Does it mean that English has lost its privileged status as the most international language?
Of course not! In our modern world, no doubt that English is truly the international language for excellence. The role this versatile language has played for the last 3 centuries is comparable only to the role Latin played for the Roman Empire in the ancient world, more than 2,000 years ago. However, in the last decades, the number of Spanish speakers worldwide has increased considerably because of different factors.
How many Spanish speakers are there in the world?
With an estimation of 470 million native speakers (according to Cervantes Institute, 2015) living in an important number of countries with presence –apart from Spain in Europe, the country where Spanish originated– in most Latin America, some regions of Africa (Algiers, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco, and Western Sahara), and the Far East (the Philippines). Additionally, there are about 68 million people who speak Spanish as a 2nd language and other 21 million people who are currently learning Spanish whether for academic or working purposes.
Which are the countries with the highest numbers of Spanish speakers?
We are sure that this fact will surprise you; believe it or not, the United States of America (USA) has become the 5th country with the highest number of Spanish speakers, after Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and Argentina! And not to mention the considerable number of entrepreneurs, professionals or retired people who have left the USA and have made a rest-of-their-life choice to settle on some of those countries, especially Mexico and Costa Rica, where there are important colonies of expatriates.
Why learning Spanish in Costa Rica is so attractive as well as advantaging?
In the last years, a very special interest to learn Spanish has emerged among speakers of other languages, especially when coming to our beautiful Costa Rica. In this sense, State universities such as Universidad de Costa Rica and Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica have been offering, for more than 20 years, varied curricula for Spanish immersion programs intended for speakers of other languages.
It all started when Costa Rica became, at the beginning of the 1980s, a world-class touristic destination, especially for visitors from North America (The USA and Canada) and Europe (mainly German, Swiss, and French, among others). The affluence of these tourists was so intense that the Costa Rican national government made considerable efforts to promote English-speaking guides and interpreters who could manage the language gaps between them and the local people from small villages and towns. Eventually, they soon started learning Spanish by their own. In that way, they attempted to satisfy their needs of communication and social interaction with our locals.
Those programs form part of what these universities have called “Spanish Learning for Speakers of Other Languages” (or EEHOL, by its acronym in Spanish) and are implemented to these significant foreign alumni who need to learn not only the language itself but also the Costa Rican culture, so rich in local food, idioms, and traditions. Apart from the cultural aspects, the EEHOL also offers foreign speakers programs for specializing in Hispanic Literature, Linguistics of Spanish, among others.
Today, Spanish is somehow more essential for those foreigners who want to obtain any kind of formal certification in their academic updating, socio-cultural assimilation, and working insertion globally. That is why the EEHOL programs offer a starting point for the foreign and expatriate community in Costa Rica, by helping them to satisfy their own needs of communication and interaction with the local population. So far, all of this really contributes to stretching cultural bonds, by consolidating economic or working relationships between these foreign speakers and our fellow nationals.
And are there any private centers for Spanish learning in Costa Rica?
Yes, there are many of them. Indeed, Costa Rica has taken advantage of its natural attractiveness as a world’s class touristic destination to promote a number of private language centers where foreigners can effectively, and funnily, learn communicative Spanish. There are different levels and modalities for everyone –children, teenagers, youngsters, and adults, depending on their specific needs of communication.
Here we show you a quick review of some of the most demanded Spanish language centers alongside the country:
San José – Costa Rica. They offer an intensive program 6 private hours intended to learners aged 13 to 90 years old, with duration of 52 weeks and an average of 30 classes per week. This program adds 2 additional hours of private instruction to the Guaranteed Private program, giving you 6 hours all to yourself, every day, broken into 4 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.
San José – Costa Rica. They offer a semi-private program 4 private hours intended to learners aged 13 to 90 years old, with duration of 52 weeks and an average of 20 classes per week. This is the perfect option for those who want to share their learning experience with another student who has the same Spanish level, the same interests (professional concentration, for example) and who wants an intensive program.
San José – Costa Rica. They offer a Spanish “Pronto” course intended to learners aged 3 to 90 years old, with duration of 52 weeks and an average of 8 classes per week. If you are traveling, on a business trip or for a medical treatment and you do not have enough time to study in a regular program, this is the right program for you! The 1-or-2-day Spanish “Pronto” will provide you with the handy linguistic and cultural tools to communicate in Spanish and get around during your stay in our country.
San José – Costa Rica. They offer a Spanish course for families intended to learners aged 3 to 90 years old, with duration of 52 weeks and an average of 20 classes per week. If you are planning to travel with your children, you are welcome to have them attend the school and learn Spanish at the same time.
Intercultural Costa Rica – Samara Beachfront Campus. They offer private classes intended to learners aged 18 years and older, with duration of 52 weeks and an average of 20 classes per week. At this campus, they strive to give you a true understanding and feeling for the Spanish language.
Intercultural Costa Rica – Samara Beachfront Campus. They offer Spanish and Surf classes intended to learners aged 18 years and older, with duration of 52 weeks and an average of 20 classes per week. Are you looking to learn more than just Spanish? Combine Spanish classes with private surf lessons, customized to your needs.
Intercultural Costa Rica – Heredia City Campus. They offer individual private classes intended to learners aged 18 years and older, with duration of 52 weeks and an average of 10 classes per week. Private Spanish classes can be setup in a flexible and convenient timetable.
Spanish by the Sea – Puerto Viejo. They offer a Spanish course for families intended to learners aged 4 years and older, with duration of fifty-two 52 weeks and an average of 30 classes per week. Just like the standard Spanish course, their intensive Spanish course is based on the internationally recognized CEFR framework for learning, teaching, and assessment which is also the basis of DELE-Diplomas (Spanish as a Second Language).
And how important is Spanish in the international ambit?
The importance of Spanish is becoming notorious day after day, maybe because of the ever-increasing influence of the Latin Americans especially in the USA and Europe, in areas such as arts, education, economy, literature, music, social media, etc. As a whole, Spanish is a key language for general investment in most Central and South American countries, as well as some Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico), including some regions of the USA where there are traditional Spanish-speaking descendants (mainly in California, Florida, and Texas states).
To conclude, in the last decades learning Spanish as a 2nd language has become a top priority for any foreigner who comes with the intention of settling on Costa Rica and, at the same time, a starting point for a deep social change in our national society. The impact of this cultural exchange has also created new commercial and economic opportunities for investment, especially for those foreign speakers who want to contribute to the integral development of the nation that has received them with “open arms”.