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Help....Study Spanish Abroad

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Help....Study Spanish Abroad

Our daughter wishes to take spanish immersion classes in Manuel Antonio (Quepos) this summer. The websites all promote themselves, of course. Can anyone make a comment about either the COSI (Costa Rica Spanish Institute) or SA Manuel Antonio. Both are promoted by www.SpanishAbroad.com. Also, any information regarding travel from the host families, and the host families themselves. Thanks


quepos, costa rica
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1. Re: Help....Study Spanish Abroad

i have heard real good things from the people I've talked to that have been in COSI.

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2. Re: Help....Study Spanish Abroad

Thank you FishingJohn. It is difficult making decisions based on information contained in beautiful brochures and websites. While everything looked okay....you just never know. We will accompany her to Costa Rica for the first couple of days, just to be sure she is settled-in. Do you have a recommendation for accommodations? The website for Hotel La Mariposa looks nice, but the reviews are not very kind. I wouldn't mind spending a little more, since my wife and I might not ever make it back to Costa Rica, so would you recommend La Mansion Inn or Makanda by the Sea. I found a tour guide book that recommends we stay at the Rafiki Safari Lodge. What do you think?

Tampa, FL
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for San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: Help....Study Spanish Abroad

I understand your skepticism about websites. One site I recommend to others to use to research language schools is www.123teachme.com. It is not a advertising site like the school websites nor an agency that gets commissions from the schools it lists. In fact on that site's info request form it explicitly says "Attention School Director: Please deduct all commissions and fees from tuition. This student is not working with a sales agent." And it ranks each school based on student reviews which you can read (much like this site does with hotels) and lists both good AND bad results.

That said COSI-MA gets a "Good" ranking. For some reason Spanish Abroad is not listed on that site. That might be because SA is only the marketing agent and it goes by another name locally? Not really sure.

As for host families, I can't really speak for MA but I did stay with a host family in San Pedro and have a few thoughts on the subject. In general its a wonderful way to augment the experience. Not all families are the same however and its important to get a good match. Personally, I think multigenerational families are best as it gives you a wider range of people to interact with and more opportunities to interact. Most families really go out of their way to mix with the students and seem to enjoy it as much as the students themselves but some seem to be mainly interested in renting out a room. Check with the school to find out their matching process and whether your daughter can request a change in the event she gets a bad match.

Of course, one can travel from the host families. During the week she can only go so far in an afternoon, but the school should offer some interesting afternoon activities like latin dance etc. if your daughter doesn't want to explore on her own. Weekends are for more extensive travel and here she will also have the benefit of school resources. If not school organized trips then at least the opportunity to join impromptu overnight trips to other parts of the country with her fellow students. When I was in school in SJ, a group of students even put together a 3 day weekend trip to Granada Nicaragua (or was it Bocas del Toro in Panama?). Either way it was just a little too much driving for such a short time for me. But certainly a 1 or 2 night jaunt to Monteverde, Arenal, Dominical, Jaco are definite options for her.

My hotel of choice in the MA area is Villas Nicholas, but everybody has their favorites.

raleigh, north...
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4. Re: Help....Study Spanish Abroad

Dear Butchhall,

I ran accross your question actually doing a search on the hotel that I am currently working at down here in Costa Rica. I took a year off from university and moved down here this past June. For the first 3 and a half months I was here I studied at COSI in Manuel Antonio! I stayed with a wonderful host family (although, not all are created equal, that I will warn you) whith whom I am still very close with, and truely enjoyed all my class time!

The school is simple yet cozy with an amazing view of the Pacific, very laid back atmosphere, with mainly women teaching who were all previous teachers at the public schools in the country. I learned an amazing amount of spanish from COSI...a great basic understanding, wonderful speaking, writing, and spelling skills....enough so that I was able to get my job working here at a hotel which has only increased my Spanish skills 300%!

Your biggest questions seemed to be about the host family situation. In my situation I had my own private "apartment" if you will which included a lovely bedroom separate from the house (it was above an identical one below me), two beds, a desk, nightstand with light, fan, and a LARGE private bathroom with hot water (this is rare)! My room was cleaned EVERY day, trash taken out, almost as if i was in a hotel. You are given 2 meals a day, breakfast and dinner. My host mom was a wonderful cook, always trying to give me a good healthy mix of food, cooking things I liked, avoiding those i didn{t, and letting me experience typical costa rican dishes. There were two daughters in the family, 9 and 16 years old, it was wonderful to get to know them over the two months i was there with them....see their relationship with their mom, and I foudn they were the ones that helped me most with my spanish. My "tica mom" was always willing to help and be slow with me, as i knew nothing when i arrived, but the youngest daughter taught me the most in just little words and phrases as we played games together or watched tv. It was great fun when heling her with her English because she was learning the same vocab. as I was at COSI! :) overall my experience was wonderful, I was ready to leave after 2 months, but that{s just the desire of a 21 year old wanting her own space and freedom. As I mentioned before I am still very close with my family, I often visit them and sit down to have coffee and bread with my "tica mom" as we can now carry a full conversation!! However, not all families are equal. I{ve seen much better and much worse than what I was given. You daughter always has the option and the right to switch families. She will even get a form to fill out about them after her first week of living with them, confidencial, from the school.

I strongly recommend the experience of living with a host family, it teaches you in so many ways!

As to places to stay while you{re here, both La Mansion Inn and La Mariposa are located close to COSI, both have amazing views, but La Mansion Inn is a much nicer quality and standard. A much more private inn where you{ll def. feel more like family than a tourist just visiting.

Bay Area California
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5. Re: Help....Study Spanish Abroad

My 19 year old daughter and I just got back two days ago and our favorite hotel by far was in Manuel Antonio. We stayed at Costa Verde II in room number 12. I can't reccommend it highly enough...I felt like we were at the tio of the rain forest! monkeys woke us up in the morning and the restaurants were really good. I got this referrral from the forum and really loved the place...I plan to go back to that exact same room!

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6. Re: Help....Study Spanish Abroad


I went to el paraiso in Manuel Antonio. It is like other schools located on the road from Quepos to Manuel Antonio (just a few kilometers). Because I only went to el paraiso, I can't say much about the schools you name. I was actually very happy with the choice for el paraiso. it has a 'family friendly atmosphere' (there were like 2 families with kids when i was studying) and they care a lot about your wellbeing as a student.

Staying with a hostfamily is nice and good to be immersed in the language but you have to be able to adapt yourself at the lower standards local people have. Everything that you need is present, but might not be as new like and shiny like home. It's a good experience though. If you subscribe you can tell them your needs (kids same age...)and they will take it in to account.

Clases were good in el paraiso too! But think I should have stayed longer than two weeks!

I hope this was helpfull a bit.


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7. Re: Help....Study Spanish Abroad

I did a thorough search of Spanish abroad programs before sending my teenage daughter to Personalized Spanish in Costa Rica. They were the most accommodating of any school I contacted. They match the host family to the individual. I went with my daughter to Personalized Spanish. I attended school there for 10 days. She studied there for 4 weeks. She loved it and plans on returning. She received 8 credit hours from Emory University. She then placed into an advanced Spanish program at another University and received 4 more hours. Wow! This is THE BEST PLACE!!

8. Re: Help....Study Spanish Abroad

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