Santa Ana, Costa Rica
The following is a short list of testimonials and reviews that former and current students have shared with us. If you would like to contact a student of ours directly, please let us know. Our students are more than happy to help answer questions and chat with potential future Conversa alumni!
"I first discovered Conversa while a graduate student in social work. I wanted to learn Spanish via immersion and travel in a foreign country. Costa Rica proved to be accessible and beautiful. Conversa proved to be the best choice in terms of learning. The teachers were friendly, warm, and supportive. I was shocked to realize each day I'd spent HOURS speaking Spanish...even as a beginner. My host family was generous, kind, and patient. I found myself speaking Spanish after school and into the night with my Mama Tica. My successes boosted my self-esteem and I began to believe that becoming bilingual was within reach! 12 years after my first experience at Conversa I was fortunate to return as a social work educator. I was excited to accompany a group of graduate students and walk with them through the same experience I'd had years before. As I watched them exit the plane, and congregate on the sidewalk outside the airport, their excitement and nervousness was palpable. But I knew what they didn't...that they were about to have one of the most memorable, productive, and adventurous experiences of their lives. Conversa is an absolute gem. I cannot speak more highly of the campus, staff, and host families in Santa Ana, or of the online classes via Conversaconmigo.com (of which I've fallen in love with because of their affordability and enjoyability). I feel very fortunate to have been led to Conversa so many years ago. Thank you Conversa for all you do to make learning fun and achievable!"
"I have attended one other Spanish immersion program (in Mexico) and Ann has attended three others (two different schools in Mexico and one in Guatemala). Those experiences were great and each of us would return to the schools we attended without reservation. We have both concluded, however, that Conversa offers the best complete package (teachers, method, materials, and facilities).
Ann and I were able to observe four different teachers in the course of two weeks. In addition, I have had experience with two more of your teachers through my online classes. I think one of Conversa's strongest selling points is the "bench strength" of its teaching staff. It's not just that they are native speakers, have many years of experience teaching Spanish, and are well-grounded in rules of grammar and construction. Just as important, they have many years of experience teaching together at your school and implementing your approach to language learning. That offers an element of quality that neither Ann nor I have seen in other schools.
It is clear that your teaching staff believes in the method and the materials. This consistency of approach is a comfort to students as they go from one week to the next and switch teachers. Your practice of making the materials available online allows students to continue their study after they return home.
"Seeking an efficient way to improve my very basic Spanish, I looked for an immersion program in a safe and friendly Latin American country. Choosing Costa Rica as my destination was easy, but finding an excellent school to meet my needs, was not a simple task. After a thorough and very careful search, I came upon the Conversa website. I was impressed by the schoolâ€™s approach to their immersion program and the friendly way with which they responded to my questions. I decided to take a chance.
It takes some courage to travel to the â€œunknownâ€, but Conversa made it easy. A staff member waited for me at the airport, ready to deliver me to the host family in Santa Ana, thus removing the first concern I had. As my two week stay was unfolding, it became evident, that the care and attention to the studentâ€™s comfort and needs were a priority for the school.
On my first trip to Costa Rica I barely spoke Spanish. Thanks to my teachersâ€™ efforts I have made great strides in my ability to express myself in Spanish. After returning home, I continued my Spanish studies with Conversa on-line. It is a wonderful way to preserve what I have learned in their beautiful Santa Ana campus, and to keep on going. I returned to Costa Rica and Conversa the following year, armed with knowledge that was built on my previous stay, as well as the Conversa on-line classes. It is satisfying to realize how quickly one can learn Spanish in an excellent immersion program.
On another note- Conversa is an easy place to cultivate friendships, where people of different age groups gather to learn Spanish and enjoy the beauty of Costa Rica. I have met some people there who have been returning to Conversa year after year. The loyalty to this wonderful school is well deserved.
If you have any questions about my Conversa experience, you may ask the school to provide you with either my phone number or my email address."
