Tico Lingo - Spanish School in Heredia, Costa Rica

Tico Lingo


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.


50 metros sur del Gimnasio de la Escuela de Barrio Fátima, entre las calles 8 y la avenida 11 y 13
Provincia de Heredia, Heredia
Costa Rica


Yes, I recommend this program

A once (or twice or thrice...) in a lifetime opportunity to study with amazing teachers, be surrounded by compassionate people and experience cultural immersion. What I loved was the personalized attention and the support of the staff. This suits my learning compared to a larger institution. The level of instruction was fast paced but allowed adequate time and practice for learning. Love, love the people here.

The community surrounding the school is safe; the people are warm and kind. The central mercado has wonderful food and there's a huge farmers market every Friday.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Sign up for the program. You won't regret it!

There are opportunities also to organize Tours, Yoga, Cooking and dance classes
Yes, I recommend this program

My 8-weeks at Tico Lingo flew by! I loved the people, the classes, the learning environment, and my homestay. I really recommend it to anyone who would like to learn Spanish quickly and organically. Classes are very well balanced between speaking, writing, reading and grammar. My weakest area was speaking so I was very pleased to have the confidence to speak the language by the end of my programme.

I instantly felt part of the family at my homestay. I received a delicious breakfast and dinner everyday and got to practice my Spanish with the family at mealtimes. I hope to keep in touch with them back home in the UK!

I loved getting involved in the activities and tours they had on offer at the school. I signed up for dance and cooking classes with my classmates and had so much fun.

During my time here I fell in love with Costa Rica and I really didn't want to leave - I felt like I made some long-lasting friends at Tico Lingo too! Pura vida chicos muchas gracias por todo!!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
During my time at the school, there was an opportunity to take a cooking class. We made empanadas, which I had seen before but have never tried! They were delicious and I can't wait to make them again for my friends back home.
Response from Tico Lingo

Thank you for the beautiful words Helen! We saw you're Spanish speaking skills grow immensily over the 2-months you were here. Super impressive!

¡Esperamos que esté bien y que todavía esté hablando español todos los días! ¡Pura vida!

Yes, I recommend this program

For me, my time with the Tico Lingo school felt like a life-changing experience. How you might ask? First, my ability to speak Spanish has seen a quantum improvement. When I arrived in Costa Rica, I basically didn’t speak any Spanish. I knew a few words but no way could I hold down a conversation with anyone. By the time I left the school, with a willing partner I was able to small talk talk with them for over an hour entirely in Spanish. I’m not fluent by any means I am still learning, but in such a short amount of time gaining the ability to make a connection with another person that I would not have previously been able to communicate with, to me that is priceless. The other real strength of the school is the community around it. The staff at the school is amazing. I can say with complete sincerity that I think they did everything in their power to make sure that the students had a positive experience at both the school and in Costa Rica in general. I had the opportunity to room and board with a family associated with the school. I highly recommend this for anyone attending the school. Being a guest in home where the people were all native to Costa Rica and they were actively encouraging you and guiding you through the language and the country was an invaluable experience. By the time I left, my Tico family felt like REAL family. The connections with the other students is powerful as well. Being in class together and going out exploring a new country together makes for fast friends. Since I have been back, rarely does a day go by where I don’t text with someone that I met through Tico Lingo. Also, the school is in the perfect location. The people of Costa Rica speak Spanish a lot more clearly and slowly than in other countries. In general, most of the people that I talked to there were really supportive and patient when you were making the effort to try and talk to them in their native language. Costa Rica is beautiful and very safe for tourists. On the weekends when you are not in class you can go out on adventures. I went somewhere different every weekend and there were no bad choices. Everywhere we went was amazing! My time at Tico Lingo was magical and I am shouting from the rooftops that if you are reading this you should give it a try. You won’t regret it.

Yes, I recommend this program

I had been backpacking for months when I arrived in Heredia. It's a great little nice safe town up in the mountains with perfect weather: hot during the day and cold at night for sleeping. I wanted to settle down, unpack my bags, and learn Spanish for a month. This program cost about the same if not less than I would've spent just hanging around Costa Rica so it was an absolute no brainer deal for me. I moved in with a wonderful Ticamama named Mercedes who took such amazing care of me; my clothes were always washed, dried, and folded, plus every meal was basically all you can eat (I never finished). She also provided Spanish movies and games to play. My class had a group of outspoken American guys who had coincidentally lived in Okinawa, Japan around the same time. The classroom was really alive with positive energy and plenty to talk and laugh about, but I also became close friends with students in the other classes as well. On the weekends we would do trips to the volcanoes, beaches, lakes, or just go out clubbing till the sun rose. I went from a beginner to an intermediate and am seriously considering doing this program again next winter to take my Spanish to the next advanced level. I highly recommend the four week program at Tico Lingo!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
You may want to consider some private lessons if you feel you're falling behind in the group class or if you want to advance to the next level (that's what I did).
Yes, I recommend this program

My Grandson and I spent a week at Tico Lingo in November, and we had a fabulous experience. The staff, Karen and Chris, were amazing, and made the entire process very easy. Our teachers, Ana and Freddie, were excellent. My grandson gained so much confidence that he could - and did - carry out hour conversations in Spanish. The entire week, from the school to the housing and host family, and the fabulous Thanksgiving feast, complete with a live Jazz band (!) were the best we could have ever hoped for. I give the highest recommendation to this school! In addition, Heredia is a very nice city - it is close to the airport in San Jose (~ 1/2 hour) and I. The middle of the country- close to both oceans and to the mountains. The people in Costa Rica are very friendly- you can’t go wrong with this school!


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Alumni Interviews

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

Leila Ginsberg

Leila is barista in Chicago, currently working on her application for graduate school, where she plans to study social work.

Why did you pick this program?

I picked the Tico Lingo program because I was very serious about learning Spanish and thought it would give me an edge on my graduate school applications. I didn't want to study in a beach town for fear that the surrounding environment would distract me from my studies, but I wanted to be close enough to the coast and other tourist attractions to enjoy my time off in Costa Rica. Located in Heredia, north of San Jose, Tico Lingo was the perfect option for me. The area wasn't touristy and my homestay family spoke very little English, which provided immense opportunities for practicing my burgeoning Spanish language skills.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Do it! Travel has always been a rewarding experience for me. I find that I grow the most when I push myself outside my comfort zone. Costa Rica was definitely outside my comfort zone. I learned to adapt, and best of all I learned the language (I'm conversational) with tons of help from Tico Lingo and my homestay family.

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

Be open to new experiences and relax. Take it day by day. Learning a new language can be a frustrating experience. You need to trust in yourself and you need to exercise patience. The language skills will come, I can attest to that. Immersion is the absolute best way to learn a new language.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Every chance I got I would visit a big market in Heredia to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, plus my favorite coconut water straight from the coconut. And every time I went I would stop at my homestay mother's stand and chat with her as best I could. It was so rewarding that as the days and weeks went by, these conversations were easier and easier to have. She was so patient with me, too. I am so grateful to her, her family and to Tico Lingo for giving me this opportunity and providing such a wonderful experience.

Leila's Safety Suggestions for Costa Rica:

Costa Rica is a safe country, but you should exercise caution, especially when traveling alone. Be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables, like your phone, out of sight as much as possible when in public.

Staff Interviews

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

YĂłbeth 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.

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!