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

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

Amazing way to learn Spanish from home

Chris and everyone at Tico Lingo are incredibly welcoming and flexible. No matter your level of Spanish, you will find Tico Lingo's online classes to be helpful. I have been taking online classes for about a year and a half now and my Spanish has seen significant improvement. Your teachers will create custom lesson plans to best suit your wants and needs and will keep things fresh and engaging. Learning/improving your Spanish is hard work, but Tico Lingo makes it fun and rewarding. Would highly recommend to all those looking to learn Spanish from the comfort of their home. ¡Pura vida!

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

6 weeks in Costa Rica

It was really fun. Lessons last for four hours with a break in between, after which there is an optional hour of either yoga, cooking classes, or dance classes. After that you're free to explore the city (and go into San José to look at the museums). I stayed with a host family, and it was super helpful. You get home cooked meals every day, a chance to practice your Spanish, and a local guide. Fair warning - the weather (at least during the wet season) switches from hot and humid to pouring rain. I'd recommend packing an umbrella and a ton of sunscreen.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Definitely bring bug spray and sunscreen. While you are in a city, there are a lot of tours offered on the weekends and they can get pretty buggy. The sun in Costa Rica is also super strong, so be prepared to get burnt. If you're an athletic person there's a lot of free exercise equipment in the parks, and several gyms near the school. There are also some good hikes (if you're willing to drive a bit). If you're a food person, there's a ton of really good restaurants in the neighborhood. The coffee is, of course, excellent. I'd recommend going for at least four weeks, so you can go on as many of the weekend tours as possible. Also, there's an option to get additional private lessons in the afternoon, and I'd recommend those if you really want to improve your Spanish.
Default avatar
Christian
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Tico Lingo Experience

I appreciated the Tico Lingo program. I had the intention of going to learn Spanish and although I picked up some elements it turned out not to be the focus of my time during the program. What I found was important for me was the independence I gained. This was my first trip without being accompanied by my family. I was 15 years old and I had the capacity to journey around with new friends and also have a level of financial independence. Much of the town was closed due to Covid-19 quarantine measures but I still managed to find things to do and occupy myself either via the kind family who hosted me, the roommates who became like brothers, and the activities like white water rafting that the camp provided. Interacting with some of the kids was challenging but for the most part, the group was pretty cool. I got to understand myself better and am looking forward to my next solo excursion. I think if you want to offer your child a safe environment in beautiful surroundings where they can learn a bit of Spanish and open themselves up to a culture they may not be familiar with, this is the experience for you.

Default avatar
Zoe
5/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Tico Lingo Homestay and Spanish Immersion Classes

My name is Zoe, I am 18 years old--Tico Lingo was my first international trip that I took alone. I did a homestay with a local mother who lived alone. I wasn't really worried about this or getting along with her because I am a very social and outgoing person. However, she was immediately indifferent towards me. My Spanish is not fluent, but intermediate for sure. I came to Costa Rica to learn, of course. My host mother was so cold and frustrated towards me when I could not perfectly understand her. I tried my best and often asked for another way of saying it or to talk slower, and she would literally throw her hands up and walk out of the room in anger. The homestay was one of the key parts that this program offered, yet all my host mother did for me was cook breakfast and sometimes dinner for me, and leave me sitting alone at the table to eat my meals. When we would talk it would be because her friends were over. They were so rude to me. I heard them talk badly about me multiple times, making fun of me when they thought I could not understand. I was called stupid by them while I was two yards away eating dinner. I told teachers and staff at Tico Lingo about this and we joked around, but no one helped or took much interest. Thankfully, I met amazing friends there that kept me going, but If I had not I can easily say it would've been a horrible experience. The lessons themselves were hard for me too. I have mild ADD so I learn a little slower than others. However, a good teacher knows how to teach different kinds of students. My teacher Erick would get mad at me when I didn't get and answer right, and tell me to pay attention. These classes were 4 hours, so I clearly struggled to focus at all times. At a certain point I just wanted to give up and almost ditch classes (I didn't, but I wanted too) because I felt so uncomfortable and shamed in class. Getting answers wrong is part of how you learn. It became clear that my teacher hated his job there and was miserable in class with us. This of course made it miserable for the students. I can say for sure my Spanish got worse during this time because my teacher went so fast through material that I couldn't remember the basics. As far as the city itself, I loved the food but was always being catcalled or followed by men. I was almost kidnapped by a delivery man for a pizza shop, and walking home at night was very scary. There was also nothing AT ALL to do in this city but go eat or drink. My friends and I would take trips to other places in Costa Rica but it was to expensive to do more than once in the two weeks I was there. Save yourself the money and stress, and go somewhere where they enjoy teaching and having you. This was horrible.

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

Amazing camp full of great people

I loved every single day of the three weeks I spend in Costa Rica with Tico Lingo. My teacher was incredible and I learned so much about the structure and grammar of the Spanish language and by the end I felt drastically more comfortable speaking and interacting in Spanish using what I learned. My host family was also very kind and generous and the 13 other students were all really awesome people. The afternoon activities were also super fun and they bonded us all as a group through the unforgettable experiences we shared. We also had a good amount of free time to explore the city on our own with a friend or two. The weekend trips were really fun and we got to see so much of the wildlife in Costa Rica while also doing anything from swimming at the beach to white water rafting.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. You're only going to learn once you're out in the world interacting with different people in different cultures, so don't be afraid to make a mistake. Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Let yourself stumble a bit through those mistakes, get yourself back up and don't forget your toothbrush.

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.
Thumbnail

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!