"The Conversaconmigo online Spanish program is ideal for me. I especially like the one-on-one attention from my teacher and the flexibility the administration allows for class schedule changes. The reason I enrolled in the program is to be able to participate more fully in the culture of the Dominican Republic where we have our second home. Until recently I have been somewhat shy to speak with the more educated Dominicans in their language. I was thrilled to be able to communicate with a friend on a real conversational level. This year several people have commented on my improved language skills.
"I attended Conversa's program in Costa Rica in 2007, and have been a student with the on-line program since its inception in 2008. I highly recommend both programs, and can say without reservation that Conversa's value proposition is extraordinary. As to the on-line program in particular, I can't imagine a better, easier or cost effective way to learn. I am able to maintain the routine of having a private lesson with a teacher in Costa Rica on a daily/weekly basis. The personal attention is exceptional, the staff is terrific and the schedule is completely flexible. In addition, Conversa's on-line resources and additional benefits (e.g., weekly lectures) are extremely helpful, and the technology could not be easier to use. I have three advanced degrees and am a firm believer in education. Conversa has been an invaluable learning experience for me, and I look forward to working with them going forward.
"After three years with the help of some wonderful teachers and consistent work, I have become reasonably fluent in Spanish! When I get stuck in a blind ally and can't find la palabra justa I can work my way to a paraphrase without loosing my drift. This is very gratifying, fun and exciting. It has opened the door for me to a vibrant and dynamic culture, and I use my Spanish whenever possible at work and with Spanish speaking friends.
Although I did have a background in French and have always been a lover of language, starting Spanish was a thing in itself. I would say a facility with language helps but I did not find that knowing French particularly helped me to learn Spanish. This is because the Spanish language has its own special rules, particularities and issues.
After one semester of Adult Ed Spanish, I was so energized to learn more and so impatient with the slow pace of the class, that I started to research how I might speed up the learning curve. That is how I came to Conversa, upon the recommendation of a costarricense, the mother of a friend of my sonâ€™s. My first exposure was intense: I came for three weeks that first time, which is the longest I had ever been away from my husband since getting married 26 years before that. That was probably the most frustrating period of my Spanish learning. I wanted to communicate so much, but simply could not. French words and constructions kept flooding into my mind because I did not yet have a basis in Spanish.
That first summer, I stayed in the Casona. There was a group of students there with me and although we spoke English most of the time, we studied our Spanish together. Always at the dining hall, the lovely ladies who cook, encouraged us to speak, and did not tolerate (or understand) any English. I also spoke with the guards, forcing myself to overcome the reluctance to make mistakes. Of course one is going to make mistakes all the time while learning a new language! It is not so easy as an adult because the brain learns in a different area from where it learned its language of origin. Yet, everyone was so helpful and encouraging to me and I found myself so happy in the culture.
When my son was learning Spanish, I observed that when in the idiom, his personality seemed to change. He went from a brooding kind of college student to a light and fun-loving persona. He was happy in Spanish and I was so motivated by him and his success in learning. He learned so fast it was astounding largely because of his incredible musical ear. It was self-defeating to compare myself to him, however. And I soon detached from his process and focused on my own. Just having him proud of my persistence was enough of a motivation for me to continue with respect to him.
There is no easy way to gain mastery over something as vast as a foreign language but to me, there is nothing more gratifying. Not that I am a master yet, but I am slowly getting there and that is my goal. I structure my lessons on line, which I began taking after my second summer intensive, to my learning style. I am not trying to pass any exams or get credit for my Spanish. It is my pass-time and my hobby. I am a visual learner so I write and copy everything and go back over what I have written and copied until gradually the forms seep into my memory. The audio component is also important, and combined, they have gotten me to where I am now.
I did an enormous amount of writing in Spanish, from those first essays and forays until now, when I am quite comfortable, with the help of an on-line dictionary, writing in Spanish with reasonable grammatical correctness. My teachers have always been there to correct and teach me the proper language as it is important to me to be literary as well as to converse. Conversa allows for the development of both abilities if one is interested in both, or can focus one on whichever aspect they choose for their own purposes.
