SPI High School Spanish Language Immersion & Volunteer: Costa Rica

Video and Photos

My homestay(and the 2 dogs who decided to like us on the last day) and my roommates.
Roommate and I found a beach while exploring
First day at the beach with some of the girls
The whole group at a beach bonfire
Cooking with my roomates & Moma Tika (homestay mom)
Beauty all around


SPI Study Abroad's high school Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica is known for its variety of fun activities, including cooking, surfing, zip-line canopy tours, rain forest and wildlife walks, volunteer service projects, dance classes, artisan studio visits and more. With two locations to choose from, Costa Rica is the perfect setting for high school students to practice their Spanish skills, while also exploring and experiencing Costa Rica’s vibrant culture. Students live with caring homestay families, attend Spanish class, and participate in a vast array of activities and excursions to experience the best the country has to offer. SPI Study Abroad Costa Rica offers two and four-week long summer program sessions. For complete program details, including dates, tuition, itineraries and photos, please visit the SPI Study Abroad website.

Questions & Answers


based on 14 reviews
  • Growth 8.7
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.1
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
  • Program Selection 8.5
  • Pre-departure Help 9.5
  • In-program Support 9.5
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 14 of 14
Yes, I recommend this program

SPI Spanish Immersion

I am so happy to have found SPI! My son's high school uses an online language course and I really felt he was struggling to grasp even the basics of Spanish. I stumbled on SPI through online searching for language programs for high school age kids and signed him up for two weeks in Playa Flamingo (summer of 2016). He had a FANTASTIC time and came back much more confident in his ability to learn and speak Spanish. He enjoyed the program so much that he asked me to sign him up again for the summer of 2017 - for the month long program. Fantastic again! My son loved all the activities and he met so many interesting kids from all over the country. He was quite proud that he learned how to mix concrete. Zip lining, river tubing, exploring the cloud forest, beaches etc. all great fun. I worried that he would not be happy about having to go to language class every afternoon, but it was not a problem for him at all. The teachers were good, the facilities nice and they did a good job keeping things interesting. Plus, the classrooms in Flamingo were air conditioned, which apparently felt nice after a morning in the sun. And what a difference that month made to his Spanish speaking abilities. Wow! I think SPI Costa Rica is a great program, well organized with great staff. Thanks for giving my son two great summer adventures!

Yes, I recommend this program

SPI, My Experience In Costa Rica

I learned an incredible amount during my study abroad experience in Costa Rica this past summer, and not only from the learning center we attended in Monte Verde, but also from the shopkeepers, host families, and general environment that surrounded us during our trip. My "papá tico" and "mamá tica" were very kind and never failed to share their Costa Rican and general knowledge with me and my roommate. The food was amazing and the excursions our group took (both for recreation and service) were exciting and fun. My knowledge and confidence with the Spanish language grew throughout the duration of the trip, and I have many wonderful memories from my time in costa Rica. Zip lining over the cloud forest and performing our graduating assignment at El Centro Panaméricano de Idiomas in Monte Verde are among my favorites.

Yes, I recommend this program

SPI, An Experience Of A Life Time

My overall SPI experience was an experience of a life time; I will truly never forget a single memory from this trip. My study abroad experience in Monteverde Costa Rica was my first true experience outside of the United States, as well as my first true experience where I had little control over my envirionment seeing that I was in a spanish speaking country. Upon meeting my homestay I was overly nervous and was scared for the next week of my life, but on the last day when we had to say goodbye I didn't want to leave; they became my second family. The excursions that were planned were amazing as well, we went zip lining, bridge walking, community service, played soccer with local kids as well as visited a beautiful beach on isla tortuga where I got to meet and play volleyball with other study abroad kids whom I am very good friends with even today. Here I am writing a review for the program and my experience but to be quite honest, I can't even fit all of the amazing memories that were gained from this trip and I cannot even fathom the feeling of enlightenment, and community, into a few sentences. I highly recommend traveling with SPI, the entire process from airports to day to day life was planned amazingly.

Yes, I recommend this program

SPI, Life Changing Experience!

You read those reviews that start with "LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE!!! :D", and it has absolutely zero effect on you. Out of all the reviews that claim something to be life changing, probably only 10-20% are genuinely so. However, SPI is part of that elite group. SPI provided me with experiences that simply weren't accessible for me back home. From bungee jumping with my new found friends to volunteering with the neighborhood kids, I honestly had an unforgettable experience. Not a once in a life time one- I'm returning next summer-, however it is one that I'll never forget.

Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure of a lifetime

The trip was interesting and fun right off the bat. Once I got off the plain staff was welcoming and accommodating in every way. I loved volunteering where we got to help make houses look new again my adding concrete, painting, and sanding. Out activities were places around Flamingo Beach where I got to learn how to surf, paddleboard, and snorkel since those opportunities aren't present here in Michigan so it created a way to do things I'd never thought I'd have the chance to do. I also liked the amount of freedom when we got to walk around town shopping and exploring. It gave a since of adventure that was guided by the curiosity of my new friends and I.

What would you improve about this program?
Classes were informative and we got to learn a lot but sitting in a classroom for 4 hours took some of the fun out of the experience. If we got to put newly learned vocabulary to practice, such as going out as an activity and talking to someone, there would be more interactive learning where we can apply new skills.
Yes, I recommend this program

Parent Review - From the other side

From home with constant contact via Facebook posts from SPI we felt up-to-date with everything our daughter was doing from the time she left with the group until even after she returned to us.

First international trip and without us it was a scary experience for all involved but exciting for what lie ahead.

She was on her own but with a group. Younger, older, richer, none poorer from all over the country. They all bonded as a family quickly.

4 hours in class every day didn't go over too well but it did pay off in the long run to learn from native speakers instead of some Spanish teacher from Nebraska in the USA. Simple phrases with slight tones made her love the language even more.

Her homestay could have been more involved with the family which was limited to basically breakfast and Good Nights before bed but it showed her how that culture lived day to day.

Adventures included surfing, ziplining, river tubing, and some cultural visits and plenty of time at the beach.

Volunteer time showed them you didn't have to have the latest Apple product to be happy. A simple paint job on the house makes a world of difference when you have a dirt floor.

More school than vacation it was I had hoped for in exposing our daughter to the larger world outside of our smaller town. Goo and bad as far as those with her on the trip as some made the most of every chance to expand their experiences while others simply counted the days until it was over. It was all what you made of it and our daughter made the most of it.

Overall I would send her again in a minute and would encourage everyone no matter their language level to take part in this trip.

What would you improve about this program?
More homestay scheduled time.
More interactive opportunities to practice their language in real life situations in the real world and not just the classroom.
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Experience

Going abroad and immersing myself with the Spanish people and culture has always been a dream of mine. I have always wanted to be able to hold a conversation fluently and this trip gave me the opportunity to do just that. Practicing my Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country 24/7 pushed me to my highest potential even though it was exciting and nerve racking. Being in a country I have never been before, with strangers whose primary language was not English pushed me to try my hardest and speak all the Spanish that I knew regardless of the mistakes that I made. I took advantage of all the numerous opportunities such as; speaking with mama tica, with teachers, and at the stores. Through this experience I became independent and did not rely on a dictionary or teacher to explain things to me. I have seen a lot of growth in my Spanish after coming from the trip.

I can honestly say that everything in this program was perfect. I cannot chose only one aspect that was my favorite.I enjoyed that this program incorporated other activities like the cooking classes and dancing classes that really exposed us to the Latin culture and the Latin cuisine. To study abroad is an experience of a lifetime and I feel that everyone should be able to do it.You will leave learning so much and always remember your experience and memories there.

Yes, I recommend this program

¡Una experiencia increíble!

I can full heartedly say that this trip has been one of the best two weeks of my life. The experience is immensely helpful with regard to the immersion within the home-stays and within the class room, as the teachers speak very little English. The service is also rewarding, and I learned a great deal about the environment and what we can do to help our planet. The relationships I formed on this trip have lasted and I will always look back fondly on my memories from this trip. The town of Monteverde, as well as Santa Elena, felt very safe and I never felt in harms way, as it is a small and friendly town. We do numerous activities, including zip-lining, horseback riding, dancing classes, hanging-bridge tours, planting trees, and many more. Each activity shared more of the culture of Costa Rica with us and the importance of nature to Monteverde.

