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Turrialba, costa-rica

Nestled amongst world-renowned rivers and misty mountain tops, the small and welcoming town of Turrialba is an ideal location to study Spanish.

But don’t let the quaintness of the town fool you; the amount of daily activities and events both indoors and out are numerous. Raft the Pacuare, attend a Swing Criollo dance class and catch a live band all in the same day! Furthermore, this super friendly, non-touristy and non-English speaking community encourages a true language immersion in a place that feels more like home than living abroad.


  • Explore Turrialba by horseback
  • Weekly Vegetable Market in Turrialba
  • Graducation day! Turrialba, Costa Rica
  • Turrialba welcomes you!
  • River camp on the Pacuare River
  • Its a tradition! Friday night barbecue
  • Push your limits on the Pacuare
  • Endless exploration on the Pacuare
  • Aquiare Waterfall - Turrialba
  • Turrialba by horseback
  • Friday night fires - Turrialba
  • Yoga classes on the school balcony - Turrialba
  • Community kitchen in Turrialba hostel
  • Entrance Spanish by the River - Turrialba
  • Rio Pacuare
  • Communal Area Spanish by the River - Turrialba

"Spanish by the River - Turrialba"

Our Spanish school in Turrialba, part of the Spanish at Locations group is called “Spanish by the River” (cause we like to combine teaching Spanish and river adventures) and was founded in June of 2002. It looks out over the surrounding mountain valleys and is home to world-class rivers, primary and secondary rainforests, a towering volcano, and the quaint town of Turrialba. It can be reached in a 2 hour bus or taxi ride from the Capital of the country, San José.

Known for its authentic Costa Rican feel, you can easily find everything you need here. Banks, gyms (aerobic, fitness, yoga, capoeira, karate, etc.), bookstores, a post office and boutiques are all spread around the Central Park. You will also find hotels, restaurants, pool & karaoke bars, gourmet coffee shops, ice cream parlors and discos. One thing you definitely don’t want to miss is the weekly farmer’s market where local people make sure they stock up on their veggies for the coming week!

The Spanish school in Turrialba consists of a  hostel for 14 travellers,  4 open air classrooms and a large yard filled with fruit trees. The balcony lined with hammocks faces the jungle below and the volcano above. This all forms the  background to your Spanish classes.  The garden rancho perfect for studying, the large office and the new vegetable garden all contribute to a stress-free learning environment.

Who likes to study at Spanish by the River – Turrialba?

Are you looking for an authentic living abroad experience in a place where Spanish is actually spoken and tour groups rarely go? The welcoming community of local ticos and ticas provides an excellent setting to integrate and engage with the Latino culture. Our homestay opportunities provide even more immersion into the local culture and customs as you will participate daily in family meals, outings, occasions and holidays. From yoga to live music, salsa classes to river rafting, Turrialba is nothing shy of weekly activities and events, concerts and excursions to further your exposure to the language and culture.

So Why Turrialba?

  • Not-so-touristy town with very friendly people.
  • High level of Spanish language exposure and immersion.
  • Lot’s of wonderful host families waiting for you.
  • Word-class Rafting on the Pacuare & Camping at our River Camp.

Read here how we work with you to teach you Spanish!


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All options for this location

Students in classes with Teache

Intensive Spanish Course

If you want to learn faster:

  • 6 hours of group lessons* per day/ 5 days per week
  • max 6 students per class
  • morning (8 till 12) or afternoon (1 till 5) + evening sessions (5 till 7) 

*When only one student with this level: 3 hrs private (same price).

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Three students on a table with study materials

Standard Spanish Course

What most students choose:

  • 4 hours of group lessons* per day/ 5 days per week
  • max 6 students per class
  • morning (8 till 12) or afternoon (1 till 5) sessions

*When only one student with this level: 2 hrs private (same price).

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Swimming pool with house in the back

Turrialba: Vacation Rentals

If you need more independence because of your work or if you desire accommodations with only family and friends,  we present the best apartments, homes, cabins, villas and condos.

All vacation rentals are fully furnished and have WiFi. You can reach them easily with your car or use the inexpensive public transportation.


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Hosting mother, father and son with two students on a couch

Turrialba: Homestays

Living with a local host family is a unique experience that will provide you the opportunity to not only learn the language but also explore the culture of Costa Rica.

Our homestays in Turrialba have been carefully selected and most host families have been working with us for 13 years now! The local families love to share their culture with you. Staying in a costarrican home will allow you to share in the experience of their family traditions, meals, holidays and festivals.

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Balcony with hammock and plants in Turrialba

Turrialba: Other hostels & hotels

Maybe our hostel is full or you prefer to stay in town instead of the countryside-jungle setting of our own hostel. Maybe you want a bit or a lot more luxury.

No problem! To make sure you have some more inspiring options, we selected for you one budget hostel, one middle-priced hotel and one luxury hotel in Turrialba or it’s surroundings.



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Students and local lady cooking at Spanish by the River - Turrialba

Turrialba: Our hostel

If you like to be independent, yet share with fellow students, we recommend staying in the hostel, part of our Spanish School in Turrialba while you study Spanish in Costa Rica.

There is a charming balcony with lots of hammocks where you can enjoy the gorgeous view of the Turrialba volcano and the jungle in front of it. You will see sloth’s, toucans and lots of other birds.  There are shared rooms and private rooms for up to four people, with or whithout private bathrooms.   A fancy loungeroom and a fully equipped kitchen is part of the deal.


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Four canons of the fortress with ocean in the back

Historical Sites Visiting

Historical places create connections to our heritage that help us understand our past, appreciate our triumphs, and learn from our mistakes. Historic places help define and distinguish our communities by building a strong sense of identity and are are treasured by local people. As a tourist you should not miss these magical places and the intriguing stories that surround them!



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large group of smiling students

Dinners & Nightlife

Dinners, parties and going to the local bars and discos are a great way to get to know your fellow students, relax and have some fun. So don’t miss the get-togethers during the week and especially on the weekends! Panama City, Bocas del Toro and Puerto Viejo offer vibrant nightlife every day of the week. In Boquete and Turrialba it is generally more centered around the weekend.

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Student at peak of volcano

Volcano Visiting

A lot of us live in places where no volcanoes are found. Even though they can, at times, become active and erupt lava, we still would like to see one or even be walking on one! A volcano is active if it is erupting lava, releasing gas or generates seismic activity. A volcano is dormant if it has not erupted for a long time but could erupt again in the future. Once a volcano has been dormant for more than 10 000 years, it is termed extinct.

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Two people holding entrance tickets in front of biomuseum

Museum & Reseach Institutes

In Costa Rica & Panama a great deal of research is done in tropical agricultre, biodiversity and conservation,  so you are in the right countries to learn about these topics. Furthermore, in Panama City there is a rich variety of museums where you can learn about the Panama Canal and the AfroAntillian Culture. The Gold and Jade museums are among several that can be found in San Jose, just a day trip away from Turrialba.



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Group of zumba people in local gym

Gyms for Workout

Working out has many benefits, not only physical ones but also some related to improvement of your studies. It boosts brainpower (it increases levels of brain-derived protein in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning). It also sharpens memory. With the availabilty of gyms nearby you can continue your workout routine while learning Spanish at our schools!


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Group of girls dancing salsa

Latin American Dance Class

Once you get into dancing you realize what you have been missing .. you´ll remember you have a body, you have fun, it is cheap and you can meet interesting people. The hormone dopamine will be released and activate the learning centers of you brain .. so much needed to learn Spanish! You can learn salsa, merengue, bachata, cha-cha-cha and reggaeton. ¡A bailar!

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Two persons doing barbecue in party

Friday Night Barbecue

At all schools, every Friday, we organize a potluck barbecue in which the school provides some drinks for all guests and all participants bring some food to share. Various international dishes are often sampled at these barbecues. It is a nice way to finish a week of studying Spanish, connect and celebrate!

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Students cutting fruits and vegetables for cooking workshop

Local Cooking Class

What is a better way to study Spanish than learning all about the food, flavors and how to prepare tasty local dishes? Let’s combine the classroom with the kitchen and not only learn Spanish words for the ingredients and commands like ¡mezcla! but also prepare gallo pinto, arroz con pollo or bananas flambé and make sure you immerse yourself in the culinary culture of Costa Rica or Panama and enjoy some delicious food!


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Group in rustic camp in jungle

Camping at River Camp

Camping at “Gekui Pacuare River Camp” is at its best when it is part of a 2, 3 or 4 day rafting trip on the Pacuare. It can also be part of a hiking trip. Once at the campsite, you will live among the flora and fauna of this jungle paradise. You will sleep on elevated platforms that will put you in direct contact with the sights and sounds of the tropical rain forest. Candlelight family style dinners are a unique feature of your stay in our campsite.

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Group listening to tour guide in jungle setting

Bird Watching Tour

Bird watching creates a great opportunity to do some exercise, be outdoors and breathe fresh air. It is not only a very relaxing activity, it also provides you with a private animal reality show and because you will be doing this with a local guide, you will be learning lots about the tropical forest and its inhabitants, not only about birds!

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Two girls in a kayak paddling through mangroves

River & Sea Kayaking

Kayaking in rivers and oceans is for anyone looking for an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors! In addition to being fun, easy and enjoyable, kayaking is also a great low-impact workout. You can combine it with going to the beach, fishing, camping, snorkeling or having a picnic next to the river or on the beach.

