Tico Lingo - Spanish School in Heredia, Costa Rica

Tico Lingo

About

Located in the heart of Costa Rica’s Central Valley in the city of Heredia, Tico Lingo offers a complete Spanish immersion program curated by expert Spanish professors. We are devoted to helping students achieve Spanish fluency through immersion and cultural education. Our aim is to teach, immerse, and initiate a global understanding of Costa Rican culture and the Spanish language.

In addition to Spanish classes, Tico Lingo offers a Homestay program where students live in the homes with nearby families. We also offer volunteer opportunities, on-site cultural activities like yoga, dance, cooking, and art class, and adventure tours like white-water rafting and canopy zip line tours.

We are young, we are connected, and we are passionate about creating the perfect environment to learn Spanish and volunteer in Costa Rica. We want to spark cultural exchanges on a global level with people from around the world. Join our conversation – start learning Spanish today!

Reviews

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Jamie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

2nd visit, looking forward to a 3rd!

This is my second time visiting Tico Lingo, and I had an even better time than before! The school has grown leaps and bounds, and I was able to learn and practice my spanish more than I imagined. I highly recommend this school to anyone that wants to learn spanish, meets lots of people, explore a cool city, stay with a great homestay family, and even learn how to cook traditional Costa Rican Foods! I will most certainly go back to visit again, I can't think of any place better to learn Spanish. Overall the school, the program and the whole team at Tico Lingo is A+++

Pros
  • Great Teachers
  • Great homestay program
  • Lots of fun people!
Cons
  • NONE
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Elise
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved it! Such an adventure!

I visited Heredia, Costa Rica for June 2021. We were always out and about, visiting a new place in Costa Rica or exploring Heredia. It is a good program for adventurous travelers who truly want to explore and learn more about a new place. My host family was amazing and so sweet, and they were very helpful with my learning Spanish (especially during nightly dinner that they made for my housemate and I). The community in Heredia is very safe and welcoming. Would definitely recommend to a highschool/ college student wanting to try something new!

Pros
  • Authentic, homemade meals
  • Lots of activities and exercise
  • constant language and cultural immersion
Cons
  • small town
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John
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Couldn’t wait to return

This was my second six-week stint as a student at Tico Lingo. My first experience left me longing to return, not just to Costa Rica, but specifically to Tico Lingo School. It took two years, owing to the pandemic, but it was worth the wait.

My second go-round has only strengthened my sense that I not only have a second home here, with established friends and connections, but that I once again have access to the best Spanish teachers I’ve ever met.

Tico Lingo is situated in the lovely, safe and historic town of Heredia which boasts one of the most comfortable climates possible, warm temperate days, cool nights and sunny skies, without the heat or humidity found in most of Central American. And while this was initially a deciding factor in choosing this school in 2020, Tico Lingo itself deserves all the credit for luring me back.

Chris Reidy, the owner and co-founder, has assembled a small team of truly exceptional people, from professor Freddy Fariñas, the head of curriculum (and simply the best Spanish instructor I have ever encountered anywhere, period, in part owing to his advanced degrees in both English and Spanish and in part owing to his passion for sharing the joy he finds in language) to the other excellent “profesors Y profesoras”, to Yenifer, the ever-helpful, tireless administrator, to Yammi, the custodian who keeps the school incredibly neat and clean, 24/7, and of course, Chris himself who deserves huge credit for putting it all together.

My home stay family was beyond welcoming, and provided delicious breakfasts and suppers in a clean, lovely home and a very private study area. And just about everyone else at the school expresses very high satisfaction with their host families as well.

The school’s intake process is easy with great pre-trip communication and almost effortless logistics for getting you to your homestay and to the school.

I would describe the facility as cozy, colorful, welcoming, airy, and over-the-top friendly, with free coffee, tea and snacks always available. It very quickly feels like home and I found myself staying long after classes to study in any one of the many niches available.

On both my visits I have returned having made life-long friends. (Call it a selection bias, but it is simply a fact that if you are a person interested in visiting another country to learn THEIR language, you will meet others with whom you have a lot in common.)

All the fun, daily, extra curricular activities and weekend tours, as well as the options for additional private classes are easily found on the web site. But it’s the intangibles, the specific culture of Tico Lingo that makes it so special.

Oh, and after this second six weeks, as I wistfully headed for home, it took me a minute to realize that the airline staff had actually checked me in entirely in Spanish, and that I had understood everything she told me.

That was a first 👍.

I very much plan to return again.

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Jujhar
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Summer 2017 Program Review

The program was amazing in my Spanish development and I returned to my school with noticeable improvement. My host family was amazing I appreciate how well I integrated into their family. My teachers were understanding, compassionate and explained grammar an vocab in a way we understood. I felt safe and explored the city like I would anywhere else. I wish I stayed much much longer than three weeks but Tico Lingo was my first experience abroad and it lit a spark to see the rest of the world. It was awesome!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Whitewater rafting was the most exhilarating and scary part of my life.
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Sam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Tico lingo!

