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Costa Rica makes English teaching a national priority

The government of Costa Rica has created an Alliance for Bilingualism that will support its strategy to improve the standard of English teaching in the country, an area a government press release defined “a national priority.”

English proficiency can strengthen the country's economy in tourism, export and foreign investment. Photo: InfiniteThought/Pixabay

A complete strategy will be published in November

The government called on stakeholders from different sectors to join the effort to increase the coverage and improve the standard of English language teaching in the country.

The statement called the initiative a “historic change” in education which acknowledges the role of English language proficiency to foster employment and economic growth.

The Alliance for Bilingualism was presented by president Carlo Alvarado in a ceremony which included ministers, university lecturers, students, and non-governmental organisations.

“English is a key part of the globalisation… bilingualism benefits the country”

“The challenge is to forge a true inter-sectoral alliance to extend the mastery of English and other languages ​​as a state policy that ensures universal access opportunities for people of all ages and from all territories,” said Alvarado during the presentation, according to a statement.

During the presentation, an agreement was signed to support the initiative – a complete strategy will be published in November, though the first joint initiatives will begin as early as September 2018.

The Alliance will promote the success of the government’s strategy by connecting public and private sector stakeholders. Its main actions will concern the expansion and the improvement of academic programs in the state education system, the promotion of public-private partnerships and a focus on actions for employability.

The government also aims to progress with the universalisation of English teaching in pre-school, reaching about 125,000 students.

Another initiative will focus on improving standards of training for English teachers, with the introduction of language certifications (the government mentioned BELT and TOEIC) for trainees and graduates on teacher training courses.

Managing director of Costa Rica’s Investment Promotion Agency, Jorge Sequeira, said in a statement that English language proficiency will strengthen the country’s economy.

“Having a proficiency of a second language like English strengthens Costa Rica’s development and projection in three areas that stimulate the economy: tourism, exports and foreign direct investment,” he said.

“In all of them, English is a key part of the globalisation; therefore, achieving bilingualism benefits the country’s participation within its positioning worldwide.”

The first public-private initiative to take off under the Alliance is an English language program which will reach out to more than 1,000 students, concentrated in 15 communities outside of the capital, San José. It will begin in September with the first groups in San Carlos, Puntarenas and San Ramón de Alajuela.

The government hopes that with the launch of the Alliance for Bilingualism more representatives of the private sector, non-profit organisations and international organisations will join and support the initiatives.


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