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Group on bikes in front of forested park setting

Mountain Bike Tour

Mountain biking will keep you fit, make you breathe fresh air, get you to visit new places and make you become one with nature. Although a lot of roads maybe a bit steeper than you are accustomed to, you will be surprised how many trails we take you that you can easily do!

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Group hiking through costa rican forest

Hiking Tour

A healthy body is a happy body and one of the best ways to achieve this is to get plenty of exercise. Hiking is an economical way to increase your activity level, while offering plenty of health benefits. Hiking through a beautiful area in our unique locations can als calm your nerves and lift your spirits. Hiking with a group provides an excellent opportunity to learn about tropical ecosystems, socialize and exchange ideas with others!

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Vibrant multi-colored flower

Botanical Garden

Visiting a Botanical garden is a relaxing activity that will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty.  You also will learn about the natural history of the country. You will see a large collection of plants and trees with their flowers, seeds and fruits as you have a peaceful stroll along laid out paths.

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Group standing at the top of a large waterfall

Waterfall Tour

Few things in nature are as mesmerizing as a waterfall. The thunderous roar as water spills over cliffs and the light glistening off the spray is an example of sheer force. Costa Rica and Panama are countries where hundreds of cascading waterfalls can be found throughout the rainforest and mountainous areas. All great destinations for a day hike and a refreshing afternoon swim.


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People riding horses on the beach

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding in the past was the only way people travelled through the countryside. It´s a very special activity because not only is it enjoyable, fun and relaxing, but you also get an up-close view of the beautiful natural surroundings.  While riding you can enjoy an abundance of flora and fauna. During a trip of a few hours you will establish a relationship with your horse and make you feel connected with nature!

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Person ziplining through moutain forest

Ziplining in the Canopy

Ziplining is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing and most thrilling adventure activities! Safely clipped in a harness, you glide from platform to platform by way of free-moving pulleys suspended on cables high above the ground. This is a unique and exhilarating experience!



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River rafting along the bank of the Pejivalle River


White Water Rafting or simply rafting, is a popular outdoor activity which makes use of an inflatable raft to navigate down a river. This sport is adventurous but not dangerous if you are under the supervision of an experienced guide. You will learn the use of safety equipment and the different skills and techniques that you will need to steer the raft properly and enjoy the ride. Rafting is a fun and exhilarating activity that you can only do in places with gradations, therefore Costa Rica & Panama are ideal places to experience the thrill of the river!

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Red fresh coffee beans

Coffee Tour

The story of the grano de oro (golden bean) in Central America began in the 18th century and continues to this day. Coffee has played a pivotal role in the development of Costa Rica. It has shaped social, cultural and political institutions and is still one of country’s major agricultural exports.  In Panama there are fewer areas that are favorable for coffee cultivation. However, in the area of Boquete (Panama), Geisha beans, one of the worlds best coffee beans, are cultivated and would be worth exploring!

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Students in climbing course in Boquete.

Wall Climbing

Sports that involve a bit of fear or excitement cause your body to release endorphins, dopamine and other neurotransmitters that are more powerful than lot’s of drugs! Climbing is a both a physical and mental challenge. The rock is like a puzzle that you solve through body movements and different techniques in order to reach the top. Try it and be ready to get hooked on climbing for life!


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Center for Indigenous Families in Turrialba

The Center for Indigenous Families in Turrialba is part of an international Action Program in Costa Rica. The centre provides a safe, comfortable place for Cabécar families, who must journey long hours on foot to have access to medical care. Originally started exclusively for pregnant women that needed a place to stay in the days just before and after the birth of a child or in the event of the hospitalization of a child. Additionally, the Center is now open to all family members that need a place to stay.

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Guy making food on open fire

Organic Farming

It is important and interesting for all of us to learn about Organic Farming!

The American Cancer Society has concluded that about 85 percent of cancers are caused by agricultural toxins such as pesticides. Not strange at all is that more and more people believe that organic food is healthier for our planet and for us. It requires less water, there are fewer toxic pesticides released, soil erosion is minimal and nutrient levels in organic foods are improved. Working in the field, marketing the crops and creating new products are ways you can help as a volunteer.

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Woman with wheelbarrel filled with coconuts in garden.

Investigation & Education in the Tropics

This is how you can learn about and help to conserve the rainforest of the world!

Rainforests only cover about 2 % of the total surface of the earth, but in reality, about 50 % of all plants and animals on the earth live in that important ecosystem. Various organizations near our schools undertake investigation and education in the field of tropical ecology and conservation. They open their doors so you can assist with certain tasks in their programs.

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People doing manual work sitting at a table

Center for adults with a challenge

Helping adults with a challenge can be an educational and rewarding activity!

