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.

Founded
2015

Reviews

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Rich
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I initially planned to do one week of Spanish and homestay at Tico Lingo, but I enjoyed it so much I ended up staying for four!

For me, this was an ideal introduction to my trip to Central America. I was able to improve my Spanish, learn about Costa Rica from my homestay family and hang out with other students from the school.

I was in the middle class in the school, Kevin was a great teacher helping us to improve our conversational Spanish, learning grammar, expressing past and present tenses and some handy Tico phrases! Staying in a homestay was great, feeling like part of the family and practicing your Spanish outside of school.

We also organised some trips with other students from the school which was great fun, visiting La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio, also catching up with the guys again in Santa Theresa after we'd finished studying for some time chilling on the beach

Thanks for everything Chris, Yennifer, Maritiza, Kevin and Freddie!

What was your funniest moment?
I told my homestay dad I'd seen bears in the trees in Manuel Antonio. Sloth in Spanish is Oso Perezoso (literally Lazy Bear). I tried to just shorten it to Oso, which is bear. They don't even have bears here. He was very confused!
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Samuel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I studied with Tico Lingo for three weeks in January of 2021. I learned a ton of Spanish and am absolutely way more conversational now, and have a lot of tools to continue to teach myself. I stayed with a host family and was able to continue to learn and practice every night when I went home, and experience authentic Costa Rican culture. My host family was very sweet and genuinely cared about my success in Costa Rica. The school staff was very helpful to any questions I had about Costa Rica, Spanish, and anything else that came up. All around, a great experience.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I wish I had explored the public transit a bit more! I was a bit scared at first to take a bus and just explore, but when I tried that, I had a really great time and saw some very cool things.
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Martin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I’ve tried emersion Spanish school before but this one worked. ( more of a science than language person) Why did Tico Lingo work for me?
1. Program and small classes tailored to my goals.
2. Made learning fun - I m now studying/ reviewing nearly every day on my own due my experience.
3. Supportive social environment- positive and ecouraging feedback from teachers, staff that was echoed by my host family and even townsfolk- Ticos, especially away from resort towns are more likely to tolerate my broken Spanish so I get to speak more and practice.
4. Extra activities like yoga and intercambio with local English speakers.
5. Gave me usage and details that were hard to find online and absent from my previous in person classes.

A great place to learn - I’m on the road now and sufficiently functional gain momentum.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I got to try several tropical fruits, including some varieties of citrus fruits that I have never seen before. Also the pineapples were very flavorful.
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Reid
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my experience with Tico Lingo. They make it easy to learn spanish in a comfortable environment. From offering transportation directly from the airport to our homestay, to giving a tour of Heredia, I felt great attending classes. The best part of my three week experience was learning from Freddy, a teacher there. He provided tailored instruction that was incredibly well-organized. He made it fun as well and gave us a lot of advice about our travels around the country of Costa Rica. The Tico Lingo facilities were clean and modern, with fresh coffee every morning. Another activity that was surprisingly great was the Intercambio nights on Thursdays, when Ticos would come to practice their English while we practiced our Spanish.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
We got our rental car stuck on a giant hill! Whoops!
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Nel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I learned way more Spanish doing this camp than I did in highschool. Speaking with natives really makes a difference. My family was amazing and the Spanish classes we're pretty intense but we were challenged and my classmates enjoyed it. It was just an overall great positive experience. I'm over 18 now, but I'd love to go back and sign up for the adult program. The teen camp was everything i needed to get used to living in a new place. There was so much support from the staff. Activities were fun, I liked the cooking classes with Profesora Helen! My teacher Oscar was so so cool. We still stay in touch on Whatsapp and he helps e with Spanish questions when I have them. Would highly recommend this camp to anyone looking for an adventure and wanting to drastically improve their Spanish speaking skills. Gracias!

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.

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!