Although I was still a little behind the curve when I came to Conversa the second summer, I was way ahead of where I had been. This time it was for two weeks and I again took the intensivo (5 1/2 hours) per day. Class was always small that the individual attention a real asset and catalyst to my learning. Those first two years were about learning the essence of grammar and usage, particularly the proper usage of verbs. My teachers all brought their own style to the classroom, but everyone was most capable. I made more progress toward my goal that second summer and by the end, I was speaking with the guards regularly after class and able to converse with the Spanish speakers I met in the course of days there. I had invited a friend from my childhood that second summer in Santa Ana, which was just wonderful. We both stayed at the Casona, taking advantage of the peace and beauty of the place to study, have meals together and to hike in the mountains on the weekend.
When I came home from that second summer, I was very installed in the on-line program and continued with twice weekly lessons until my return last summer, this time with my husband. All the learning, the memorizing, the repetition and the writing began to propel me to a new level with my Spanish. I was seeing the fruit of my efforts. My husband an I took class for 10 days last summer and we stayed on campus again. That was a lovely experience for us, like a second honeymoon. This time, because we came in September, the summer students had all left and we were the only ones on campus. When the students who were with host families left for the day, we had the place all to ourselves. We studied and talked to the guards lots â€“ lots of fun and lots of laughs. We did a little tourism, but as before when I was at Conversa alone, that was kept to a minimum. Our intention was to get as intensive as possible and we achieved that goal. By this third summer, I was writing more easily and speaking much better.
My breakthrough came after I left last summer. My boss asked me to translate for our team at work and I stepped up to that. It gets better and better and because I am a Social Worker, I know that Spanish will always be important for me to know in my field. I have the dream of using it on a daily basis while living in a Spanish speaking culture one of these days. I am on the verge of becoming clinically licensed and at that point, I will have more options to move and experience something totally new in the next stage. My husband has kept up with his Spanish on his own using the Conversa materials and we believe we can really nail it by living among Spanish speakers for an extended period of time.
I listen to a lot of Spanish music now enjoying it so much. I can even translate the essential messages and much of the vocabulary of these songs I hear. I write and receive letters in Spanish and construct essays to work on in my on-line classes. Those classes are a balm to my spirit and we laugh a lot in the process of my learning and his teaching. I have been with the same on-line teacher one class per week (and I still make considerable progress!), for months now and his teaching perfectly fits my learning style. He is literary and cultured, colloquial, a fast writer, a fast thinker and an excellent person. I enjoy my lessons â€“ they are my hobby. After class, I copy over my notes, new vocabulary and the new usages I have received and then review them as necessary to lock in the learning. Poco a poco, I have given myself a great gift that has enriched me enormously and promises to keep giving! I believe that from my great effort and commitment - one day at a time - has come a reward of great and enduring value to me."
"My experience with Conversa began with three weeks at the Santa Ana campus in December 2008 where I was impressed with the beauty of the campus, the delicious food, the weekend adventures â€“ but, most of all and most importantly, I was impressed with the quality and dedication of the Conversa instructors and the conversational approach to learning the language, combined with rigorous instruction in verb tenses, grammar, usage and much more. At the end of the three weeks, I certainly was not fluent, but I had made significant progress, far more than my earlier attempts to learn Spanish. Upon my return from Costa Rica, I immediately enrolled in Conversaâ€™s on-line, one-on-one Spanish classes and have attended these classes at least weekly for more than a year, along with the lectures, on-line exercises and other on-line tools offered to Conversaâ€™s on-line students. Conversa has worked for me â€“ small group and one-on-one instruction; feedback from and interaction with qualified instructors; a proven method for teaching Spanish that incorporates a variety of teaching and learning tools and that is tailored to the level, needs and interests of the individual student."