Hear from Our Students
We’ve had the pleasure of working with students from all over the world to improve their Spanish in an immersive environment. Here’s what a few of them had to say about their experience.
Helen Hankins (USA 2011–2012)
My husband and I and my 82 year old mother in law attended “Personalized Spanish” for 3 weeks over Christmas/New Years 2011/2012. The school was excellent. We found the professors to be knowledgeable, experienced, and helpful. The staff was friendly and helped us make arrangements for special activities. The instruction materials were very well done and easy to understand and use. The day-to-day oversight to ensure consistency and quality in the delivery of instruction was very good as well. The host family was marvelous. We hope we can return again to this school in the future.
Sarah Walker (USA 2012)
I have been to 3 different language schools in Central America and this was the best! Everyone was professional yet friendly. I feel like they really kept my goals in mind and made learning fun!
Chris Willmore (USA 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013)
In January 2009 I accompanied a group of 18 high school students for a week of classes at Personalized Spanish School. The entire experience was outstanding. The classes, which were no larger than 4 students, were designed to meet the specific language needs of each child. The teachers created lessons that were engaging and took a personal interest of each student and in their language development.
The weekday cultural activities and the weekend excursion were well-planned and provided the students with insight into Costa Rican culture. Lastly, enough cannot be said about the host families. They were warm, hospitable, and caring. Many tears were shed when the students had to say good-bye to their mama tica and papa tico. I have received only positive feedback from all of the students who went on the trip and their parents. I look forward to bringing another group next year.”
Sallie Varner (USA 2013)
The Personalized Spanish program is excellent. As an immersion Spanish language program, it is challenging and makes you think, but you learn a lot very quickly. Homestays with neighborhood families really reinforces language skills. The classes are very small, so the teachers are able to give lots of personalized attention. The teachers are all very personable, friendly and helpful. They obviously care very much about helping the students to learn and practice Spanish. In addition, the school offers daily culture sessions, which are fun as well as being educational. We learned a lot about Costa Rica, which made our time in the country much more enjoyable.
Mollie Sherwood (USA 2013)
Personalized Spanish language school was perfect for me, an intermediate-level student very serious about improving my fluency and conversational skills. As the name suggests, the program is individualized to meet each student’s language goals at all levels.
In addition to the excellent professors, two additional attributes set this program above other language immersion schools that I have attended in Central and South America.
The first was the complete involvement and interest of the owner/director, Gaby Cerrate, in the daily conversations and activities of each student. She set a high standard for all of the employees there.
The second was the exceptional support and assistance by the administrative assistant, Dayla Arias, in coordinating plans for individual weekend excursions as desired by the students. She helped me with all arrangements, including interbus reservations, hotel reservations, and tour reservations for a long weekend in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Personalized Spanish offers a warm and professional ambiance for the serious Spanish student who also wants to experience the joyful Costa Rican culture.
Denton Wood (USA 2011 & 2012)
I, together with the wife and son (age 12), spent a week at Personalized Spanish. Each of us thoroughly enjoyed it. The Tico family with whom we stayed was delightful–great food and conversation, with a free education on Costa Rican history, politics and culture.
The one-week course put the boy over the top in his speaking skills. Although he had a pretty good vocabulary prior to the course he didn’t feel comfortable in actually speaking and possibly making a fool of himself. Personalized Spanish gave him the confidence to take a risk. He actively seeks out native Spanish speakers, tries to learn idioms, and has insisted that we spend our vacations in Latin America so that he can continue to practice the language. (This Thanksgiving will be Oaxaca.) It was money very well spent.
The instructors were gifted and patient, and the instructional material was well developed and professionally presented. I hope to return next summer for another week or two of courses. Pura Vida!
Peggy Westerfield (USA 2011)
The word “boutique” fits this school perfectly. It is an immaculate, lovely, specialized school for any level of Spanish improvement. Earlier this month three members of my family and I spent a week there. We were all in different levels of competency and each of us was matched with a sublime teacher. Even when my teacher had to miss a day, he was replaced by another teacher exactly at the point left off. Each of us felt like we had the best teacher! The professors used a range of activities and techniques to keep the hours fresh. My sister and I took 2 hours one-to-one in the afternoon after 4 hours of small group in the morning. I am a beginner and she is more accomplished but we both felt the time went fast and we were glad we made that arrangement. All of us felt challenged and highly pleased with our growth. Gaby Cerrate and the rest of the staff were completely friendly and professional. They accommodated us in every way we asked.
The school offers optional cultural experience in the San Jose area and we took in 2. Both were very well done. We were picked up at the airport without a hitch and we hired the same driver to take us back. Our host family is another A+ story. We couldn’t have been more surprised or pleased to meet them and share their culture. They embraced us completely, the meals were fabulous and fresh, and we developed a quick but enduring friendship. I give my highest recommendation to Personalized Spanish in Tres Rios. It provides an outstanding value and we would have stayed longer but some of us could only get 1 week off from work. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to return as early as this summer. Pura vida! (Costa Rica’s favorite saying)
Braden Hodges (USA 2011)
Personalized Spanish is an incredibly helpful school that has helped me get by my extremely difficult AP Spanish IV class. The teachers there are very, very patient and the school is a quaint 2-story house that has a friendly atmosphere. Classes can be held outside which is especially nice when it’s a sunny day out. It doesn’t feel like a normal school environment at all- it was much more free and didn’t have the strictness of an ordered school day which I enjoyed immensely and which also helped me to learn quicker and easier. You will make friends there, with the teachers, students and with the host-family (if you choose to stay with one) that will last a lifetime. This school is the best choice for anyone who wants to learn Spanish and it comes with a reasonable price.
Asha Nagaraj (USA 2011)
I had a wonderful experience at Personalized Spanish and highly recommend this school! I had Gaby and Sergio as my professors and they were extremely knowledgeable, organized and effective. Having the undivided attention of two teachers created an incredibly rich learning environment. The intensive Spanish conversation course that included culture, review of grammar and methodology was ideal for me. Everyone at the school were super nice and helpful. I appreciated the school’s flexibility and also variety of activities that were incorporated in to the course. I will probably go back if the opportunity should arise! 🙂 ¡Mil gracias!
Phillip Johson (USA 2011)
“I studied at Personailzed Spanish for four weeks in February/March 2011. We visited several schools in San Jose before we selected our school. The selection was easy. I am in my 60’s and had recently retired. Learning Spanish was on my “bucket list”. My friend and I studied for 6 hours per day and were rewarded with a major improvement in our proficiency. The approach was a good complement to the computer study we used before our trip. As you know the computer only takes you so far… the other aspects of the program were also great …homestay – excellent (we considered staying in an apartment that would have been a mistake…the family was a big part of the learning). To enhance the learning all of the instructors included many cultural elements in the program. The optional afternoon activities were all good and not to be missed. For me an initial program of 4 weeks was about right, although I plan to return once a year to continue my learning. This school is a great choice for all levels and ages of learners.”
Terje Bartholsen (Norway 2010)
“In January 2010 our family left Norway to study Spanish for three weeks at Personalized Spanish. Terje (46) reporter/communication advisor, Trude (43) teacher, Anna (15), Wilhelm (13) and Edvard (11). We had very different knowledge of Spanish language at arrival, even though four of us had had some or quite a lot Spanish already. We – the adults – experienced very effective and inspiring learning for four intensive hours a day. Precisely adapted to our level. In combination with homework in good workbooks this had great effect.
At the same time the younger members of the family had courses with most competent teachers who adapted their lessons to both age and level. Everyone at school put great emphasis into listening to what we wanted, and they contributed with their local knowledge and active help to make also our spare time and weekends good. We were especially impressed by the staff’s professional level. We stayed close to school and experienced also here a strong wish to contribute to solve all kinds of minor problems and also in the home a strong dedication to our purpose of learning Spanish. I addition the food served by Janet was healthy and extraordinary delicious. And at the same time she brought Costa Rican traditions of cooking to us. After three weeks our family left Tres Rios with a substantially improved knowledge of Spanish – both considering grammar and vocabulary. And with new friends of the family as well. Recommended! ”
Yannick Piquet (Switzerland 2010)
“If you are serious about learning or improving Spanish in Costa Rica, Personalized Spanish is a smart choice. Spanish was the 6th language that I learned and could speak fluently. Personalized Spanish has been the best language school that I have seen so far because it includes the 4 essential criteria for learning a foreign language (and which most schools, including public schools, miss).
