The Scoop: People who love to travel often enjoy making connections with others while experiencing new countries. Language is the key to meeting locals and developing an in-depth understanding of a culture. Intercultura can help with both. The language school has two locations in Costa Rica that provide immersive Spanish lessons and an ideal experience for singles or couples.
World travelers often find it challenging to enjoy the richness of a country and meet new people without understanding its language. A significant language barrier could keep visitors from hearing stories worth sharing or finding singles with open hearts who may want to strike up a conversation.
That’s not even counting how much easier it is to buy groceries and ask directions when everyone understands each other.
Spanish is an excellent language for singles and couples who love to travel because it’s spoken in so many countries. If travelers wanted to visit South America, Central America, parts of the Caribbean, or, of course, Spain, knowing Spanish will make the experience better.
Intercultura is a Spanish school in Costa Rica that helps singles learn the language in a welcoming atmosphere.
Many intercultural couples also find that learning a language can help them build a stronger bond. It helps when they can learn the language in such a beautiful environment while on a travel adventure.
Costa Rica is one of the easiest places to learn and practice Spanish. The country has many friendly people, breathtaking beaches, preserved lands, and locals in the region who speak in a relatively easy-to-understand accent. That’s why so many travelers visit Intercultura to learn the language in its immersive classes.
“With traveling, in general, you’re thrown out of your everyday routine, so you have more space to explore yourself and other people,” said Amy Schmidt, Intercultura Group and Volunteer Coordinator. “People make strong connections quickly, and romance happens here the same way.”
The Language School Started in a Small Beach Community
Intercultura’s roots stretch back 25 years, and it opened its first campus in the sleepy city of Heredia. Its founders, Laura Ellington and Adelita Jiménez, had worked in schools and NGOs before opening the tiny, four-classroom enterprise. They combined their experience in business with their desire to create a transparent and socially responsible language program.
At first, Adelita taught Spanish and helped coordinate homestays while Laura planned activities and oversaw marketing efforts. With time, they grew their business to expand to the beach town of Samara.
“At that time, Heredia was a small town, and there wasn’t a lot of foreign influence. Samara was a sleepy little beach community, but there was a market for it and enough tourists and foreigners who wanted to learn,” Amy said. “Now, it’s a perfect spot for a language school.”
Today, a full-time team of Spanish teachers hosts immersion programs for singles and couples in both locations. Intercultura also offers low-cost English classes for the residents of the small communities.
The majority of Intercultura students are young single travelers in their 20s and families with children who take the program together. But the company also sees plenty of older, independent travelers and couples who enjoy the experience. Students typically hail from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
“These are people looking to do something different and learn a new skill or connect with a culture, or settle in and not just be backpacking,” Amy said. “There’s a pretty good mix to the student body.”
The Team Creates a Welcoming Environment for Learners
Amy said the Spanish teachers who work with Intercultura are native speakers, although they don’t all come from Costa Rica. Some are from the region where the schools are located, while others represent many countries in Latin America and even Spain.
Each teacher holds an advanced degree and offers a unique teaching style and personality. That can be important for students interested in additional individual lessons.
Amy said even the people who work in the administrative office are from around the globe. While Amy is from the United States and others are from Europe, the general manager is a local from Samara. The team speaks Spanish in the office, but for new speakers, Intercultura offers support in most languages.
“Professional and educational backgrounds range, and personality-wise, it’s a collaborative, loving team,” Amy said. “It’s a really great work environment. It’s a big family feeling.”
Most students elect to join the group classes. They are offered in an immersive environment with four-hour sessions Monday through Friday. These affordable classes are run weekly, so students can sign up for one week or multiple weeks. If singles or couples connect well with one of the teachers, or if they’re stuck on a particular concept, they can sign up for private lessons.
The Intercultura team organizes homestay packages, or shared or private rooms at the center, so students can continue practicing even when class is over. Couples often prefer to rent an Airbnb nearby.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Intercultura put many of its options on hold but temporarily shifted to offering online language classes. As worldwide travel slowly returns to normal, the company expects to see many more singles and couples opting for in-person classes again.
Intercultura: Language Skills Can Strengthen Romance
Intercultura teachers hold frequent language exchange sessions with local Ticos, which is what native Costa Ricans call themselves. And with all the interactions students can have, it’s no surprise that some find romance in addition to their new language skills.
“We see it from the office window,” Amy said. “A lot of people want to meet friends, and as soon as you get here, you’ll have a whole group of friends. Whether it’s friends or romance, the connections here are deep and strong. They end up spending a lot of time together, and we see romances happening all the time.”
Couples also enjoy exploring the beautiful beach location together. Learning a language can be challenging, and Amy said it’s helpful to learn in a group setting to see other people going through the same thing. It’s also easier for the teachers to coach students in person if someone gets overwhelmed.
“That’s just part of the process. People are going through the same thing,” Amy said. “Everyone is here enjoying themselves, stimulated, and active.”
She said the team is excited for health-related mandates to lift as the world addresses the COVID-19 pandemic. During the last year, Intercultura has recognized its strength in its affordable, in-person programs.
“This is what we’re best at, Spanish immersion, to let people connect with the culture here,” she said. “As the future unfolds and we all adapt, we’ll see what new technologies are and what new experiences people are looking for, and we’ll adapt along with that.”