NSS Managua School

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Answers to Frequently Asked
Questions about the NSS program.

Immersion program? / Teaching method? / Spanish teachers? / Homestay? / Volunteer work? / Need a visa? / Tuition reduction? / Need special immunizations? / Classes on Holidays? / Communication while in Nicaragua? / Money?

More questions?    Contact NSS


How does the immersion program work?
The weekly immersion program with homestay runs from Sunday to Saturday with classes Monday through Friday from 8:30am-12:30pm. However, you can start your program any day of the week by reserving extra tutoring by the day/hour and extra homestay days to fill in before your first Sunday or after your last Saturday. Your program starts with an individual assessment of your Spanish speaking level and subject interests. The instuctional process is an ongoing dialogue between teacher and student with the student being challenged and supported in using and expanding their Spanish communication skills. Class size is limited to 2 students of the same level, or 3 for members of a group which allows for individualized attention, but many times students will have their own teacher if the school is not too full. Additional individual tutoring is also available in the afternoons for more intensive learning. Outside activities are sometimes integrated into your morning class and optional afternoon activities facilitated by teachers, such as cultural classes or visits to local social, political, artisan and cultural organizations, allow students to interact, listen and learn in the context of social or professional settings. Weekend guided excursions to sites of interest expose students to Nicaragua's natural and cultural experiences. Room and board with a supportive Nicaraguan family allows you to integrate easily into the community and use your Spanish everyday in varied real-life situations.


What kind of a teaching method does the NSS Managua school use?
NSS uses an interactive, conversationally-based, all-Spanish method of direct learning, called the "Functional Method", which customizes instruction to the interests and abilities of each individual student. The Functional Method facilitates a natural and continuous conversational exchange between student and teacher (both orally and with reading/writing) on topics of personal interest determined by the preferences of each student. Teachers monitor and guide the dialogue process and encourage and support the student in expanding their communication skills to the level they are willing to reach withing the given time frame of their program. The actual curriculum is flexible because each class is planned according to the competency level, learning aptitude, and personal interests of each individual student. Classes are guided and motivated by the experience of a well-trained teacher who uses ongoing evaluation of the student's progress to intervene with grammatical lessons and skill building drills as necessary. The varied curriculum includes elements of reading and listening comprehension, speaking, pronunciation and accent, grammar and vocabulary, and writing style. Classes consist of conversation, demonstration, explanation and interaction with teacher and students using visual, auditory and kinesthetic materials, as well as activities which may include visiting Nicaraguans. Students who want a truly "intensive" program can also receive extra one-on-one tutoring in the afternoons in addition to the basic morning classes, but the afternoon activities are also "Spanish-only." NSS learning materials are created by NSS staff and are supplemented by language texts and other materials purchased locally.


Are NSS Spanish teachers trained and experienced?
NSS teachers are native Nicaraguans chosen for their suitable educational background, knowledge of Spanish grammar, knowledge of Nicaraguan history and culture, teaching and organizational ability, human relations skills, and positive attitude. They are continually trained in NSS's proven second language "Funcional" teaching method and participate in the creation of school teaching materials.

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What is a Managua homestay like?
NSS Managua homestay families are generally middle-class, well known by the school and have experience hosting students. Homestays have to meet NSS standards of cleanliness and security. They have indoor plumbing and tiled floors. You will have a private room that you can lock, but most students feel secure with their family from the start. Laundry service is available or you can do your own at the "lavandero". Nicaraguan families are very hospitable by nature and the whole family willingly engages the students and welcomes them into their home. If you have any special dietary or personal preferences, they can usually be accommodated. Students are usually overwhelmed by the warmth of Nicaraguan hospitality. However, you can request to change homestays after you are placed if you have a problem with a particular setting.


What kind of volunteer work is available?
Nicaragua has few large institutions for social service work. Most volunteer work is done through local community programs, so it is more personal. NSS has connections with a variety of Managua organizations, public, private, and non-governmental non-profit (see activity descriptions for details). Once you arrive at the NSS Managua school, the NSS Program Director can introduce you to organizations that might be of interest to you for volunteer work. Usually, if there is work to be done that you can help with, you will be invited to participate. If you want to stay on working after your program is over, you can extend your homestay with your family (space permitting).


Do I need a visa to enter Nicaragua?
Visitors with a valid passport from the USA, Canada and most of Europe (Denmark, Finland, Holland, Ireland, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, etc.), Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Korea get a tourist card upon entry to Nicaragua (costs $5).
Those from other countries can contact the Nicaraguan Consulate nearest them or call Nicaraguan Migración at +505-2244-3989 or 2244-2111 for current entry requirements. Tourist cards are issued for 30 to 90 days and visas for 30 days. Both can be extended another 30 days at a time up to 90 days by visiting the Migración office in Managua and paying a $20 fee (per 30 days extension) or by leaving the country (to Costa Rica or Honduras) for a few days and then returning.


Is there a way to get a tuition reduction besides being in a group?
Those traveling through Latin America "roughing it" on a strict budget can study at a lower total price per week by registering for the basic program without homestay or with limited tutoring hours instead of the basic four hours per day (no activities included).

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Do I need special immunizations to visit Nicaragua?
The Nicaragua government does not recommend nor require any special immunization to enter Nicaragua. Unless you are planning to go out to the campo and deep jungle, you don't need any special shots or immunization to be able to enjoy yourself safely in Nicaragua, but make sure your normal innoculations are current. Practicing good personal hygene and being careful about what and where you eat outside of your homestay is your best defense against catching a tropical illness. If you do get sick, there are plenty of experienced doctors who can treat you at affordable prices.


What are the Nicaraguan Holidays and are there classes on those days?
NSS Managua observes the more important Nicaraguan holidays; there are no classes on those days, but activities and homestay are not affected, and the missed class hours are made up the following Saturday. The Holidays are: January 1st, Catholic Holy Thursday or Good Friday in March/April, May 1st, July 19th, August 1st, August 10th, September 14th or 15th, November 2nd, and December 25th.

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How can I communicate with my family when I'm in Nicaragua?
Your family and friends can get in contact with you through the NSS Managua school or via your family homestay, if the have a phone. You can make outgoing long-distance calls and use computer services at local Cyber Cafés near the school. NSS Managua also has free wifi for student use and limited use of the school computer for e-mail communications. When you are settled in your homestay, you can contact your family and give them your homestay phone number and e-mail contact address. Prepaid celphone service is also a conveniente and relatively economical option.


How should I take my money and how much will I need?
We suggest you take your money in US dollars in the form of small cash bills American Express traveler's checks and major credit cards. Larger bills (100's and $50's) can be convenient for changing to cordobas at banks. Smaller bills ($20's, $10's, etc.) are more convenient for direct transactions at local markets. Do not take bills with tears, stains or writing on them as they are sometimes refused due to general monetary insecurity. You can change American Express traveler's checks into dollars or córdobas at banks near the NSS Managua school. US dollars in small denominations are accepted as readily as córdobas for many transactions. You can also get US cash from "Credomatic" in Managua with your credit card and córdobas from ATM´s available in some locations. All banks change US dollars into córdobas. As of this update (January 2013), US$1 = C$24.20. If you have reserved a basic program with homestay, you won't need a lot of extra cash except for eating out, going on excursions and buying some great artisan work.


More questions?   Contact NSS


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since June 1998 . . . . Updated Enero 2013

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