About CPI Spanish Immersion School

CPI is a private language institute specialized in teaching the Spanish language to non-native speakers.  Since 1991 CPI offers Spanish immersion classes complemented by stays with local families and cultural activities as well as excursions.  Currently CPI proudly provides students classes in 3 fully equipped and operational campuses in Costa Rica in addition to 2 satellite sites.  In 2014 we developed an in-house customized online Spanish program permitting our students prior to or post-immersion the opportunity to take live classes with CPI professors on-site in Costa Rica.  The combination of online classes with on-site immersion affords our clients the opportunity to maximize their learning.

Vision

Be recognized as the premium educational institution for language learning in a globalized world, adapting our teaching methods to new technologies and those innovations arising in the field of education.

Mission

Facilitate the necessary tools to our students by providing highly trained personnel to fulfill learning needs with personalized attention and an immersion experience in various languages.

Values

  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Generosity
  • Integrity
CPI was founded in June 1991 by Romy Morales and her family in the small town of San Joaquín de Flores.  Holding close to the established vision to create the best language program in Latin America, CPI Director Romy Morales decided that her then 25 years of experience as a Spanish professor both for the Peace Corps and in schools specialized in teaching Spanish as a second language provided her with the expertise and insight to serve those foreigners wishing to embark upon an adventure, experience another culture, and learn a second language.
Ms. Morales created CPI to meet the demands of individuals, organizations and companies at a time when borders are more fluid, the economy is becoming increasingly more globalized and when knowing a second language, especially Spanish, is of great importance.

Ms. Morales continues her studies on educational issues through participation in seminars offered by the Spanish Cultural Center of Costa Rica. She utilizes her qualifications and extensive teaching experience to develop and maintain the highest possible educational standards at CPI; this is revealed through the quality of the instructional materials (all texts have been developed at CPI) and effective teaching staff.

Today, with three fully equipped campuses across Costa Rica, each operates with the same high quality service.

The Story of CPI

Told by a Founding Member, Alfredo Najarro (for 20th anniversary celebration)

It has been almost twenty years since CPI was founded. CPI Director and co-founder Romy Morales and I always strongly believed the most valuable inheritance for a child is education. We also held present those actively seeking out cultural understanding and extending their education by learning a second or third language as we observed the expansion of a global citizenry. With our combined expertise we dreamt we could contribute in this sphere by opening a learning center to help others achieve their linguistic goals.  Romy, teacher by vocation with extensive experience and expertise in the methods of teaching Spanish as a second language, was key to the process of making our dream a reality.

June 3rd, 1991 marks the date Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (Pan-American Center of Languages) was created.  But that date was not only a start – but also an end, an end to the long preparation process.   Embarking toward this dream was not easy; a year and a half before began the preparatory projects, such as:  a market study, location scouting, decisions on how to furnish and decorate the location along with operational purchases (chalk boards, computers, a vehicle to transport students), preparation of didactic materials and programs of study for all levels, decisions on class schedules, creation of brochures in English (our initial market for students was the USA and Canada) along with translations.  The next focus was legal: how to establish a company, create a constitution and solicit patents, licenses and governmental permits. We also had to estimate the necessary annual student enrollment to sustain the school, and determine how long our personal funds would last.

For eight months Romy and our son Carlos spent time in New York to improve their English and expand their understanding of the North American culture with the goal of providing a better service to our students; in the meantime, my two daughters and I stayed and continued to work on the project in Costa Rica.

We diligently prepared because our vision was clear, we did not want to open our school in an improvised location.  From the outset we sought to achieve the same quality that defines CPI still today. We reconditioned our home into a small school with six classrooms, an office, and a small ranch area that served as both cafeteria and classroom.  We had only one desk top computer and a noisy printer. Although our beginnings were very small, the ambience was always warm and welcoming.

The first to believe in and collaborate with this project were our three children: Carlos, Lorena and Carolina. Carlos became involved right away, combining daytime support to Romy with evening university classes. Even as a young man he was our star sales person, explaining our dream project to the first interested students and convincing them to study at CPI.  But his duties did not end there. Carlos cleaned, took care of the school, worked as secretary & chauffer, provided computer support and was attentive to every student, ensuring all went as smoothly as possible, seeking to meet their needs and that they should want for nothing. During these humble beginnings there were three full time employees: Romy and Carlos, and one teacher.

On a Monday -- June 3, 1991 -- we opened our doors with one student and a class schedule of four hours per day. The following week we had our second student, from Alaska, with four hours of class and our third student from San Francisco studied for two months in our super-intensive 5 ½ hour per day schedule.

Internet was nonexistent in those days so all our marketing was through mailed brochures to consulates and advertising in English newspapers like the "Tico Times".

Along the way challenges arose. One difficult task from the start was convincing families in San Joaquin de Flores to host foreign students. Twenty years ago the town was much smaller and people more conservative; although they were always very hospitable, there existed a certain level of mistrust toward strangers.  Since our children had studied at the high school in San Joaquin it was through their friends that we were able to find the first families to host students, bringing us one step closer to our goal of offering true immersion to our students.

