I cannot recommend the Samara branch of Intercultura highly enough. I studied there for two weeks this past August (and wish I could have stayed for much longer!). I spent quite a lot of time deciding where I would stay, and am quite happy I landed in Samara. While the town is a bit slow (though I have heard that it is very crowded in Christmas and Easter due to the San Jose tourists), the school was everything I hoped it would be. Also, the prices are very reasonable, especially if you stay with a host family.
They begin by giving you a written and oral assessment which places you in a level. As an advanced intermediate, I found both of my levels to be appropriately challenging and my classmates to be of very similar abilities. (Moving up levels here requires actually mastering skills, unlike several other Spanish programs I have attended in the past). I am a teacher in the states and I was impressed with both of my teachers' abilities here. While the alternating morning/afternoon scheduling is a little strange, it worked out fine for me. The free extras in the afternoon really helped me to practice different aspects of Spanish, as did my wonderful host family.
I really lucked out with my host family, who were very kind. My Tica Mama cooked very well, and their house was always spotlessly clean. Of course, it was still quite hot (no AC), but an overhead fan and a large window with a good screen worked fine. I did hear some stories about accommodations that were nowhere near as nice from other students. If you are going to study for a while, I might recommend staying briefly with a family, then renting one of the many apartments or rooms advertised at the school itself.
I met lots of really great people while I was at Samara Language School. The students seem pretty serious about learning Spanish, but also really want to have fun and enjoy their time. Several people also did a surf course, but if you already know how, there are lots of places to just rent a board. You can also rent bikes and go to nearby beaches. There aren't many restaurants and bars (in the off season like when I was there at the end of August), but that wasn't the experience I was looking for.
I would enthusiastically recommend this place to anyone looking to really learn some Spanish and have a good time.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC