Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica for Your Little Ones

I have written before about how an immersion experience can be a great way to get your kids to learn – and actually speak – Spanish. It makes the language relevant, helps kids get real world practice, and also helps improve cultural understanding.

Most importantly for your children, it’s fun. That gives you a great tool when trying to convince them that this summer, they’ll be learning Spanish. One terrific option is Spanish immersion in Costa Rica.

Why Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica?

As a parent, the first question you are likely to ask yourself about when choosing the best Spanish immersion destination for your child is: is it safe?

As the most established democracy in Latin America, Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in the region. It has no army and, unlike its Central American neighbors, it has not yet been plagued by gangs and organized crime.

It’s also very welcoming of tourists. Whether you want to accompany your child, or whether you plan to send your teenager to a camp or Spanish school, be assured that there will be English-speaking guides to help you and your teen.

That said, one of the best parts of an immersion is being able to use Spanish in real-life situations, and Costa Ricans are famous for their hospitality and their willingness help you practice.

Costa Ricans speak a very clear, neutral Spanish, which is easy for beginner language learners to understand.

Spanish immersion in Costa Rica comes with fantastic ecotourism opportunities.

Spanish immersion in Costa Rica comes with fantastic ecotourism opportunities.

How to Choose an Immersion Program

Costa Rica offers a number of Spanish language camps, as well as dozens if not hundreds of language schools. How should you choose?

  • First of all, consider the age of your child. If you have a young child, consider whether you want to accompany him.
  • Define activities besides Spanish for your child to enjoy.  Camps for teenagers often combine other activities.  There are camps for teens interested in learning to surf, or would he prefer to volunteer on an environmental project?

Finding out what your child is interested in can help you both decide what kind of program to look for. In Costa Rica, Spanish for teens is a growing market, so there is a lot to choose from.

  • Define your budget and based on that the time he is going to spend in Costa rica.
  • Make a list of the best options and read the ratings, social proof and comments of the children if possible.
  • Contact each option you think is a possibility and talk to them via Skype or Facetime.  If there is not a contact name or a person you can reach out to I would not feel comfortable.

Where Should You Go?

In this article learn Spanish in Costa Rica I describe very well the areas of the country and how they can play an important role in your Spanish learning adventure.

Now you know “what,” so next up is “where.” Costa Rica is a small country, but it has a variety of different climates. If your child wants to surf, look for schools and camps on the beach. More interested in ziplining? That’s generally in the central part of the country.

You also want to consider whether the location is urban or rural. If your child is not used to big cities, it may be best to look for a school in smaller cities such as Heredia or Alajuela, as opposed to the capital San José.

If you are planning to accompany your child – or take advantage of their Spanish immersion in Costa Rica to make a trip yourself – your tourist options are close to endless. Rainforests? Check. Beaches? Check. Volcanoes? Check.

As with most locations, when traveling to Costa Rica, it’s best to think ahead of time about where you want to go and how long you have.

Tourist sites can be long distances between each other, and roads are not always the best. With forethought, you can plan out a trip that makes sure you don’t miss your must-sees.

Spanish immersion in Costa Rica is a great way for your kids to improve their language skills. And it doesn’t hurt that you could get the chance to tag along on a tropical vacation.

Have you taken your kids on a Spanish immersion trip? Tell us how it went in the comments!

Planning Your Spanish Language Immersion In Six Steps

Our Spanish language immersion in the south of Spain has been a great opportunity for me to talk about what is really important when you want to bring your kids to another culture.

I can share overall that planning a Spanish immersion is not as difficult as I used to think it was. I guess it is because now we have been on our sixth immersion and we’re very accustomed to think creatively to give our child the best opportunity he can have to improve his Spanish in a very short period of time.

By now, I have a perfect way to plan your next Spanish language immersion, so I thought why not give you that simple map you could use over and over?

6 Steps To Your Perfect Spanish Language Immersion

This little process that I’m going to share with you has served me very well and you can think of each step as a small piece to conquer.

Time

Start by thinking about how much time you have. Is not the same to go on an immersion for one week that is to go for a full month. I recommend a minimum of a full week.

Once you know the length of time that you are willing to spend in a country or Spanish region you’re all set to think about a specific date. Think about holiday vacations and all dates that are related to your kids School holidays as they present the best opportunities to travel.

Be prepared to spend a lot more money for school holidays because you get hammered with the prices everywhere around the world.

Budget

I would love for you not to have a budget however, the reality shows that thinking about how much you are going to spend in advance in relationship to the length of time is the way to go. This is because the experience and the proficiency your children will be gaining can justify the cost.

Just remember this:  The longer you stay the more you could end up paying and also the more your kids will learn the language. The Spanish immersion becomes an investment not expenditure.

When thinking about the budget, expect to spend on four main things, airplane tickets, lodging, exploring the surrounding areas and structured Spanish learning.

We live in the United States and this explains why going to a different country sometimes requires us to spend on two airplane tickets per person to reach a Spanish-speaking region of a country.

Tickets to South America and Europe are pretty expensive therefore going to Central America and the Caribbean become very attractive choices because they cost way less money.

Lodging can get pretty expensive nevertheless, if exchanging homes is an option explore it.  It makes life much easier and rich because you end up having a great contact in the visiting country.

I know everybody may not feel comfortable exchanging homes however, it is a simple and very viable option that can save you thousands of dollars.

Exploring the surrounding areas of the town you chose to go to can add to your expense because this determines if you need to rent a car, buy entrances to museums, shows, tourist attractions and so forth.

Lastly, is the cost of learning structured Spanish. This encompasses an activity that your child is going to spend at least five hours doing, immersed in Spanish either through sports, camps and structured learning like in a school exchange.

Country – Region

Choosing a Destination for Your Spanish language Immersion

It is Very Important to Choose a Destination for Your Spanish Language Immersion That Your Kids Enjoy.

You can analyze this point at the same time you are setting your budget. Once you know the date and the budget, choose a country and specifically a region. Go ahead and involve your children.

Start by giving your children a marker and a map so they can pinpoint the country they want to visit. My son loves to keep the map after we have gone to the area or region. I think it serves as a great memento.

Spanish is prevalent in one country in North America and all trhoughout Central and South America, some islands in the Caribbean and Spain therefore, you have lots of countries to choose from.  See the map below.

Countries_with_Spanish_as_an_official_language

Once you have pinned out the dates and location look at the weather at the particular time of the year you’re going to go. This will help you with packing, seeing available summer camp opportunities or any classes that your child can take while enjoying the culture at the same time.

Opportunities to Learn Spanish

Start using our friend Google to find Spanish language immersion opportunities. Do a search for camps, exchanges, town sponsored summer activities for children, sports and particular classes that your child is interested in.

A perfect example is when your child loves baseball and you’re going to the Dominican Republic. Try to find a school or a training facility for children where they can commit to at least five hours of daily training. The best part is that the training is going to be all in Spanish and you can couple it with your child’s love for the sport.

Another great way to find out the best bargains in each town you’re going to visit is by making friends in that particular town through forums, Facebook pages, and even home exchanges.

I have found town sponsored camps in Spain for as little as €50 for two weeks. The extra bonus is that while our son is at camp my husband and I can use these five hours to visit nearby towns or enjoy our time as a couple.

Schedule

Having a schedule is particularly important. You can think of the whole morning being devoted to the structured activity for example from 9 to 2 PM, and then your exploring time afterwards.

If your experience is going to be longer than two weeks, think about leaving the first or last week just for having fun, laying around, traveling to contiguous cities, enjoying your time freely and doing non structured Spanish learning activities to tie the fun to the learning experience for your child.

And this brings me to the next point, which I have found to be marvelously helpful and encouraging for my son to learn Spanish.

Grand Finale

This is simply a great trip that you plan ahead and it could be over the weekend or for a full week to a nearby place or places, a historic Monument, or simply have time to relax without any scheduled activities.

Making your Spanish language immersion fun by introducing fun shows for the children

Making your Spanish language immersion fun by introducing shows for the children

When he visited the south of Spain we made sure to have a week of exploring towns like Granada, Córdoba and Málaga. This was exciting, because every day we took the car, saw different routes and ate different foods. You can also fit in beach time since this a favorite pass time for everybody.

Follow these six simple steps and you will be on your way to planning your perfect Spanish language immersion. Also, let me know what you thought about this article by leaving your comments below.

The Best Spanish Immersion Destination for Your Child – 3 Essentials

As you prepare for a yearly Spanish immersion destination for your child I bet a  thousand thoughts are rushing through your mind.

I lived this experience this year when going to Spain:  Is my son going to understand the Spanish of the south of Spain? Is the food going to be as delectable as the food in Latin America? Are the kids in Málaga open and embracing of new cultures?

This year’s Spanish immersion destination is going to be a totally new adventure as we will be traveling to Málaga, Spain. As many of you know, every year we try to incorporate a Spanish learning and reinforcing adventure for our son at the same time we enjoy a different part of the world.

This year my son is going to be attending a camp NOT at all related to learning Spanish, in the town of Rincón de la Victoria in the outskirts of Málaga, in the Costa del Sol.

If you are thinking about starting your own series of Spanish traveling odysseys, feel free to join me as I will be describing our discoveries and giving details of our Spanish immersion in the south of Spain.

Why Choosing Your Spanish Immersion Destination is Key

Today I will be sharing how to choose your destination and why it is key to making the Spanish learning and practicing process a smooth experience.

I found that an ideal Spanish immersion destination for children has three main components:

1-Time Dedicated To Spanish Learning or Practicing

This is what makes a simple visit to a Spanish speaking country different from what I loosely call an immersion.

There should be some dedicated time either to learn or speak Spanish continuously. I would say the right number of hours is at least one third of the day not counting the time your child is asleep.

For example, if you are taking your little one for a week, and she sleeps for 9 hours a day you have at least 15 useful hours in a day. If you spend 5 hours learning or practicing Spanish you will have reached your goal of spending at least one third of each day on language learning.

I developed this “one third rule” after taking my son to at least 4 different immersions in the past 8 years where he experienced different schools, pre-Ks and nursery schools.

2-A Setting Involving Other Children Her Age

This is one of the most exciting parts of the adventure. I discovered that when my son had to interact with adults, he wasn’t as prone to speak in Spanish. It actually made him feel out of place.

The opposite was totally true when interacting with kids his own age. For example, when he wanted to communicate with the cool kid who had the water gun, he had to speak the language no matter what, and so he did.

Kids are clever, flexible creatures, and as a parent you could simply sit back and watch their interactions to realize how resourceful they are when they need to achieve what they are after.

When you place your child in an environment with children her age, she will feel more confident and ready to overcome obstacles that arise.

 3-Recreation and Relaxation As Part of The Package

When I started taking Ian to Spanish immersions I naively thought he was going to sit quietly in the classroom and be happy about the process. After all, it was in another country and with new surroundings, and what’s not to like about that?

Wrong, I was very wrong. The first time I traveled with my son to Colombia I signed him up for a wonderful nursery school called Mañanitas where he was to spend the majority of the day. From 8:30 am to 3:30 pm he was going to enjoy the day doing fun activities with children his age, all in Spanish. We were traveling without Dad that summer and separation anxiety kicked into high gear.

The first week he missed Dad terribly and cried every time I dropped him at Mañanitas where I had to disappear without him noticing. The most discouraging fact was that he didn’t want to participate in the activities the teachers had prepared for the little rascals. He was only 4 years old.

It took him 2 full weeks to start adapting to his surroundings and lifestyle. By the third week, he was much better. It helped that Daddy had arrived! However, there was only one week remaining of the whole adventure and I was left with a bittersweet feeling in my heart.

As a good persistent Colombian I didn’t give up. I saw how much he enjoyed the experience once Dad was with us and we took off discovering and traveling to surrounding towns where Ian could enjoy free time and activities like horseback riding.

Spanish Immersion Destination

Celebrating El Dia de las Velitas in Colombia. My son’s first Spanish immersion adventure.

From this Spanish immersion destination in Colombia I learned a valuable lesson: It is important to pair learning with fun, not the way you see it but the way your child would.

The best part of the Spanish immersions destinations we choose is seeing how feelings of anxiety vanish with the expectation of visiting an exciting water park nearby, the beaches in the area, the zip lining available 45 minutes away or the beautiful palaces ancient personages built many moons ago.

Believe me, I found out the hard way what makes a great Spanish immersion adventure for a child. I could have accidentally killed my son’s love of learning Spanish, but fortunately instead I found a way to intertwine it with my son’s passions and desires. Objectively, what child is going to say no when he knows the experience that awaits him is framed by his most loved activities?

If preparing for your child’s immersion this article about Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica maybe what you are looking for.  G ahead, leave me a comment afterwards.

5 Benefits of a Spanish Immersion Adventure for Your Child

Have you been struggling to convince your child to speak Spanish? You are not alone, I have been through the same with my son. Keep reading because I think I have found the way to help you, I am talking about a Spanish immersion adventure for your child.

There could be plenty of reasons why your child won’t speak, from a lack of language skills to a lack of confidence, but simple boredom often creates the biggest obstacle. It may seem farfetched but boredom simply makes our little ones lose their attention and reject learning Spanish.

I found that a Spanish immersion adventure provides an excellent opportunity to overcome all of these challenges by creating an environment where your child will love to learn.

I know it could be out of your budget however, if you are planning a vacation you may fit in a Spanish speaking destination making it a perfect opportunity to do a Spanish immersion your style!

5 Benefits of a Spanish Immersion Adventure for Your Child

Whether your child has Spanish class in school or you teach your child Spanish at home, this type of academic instruction only goes so far. A Spanish immersion adventure provides a richer experience with many benefits. Consider these 5 benefits to plan an immersion adventure for your niño.  Spanish immersion adventures:

Make Spanish Relevant

Kids often complain that the things they learn in school seem boring and completely useless in real life. A Spanish immersion adventure offers the opportunity to change that.

The promise of the adventure can provide motivation for your child to excel in their Spanish studies before the trip, while also serving as proof that for some fun activities you have to know Spanish.

Get Real World Spanish Practice

An immersion adventure offers excellent Spanish language practice. Your child will hear many different accents, learn new vocabulary, and even begin to pick up grammar by example.

As a family we have been in countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Spain which provide the diversity in accents and words usage.

I explained to my son the differences in accents and pronunciation he was going to experience in the south of Spain. I knew the usage of s, c and z, which was going to throw him off for sure.

I also found that being in an environment where they must speak Spanish to be understood can also help build confidence, as your child learns that even if their Spanish isn’t quite perfect, people are still happy to talk to them.

Improve Cultural Understanding with a Spanish immersion adventure for your child

Spanish immersion adventure for your child

My son sitting at a street vendor’s spot in Cartagena , Colombia.

If you plan your Spanish immersion adventure in another country, your child will get an up close and personal experience of that country’s culture.

It can be very rewarding for a child to experience a way of life and a way of thinking that is different from their own. It enriches their worldview and helps teach tolerance.

Improve Cognitive Skills

According to the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, research has shown that kids who become fully bilingual display improved cognitive skills in areas like divergent thinking, pattern recognition, and problem solving.

Immersion adventures make an excellent tool for helping your child practice and maintain their bilingual language skills and hopefully reap these cognitive benefits.

Have Fun!

 

Spanish immersion adventure for your child

My son horse back riding on his Spanish immersion adventure in Medellín, Colombia.

Don’t forget to let your child have fun on their Spanish immersion adventure! While the adventure might include attending school or classes in Spanish, don’t let that be the only activity.  When we do it we mix it with beach and horseback riding time and my son loves it.

Some parents are skeptical about Spanish immersions; I say this is nonsense and if you want to know why, read the article Language Immersion Myths. Also plan some travel or activities your child will enjoy, like going to fútbol games, exploring beaches, hiking ruins or visiting relatives.  Those activities can create the perfect Spanish immersion adventure for your child.