ARCHIVE: Published Monday, September 16, 2019

According to President Alvarado, the government will continue teaching English throughout the national territory to make Costa Rica a bilingual country. /  Casa Presidencial courtesy photo.

The government gave 180 people a scholarship to learn English

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministry of Labor announced it has given 180 people a scholarship, to study the English language and improve their chances of finding employment, through the Alliance for Bilingualism plan, known as ABi.

According to the Ministry, in January 2020, the second group of 100 students will start. The total amount invested in this program was $347,200 to finance the scholarships of the 180 students.

The presentation of the ABi program in the community of Turrialba* was held this Friday at the headquarters of the University of Costa Rica. The students of the first group who started the course in August were selected by the Municipality of Turrialba in the province of Cartago.

Students will certify their level of English at the end of the 12 months of training after they have acquired the skills necessary to improve their chances of getting a job.

According to the government, the progress made with the ABi program is a strategy which seeks to promote more employment opportunities and with that, improve the quality of life for the students.

According to President Alvarado, the government will continue teaching English throughout the national territory to make Costa Rica a bilingual country.

According to the statistics of the Ministry, during this year the English language has been taught to 5,600 people. This is 3,200 more people than were budgeted at the beginning of the Abi program.

For example, in the province of Carthage 253 people have received this study grant. This amounts to an investment of $111,104, the Ministry said in its statement.

The Ministry of announced the agreement ABi, for the teaching of the English language to 1,250 students from public schools throughout the country since last year.

The ABi program has the goal of converting Costa Rica into a bilingual country and with it improve the attraction of investments, boost employment generation, and increase opportunities for study abroad, the government said.

As A.M. Costa Rica reported on August 5, the ministry announced the cost of the program for these students is approximately $4.1 million.

"The enthusiasm they have for learning English will impact access to job opportunities and the economic recovery of their communities," President Carlos Alvarado said at the announcement of the program. "Therefore, the Alliance for Bilingualism is a high priority for the government."

In July, the government announced 4,000 teachers are training in English language education.

Alvarado signed a presidential decree declaring the ABi program to be in the public interest, due to its importance for students to be bilingual to have access to better job opportunities in the future.

“I urge students to take advantage of it and do their best to forge a better future,” said Alvarado.

Alvarado also signed an agreement between the government and the North American-Costa Rican Cultural Center to give scholarships for English classes to people with limited economic resources.

The cultural center also is opening a new course for 80 students with the support of the National Geographic Learning Program.

The program hopes that students will certify their level of English at the end of 12 months of training to show they have acquired skills necessary to improve their chances of finding employment and will be part of a job search process.

Last November the statistics from the Ministry of Labor showed that speaking English means a better job.

The Labor Ministry presented the study on: "The benefits of bilingualism in Costa Rica," which was carried out by the Development Observatory of Costa Rica University.

Researchers Alejandro Abarca and Suráyabi Ramírez did the study. It was an analysis of the labor benefits of speaking English in Costa Rica and was based on data from 2005 to 2017, by the Statistics and Censuses National Institute.

What stands out in the study is that people with knowledge of English have better working conditions than non-bilingual people of similar age, academic training, and social status, among others.

The study confirms that, on average, an English speaker receives $241 more in their monthly salary compared to a monolingual person even though the English speaker works an average of nearly an hour less per week.

Benefits are different as well. The study shows that bilinguals have 2.5 percent more holidays, 2.7 percent more possibility of having social security, and 1.4 percent better chance of an aguinaldo or Christmas bonus than a non-bilingual person.

Steven Núñez, Labor Minister, said that seeing the results of the study, "it is clear that we are on the right track to focus our efforts in promoting the study of this second language through the ABi and with the start of English courses with native teachers from English speaking countries."

Do you think Costa Ricans will find better jobs after learning the English? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

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