Talking All Things Costa Rica with Jonle Sedar of CPI

by Liz Rothaus Bertrand

 

So, you’ve been studying Spanish for a while now or maybe you’ve been looking for the right moment to dive in… how about treating yourself to a language adventure abroad?

This August 2 – 12, adult students from the Language Academy of the Carolinas are headed to Costa Rica for Spanish immersion classes and guided tours of this beautiful Central American country, renowned for its lush biodiversity. (Want to come along? Find out more about this summer’s itinerary and pricing here.)

This is the third trip led by company president Craig Snyder and organized in conjunction with CPI, one of the best language institutes in Costa Rica.

To learn more about what students experience at CPI Monteverde, we connected via email with Jonle Sedar, the Administrator of the CPI Groups Department (pictured above, on the right), who has been organizing customized study abroad programs to Costa Rica for over 20 years. The following Q & A has been edited for length.

 

Q. What makes learning Spanish at CPI Monteverde a unique experience?

 

A. Think majestic, lush green mountain tops which are home to tropical plants and animals found only in virgin cloud forests! Of the entire global woodlands only 1% consist of cloud forests and Monteverde is home to the only cloud forest in Central America. That alone makes Monteverde a very special place but the experience is even [better] thanks to the warmth of the locals who are quick to assist our students along their journey of improving their Spanish and learning about a new culture.

Q. How many students are there at the campus during a typical week in the summer?

 

A. The summer is our busier time of year owing to summer vacations. On average we receive 40 individual students and another 50 students from groups of varying ages (primary/middle/high schools, universities and professional groups).

Students taking a mid-morning break at the CPI Monteverde campus.  Photo by: C. Snyder

Q. Is the maximum number of students per class really only 4 or 5? Why is this limit important?

A. Correct, for our adult learners the maximum class size is 4 students. In a more intimate class setting the level of customized attention our teachers can direct toward the student augments greatly the progress of each student. We are cognizant that traveling abroad involves an investment in time & funds and we want our students to have the opportunity to maximize each and every day of this experience.

Q. Where are the teachers from and what are their backgrounds?

A. All CPI teachers are native Spanish speakers from Costa Rica and most are from the local area, providing unique insights into the Monteverde zone. With varied professional backgrounds and experiences, linked to the goal of providing diversity to our student body, all are specifically trained in CPI’s successful methodology prior to going through a rigorous testing and observation process before being brought on staff.

Q.  Is there a particular CPI teaching method that’s used?

A. Yes, CPI Spanish Immersion Costa Rica utilizes a customized methodology created by CPI founder and Director Romy Morales. Ms. Morales continues to hone the pillars of her program to include the latest in linguistic developments and technological advancements while always staying true to the core values of her methodology, which include individualized attention and assisting the students in their path toward successful language acquisition in the crucial areas of: speaking, listening, writing and reading.

Q. What are some of the cultural experiences available on campus? Are they conducted entirely in Spanish?

A. CPI organizes weekly Latin dance (salsa, merengue & cumbia!) and cooking classes  – todo en espanol, claro que si!  These are optional activities; however, with group programs these activities are included as part of the established group itinerary.

Language Academy students learn to make authentic Costa Rican cuisine on campus at CPI Monteverde.  Photo by: C. Snyder

Q.  What are some of the most popular off-campus excursions?

A. Soaking in the local color walking within the small [town] center is recommended, for sure; being an area with quality coffee production, you will find many quaint locales to grab a fresh cup of locally grown coffee and fresh baked goods.

In the Monteverde area appreciating the unique flora and fauna is a must and there are numerous trails which offer a nice variety of opportunities to see: White Faced Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Rainbow Billed Toucans, the Resplendent Quetzal, the Bell Bird and much more.

For a historical-cultural vein, the educational Trapiche local farm experience demonstrates common characteristics of a rural family ‘finca’ and show how the sugar cane was traditionally processed; participants also learn about other crops: coffee, cacao, and fruits & vegetables.  Want to spike the adrenaline levels?  How about climbing a strangler fig to view the sunset or zipping through the tree tops on the canopy tour (with optional bungee).

Language Academy students visiting a Trapiche—a sugar cane, coffee, and chocolate plantation.  Photo by: C. Snyder

Q. Where do most students live and eat during their time in Monteverde?

A. The vast majority of the CPI students live with local families. Living with a local family offers a unique window into the culture which only a small portion of travelers abroad have the fortune to experience. Additionally, the constant contact with the Spanish language ensures you are maximizing the opportunities to achieve linguistic goals. The particular advantage of living with a host family in Costa Rica is the best treasure the country offersCosta Ricanswho are consistently characterized as being kind hearted people who seek to make visitors feel welcome.

All of our host families are carefully screened and are accustomed to housing foreign students, they are exceptionally patient and go out of their way to help our students learn Spanish.

Q. What is the overall vibe of the campus? Is it intense? Relaxed? Very serious?

A. The vibe is welcoming with a distinctly established mission that students should feel comfortable as they work towards improving their Spanish, yet that attitude in no way sacrifices quality instruction. The level of intensity is dependent on each student’s goals. Some students can be more invested in learning as much as they can as quickly as possible; others view the time with CPI more as a language vacation where they are seeing the country while learning some Spanish.



Come along on the adventure of a lifetime! For more information, click here or call 704.548.0048.

 

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Liz Bertrand

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