The Spanish Language Institute was originally founded by the United Presbyterian Mission Board in Colombia in 1942. In 1950, the school was moved to San José, Costa Rica, where it continued to operate under the same board until 1972. In that year, a non-profit Costa Rican organization (Asociación del Instituto de Lengua Española) was formed, which continues to govern the Institute through its annually elected Board of Directors. The Association and its Board are made up of Costa Rican pastors and missionaries, along with representatives of several of the denominations and agencies who send their missionaries to the school for language training. It is affiliated with FEDEMEC, a national evangelical mission sending agency, and ACEP, an association of private schools in Costa Rica.
The Institute is located in San Francisco de Dos Ríos, a middle class residential area on the southeast edge of the capital city of San José. It is situated on an attractive, sloping property with private homes around it and a view of velvet green mountains to the south. Buildings are spaced among pleasant lawns and gardens on the nearly two-acre campus. A steel-beamed gymnasium, completed in 1984, provides recreational and large meeting facilities for students of all ages.
Churches, restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores, and a post office are within walking distance. Downtown San José is easily reached in 20 minutes by bus or 10 minutes by taxi. Museums, international and typical restaurants, concerts, and live theater are just some of the interesting places to visit and things to do. For a “touch of home,” U.S. newspapers and fast food restaurants are close at hand, and shopping malls are just 10 minutes away.
Along with its year-long Regular Course for missionaries, the Institute schedules cooperative study programs with Christian college groups or church mission groups at different times during the year for the length of time requested.
For most people, learning a foreign language is demanding. Learning Spanish when you are in your late 50s is an even greater challenge, one that is both rewarding and at times overwhelming. The Institute offers an incredibly supportive Christian environment in which to learn this beautiful and new language. The teachers and the staff are not only excellent instructors, they have become our friends. They want us to succeed and do everything they can to help us learn this language – and they’re good at it. They’ve been successfully teaching students for over 65 years and have a heart for missionaries. They laugh with us, cry with us, pray for and with us, and in the midst of all this, even at our age … we learn Spanish! In a short time, lifetime friendships are forged with the other students as we all prepare to spread out around the globe in Spanish speaking countries. We arrived speaking little or no Spanish and we have come leaps and bounds in our learning. Thank you the Institute for your wonderful programs! The school was recommended to us and we now understand why. Even though this is one of the hardest things we’ve ever done, we highly recommend the Institute to anyone wanting to learn Spanish!