Spanish in Costa Rica

Nosara Spanish Institute

About

The Nosara Spanish Institute offers intensive academic Spanish Immersion courses in Nosara, Costa Rica. Nosara is located on the Nicoya Peninsula along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in Guanacaste, one of the most unspoiled and protected parts of Costa Rica. The school is located within an eight minute walk to the main beach, Playa Guiones. Nosara is a town for nature lovers and surfers with miles of beautiful beaches buffered by dense tropical jungle. You won't find pavement or chain hotels here, just dirt roads, delicious food, yoga, surf and friendly people.

You will however find many modern conveniences like, wi-fi, banks, medical facilities and schools. Since we are in a nature reserve, no development exists on the beach and it is not uncommon to see monkeys, sloths and tropical birds in the canopy while walking to get your morning coffee. Our school offers the best of both worlds, professional academic language training in a truly unique jungle environment.

Founded
2010
Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Candy
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have studied Spanish at four different language schools in Central America, but for only one week each during my spring break. I have had a variety of language learning experiences. I was looking for a Spanish language immersion experience in Costa Rica and found Nosara Spanish Institute.

This January and February I studied Spanish for a month at Nosara Spanish Institute. Nosara Spanish Institute is located in Guiones where most tourists are surfers and yogis and speak English so that is the language you hear in the streets. During that time, I had two different teachers for two weeks each with distinctly different teaching styles. Ana carefully planned each lesson integrating listening, speaking, reading and writing activities at the group's level. I appreciated her attention to detail and explicit explanations.

The school provided a variety of cultural activities in the evenings and on weekends. Sometimes transportation was provided at a cost. Other times the students needed to figure out their own transportation.

Volunteer activities were limited. I had emailed the directors before coming to Costa Rica to set up a volunteer experience prior to my visit, but I was encouraged to wait until I arrived. After my first week, I emailed the directors again looking for volunteer opportunities. They sent me two names, and I started working with one of the nonprofits teaching English in the evenings in Nosara which is a 20 minute ride in a tuktuk on a very dusty road. The cost is about $10US round trip. Even though I was teaching English, I was also learning Spanish from my students. This volunteer experience was one of the highlights of my trip.

Accommodations in a Spanish immersion setting are limited here. There is a group homestay about 20 minutes walking from the school. While I was at the Institute, the students that stayed there spoke English together because most were at a beginning level. While the host prepared delicious meals, the family did not join the group to enjoy them. Consequently, little Spanish was spoken there. One fellow female student had a homestay in a fishing village and had a great immersion experience, but had to hitchhike to and from Guiones to the Spanish Institute each day. Hitchhiking can be a risky form of transportation especially for women.

Nosara Spanish Institute is located in a beautiful beach setting, and the teachers work hard to provide a good language learning experience. The directors need to find ways for the students to be more immersed in the Spanish language through volunteer opportunities and home stays. Providing transportation options for students would be a start.

What would you improve about this program?
The school needs to provide more immersion and volunteer opportunities.
Default avatar
Alethea
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I attended Nosara Spanish Institute to improve my Spanish for a uni course I had to take thereafter. I stayed almost three months. Every teacher is magnificent, patient and interested; they have their individual styles but the high quality is consistent among all. The class sizes are small allowing equal opportunity to engage with practical and theoretical content. The lesson plans are adapted to your needs/wants. Admin goes above and beyond to provide a holistic experience (cooking/dance classes, social outings, and if the season is right excursions to see turtles nesting at sunrise). The school is set among trees near the beach, creating a calm learning environment.

My host family were beautiful, generous and genuine people and I will remain close friends with them always. I owe at least half of my Spanish to their gentle and patient guidance!

Default avatar
Marta
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was my second time attending the Nosara Spanish Institute (2014 and 2015) and I have nothing but praise for all aspects of the school: Organization, value, professionalism and teaching.
My teacher was Marco Mora who did a great job of understanding where my level of Spanish was and helping me advance. Classes were a fun mix of direct grammar instruction, poetry and short story readings, movies and documentaries, music and conversation. Marco did a great job of keeping the class interesting.
If you have the good fortune of being in Nosara, don't miss out on NSI!

Default avatar
chris
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The instruction, teachers and support was excellent, the school was nice, and the town is great. I didn't have housing through the school but couldn't leave it blank so I put '5', but pretty much 9s across the board otherwise. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

What would you improve about this program?
it would be nice if there was more support material in terms of printouts or a booklet or something; other programs i have done in the past had these study materials and i found them helpful for review before/after classes.
Response from Nosara Spanish Institute

Hola Chris,

It was wonderful to have you here at the institute and in Nosara. Also, thank you for the input on the materials, they are being created and updated as we speak. We hope to see you back here!

