Tico Lingo - Spanish School in Heredia, Costa Rica

Tico Lingo

About

Located two hours from the Pacific ocean and three hours from the Caribbean, Tico Lingo offers a complete Spanish immersion program curated by our expert Spanish professors. Utilizing groups of no more than six students per class, we submerse out students in 4-5 hour classes every day, Monday through Friday in a true, non-touristy Costa Rican expereince.

In addition to Spanish classes, Tico Lingo offers a Homestay program where students live in the homes with nearby families, share two meals a day with them, and continue to further practice their Spanish skills. Additional activities include Latin dance classes, yoga, cooking classes, culture tours, adventure tours, and memberships to our conversational club with English students.

Reviews

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Sharon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did Tico Lingo for three weeks and I'm so glad I did! I learned so much Spanish and had a ton of fun exploring Costa Rica.

The homestay: My homestay mother, Roxy, was one of the kindest people I've ever met. She truly treated me as a part of her family. Heredia is a small, quiet, and safe city. At first I found it hard to adjust to the slow, even sleepy pace of life, but soon I came to appreciate how peaceful and relaxing it was. Plus, my weekends were jam-packed with adventures (visiting volcanos, the beach, national parks, etc.) so it was nice to come back to a laid-back home.

The classes: The classes were challenging, yet also relaxed and flexible. Jimena was a great teacher. The lessons were highly personalized, based on the content that students wanted to work on. Class sizes are extremely small, and students are sorted into classes based on their Spanish level. The first week I was the only person in my class, and in other weeks there were only four students in the class. (New students come in each week, so I will note that sometimes you have to repeat content you've already learned because a new student arrived, but that also works as a review.) I would say that every week at Tico Lingo teaches you as much as an entire semester of high school Spanish. There's also the option to sign up for yoga, cooking classes, or Zumba classes ($7-$10 per class), which were fun and another great way to improve vocabulary.

Coronavirus precautions: Class sizes were very small. The school was quite spacious and airy, and we normally had windows open during class, which made for good air flow. Students and teachers did not wear masks because that would have made it far too difficult for us to understand each other. Other school employees, such as the cleaning staff, did wear masks. We were not required to sit six feet apart from each other, but there was room to do so if you wished. The vast majority of students were vaccinated, but I wish that the school required *all* students to be vaccinated if they come from a country where shots are available. It's not responsible to encourage people to pursue international travel if they purposefully refuse to get a vaccine.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
A member of my host family drove me and my friends to a national park and our car broke down on top of a mountain. We were stuck on the side of the road for three hours. Thankfully, we met a very nice couple who helped us get a mechanic. We ended up talking to them for hours and practiced a ton of Spanish, so what could have been a disaster turned into a great learning opportunity.
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Jody
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The whole Tico Lingo program is top notch. So glad that I spent 2 weeks studying Spanish in beautiful Costa Rica. I truly wish that I had booked 4 weeks.

The experience was incredible. The teachers and administrators were really invested in helping each student learn and progress. The town of Heredia is bustling and welcoming and the host families are super special. They clearly love opening their homes and meeting new people.

If you are considering Spanish immersion, don’t hesitate to register with Tico Lingo. Without doubt, you will fall in love with Tico Lingo, Heredia, and Costa Rica!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would definitely have reserved 4 weeks instead of two. I felt so much more comfortable with the language and the pace of the town on week two. I can only imagine how much my Spanish could have improved... Regardless, I’m just glad that I went at all. I’ll definitely return!
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Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I stayed at Tico Lingo for 3 months and it was an experience I will never forget! I came to Tico Lingo knowing little to nothing when it came to speaking the language and left being able to hold conversations with my host mom and most of all, I had much more confidence in starting conversations and in continuing my studying of the Spanish language. I had Zaida as my teacher for most of my time at Tico Lingo and I cannot say enough wonderful things about that woman. She is such a light and pleasure to learn from. She has a gift of patience with her students, as she had to review things quite a bit for me. She makes you feel right at home and treats you like family. Freddy was my teacher for the rest of my stay and in the small amount of time I studied with him, I grew exponentially! He has a true gift of teaching Spanish and making it very easy to understand. I was able to visit many places while I was there and met some awesome people, as there are different people who come every week. I recommend the cooking classes, dancing and yoga that they offer, they were all great!! My host mom became like family and I still keep in contact with her as well as the teachers and staff at the school. I will definitely be back to visit! I can go on and on, but recommend you check it out yourself, you won't regret it!

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Michael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was a perfect experience and exactly what I was looking for. Heredia is great town and very safe! The fully immersed program is the way to go, including staying with the homestay family. It helps so much but also naturally frustrating. If I go back to learn more Spanish it will be with tico lingo. The best part of the class was that they taught you the basics then slowly worked their way (Freddy) into teaching the material you want to learn. I was seeking business travel and ways to get around owning a travel agency and it was targeted that way. 5/5 stars

What was your funniest moment?
Playing Games with my classmates or with my tico family.
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Casey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I thought that the course was excellent. The teachers and the staff take care of you from the first contact until the last day. Good Costa Rican coffee every morning! There are optional tours, classes, and weekend activities. The teachers spoke only Spanish in the class for our level and never spoke English unless there was a complete misunderstanding. It was challenging but still at a good speed that I wasn’t left behind. The classes are really what you make it. I definitely improved my language level. I’d go there again!

What was your funniest moment?
I thought that the daily classes were fun. I also liked taking the optional cooking class to learn some Costa Rican dishes.

Programs

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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!