First the learning material is diverse and of strong quality. Second, the classes are small or private so you will improve at your best pace (and not at the speed of the slowest student among 15 people). Third the teachers were descriptive and not prescriptive on the language usage (in other words they focus on good communication vs learning a literary Spanish), allowing you to use the material at your best needs (i.e. to communicate!). And last, the school, due to its peculiar philosophy and size, triggers a lot of opportunities to talk!”
Jennifer Covington (USA 2011–2012)
I cannot speak highly enough about Personalized Spanish. I had exactly 4 weeks in between semesters in my graduate school program so I researched Spanish schools for months to try and find a school that would give me the best bang for my buck. My following semester coursework/practicum was going to be determined based on my level of Spanish after returning from a Spanish school so it was imperative that I choose my school wisely. After consistently reading positive reviews about Personalized Spanish, I decided on them.
They definitely lived up to their excellent reviews! Attending this school improved my Spanish by leaps and bounds! I stayed for 4 weeks and it was worth every penny! In fact, I am already planning my next trip to return to the school to keep working on my Spanish. I was so impressed with how professional the staff and teachers were and how they do everything in their power to keep you happy and to cater to your needs.
The school itself is beautiful. The host family I stayed with was amazing and it provided me with ample opportunities to practice my Spanish. The school also helps you organize weekend excursions if you are interested. I highly recommend this because they are relatively cheap and a ton of fun! The professors I had were all amazing. I had the pleasure of working with several different professors and every single one of them was outstanding. I never once felt embarrassed for making a mistake and they were all so patient!
The biggest complement I can pay this school is that they provide such a positive encouraging atmosphere for their students. Everyone is so friendly, they all seem to really love their jobs, and it’s just such an upbeat friendly environment; all very conducive for the stressful exercise of learning a new language. They really do a good job of putting you at ease, making you feel at home, and valuing your happiness. if you are REALLY looking to learn Spanish then this is the school for you.
Christine Philip Frederick (Trinidad and Tobago)
The thing I liked the most about doing my abroad study at Personalized Spanish, the school we attended in Costa Rica, was the cultural component of studying there. The activities were varied and interesting from learning to milk a cow on farm to touring a fruit and vegetable farm where everything was grown organically. These were only two among the many activities in which we got to participate during our time in Costa Rica and all of these activities were organized and paid for by the school.
The school ensured that we not only learned and improved our ability to communicate in Spanish but also provided opportunities to learn about the culture, economy and even the history and politics of Costa Rica. A guest speaker from the Ministry of Tourism was brought in to speak with the students and we also had lectures on Costa Rican expressions and mannerisms by one of our lecturers. Another activity was that the school arranged a cooking session at the home of one of the hosts for us to learn to cook a typical Costa Rican dish using local vegetables. They also arranged for us to attend a dance class at a studio in San Jose as well as visit museums, an art exhibition and to visit to the National assembly where we had a very knowledgeable guide lecture on both the history of the place as well as the political processes.
The school also arranged for the group of Trinidadian students to spend a weekend at a lovely inn in the mountains of Providencia where had wonderful local meals served to us. There we got to tour a coffee plantation and received lectures on the growth and rise of a private entrepreneur in the coffee and nature parks business. Just before going to spend the weekend in the mountains, we got to tour a coffee factory and to observe how the whole process of harvesting to processing the beans was done. We were also treated to free cups of coffee in the restaurant attached to the factory. The coffee was delightful and extremely well-presented.
That weekend proved to be memorable because we had to sleep in huge, extremely comfortable tents and the décor for both the tents and the attached bathrooms was most impressive. While in Providencia, we got to visit, and some us to swim in, a huge pool which was formed at the base of a cataract. I had a cold but refreshing swim there. My favorite activity though was the day we went to spend a few hours at a spa named Baldi which was several hours from the capital and very close to an active volcano. The spa was first rate and we all enjoyed the day there. I firmly believe that my stay in Costa Rica would have been a lot less memorable if the school had not included all of these wonderful cultural activities for its foreign students.