yoses so I didn't have to walk far. The school was great, the teachers were absolutely fantastic. I went with my aunt and uncle, and I did make the mistake of not staying with a family, although when I come back I will. The educational part of the school was great also; my teachers ( Maria, Cindy, and Stephanie) were so good about narrowing things down and not rushing me, and making sure I would always understand. I have nothing but good things to say to people who ask about it, and plan to return to your school next summer to continue learning, I still study the workbooks you provided me with.
Brian Highfill, Elkhorn, Nebraska, U.S.A.
I just want to thank you for one of my best vacation experiences. Although I only had a short time in Costa Rica, from when I landed to the end of my stay, EVERYTHING was so well planned and organized. From the airport pick-up, to the family, to the school - everyone has truly made me feel welcome, and at ease into the transition to another country and culture.
I also learned so much. From never opening a Spanish book in my life, to be able to carry on a conversation (small one) is awesome! Also the salsa class was so much fun. Thanks for having different levels. It made it much easier and more exciting when I was taught a truly complex move.
So thank you, thank you, thank you. I definitely enjoyed my experience, my host family, and my newly spoken Spanish abilities. I truly hope to find some more time to come back very soon!
Jason Dinter, Arlington, VA, U.S.A.
Having completed four weeks at your school, I am more impressed than ever. Since I've been able to do just one week at a time over a year, I thought I might be a problem. But each time I've come back, your staff has placed me exactly with the right teacher to work with me where I was, and to take me forward from there to learn more that I ever thought I could learn in one week.
Stephanie was my first profesora. What a delightful, sparkling teacher she was, as I began my journey into your beautiful language. She was so patient and so helpful. She truly inspired me to go on.
Osvaldo continued the work with this viejo, sharing much about the arts in Costa Rica, and helping me so much during an unfortunate accident on a field trip. He taught with much humor and caring.
Anna inspired me in other ways. Her superb teaching of the basics was interspersed with her deep knowledge of Costa Rican life and history. Anna's teaching was so eloquent, so clear, so thoughtful. Her rich personality was a gift.
Speaking of gifts, the big gift of CRLA is the diversity of teachers who help us in so many different ways.
In my most recent visit I needed to carefully review what I learned during the past weeks and to fill in the gaps. Karla was all business, staying with the book and helping me and the other viejo. She was so patient, unafraid to use repetition and drills to make sure we understood.
After each week I completed at CRLA I was amazed at how much I had learned. And I learned much from every teacher, especially because they all shared their gifts in different ways.
In every visit I was enriched by the experience of being with other students from so many other countries-and from the great climate, the awesome beauty, the friendly people of Costa Rica.
Many thanks to my teachers, to Laura, who has always been so helpful in so many ways, and to you founders who have created a place that feels always like a family.
I'm sorry that I'm not able to write this letter in Spanish. But I know that with more time at your wonderful academy I will!
Gracias, y pura vida,
Comments from Our Students | References From Ex-Students