Spanish Immersion, Student Travel, Professional Travel, and Family Immersion Trips
When you search “Spanish Immersion” online, most of the results you see are not much more than travel adventure programs. True Spanish immersion programs are hard to come by. Most travel companies provide adventures & service learning, but fall short when it comes to intentional and purposeful Spanish Immersion. In fact, very few offer Spanish Immersion at all.
We’re Spanish teachers, so we know what the right mix is for you to maximize the language benefit from your travel program. Our trips breathe life into your Spanish. Do your research and you will find that our trips are the absolute best short-term Spanish Immersion Programs! Our student travel programs and adult Spanish immersion trips are filled with: adventure, service learning, Spanish immersion classes & host families.
We lead several different Spanish immersion trips to Costa Rica annually. Each immersion trip focuses on improving your Spanish proficiency, giving much needed community service to some underserved communities in the outskirts of San Jose, and having more fun than you can imagine with unique adventure-travel experiences. Register for your next Spanish adventure today!
Student Travel Programs – Spanish Immersion & Service Learning Trips
When: Spring Break & Summer Break (6/22-7/19, 2016)
Open to: All High School students
When: Spring Break & Summer Break
Open to: High School Spanish teachers as coordinators
When: J-Term, Maymester & Summer
Open to: All students wanting a short term study abroad program
Not every student travel program is equal…Here is a tool to help you do your homework:
Adult Travel Programs – Spanish Immersion & Community Outreach Work
When: June – August
Open to: Adults wanting a Spanish immersion experience with embedded community service
When: April, May, August, September, October, November, December
Open to: Families wanting a Spanish immersion vacation
Open to: Spanish teachers and classroom teachers
Spanish Immersion for Healthcare Workers
How do you know if a language school is legit?…You don’t want to show up and be left in a lurch!
Why would you choose to travel on immersion with Common Ground?
Our programs cost more than a DIY (do it yourself) trip, and possibly even more than other travel companies; which begs the obvious value question… Why travel on Spanish immersion with Common Ground? It’s a fair question, and here are some straightforward answers:
- You learn more Spanish with Common Ground. If your goal is to learn as much Spanish as possible, we’re definitely the best program for you. If that’s not your goal, keep searching! You learn more Spanish with Common Ground because we’ve specifically designed every aspect of our Spanish immersion programs to support your language acquisition all day, every day. Oh, and by they way, all our trip leaders are Spanish teachers as well – we got your back!
- Your trip planning and coordination is easier. DIY trips are possible, but neither convenient nor do you have complete confidence that your plans will become reality. Common Ground is a language company based in Colorado, you can dial us up and speak English to us at any time! Btw, our CO number also rings in Costa Rica – just in case you need to connect with us down there: (303) 684-557.
- You arrive to the country more prepared and more ready to learn. We’ve spent countless hours building out pre-departure preparation courses for you so that nothing (culture shock, unmet expectations, situational realities, etc) gets in the way of your experience and derails you from learning all you can.
- You don’t just live in a community, you get integrated. Yes you’re a language tourist, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be treated like an outsider! Most any program can throw together a host family experience for you, but we take it much beyond that on our Spanish immersion trips. Your host family is invested in you, and you will get to know your family and their values through some specially designed interviews. Additionally, you will partner with a local community organization to work on projects (in Spanish of course) that have you rubbing shoulders with everyday people.
- You have confidence that the community work you participate in is ethical, sustainable, and actually needed. Some of the most common complaints of international volunteering are that the work Americans do abroad is: more about them than the community they’re supposed to be serving, one-off activities that have no long-term longevity, irrelevant to the true needs of the community. Our team of well-seasoned leaders take care to satisfy the highest standards for international volunteering on our immersion trips.
We do this for you, but if you choose another travel provider, how can you maximize language growth on any travel experience?
Why have we chosen Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America. Its lush landscapes and beautifully diverse ecology give you the opportunity to experience the best of Central America’s rainforests, jungles, volcanic mountains and beaches all within a few hundred miles. Costa Rica is a small country replete with beauty and invested in conserving its ecology.
In addition to its unmatched beauty, Costa Rica is one of the most stable countries in Central America, and has a long history of welcoming North Americans with hospitality. Its hospitality is matched by an eager willingness to care for its visitors and ensure their safe travels.
Are there minimum language requirements?