This experience will better me throughout my life and is one I will never forget. Not to mention the Costa Rican food is delicious. I highly recommend this program to whomever is considering it and is open to embracing the culture and customs of Costa Rica.

What would you improve about this program?
I would suggest that the supervisors recommend places to go during free mornings or nights, because we would have to find places on our own without much feedback as to what the best places to hang out are or fun activities to do around town.

I also think that people would appreciate it if the supervisors recommended that the students keep a diary or write down what happened each day. I wish I had done this and I think it would be useful for future participants.
Yes, I recommend this program

Una experiencia inolvidable

SPI is knowledgable and passionate about study abroad and the value it has for high school students. Studying abroad forces you out of your comfort zone as you gain a broader perspective on life. Traveling abroad on a language immersion program is the best way to improve your language skills, become more confident and well-rounded, and help prepare you for college and beyond.

Yes, I recommend this program

Great time!

My trip to Costa Rica is a trip that I will never forget. It helped me grow as a person and a student. I learned about a culture unfamiliar to my own and about the people from the country. It taught me to be more understanding and open minded. Of course I learned plenty of Spanish, but more importantly I learned a lot about myself. I would not trade this experience for anything.

Yes, I recommend this program

costa rica summer study abroad

I had a great experience with SPI study abroad this summer. I made a lot of new friends from around the US who I still stay in contact with. I loved my roomates and grew a very close bond with them. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with great food and lovely people. It really helped me improve my spanish and everyone was so caring and kind, I highly reccomend this trip.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I had more food.
Yes, I recommend this program

Viva la vida en Costa Rica!

This trip was a life changing experience! I got to immerse myself in Spanish at a beautiful school, while also being a 2 minute walk from the beach! I highly recommend it to any high school student looking for a one of a kind cultural immersion experience! The program staff for both SPI and the school were so nice and they were always there to help us! From day one, you'll live with a host family that will, by the end of the trip become your second family! Weekdays are spent doing activities or volunteer service in the morning. Usually activities were visiting local beaches, horse back riding, and cultural activities. The volunteer service was so much fun and it's even better knowing you're making a difference. The weekends were our big activities. One of them was visiting a national park where we went horse back riding, river tubing, and zip lining, all in the same day! We also had an optional sunset cruise where we went snorkeling off the coast of Playa Tamarindo! The weekday afternoons are spent at the language school. The first day you're tested and placed in a class from anywhere from 1-4 students my year since we were a small group. the teachers make the classes very fun and usually you do an activity each class. The school in Flamingo also gives out snacks during break time and the school even has its own pool! The food on the program was so good! If you're not up to diving straight into Costa Rica food, for lunch there are a few different options. With your host family, I can guarantee that everything will be yummy! My advice would be to be open to different kinds of food! Most of it is rice and different meats that you're used to so it isn't that far of a stretch! You'll almost always have a roommate depending on the group, and everyone in the group will become best friends by the end. Beaches, surfing, clear water, hilltop restaurants, gelato (yes there is gelato!), what is there not to love! Safely was never an issue during my time there! Everyone in the village we stayed at knew each other and we got to know our neighborhood ice cream owner and convenience store owner. There are so many more things I want to mention about the trip but I don't want to make this into a novel! Please feel free to message me about any question that you have about the program! Trust me, you'll never get sick of the Costa Rica sunsets! Pura Vida!

What would you improve about this program?
Overall this program was amazing! The one thing I would change has nothing to do about SPI but more about the language school we were at. It was nothing major and was quickly resolved and it was just about which programs rules we had to follow with our host family. You'll be under SPI's rules.
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Program

I had so much fun hanging out on the beach and doing the community service projects! The learning atmosphere is really fun and you don't even feel like you are learning.

Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica I was pushed out of my comfort zone just enough to learn more about myself, the language and culture, the world, and life. I am so happy I was offered this opportunity and I recommend it to everyone.