Hello again,

I have been thinking about sharing my best tips to improve your Spanish during your time in Costa Rica. By living in a Spanish-speaking country, you have the best starting point to improve your language skills, but an extra effort will have you to make the best out of it and improve more.

I had five years of Spanish in school and lived one year in Spain for exchange, but many people that study Spanish with Kulturstudier have not had any Spanish before they arrive. Therefore, UISIL divides the classes into different levels; 0, 1, 2 and then 0a, 0b, 1a, 1b, etc. to make sure everyone is challenged but yet experience progress. No matter where everyone started, the students now understand so much in Spanish and can even have conversations in Spanish. Many Costa Ricans also speak good English so there is really not a problem to not know any Spanish before you arrive.

Here you have my best tips to start improving your language, and you can start already before you arrive: 

First of all, you should start watching Spanish series or movies, this is something you can start to do as soon as you apply, and although you don’t see it, you pick up some words along without an effort.

I can recommend these series – which are all on Netflix: 

  • “La casa de papel”,
  • “El cuerpo en llamas”,
  • “Las chicas del cable”, and;
  • “Entrevías”

Also, a really hot tip is to download a chrome extention called “Learning with Netflix” which allows you to have two subtitles on your series/movies, enabling you to learn even more.

A party is an easy way to communicate with locals!

Podcasts is also a great way to learn Spanish. I recommend the Duolingo Spanish podcast, which is perfect for beginners/intermediates. They tune in with English explications now and then to explain what they are talking about. Another podcast in Spanish is “Sonido del crimen”, which is a crim podcast. Both podcasts are available in Spotify.

Music in Spanish is also a good tool to improve your language, especially your vocabulary. Have in mind that they might use abbreviations or wrong grammatic in songs, but the vocabulary can improve a lot if you listen to the text.

Never miss the chance to interact with locals! Here we asked a man at La Feria how he made sugar from sugar canes. We learned both how to make sugar and practiced our Spanish.

When you come to Costa Rica, use the people around you to practice the language. We have spoken a lot to the Uber drivers, which also gives you great tips about the areas. Talk to the employees at UISIL, ask them about their day as a  practice.

The most important thing when learning a new language is to leave the fear of making mistakes behind and just talk. Everyone can hear that Spanish is not your mother tongue and they are very patient with us. When you leave the shame behind, you really start to have some good conversations, which is also perfect to learn about the societies that you visit.

Do not miss the chance to live in a host family! This is so good to really practice in natural situations.

Recently, UISIL have included a 5–6-week homestay which means you have to use Spanish daily to communicate with the family. This has helped so many students improve their skills, and everyone enjoys the experience when they get to have their first real conversations.

And of course, learning a new language takes some studying as well. Luckily this work can nicely be done on a café!

Learning a new language can be tough and exhausting, but there is so much joy when you finally experience that you can use your skills to communicate and learn new things!

– Ingvild