Ashland University has had an immersion program abroad for over 20 years. Currently, “AU in Costa Rica” is hosted by The Conversa Language Center (www.conversa.com) for our four to eight week intensive Spanish study. Students who have completed one-year of language study enroll in SPAN 200 (Intermediate Level Intensive Spanish) and those who have had two or more years prior to the program register for SPAN 300 (Advanced Level Intensive Spanish).
The structure of the program is designed to provide high support for students before and during their experience in Costa Rica. Throughout the spring semester, students participate in orientation sessions on campus in Ashland. While in Costa Rica, students attend four to six hours of language study per day in the idyllic mountain setting. For additional cultural experiences, students live with families and participate in weekend excursions. Upon arrival at the school, each student is tested and placed in a class commensurate with his/her abilities. Each Friday students are evaluated and given feedback regarding his/her progress.
Students can attend the basic language program, or can enroll in “Spanish for Special Purposes”. Those pursuing professions in health care, business, education, the sciences, social work, and other fields can benefit from special language classes, lectures, and field trips geared to their area of expertise.
An additional opportunity is provided for students completing a Minor in Spanish for PK-8 Education Students. After completing four weeks of intensive language study, students spend two weeks, assisting in a local public school in the mornings and attending special classes on educational topics at Conversa in the afternoons. The goal of the program is to study cultural perspectives and linguistic expressions that will be useful in interacting effectively with young children.
“AU in Costa Rica” enjoys the ideal language-learning environment. Students are totally immersed – there are only four students in a class and each student lives with his/her own family. In class, they have the formal instruction of the language, then the world becomes their classroom as they head down the hill and out into the town of Santa Ana to practice. Students repeatedly say that this experience is the highlight of their college careers – and that they learn more about language and culture than they possibly could have back home. If we truly want students to be able to function in the world today, we need to combine language and study abroad to allow students the opportunity cross both linguistic and cultural boundaries. One without the other would fall short of being globally competent.
Quotes from “AU in Costa Rica” students (2012):
“The greatest part about Costa Rica is immersing yourself into a culture that is completely different than your own and creating memories that will stick with you for the rest of your life.” Christian Wilson – Major: History & Political Science
“The best experience while in Costa Rica was being able to feel like I was a part of a family. Anyone who speaks Spanish should consider the AU in Costa Rica program, to not only become a more fluent speaker, but to enjoy a once in a life time experience.” Brandon Mesnard – Major: Economics/Finance
“There is no comparison of learning Spanish in a Spanish speaking setting where you constantly focus on the language and learning Spanish in the classroom. Truly it is the only way to learn a language!” Hali Brook- Major: Religion and Criminal Justice
“I had such a fun time, it was my first time leaving the country, and just because of AU in CR, I want to travel the world now! I cannot thank the person who recommended this to me enough.” Hueston Holder - Major: Broadcast Communication
" I highly recommend AU in Costa Rica because of the direct immersion process and how it affects one's ability to learn a foreign language. Once you let yourself go and become fully immersed, everything else follows." Aaron Brunson - Major: Broadcast Communication