Besides working on your (related) Spanish skills, you will also gain valuable insight into the unique healthcare and educational challenges facing Costa Rica and Panama. Furthermore you will also build connections with local professionals and work on improving your résumé.

Speech therapy, special education, social work, physical/exercise therapy and physical education are valuable skills for the local providers.

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Girl working totally concentrated

Center for children with a challenge

Working with children with a challenge can be an educational and rewarding activity!

Besides working on your (related) Spanish skills, you will also gain valuable insight into the unique healthcare and educational challenges facing Costa Rica and Panama. Furthermore, you will build connections with local professionals and work on improvement of your résumé.

Speech therapy, special education, social work, physical/exercise therapy and physical education are valuable skills for the local providers.

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Foreign girl writing on a blackboard in Costa Rican Classroom

English classes for children & adults

Spanish speaking people often have a basic grasp of English grammar, but you can help them improve their pronunciation skills!

By providing conversational English classes you can greatly enhance the learning experience and the future prospects of thousands of children and adults. As you assist with the local curriculum, your students will enjoy learning about you and your culture. You will have the option to volunteer in a school setting or in some other community initiative.


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Two students with men in wheelchair

Old people’s Home

Working in a nursing home can be life changing experience for various reasons!

Besides practicing Spanish and learning about different therapies, working in a nursing home will put your own problems into perspective. You will learn from the experiences of people who have enjoyed a long life and will see death as much less frightening. You’ll hear another history every day and you will need to slow down and live in the moment. By sharing conversations, helping residents move from one place to another and assisting in physical/occupational therapy, you will be serving the community!

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River rafting along the bank of the Pejivalle River

Spanish & Adventure – COSTA RICA

Learn Spanish & enjoy nature in Costa Rica which this package.

Best places and activities of  Turrialba (mountains) and Puerto Viejo (ocean) are included. At both locations you can add other activities for an extra cost or do volunteer work. You can also arrive before or stay afterwards, paying $14 per night for a shared room at our hostel.



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Tourist showing a mask in the form of a tucan

Senior program

This package focuses on the needs of people that finished school quite a while ago and are no longer accustomed to the rigors of study. 

If you are a beginner, you are probably interested in learning Spanish for real conversations (for example ordering food in a restaurant) but if you already have a foundation, you might want to focus on grammar, improve you pronunciation, expand your vocabulary to use in different situations and learn about the culture. Fewer class hours per day, more relaxed learning atmosphere, upscale lodging accommodations and tours designed to meet your specific interests are some of the characteristics of this package.



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Tucan sitting on a branch

Spanish & Birdwatching

Combine Learning Spanish with your passion for birdwatching!

Wether you like to walk and chat or to search for that one special bird, we´ll make birdwatching a personal experience for you. Your specific interests are important to us. Two afternoon hikes with a specialized guide is included.  

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Man on bike in sugarcane fields

Spanish & Mountain Biking

Combine Learning Spanish with your passion for mountain biking!

Depending on your level of mountain biking, we will select for you two interesting half day mountain bike trips. We will also show you some variation of scenery. For example you might do one trip in the countryside and one on a nature trail.

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Two persons in kayak in a beautiful river

Spanish & River Kayak

Combine Learning Spanish with your passion for river kayaking!

This program includes two sessions of kayak instruction on the Pejivalle River (class I –II). You will be introduced to and practice “reading the water”, the “eskimo-roll” and also crossing the river by making “ferries”.

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Students having fun rafting in Turrialba

Spanish & Rafting

Combine Learning Spanish with your passion for whitewater rafting! 

You’ll enjoy one full and one half day of whitewater rafting on two different rivers in the surroundings of our location. Of course we take your rafting experience into account to make sure you have a safe, enjoyable and memorable river journey!

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Student in a tent on Gekui RiverCamp

Spanish & River Camp

Combine Learning Spanish with your passion for river adventures!

Rafting & Camping on the banks of the Pacuare River, listed in the top 5 of the most scenic rivers in the world,  is an experience that you should not miss! In this package you will have an overnight trip included. From there you return to Turrialba or continue to San Jose or our Location in Puerto Viejo.

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Yoga on the balcony of Spanish by the River - Turrialba.

Spanish & Yoga

Combine Learning Spanish with your passion for yoga!

What a perfect combination, exercising the mind through studying Spanish and relaxing the mind through yoga!

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Family of five in front of a Hostel

Spanish for Families

In order for families to study Spanish in Costa Rica & Panama, we can provide complete customized family packages for you. 

We can arrange everything for you, including transportation from the airport to the school. We secure a nanny for your very young children (under 6 years old) and Spanish classes for your older children. We provide family homes to rent, plan adventurous activities and volunteer oppportunities for you and your children. We can make recommendations for your travel in other parts of the country.

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Especially for students that want to travel, learn Spanish ánd visit 4 of our amazing locations!

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