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Costa Rica’s Second Language Initiative

By Sophia Klempner
Tico Times Staff | [email protected]

The Multilingualism Promotion Program aims to teach English, French, Portuguese, Italian, German and Mandarin Chinese to people throughout Costa Rica, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

The program, announced Thursday, aims to promote language learning as a tool to stimulate the country’s social and economic progress, as well as to improve the climate for business, investments and tourism, the ministry said.

The program will offer diverse language instruction options such as courses and conversation groups in community centers, as well as using foreign volunteers who wish to learn Spanish in exchange for teaching their language. In addition, some 200 Peace Corps volunteers will be teaching English throughout the country over the next four years.

The effort was launched jointly by Foreign Minister René Castro, Decentralization and Local Development Minister Juan Marín, Marta Blanco, director of the Costa Rica Multilingual Foundation, Shirley Calvo, director of Dinadeco (the National Community Development Office), Olman Segura, president of the National Training Institute (INA), and President Laura Chinchilla.

Segura said the program partners will immediately begin a process of “identifying the demand” among those interested in learning another language so that the necessary teacher hirings could be made. The program began by polling 200 businesses. The first language services will be offered in Guanacaste and Limón provinces, Segura said.

Marín and Calvo noted the importance of the program’s availability to young and elderly people, as well as children, in communities and municipalities throughout the country.

Castro lauded the efforts of the state universities, adding that the University of Costa Rica has 200 slots open for foreign language study at a number of levels.

The push for multilingualism, together with promoting an emergent aerospace industry and the biotech and electronics sectors, form a central part of President Chinchilla’s administration.

Blanco said with two years of experience under belt at the Costa Rican Multilingual Foundation, the group aims to see all high school students graduate with a good working knowledge of English within the next 10 years.

Multilingualism Promotion Program partner websites:

Costa Rica Multilingual Foundation:
Foreign Ministry:
President of the Republic: