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HOME to Tour, Vacation & Hotel Guide for Costa RicaLearning Spanish to Live in Costa Rica

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The simple answer is no, but it is the language of the country and it will be hard to escape the need to understand directions, signs and simple daily words of necessity. You can generally find someone who speaks either a little English (if you are an English speaker) or understands enough English, to help you. However, in smaller towns this is often unavailable. Most Costa Rican people are very gracious and will go to great lengths to try and assist the tourist or new resident, no matter what your native language may be. So for awhile at least, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you probably will not be left without anyone to translate if you do decide to move and live or retire here.

However, if you are serious about relocating and living here, try to at least learn some basics in advance before you make the move and once you have relocated, you will probably start to recognize words and phrases that will stick with you in the future. It is easy, once your are immersed in the culture, to start using another language, in your day to day experiences.

It is against the cultural nature of Costa Ricans to be rude or confrontational. From the moment you arrive, most people will do everything in their power to find a way to communicate with you. If all else fails, sign language works quite well throughout the world, and better yet in Costa Rica.

Surprisingly, even though people come from a different culture, we are all basically the same, in many ways. Many Costa Ricans are kind, patient, polite and eager to help you learn and adapt. There have already been other foreigners, who have gone before you and the Costa Rican's in your new location may have already had experiences with those retiree's and are familiar with the need for assistance.

Depending upon how you learn, there are a variety of available options to both learn and improve your Spanish both before and after you actually move and live here, and / or in between your exploratory visits.
1. There are many online websites that offer conversational Spanish lessons. These are often free or inexpensive, and are really are quite effective.

2. Buy a Berlitz or other computer learning course, of which there are many and start your Spanish education process. Many of these online courses, come in CD format, that you can listen to, while driving your car, as well.

3. Take a class in Costa Rica either during a visit, before and/ or after you move.

4. Hire a private tutor after you live / retire here to take you from beginner status, to conversational Spanish speaker.

5. Take a class in your home country, before you make the move.

6. Find a Spanish channel on your cable tv service and watch and listen. Often, once you are in Costa Rica, you will find many television channels have English sub-titles, so while watching a Spanish dubbed movie, you can see the English translation below.

7. Join and participate in a Spanish cultural organization in your homeland community. Ask members to help you with your Spanish.

8. Subscribe to or buy a Latin American Spanish language newspaper. Attempting to read one article a day, with the help of a Spanish / English dictionary, is very helpful. Also watching the news on tv can help you learn words that are not always part of everyday conversations.

9. When you visit - before, during and after your move - take every opportunity to practice with your new neighbors.

10. Learn lots of vocabulary nouns and phrases. Become familiar with the infinitives (root verbs) for daily use of the Spanish language. Between your immediate need and sign language, you can eventually, learn to speak acceptable, correct Spanish.

11. Lastly, buy a good Spanish / English dictionary which is more specific to Latin American Spanish. This is essential for day to day translations.

Whether you are visiting, relocating, or finally living, working or retiring in Costa Rica, you can be sure that both Costa Ricans and your fellow countrymen will help you improve your Spanish. And when all else fails, you will generally be able to spot a sympathetic person nearby, who can help in a moment of need.

So, do not despair, you will learn and you will enjoy the learning curve. Once you have mastered the language enough to be understood and even more important, understand what is being said to you, the transition between countries and cultures will much more worthwhile.

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