As word spread about the quality and effectiveness of our program, more students arrived and we required more teaching staff. Romy personally trained all new candidates, even already seasoned teachers. One of our first teachers was Cecilia Aguilar followed by Ana Lorena, Judith, Helen Cecilia, Lucy, Digna and Sydnia; all, thankfully, continue to work with us today. Since, many more staff have come, both teachers and administrators, at all three CPI schools, each and every one is appreciated as valuable to the success of this institution.

We hosted classes for two years in the first, remodeled location until the point we needed to construct a larger facility; then a newly constructed 2 storey school with expanded grounds became the new home of CPI.  We hired a secretary, cook, gardener, and cleaning staff; it was around this time that Doña Eugenia arrived, an excellent staff member who is still with us today.

Upon graduating from university, our daughter Carolina became involved directing the English program and put her tourism degree to use by directing the planning and creation of excursions for students as a complementary element to the CPI Spanish program experience.

I remember in those early years Carlos would pick up new students arriving during the day from the airport and in the evenings Romy and I were responsible for receiving them.  Sometimes it was 1 a.m. and we were at the airport waiting for a flight to arrive.  Later on Carolina’s husband, Carlos Arguedas, assumed the responsibility of transporting students, not only for flights but also to/from other destinations, as well.

CPI continued to grow and it was an honor to be the first Spanish immersion school in Costa Rica to offer internet to our students. At this time only the University of Costa Rica and some international organizations had internet.  This possibility was thanks to Irvin Boschman, husband of my sister Linda, who was a professional in this field, advising us on the unfamiliar idea, and who helped with its installation. There were no cell phones back then, but we did have one phone line which was used for both calls and connecting to the internet.

At the end of 1995, Jonle Sedar assumed the direction of CPI, having recently married our son Carlos; Jonle has been very involved in the growth and expansion of CPI.   Soon after, in 1996 we were visited by Osborn Cresson, a Quaker and resident of Monteverde who actively sought to fulfill the need of a Spanish and English language school in the zone. While we already had the idea of establishing a CPI at the beach we also liked the idea of a school in the cloud forest; CPI Monteverde was established with Carlos Najarro as manager.

From the start Romy and I travelled to Monteverde.  We rented a small building and trained the initial professors, one of the first being Mayra Murrillo who is still with us today, although at the beginning many professors came from San Joaquin to help establish this second school.  A year later, we bought land and built our own facility which has continued to be developed through today.  Digna Rodriguez was named as Academic Coordinator and with great autonomy has formed her team and diligently worked to promote a positive image of CPI in Monteverde through the current day.

In 1999 our students started to ask, "Why not have a school at the beach"?  Their encouragement led us to revisit the idea and after looking at several locations we found the perfect place -- Playa Flamingo.  Our daughter Carolina was named manager and, with her family, she moved to Flamingo.  The first teachers were trained, among them Mario and Heitzel Vargas our current Academic Coordinator; both have been wonderful collaborators from the school's start.  In the same fashion as when CPI Monteverde opened, Romy and I stayed in Flamingo to help establish the school, both academically and administratively, until eventually hiring more personnel and delegating these tasks to permanent staff.

In the year 2000 our daughter Lorena became more directly involved in the administration of CPI Heredia and Jonle moved to Monteverde permanently, assuming the position of Groups Manager, a department which has grown and been a great success. Lorena and her husband, Charlie, also helped us with the touristic part of the program, the English program and transportation.

At the end of 2002 we began construction of the current facilities in Heredia where Lorena, as General Manager, has created an interschool team -- academic, administrative and other services -- that makes CPI one of the best teaching institutions of Spanish as a second language in Latin America.

Over the years all three schools have been consistent in making strides toward modernization, specifically in the academic arena by implementing the model of an Academic Coordinator at each location with their respective assistants and by offering professional seminars with an emphasis in specialized vocabulary in the areas of medicine, social work, tourism, security and police work, soccer camps, Spanish for teachers and business Spanish.

Thanks to our IT staff we have taken advantage of technological advances, which includes a communication network between the three schools.  Our goal is to always keep abreast of technology innovations; as a result, we are also training professors to incorporate internet and other technological tools into their classes. In the same way, our Admissions Department has a specialized team that attends to prospective students and agencies.   Our Accounting Department has been a great support to the Administrative Assistants, who have displayed a strong work ethic and sincere dedication in their corresponding positions.

In this first decade of this new century in the evenings and on Saturdays other foreign languages like English, French, Portuguese and Mandarin are taught and are becoming increasingly popular.   Within Costa Rica we are recognized by the INA, and at an international level by the Instituto Miguel de Cervantes de España, and by numerous prestigious universities in the United States through which we offer credits and preparation for students planning to take the ACTFL and DELE exams.

I want to recognize all of our team members, professors, administrators, maintenance members, who for lack of space are not each specifically named but who have all contributed to what and who we are, "LA GRAN FAMILIA CPI".

Thanks to you all,

Alfredo Najarro García
President of the Board of Directors and Founding Member

© 2017 Centro Panamericano de Idiomas