The government of Carlos Alvarado, introduced this week, the Alliance for Bilingualism (ABI) as part of a national strategy that seeks to significantly increase the coverage of English teaching in Costa Rica.

Given the country depends on tourism, exports and outsourcing, a good level of English is very important.

“The challenge is to forge a true intersectoral alliance to extend the mastery of English and other languages as a state policy that ensures opportunities for universal access to people of all ages and from all territories,” said President Carlos Alvarado.

“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. In all of them, English is a key part of the globalization; therefore, achieving bilingualism benefits the country’s participation within its positioning worldwide,” said Jorge Sequeira, Managing Director at Costa Rica’s Investment Promotion Agency, CINDE.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Liaison with the Business Sector and Coordinator of the Council of Presidential Articulation for Innovation and Competitiveness, André Garnier, explained that the first joint initiatives will begin within a month, while the design of the full strategy to be published in November is completed.

Immediate initiatives

Institutions and Ministries highlighted the implementation of 6 immediate initiatives that will start in 2018, to generate the first results over the next 12 months:

  1. Approval of a ¢5 billion colones for the Ministry of Labor (MTSS) Empléate program to be used for technical training of the population.
  2. To make progress in the first stage of universalization of English teaching in pre-school, covering approximately 125,000 students.
  3. In 2018, an educational strategy will begin with a diagnosis of 10,000 students from professional technical colleges, international baccalaureates, the humanities, sciences and academics from all over the country.
  4. Implementation of English language certification tests, for the baccalaureate tests given in the 2019-2022 period to reach a total of approximately 180,000 by 2022.
  5. Certification of entry and exit levels using international standard tests (BELT and TOEIC), including all students of INA English Programs. These results will provide a clear idea of the language skills of their graduates. This process will begin in December 2018.
  6. Application, as of October 2018, of diagnostic tests and certifications meeting international standards on the 223 INA English teachers, accompanied by a training plan to raise the quality and appropriateness of English language courses.

More than 300 multinational companies in the services, digital technologies, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, light industry and food industry sectors operate in Costa Rica.