Retirees learn Spanish in Costa Rica
Tico folk dance on campus
Learning Spanish the fun way...
A pleasant exchange in Spanish class
Enjoying a 'baile típico'
Sunset from the lodge

Learning Spanish in Costa Rica

By Jonsey Jones

As I sit in the rocking chair in front of the house perched on the mountainside, I have a feeling of relaxation and renewal. The gentle breezes sway the palm trees and the fruit trees which frame the vista of the valley. As I look a short distance beyond the basketball court to the swimming pool, I consider how inviting the pool will seem in the afternoon. Suddenly the bell rings, and I realize that it is time for Spanish class to start once again in this unique setting of Conversa, a Spanish school just outside the city of San José in Costa Rica.

Conversa was started in 1975 by David Kaufman, an American with extensive experience in the Peace Corps. He and Anita, his lovely wife from the Dominican Republic, had a vision which resulted in a program which can match the needs of almost anyone who wants to learn Spanish. A student has the flexibility of starting a week of study at almost any time during the year and can stay from one week to several months. Home stays are arranged for the student, or if the student prefers, it is possible to stay in a private room with a private bathroom on the campus of this picturesque school. Classes are taught by native speakers who have the ability to provide instruction from the most basic to the most advanced levels. Instructors are always perceptive to the needs of each student, and they make every effort to maximize the experience of studying Spanish. The atmosphere promotes camaraderie. Currently, the group of students includes a high school senior as well as two people over the age of seventy and many students at ages in between. On one of my previous visits there was a mother and daughter and the baby of the daughter. The mother and daughter attended classes , and the host family cared for the baby during the day.

This visit is my fourth to Conversa. Prior to my first visit, my Spanish was very basic. I had studied in Granada, Spain, where I had a very nice experience. However, my first visit to Conversa made me feel that I would want to return again and again to Conversa. My current visit is to have one last experience of interacting with Spanish speakers prior to my becoming a volunteer Spanish interpreter next month.

I encourage anyone who has a desire to study Spanish to take advantage of what Conversa has to offer. The web site is