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Guide to Living and Teaching in Costa Rica

September 24, 2013


The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. While every Spanish speaking nation is proud of their own dialect, the Spanish spoken in Costa Rica is often referred to as ‘pure’ and, as a result, an easy dialect to learn. Good pronunciation, minimal accents and, in general, usage of more of the formalities of the language make it easier for foreigners to learn here than in other countries.

The slang in Costa Rica is called ‘Pachuco’ – which is a completely different language altogether. This is the tongue you will learn if you go to the bars, futbol games and in your most intimate talks with taxi drivers.

In tourist locations and among the professional and university demographics in San José English is widely spoken. In rural areas or non tourist centric locations (most restaurants, taxis, stores etc) English is only spoken at a very basic level, if at all.

Due to the rise of Brazil and its importance in the economy of the Americas, Portuguese is becoming much more important. It’s common for many people to be in Portuguese classes and for many language schools to offer Portuguese classes.

You can get by for a long time in Costa Rica without speaking Spanish - a lot of people do it – but your time will be much more enjoyable, and you’ll be much more widely accepted by the local people, if you make an effort to learn their language.

The ELT News guide to living and teaching English in Costa Rica was compiled by Andrew Woodbury.

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