I’m so glad I went ahead and signed up with tico lingo, I loved it there and wish I could’ve stayed longer but couldn’t because of my visa. The staff are like family and the program is awesome. I love how the classes are no more then 5 people, they really focus on making sure you are comfortable with the materiel being taught ( being on your level) we also did many other things other then learning. Together with other students we checked out other cities in the country, we did a lot of hikes, sight seeing, activities like water rafting/ zip lining/ ATV riding. It was all just awesome.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing was definitely how much better Costa Rica was then what I had thought. Beautiful country where I felt very safe.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I researched many Latin American programs and chose this one on the basis of its flexibility of curriculum, its location in a temperate climate (I don’t do well in extreme heat) in the country I know and trust, and on the basis of many positive reviews.

I had no personal knowledge of the school or of the individuals who created it prior to showing up.

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

All I had to do was let the extremely capable staff know my preferences and certain uncertainties in my schedule and they took care of everything. I really wanted a private bathroom at my homestay, I wanted to be sure that certain dietary preferences were not a problem, and I wanted the ability to add private lessons to my group curriculum after establishing just how much energy I would have in a given day of school.

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

I would advise other students who want to have private lessons, to arrange for them as soon as possible so that they have no schedule conflicts with other students.

This is a small school which is a great part of it’s charm, but there is a limit to the number of private lessons available at the times desired.

Having said that, I must add that I was able to get all the private lessons I wanted at the last minute. I just needed to be a tiny bit flexible with the times. Yenifer Who is the main person in the front office is a magician with schedules.

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

Each weekday has a four hour group class tailored to the level of expertise of each student group. I can only speak for myself, but my instruction with Freddy was spot on as far as what I needed to learn. For me, he was absolutely amazing.

I must add that the classes are flexible and in my experience adjust to the immediate needs of the student on any given day. These classes are not rigid with set milestones and specific examinations. Rather they are tailored to the individual needs of those attending each class.

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 had no fears going into this, but I was apprehensive about my own ability to learn a great deal in six weeks. A combination of their extremely competent instructors, their broad curriculum, and my own personal interest made for a very successful experience.

My long-term goal is to be able to understand local speakers in the street. I am not there yet. Six weeks is not enough for 64-year-old man to get that fluent.

However, I am now 100% certain that that goal is within my reach over the next year.

What makes this program special?

The school establishes a culture of camaraderie, positivity, and just plain fun.

Everyone who works there and, quite frankly, every student I met, contributed to an atmosphere of Community and a sense of progress.

I specifically recommend Freddy, the head of curriculum, as a marvelous instructor in Spanish grammar. This is largely because he has a deep understanding of both English and Spanish and is able to clarify confusion unlike any Spanish instructor I have ever worked with. He is a gem.

I am making this recommendation as a beginner who needed to understand the grammatical structure of this language in order to infill that infrastructure with vocabulary and experience.

My experience was 100% successful in this regard.

I shall miss this place and I plan to return.

Staff Interviews

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

Yóbeth Cabalceta

Job Title
Spanish Professor
Born and raised in the beautiful and sunny province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Yobeth started working as a facilitator in a Spanish school during her college days. She developed a fond passion for teaching and quickly had an opportunity to work as a university professor after graduating college with a triple major in education, literature, and linguistics. As her interest in working with foreign students grew later in her career, she began seeking smaller, private schools that focused on intensive Spanish. Thus, she found Tico Lingo and continues to teach students from around the world.
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What is your favorite travel memory?

I don't travel too often, I like to be close to family here in Costa Rica. Occasionally we take trips together out to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. I think that my favorite experience was observing closely the whales and dolphins on the coast of the south of Costa Rica. Incredibly beautiful animals!

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

In the world? Hmmm …I think that the whole rural zone is very underestimated in Centroamérica, Suramerica. There are still some indigenous peoples that live there!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Education is at the core of everything we do here. Definitively, it is necessary to allow for creativity in the classroom and social interaction between the students and the teachers. Learning between walls and cubicles as well as using unnecessary technology that distances students is really not our goal. We want all of our students to connect with our community personally and walk away with a comprehensive educational experience.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I feel that here at Tico Lingo I can apply and experiment with all the teaching techniques I've learned over my 30+ years of teaching Spanish. Normally large language institutes keep a very strict and authoritative program where students are inside a classroom all day reading textbooks and filling out worksheets. If I've learned anything over the years, it's that each student learns differently and a level of flexibility is necessary to truly connect with each student. Tico Lingo allows that! They let me experiment with new ideas in the classroom, take students out into the community, and teach in a format that is fun, cultural, and informative.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Warmth towards students and teachers! We get to know each on an individual level that allows them to relax in a new place, soak up the good weather, and study their brains out while they are here.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Whenever I find out that they use what I've taught them. It's always fantastic to hear students students applying what they learn in the real world, especially when it came from me!