Default avatar
Gerald
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Our profesora was excellent, patient, mixing a blend of immersion with clear English explanations on grammar and structure. We had fun with some games and also had light homework. Overall excellent experience Brock and the gang are good people.

What would you improve about this program?
I like the coffee that was nice. really can't think of anything I'd change!
Response from Nosara Spanish Institute

Hola Gerald,

It was wonderful to have you here at the institute. Best of luck on the building of your new house and I'm sure we'll be seeing more of you!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Candy Foster

Candy is a retired reading specialist still working part time in a bilingual program and began learning Spanish almost five years ago to help students learn to read in Spanish. Candy also works with English language learners, both children and adults, teaching them listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in English.

Why did you choose this program?

Nosara Spanish Institute was the only language school in Nosara. I chose Nosara, Costa Rica because I have a friend living there and was traveling for the first time alone. I wanted a Spanish immersion experience. What I didn't know at the time is that most tourists and workers in the Guiones Beach area where the school is located speak English.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The directors of the school organized the weekly class schedule and some extracurricular and cultural activities. Even though I attended classes there a month, I never met the owner/director, but I think that he was around a couple days a week.

They suggested that I stay in an apartment nearby. I made arrangements to rent my apartment for a month. I found my own transportation to and from the airport to Nosara. I organized my own trip to Rio Celeste in the rainforest including transportation and hotel. I organized my volunteer activity, teaching English to adults, which was one of the highlights of my trip.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Nosara Spanish Institute is located near an incredibly beautiful beach which is a world renowned surfing destination. Yoga and deep sea fishing are also available. If you don't want easy opportunities for Spanish immersion, then this is the school for you. I have studied in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico. All offered many immersion experiences. The lack of immersion opportunities was my biggest disappointment.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Nosara Spanish Institute offers mostly group classes. Group sizes range from about 3 to 7 or 8 students depending on ability level. Classes are offered in the morning and afternoon from 8-12 and 1-5. Class times are assigned. Preferences are not taken into account. Three weeks I had classes in the morning, and one week I had classes in the afternoon.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I have traveled all over the world with my husband, family and friends. I had never traveled solo. This was my first experience, and I loved it. I made many friends in my neighborhood, at school and where I volunteered. I lived in Nosara for a month, and at the end it really started to feel like home.

Do you have any recommendations?

If you have an opportunity to be placed in a homestay (not the group homestay, which is not a Spanish immersion experience), I recommend that you give it a try. There is a fishing village about 20 minutes from the school (by car or tutktuk), where one fellow student stayed. The biggest challenge for her was finding transportation to the Spanish Institute. Most days she hitchhiked. For a woman, this is a dangerous form of transportation. I hope that the Spanish Institute can find a way to make that experience safer.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Broc Glendinning

Originally from Santa Cruz, California, Broc has been involved in academia and travel for over a decade. This has included living and studying abroad in Spain, Mexico and Costa Rica as well as extensive travels throughout Latin America and Europe. Broc’s academic achievements include a BA degree in Spanish and an MA degree in Applied Linguistics.
father and son on the beach in Nosara, Costa Rica

What position do you hold at Nosara Spanish Institute? What has been your career path so far?

Broc: I currently work as the School Director at NSI. My career has been very focused on language, student development and study abroad. I’ve held positions as an ESL instructor, Spanish Instructor, Surf Instructor, Residence Life Coordinator and Study Abroad Coordinator.

All of these positions have really been in preparation for what I do at NSI which is to help students grow linguistically and culturally within a professional and nurturing environment.

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Broc: Yes! I spent one year at the University of Granada in Spain. It was the absolute best decision and best year of my life. I have always had a passion for the Spanish language and culture and when I learned of the opportunity to spend time studying and traveling there I took it.

Studying abroad is so much more than just language study but also the friends you make, the personal discoveries and the opportunity to see new places, it’s truly an adventure!

man surfing in Nosara Costa Rica

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

Broc: Participating in a language/cultural immersion program is so much more than just visiting a resort and being on vacation. It forces you out of your comfort zone and pushes you to interact and reflect -- this definitely has the ability to change a person.

So, it is the personal change as well as the connection with others that is so important when learning a language and truly living in another culture. This is invaluable for personal growth and also often times results in opportunities for professional growth as well.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Broc: I think NSI has a very personal feel. We get to know all of our students and go out of our way to make students feel comfortable at the school and in Nosara.

family boarding a plane

We are also very actively involved in the community and participate in community programs and our homestay program has been helping microfinance local families to make improvements in their homes and better the relationships between locals and travelers. It’s a very special program to be a part of.

What changes would you make to the study abroad industry?

Broc: I would love to see opportunities to study abroad become more accessible, financially and programmatically. I think study abroad should be a requirement in universities or during gap years or at the very least it should be encouraged more than it is now.

Many people don’t realize just how many opportunities there are to study abroad and how many benefits there are.