The first time I came to study Spanish at Ilisa, it was solely to gain a basic understanding of the language. I was finding myself increasingly in Latin America, volunteering on disaster relief and house construction teams. I was in my late 50s and had never studied Spanish in Canada.
After that first session at Ilisa, I was hooked on the entire immersion experience — interacting with my amazing host family, experiencing the culture with stimulating school excursions, making lasting friendships with other students and, of course, learning Spanish.
My very supportive teachers challenged me to “communicate.” Conversation is stressed.
Don’t worry about being perfect, they said, the details will come later. Just try to think and learn in Spanish and you will surprise yourself with how you can make yourself understood and better appreciate Latin American cultures.
And they were right! I’ve been back for four sessions, for 3-4 weeks at a time, combining small morning group sessions with intensive private afternoon classes.
The San Pedro campus is bright and clean with gorgeous vistas over the Central Valley and easy to reach on foot or on one of the many safe and cheap public buses. The cultural excursions are always with an Ilisa teacher and for me included concerts, museums, a cemetery, cooking and weekly dance classes.
A mix of teachers and teaching techniques kept things interesting and challenging.
How well have I learned to communicate in Spanish? Well, I’m marrying into an incredible Costa Rican family this weekend.