Our only requirement of our participants is the willingness to learn Spanish. We don’t have minimum Spanish requirements for our participants, we believe that everyone can learn amazing amounts of Spanish on a high quality immersion program. And our job as immersion program coordinators is to set up the experience to be manageable for the beginner and still challenging for the advanced speaker.
We are not a tour company that happens to provide trips to Costa Rica. We are immersion experts. If you’re looking for an intentional Spanish language experience abroad, we might be a good fit for you. If you’re looking for a travel program without a Spanish language focus, there are probably other organizations that would be better for you to work with.
What fundraising options are there for CGI Spanish Immersion Travelers?
In the fall of 2015, we established a 501c3 organization to help students raise funds for their Spanish immersion travel with Common Ground. We are particularly excited about the social causes that our fundraising organization supports in addition to supporting our travelers. Check out the Immersion Fund, and consider how you might be able to help others while you raise funds for your own immersion trip.
How do I prepare for my Spanish Immersion trip with Common Ground International?
Proper preparation is key if you want to arrive to your destination ready to soak in all the benefits of Spanish Immersion. If you don’t spend time preparing and you just show up, you will waste precious time in-country trying to ramp up and acclimate yourself to a new culture, establishing realistic expectations, and learning things that you could have known already. We value every second you have in-country; so you will spend approximately 10-15 hours in a specifically designed online pre-departure course for your immersion program. This will help you hit the ground running when you arrive and maximize your language growth and cultural experiences while on immersion.
What happens in case of an emergency?Our trip leaders will seek the attention of a health care worker in Costa Rica and make decisions along with parent/guardians/emergency contacts back in the US. We will be in touch with parent/guardians/emergency contacts as soon as possible. We will also help the participant initiate the process for claims on the travel/medical insurance policy that […]
What if I have a food allergy or dietary restriction?Usually this is not an issue. We have several host families that can accommodate to food allergies and dietary restrictions. Please let your trip coordinator know ahead of time so we can prepare for this accommodation.
What if my host family does not work out and I need to switch?If there is an issue with your host family, trip leaders will be very involved and be able to make a quick switch to find a family that is a better match for you.
Will I have access to the internet?Yes, while most families do NOT have Wi-Fi in their homes, you will be able to connect to Wi-Fi at the language school. There are also 2 Internet cafes in the center of town that you can use for a minimal price.
What type of preparation should I expect to do before going on this trip?You will be involved in at least 4 virtual pre-departure meetings beginning 2 to 3 months before your departure. During these meetings you will have a chance to meet the other participants, learn specific trip details and itineraries, start working in groups on your volunteer projects, and a number of other things.
What is the weather like in Costa Rica?From about May/June through October/November it is rainy season in Costa Rica. The sun may shine in the morning (and it will be humid), but it will certainly rain in the afternoon (but it’s usually not a cold rain). December through April is dry season. It will be sunny, humid, and may rain here and […]
What time zone is Costa Rica?October – March Costa Rica is on Central Time. April – September Costa Rica is on Mountain Time.
How safe is Costa Rica?This is actually the #1 reason we chose to have our Spanish Immersion Programs based in Costa Rica. Not only does Costa Rica have a long history of peacefulness and political stability, Costa Rica hosts over 1.5 million tourists a year. Tourism is a very large portion of the country’s economy, which means that in […]
Where do we stay in Costa Rica?The bulk of the time you spend in Costa Rica is in a small town called San Isidro de Heredia. There is another larger town in Costa Rica called San Isidro…so the “de Heredia” part is pretty important to distinguish. This town is about 30 minutes NE of the capital city San Jose. San Isidro […]
What are the host family homes like?You will be staying in a middle-class home setting in Costa Rica. You can expect the home and your bedroom to be small. Your bed probably won’t be as comfortable as your bed is here in the US. Most homes have tile floors, no carpet. Most families do not have dish washers nor clothes driers. […]
Will my host family speak English?Your host families may speak a little English, particularly if they have school aged children. However, we encourage them to not let you know. The best way for you to continue learning Spanish is to have to use it!
Will I have another student from the trip in the same family with me?No. We specifically limit the number of students to one per family. This increases your opportunities to speak Spanish. If you’re traveling with a sibling we’ll make an effort to place you in neighboring host families so that you’re at least close to each other. If you’re traveling with your spouse for some or all […]
How are host families chosen?Having a student is a significant boost to our host families’ income. Because there are more families requesting students in the town than we have need for, we are selective in who we employ to host you. The host families that our students stay with are screened for various things: Criminal and/or questionable social activity […]
Will I be able to go to church?Certainly, there aren’t a ton of different faith options in town, but there is a nice Catholic church in the middle of town with several service times throughout the week, an evangelical church close to the town center center and several other faith worship options in nearby towns.
Will I be able to shower every day?Yes, you will be able to shower every day. There is no guarantee that your shower will have warm water, but you’ll certainly have access to a shower.
Is the water safe to drink?Yes. You can drink water from the tap almost anywhere in Costa Rica. If you’re on our program and we’re headed to a place where water is not safe to drink, we’ll certainly have bottled water for the group.
Do you have payment plans?Absolutely. Most of the time the program cost is spread out over 3 payments. If you need other specific arrangements, we can probably be flexible with you. If you’d like to make just one payment, that’s fine too. Acceptable forms of payment are Visa, Master, Discover, Check and Cash.
Will I receive a packing list for my Immersion Program?Yes. Shortly after your register, you will receive a list of clothes, personal items, donations you need to begin collecting, and other miscellaneous items to pack as soon as we receive your application.
How long does it take for a passport?Typically 60 – 90 days. If you have any questions about how to get a passport, you can find information online.
How long does it take to get a passport?Typically 60 – 90 days. If you have any questions about how to get a passport, you can find more information online at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html.
Do cell phones work in Costa Rica?Some do, not all. This depends on your service provider and your specific phone, so check with your service provider first. If your specific phone isn’t capable, most service providers have world phone rental options. This isn’t usually the most economical way to call home when you’re in Costa Rica. You can purchase calling cards […]
Will we have the opportunity to exchange money?Absolutely. Of course it’s always a good idea to have a little cash on you in Colones (Costa Rican currency), but honestly you don’t need much right away when traveling with a Common Ground group. After you get settled into your host family, we’ll make sure you have the opportunity to exchange $US for Colones […]
Who are Common Ground’s guide and driver in Costa Rica?You’ll be surprised how close you become to our guide and driver during the time you’re traveling with Common Ground! Our lead guide has worked with Common Ground Groups in Costa Rica for over 10 years now, taking care of hundreds of our students. We don’t always have the same driver, but he is always […]
What is meant when referring to private in-country transportation in the application form?You will most likely have the same guide and driver for your group the whole time you are on the program with Common Ground, and our destination is further than walking distance. In the mornings we will head to our volunteer site together (either walking or on the private bus). In the afternoons we will […]
What is meant by "private in-country transportation" in the application form?You will most likely have the same guide and driver for your group the whole time you are on the program with Common Ground if our destination is further than walking distance. In the mornings we will head to our volunteer site together (either walking or on the private bus). Then in the afternoons we […]
What is the proposed tip amount for guide and driver?A good rule of thumb is $2-$3/day that our driver is shuttling you around, and $3-$5/day that a guide is leading you. They work very hard for you, and we take great pleasure in thanking them generously at the end of our programs.
What if my spouse or partner wants to join me for part of the program?Many spouses, fiancées, friends and other family members join our groups for a portion of the program. We’re happy to arrange this for you with both your host family, and any private hotel accommodations that you require while on vacation portions of the program. If this is something you’re considering, we just ask that you […]
What if my family, spouse or partner wants to join me for part of the program?Many spouses, fiancées, friends and other family members join our groups for a portion of the program. We’re happy to arrange this for you with both your host family, and any private hotel accommodations that you require while on vacation portions of the program. If this is something you’re considering, we just ask that you […]
How much extra spending money should I plan on bringing?One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to not budget enough money for additional expenses. The challenge is that this is a question that depends heavily on your tastes and the specifics of the program you’re applying for. To give you an idea of the typical expenses you may be responsible for: a […]
Do I need any special immunizations or take any other preventative measures?Of course you need to be current on your standard immunizations. We always suggest that you consider taking some sort of malaria prophylaxis. Additionally, when traveling anywhere in Central America there is also a risk of Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Hepatitis A and B. We suggest you consult both the CDC website and your primary care physician […]
By the way, whether you select our programs or not, if you’re going to go on a Spanish immersion program, you’ll want to make sure you have a copy of the High School Spanish App – it’s the best tool for studying Spanish out there & it doesn’t require an internet connection!