CPI Spanish Immersion School
Costa Rica
Study and experience more of Costa Rica at three distinct locations

     
   

 

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Since 1991

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CPI Frequently Asked Questions

THE PROGRAM

1- Why should I study in Costa Rica? Show || Hide

There are many different countries in the world where one can study Spanish. Costa Rica, however, offers some unique advantages. Costa Rica is known around the world for its stable, democratic government. After abolishing its army in 1948, Costa Rica decided to spend a large portion of its national budget on education and health care. Today, the country boasts the highest literacy rate in Latin America, and a high-quality educational and health system.Costa Rica also offers tremendous biodiversity. The country is teeming with wildlife and natural beauty, allowing visitors to climb a mountain volcano in the morning and relax on the beach in the afternoon. Costa Rica has a long-standing commitment to environmental conservation; about 13 percent of the country is dedicated to national parks, and over 25 percent is protected in the form of biological and environmental reserves.


2- Why should I study at CPI? Show || Hide

Founded, owned and operated by Romy Morales and her family, CPI provides the best combination of intensive language study, warm family atmosphere, and a safe environment at all three campuses: Heredia, Monteverde and Flamingo.


3- How long are your programs? When can I start? Show || Hide

All CPI programs are separated into week-long segments; students may enroll for as many consecutive weeks as they would like. All classes begin on any given Monday.


4- How quickly will I learn Spanish? Show || Hide

Language acquisition depends greatly on an individual's desire and motivation to learn, the amount of time dedicated to homework and conversation practice outside of class, as well as the student’s general ability to learn a second language (this is positively influenced by having studied a second language before - for instance, students who have studied French have an easier time grasping certain grammatical concepts). Generally, in 4 weeks of study while staying with a homestay family, students can ascend one skill level in Spanish fluency (meaning, if you speak Spanish at a low beginner level now, after 4 weeks, you might speak at a low intermediate level).


5- What is the recommended length of stay? How many hours of instruction do you recommend? Show || Hide

That depends on your individual goals for learning Spanish. You may study for as little as one week; however, we recommend a minimum study period of two weeks. The 5.5-hour program is offered for those students who desire additional practice in conversation.


6- How does dividing my time among the three locations work? Show || Hide

Students have the option of studying, by weekly sessions, at each of our campuses: the small town of San Joaquín de Flores, the Monteverde cloud forest, and Flamingo Beach . We offer a choice of locations so students can experience the cultural and ecological diversity of Costa Rica. With advance notice to CPI during the application process, students may divide their time by week between any or all of our campuses.


7- Who typically attends CPI? Show || Hide

CPI attracts students from many different backgrounds and from all over the world. The average age range of our students is approximately 13 to 70. Our students include people of all ages, including college students, professionals and travelers, families, children, as well as retired couples. The majority of the students are university students, professionals and some are in their golden years. Most of our students are from North America - United States and Canada. We also have students from Brazil and Europe - Switzerland, France, England, Japan and Germany.


8- How many levels of Spanish are offered? Show || Hide

C.P.I. offers ten levels of Spanish: three beginner (basic beginner, intermediate beginner and advanced beginner), three intermediate (beginner intermediate, intermediate, and advanced intermediate), three advanced and one superior.


9- Is one-on-one instruction possible? Show || Hide

A student can receive one-on-one instruction if he or she so desires. The cost is US$100 extra per week for four hours of class per day, and US$140 extra per week for 5.5 hours per day, this is in addition to the cost of the regular program. In the case that the students wish to study less than 4 hours they can only pay US$23 per hour. For the later case, note the private lessons may be taken during the afternoon.


10- Does CPI have experience teaching advanced students? Show || Hide

Many advanced students have studied with us in the past, and we are experienced in working with their special needs. If you are an advanced student and there are no other students currently at your same level, then CPI will provide you with one-on-one instruction at no additional charge.


11- Do I have the same professor every week? Show || Hide

No, each week students change professors in order to expose them to different expressions, vocabulary, accents and teaching styles.


12- Can children study? Show || Hide

As a general guide, children older than 13 may study in the regular program. For younger children, a different schedule may be recommended depending on the child's maturity level. We have experience teaching children as young as four years old.


13- Can I study with my family? Show || Hide

CPI offers a family friendly learning environment for parents traveling to Costa Rica with their children. For children 12 and under, a less intensive course corresponds with the particular learning needs of young people. Class time is divided into modules with emphasis on basic communication skills, vocabulary, and the introduction of grammatical concepts. The option of family study is a perfect combination of Spanish immersion with a family vacation. The end result is a memorable linguistic and cultural experience!

Babysitting service during class time hours can also be arranged. The family is responsible for the cost of the service.


14- Will I obtain a certificate for my studies at CPI? Show || Hide

Yes. Students must request the certificate on their last week of classes at CPI.

 


 

HOMESTAY


1- What are the families like? Show || Hide

All of our host families are carefully screened, and are accustomed to housing foreign students. The families are very patient and go out of their way to help the students learn Spanish.

Our families are diverse - young couples without children, couples with children (of all age groups) and older couples with grown children who no longer live at home. We always do our best to accommodate students' wishes concerning homestay families. If the student does not state a preference, we typically place them with couples of the same age group.

The majority of CPI homestays are within 20 minutes walking distance of the school. If your homestay is more than a 25-minute walk from the school, we will pick you up and bring you to classes without any extra cost.

The standard of living of CPI homestay families is middle-class by Costa Rican standards. However, most students will find a simpler way of life than to which they are accustomed to, especially in Monteverde and Flamingo. With that in mind, students should remember that, although its economy is better than most in Central America, Costa Rica is still a developing country, and many homes do not have the same consumer items which are found in North America and Europe. Each homestay is clean and safe, and all students have a private bedroom.


2-Who is my family? Show || Hide

Often students ask about their host family prior to their arrival. Due to our attempts to make a good match between students and families, we do not place students with families until a few days before the student arrives.


3- Can families, spouses or travel companions stay in the same homestay? Show || Hide

CPI does place students together upon request; however, because students tend to learn Spanish faster when not in constant contact with friends/spouses (due to the tendency to speak in their native language), it may be to your advantage to live in separate households.


4- Should I bring a gift for my family? Show || Hide

If you would like to bring your family a gift, we recommend something hat is particular to your area of the world (such as a mug with a picture of a famous landmark in your town). Other popular gifts have included kitchen items (tea towels, pot holders, etc.), chocolates, and candy. Families do not expect gifts, so do not feel obligated to bring anything.


5- How long may I stay in my homestay? Show || Hide

You may enter your homestay the Sunday prior to your first Monday class, and must leave the Sunday after your last Friday class. If you would like to start your homestay earlier or stay extra nights after Sunday then you would only need to pay extra per night. Please note that if you arrive in June or July extra nights are limited.


6- I am a vegetarian; can the family accommodate my needs? Show || Hide

Yes, the host families are accustomed to cooking for vegetarians. If you have special dietary requests or needs (i.e. vegetarian or low fat, food allergies, others), please note that the Costa Rican families can provide students with vegetables, fruits and other products which are typically consumed for the families daily. If any special products were needed, the student should bring them or purchase them in the supermarkets once in Costa Rica.


7- I am not interested in a homestay--what are my options? Show || Hide

If you are not interested in living with a homestay family, we are happy to help arrange other accommodations for you.

In Flamingo, Heredia and Monteverde, you may stay at the apartments and rooms.

These are fully equipped and within a short distance of the schools.

Click here for more information about these.

 


 

TRAVEL


1- How safe is Costa Rica? Show || Hide

We definitely understand your concerns about traveling abroad. However, Costa Rica is a serene country that is committed to upholding its history of peace and diplomacy. The nation also depends greatly on tourism from the United States, and generally, Americans, Europeans, and other foreigners are welcomed and treated with respect and kindness. However, travelers should always use their common sense and best judgment, especially when visiting major cities.


2- Does CPI provide transportation between Heredia, Monteverde, and Flamingo? Show || Hide

I. Airport pick up

Homestay students and CPI apartments.
We would like to emphasize that the pick up and drop off service that CPI offers is only for those students that are staying in either a homestay or one of the CPI apartments/villas at either Heredia, Monteverde of Flamingo. Students must arrive into Costa Rica at the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José to take advantage of our transport service.

PLEASE NOTE that we do not offer airport pick up from the Liberia's airport.

For students enrolled at CPI Heredia as their first school, a driver picks up the student and takes him/her directly to their homestay in San Joaquín de Flores.

Participants studying in Monteverde or Flamingo are recommended staying in a local accommodation close to the airport before traveling to Monteverde or Flamingo. The following day, we organize private transportation which drops you off at your accommodations in Flamingo or Monteverde.

The arrival package cost $99 per student and includes one night at a B&B in a single room and transportation to Flamingo or Monteverde. For friends, families and couples travelling together, the cost of the arrival package is $88 per person in a shared
a room. Ask for special prices for families travelling with kids under 12 years old.

The price of the local accommodation and private transportation is not included in the tuition price. These are extra costs. CPI makes reservations for the local accommodation and the private transportation; please inform the CPI Admissions Office of your plans.

Non-homestay students
For non-homestay students who need to travel to Monteverde or Flamingo, we recommend the previously explained local accommodation/private transportation combination (see above information for Homestay students).
The cost of a taxi ride from the airport to local accommodation is about US$10.

CPI would be glad to make transportation arrangements to Monteverde/Flamingo for non-homestay students. It is necessary to inform the CPI Admissions Office in advance if the non-homestay student would like to take advantage of this "combo".

II. Airport drop off

Once the homestay student finishes classes, students will be transported from San Joaquin de Flores to the Juan Santamaria International Airport. Students finishing classes at the Heredia campus are picked up at their homestay; students whose last week of classes terminates at Monteverde or Flamingo are picked up at the B&B in San Joaquin. This service is only offered if the student is flying out of Costa Rica within one week of the termination of classes. The price of the last night in the local accommodation (for students coming from Monteverde or Flamingo) is not included in the tuition price.

PLEASE NOTE that we do not offer airport drop off to the airport in Liberia, and that there is an airport exit tax of US$29 which must be paid in either colones or dollars.

III. Intercampus transfers and local tours

CPI specializes in organizing all of your extra tours and excursions while in Costa Rica. The goal is to provide high quality tours at reasonable prices while remaining dedicated to the concept of Spanish immersion by utilizing guides experienced in working with language students. Each of CPI's three campuses has a Student Coordinator on staff to arrange weekday activities and excursions to the most popular nearby sites.

Additionally, each week-end CPI organizes a variety of trips, available to students at any of the CPI campuses. These weekend trips can also be combined with intercampus transfers, when the student plans to attend one of the other CPI sites. The student is picked up for the activity at their current campus, and then dropped off with their luggage at their homestay/lodging at the new campus.

PLEASE NOTE that the tour prices are not included in the program price and that availability of any given tour depends on a minimum amount of students.

If a student does not wish to participate in a week-end tour, intercampus transportation can be arranged with the student coordinator. Prices between Monteverde and Flamingo and viceversa are from US$39 to US$59 dollars. The price depends of the transportation company and the route.


3- I want to book my plane flight--what day should I fly into Costa Rica to begin my classes? Show || Hide

If you are beginning classes in Monteverde or Flamingo, we recommend that you fly into San José the Saturday before your classes begin, so that we may transport you to Monteverde or Flamingo on Sunday morning.

If you are beginning classes in Heredia, we recommend that you arrive on Sunday


4- If my plane is delayed, will I still be picked up at the airport? Show || Hide

Yes, we are in contact with the airport and we will know the exact arrival time of your flight. In case of dealys, students starting classes in Heredia, will be taking to their accommodations later. Students who lose the arrival package to Monteverde or Flamingo, will have to rearrange trasportation and accommodation at the B&B. The additional costs for these rebooked services will be charged to theirfinal balance.


5- How do I arrive to CPI Flamingo if I fly in to the Liberia Int'l airport? Show || Hide

If you were flying into Liberia International Airport, CPI could arrange a taxi to meet you there once you send your flight information. The transportation from Liberia to the Flamingo area and viceversa has the following costs;
1-2 people would cost US$90 per taxi, 3 people would cost US$30 per person, 4 people would cost US$25 per person and 5 people would cost US$20 per person.

The taxi driver would wait for you outside the airport. He would be holding a sign with your name on it. The trip from the airport to Flamingo takes about an hour.

Please note that this is a CPI optional service and that we just help organizing this transportation. If you decided that we could help to make these arrangements, you must be sure that you would take the service. If you missed the taxi or your plans were changed overtime, please be advised that you must cancel the service beforehand. Otherwise, the taxi service will be still charged to your final balance. The cost of the taxi will be charged to you on the first day of classes.


6- How do I get to school on the first day? Show || Hide

If you live within walking distance, your host family will show you how to get to school the first day.

If you live more than 25-minutes walking distance from your campus, we will provide daily morning transportation to the school.

PLEASE NOTE: In Monteverde, we provide daily morning transportation for students who live in the town of Santa Elena, which is about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the CPI Monteverde campus.

In Flamingo, we provide daily morning transportation for students who live in Potrero and Brasilito.


7- This will be my first time in Costa Rica; how do I get around? Show || Hide

On the first day of class, we offer a student orientation designed to ease your transition into Costa Rican culture. During the orientation, we discuss many important subjects, such as what you can expect in your homestay, safety precautions, and how to use local transportation. We also discuss topics related to CPI, including the services provided by the school and your daily schedule. The orientation supplements the orientation packet you will receive when you arrive.

 


 

GENERAL

 

1- Location of CPI and safety issues in San Joaquín, Monteverde and Flamingo. Show || Hide

San Joaquín
San Joaquín de Flores is a small town, just close enough to San José to enjoy the benefits of a big city, yet far enough away to maintain a sense of serenity outside the traffic and tension of San José. This distance allows students to experience the people and culture of a small Costa Rican community, relatively free of tourists and other English speakers.

Monteverde
Monteverde offers students the opportunity to visit Costa Rica's famous cloud forests and enjoy a variety of exciting outdoor activities while studying Spanish. With its clean air, beautiful mountain views, and easy access to the Monteverde and Santa Elena cloud forest reserves, CPI Monteverde is the ideal location for nature, hiking, and birding enthusiasts.

Flamingo
Flamingo is a small beach town with a distinctive rural feel. Guanacastecos, or people from Guanacaste, are well known for their warm hospitality. Since the school is on the beach, this location, like Monteverde, is an excellent choice for those who wish to combine language study with a vacation.


2- Are there times when the school is closed, such as holidays? Show || Hide

We observe the following holiday dates, and no class will be held on these days:

  • Wednesday, January 1st (New Year's Day)

  • Thursday, April 11th (Juan Santamaria's Day)

  • Thursday, April 17th and Friday, April 18th (Easter week)

  • Thursday, May 1st (Labor Day)

  • Friday, July 25th (Guanacaste Day)

  • Friday, August 15th (Mothers' Day)

  • Monday, September 15 - Independence Day

  • Thursday, December 25th (Christmas Day)

For Christmas period, please note:

-CPI Heredia remains open the whole month of December

-CPI Monteverde will be closed one week (December 22nd - 26th, 2014)

-CPI Flamingo will be closed one week (December 29th, 2014 - January 02nd, 2015)

In December, we suggest to combine classes according to the weeks that each campus will be open.

NOTE: No refunds or make-ups will be made to students for days missed due to holidays

 

3- What vaccinations/medications do I need to enter Costa Rica? Show || Hide

There are no vaccinations required to enter Costa Rica, although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does recommend that travelers be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B. Malaria contraction in Costa Rica is extremely rare, and most cases have been reported along the Caribbean coast; however, some visitors do bring anti-malaria medication. All tap water is potable, although if you wish to drink only bottled water it is readily available throughout the country. Costa Rica has high-quality, relatively inexpensive medical care; if you need to see a health care professional during your stay in the country, we will be happy to assist you.

For more information on traveler's health precautions, you may visit the CDC's Central America web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/ and choose the 'Central America and Mexico' option on the pull-down menu.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ONLY FOR STUDENTS FLYING INTO COSTA RICA FROM:

Sudamerica Africa
Bolivia Angola
Brasil Benin
Colombia Burnika Faso
Ecuador Gabon
French Guyana Gambia
Peru Ghana
Venezuela Ghinea
  Liberia
  Nigeria
  Republic Democratic of Congo
  Sierra Leona
  Sudan

YELLOW FEVER VACCINATIONS:

All students flying into Costa Rica from any of the listed countries MUST be vaccinated against Yellow Fever no less than TEN days prior to entering Costa Rica . Students must get the original "International Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever" and show this document at the airport.

NOTE: Students will not be allowed to enter Costa Rica unless they have been vaccinated at least 10 days prior to their arrival.

 

4- How much money should I bring? Will my debit card work in Costa Rica? Show || Hide

CPI recommends that students bring cash as well as U.S. traveler's checks, which can easily be changed at local banks in Costa Rica. ATM machines can be slow and unreliable, particularly in Flamingo, so we do not recommend relying upon your ATM card to access funds. You may receive cash advances from a Visa card, but please be aware that businesses rarely accept MasterCard and American Express.

For those students in the homestay program, additional expenses may include entertainment, travel and souvenirs. Restaurants range from cheap to expensive, but on average a good meal at a decent restaurant costs about US$15 per person, without an alcoholic beverage. A beer costs about US$2 in a bar. If you plan to travel on the weekend, costs will vary depending on your budget, but, in general, an upscale hotel costs about $55 - $150 per night (depends on the season). Much cheaper, simpler accommodations can be found. Public transportation throughout the country is very reasonable, and generally is less than US$20 round trip.

 

5- What is the best way to communicate with my family and friends back home? Show || Hide

High speed i nternet service is available at all CPI campuses for CPI students free of charge. This service is offered in the libraries of each school during the hours that it is open, which is usually in the afternoons . But you can also use CPI's wireless internet service available at all CPI campuses as well - free of charge . Also, there are local Internet cafés, which are inexpensive and provide relatively fast connections. If you would like to send a fax, you can do so at the the school for a small fee . In addition, y ou may have letters sent to CPI, but please note that letters typically take two weeks to arrive from North America. Express mailing companies are also an option if you need something sent quickly.

You can also communicate with your family by telephone, Costa Rican telephone cards often work better than the ones that you can buy in the US. Another option is to rent a cell phone (see cellular phone section below).

 

6- Can I use my cellular phone in Costa Rica? Show || Hide

Once in Costa Rica, you can buy a pre-paid cell phone (average cost $40.00).

You can also bring your own cell phone and buy a Simcard ($5.00 or more). Important: in order to use a Simcard, make sure that your cell phone is unblocked and that works on 850Mha frequency. Simcards do not work on AT&M, MCI, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile cell phones.

Simcards can be purchased in your country before coming or can also be purchased at the airport.

You can also contact the Company Cellular Connection in order to purchase them. You can visit their website: www.cellservicecr.com

CPI also offers free international and local calls through Skype. Ask at reception which countries are included in this service.

Agency Information

Costa Rica Cellular Connection provides affordable cellular rental phones for use in Costa Rica. This is an easy way for CPI students to stay in touch with family and friends while studying and traveling.

Future students who are interested in this service will have to contact Costa Rica Cellular Connection at least one week before leaving for Costa Rica. They will receive the phone at their house and can activate it as soon as they arrive.

There is a special rate for CPI students. On our website we have a link to Costa Rica Cellular Connection, which you can reference for more information.

 

7- What kind of volunteer opportunities are available? Show || Hide

Since CPI's campuses are in three diverse regions of Costa Rica, volunteer opportunities vary according to location; however, in the majority of cases we can find you a position in your field or area of pursuit. If you e-mail us about your interest in volunteering prior to your arrival, we can investigate potential options. Please click here for more information about VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES.

 


 

 
 
 
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Costa Rica
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