Language schools are not immune to economic impact

Many of Costa Rica´s markets have had a tough run recently. Industry, agriculture and trade have been down since last July. The deceleration of tourism this year has not helped and seems to be hurting small, niche businesses. Some educators of Spanish, whose customer base consists of tourists and expats, have felt a pinch in their numbers.

Katie Horch of the Centro de Idiomas Intercultura in Heredia said the enrollment number for students at the language school was significantly lower from last year. ¨It´s the low season as is,¨ she said. ¨But our enrollment is usually 30 to 45 a week. It´s more like 15 to 20.¨

She said that despite the stagnation in numbers she had optimism for next year judging from the school´s scheduled enrollment.

Centro de Idiomas Intercultura uses a variety of marketing approaches from Facebook to Twitter to having
arrangements with universities in the U.S. However, their enrollment has faltered this year, according to Ms. Horch.

Lorenzo Abarca, an administrator at the Costa Rica Language Academy in San Pedro, seconded Horch in saying that there is a noticeable difference even though he didn´t know the exact numbers.

¨I know, in fact,¨ he said, ¨from conversations with our competitors, that there are less students.¨

But some language schools in Costa Rica haven´t felt the brunt. The Centro de Idiomas Logos in San José uses the same marketing techniques, such as affiliations with U.S. universities, and has not seen an increase or a decline in enrollment, according to Jose Martínez, the general program director.

He said the school has only been around a couple of years but operators have not noticed a deviation in comparisons of this year and the last. He attributed the stability to the school´s partnerships with U.S. universities.

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