Americas costa rica

A Comprehensive Guide to Teaching English in Costa Rica

San Jose Costa Rica

By Carlos Adampol Galindo (Flickr: San José, Costa Rica) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], by way of Wikimedia Commons

Again in naivety of my youth I dreamed of working in a paradise of golden seashores and Celeste, cloudless skies the place I’d train English to youngsters on the seashore sporting flip flops and bermudas, then fall asleep towards a coconut tree for a siesta at midday.  In reality ESL educating shouldn’t be quiet like that and dealing anyplace in the world continues to be work, nevertheless Costa Rica is a magical place to do it and the free time that one has to explore and luxuriate in the great thing about its treasures, makes up for the time spent in a sweaty classroom with no air con. Basically, it’s Costa Rica’s excellent pure beauty that has made it one of many world’s prime eco-tourism locations, with visitors flocking right here to hike trails by way of historic rain forest, climb lively volcanoes or explore the high-altitude cloud forest, residence to a mess of untamed and endangered animals. This nation needs to be on everyone’s ‘to do’ listing.

Costa Rica is likely one of the world’s oldest democracies, Costa Rica was inhabited largely by Mesoamerican and Andean individuals till Spanish colonization in the 18th century. This wealthy mix of native culture and European influence is very evident right now.  Native individuals are friendly and humble, the phrase ‘Pura Vida’ or ‘Pure Life’ is repeated numerous occasions by way of any given encounter and it truly is a testomony of how the locals,  recognized colloquially as Ticos, stay their lives from day to day.  Their melodic intonation of how they converse Spanish is enchanting and contagious, the individuals have a sure oneness and understanding of the surroundings round them which comes out in their way of life, mannerisms, tradition and meals. The country is lush with unique treasures from the Art and artisan communities that mirror the magical jungle that surrounds them to the delicious selfmade sauces served with rice, beans and fried yuka.

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The Costa Rican immigration regulation has lately been rewritten utterly and the ultimate policies usually are not utterly completed and it has not gone into effect as but. The question of the visa to work is a difficult one,  I recommend that you simply investigate this matter completely earlier than arriving.  Not having a work permit one must depart the nation each 90 days to renew the vacationer visa,  most individuals simply take a bus to Nicaragua or Panama, stay for a day or a weekend and return. I’ve carried out this trip and there was no drawback in any way at the border.  The authorities are nicely conscious of these ‘perpetual tourists’ as the time period has been coined.  I’ve hooked up a video that explains the weird paperwork to make it easier to understand its complexities.

Frankly speaking, it’s virtually inconceivable to turn into a totally legal worker in institutes in Costa Rica.  Immigration laws are robust and check out to shield their small and rural nation from being overrun with overseas corporations and ex patriots, in search of an affordable life in paradise.  If the establishment has governmental funding and help there are alternatives that the company might convey you on, though permanent jobs locations are, firstly, uncommon and largely preferential for Costa Ricans.  One would wish to prove that the job itself can be higher completed by a foreigner as opposed to an area.  The traditional run of the mill language faculty won’t have authorities funding, however they offers you a binding contract, providing you take care of you personal visa duties, nevertheless with that in thoughts listed here are some corporations that may provide transport to the border when your vacationer visa expires.  This exhibits the sophistication and group of bending the immigration legal guidelines in Costa Rica.  This will likely appear unusual coming from western nations nevertheless this bending of legal guidelines is sort of regular throughout the Americas.

When it comes to medical insurance, I advise all to manage that in your personal respective nations, often a broad one yr traveling package deal will suffice.  There are numerous fantastic actions in Costa Rica, throughout the nation one can do different things in totally different locations, like zip lining in Montezuma or kayaking in the rivers of Porot Limon, so it isn’t rare that folks get injured thus in respect to this difficulty I might not depend on corporations and institutes to take care of me, so get that sorted at residence.


Some institutes and faculties, like anyplace else in the world, will take you on in case you are current on the door with an ESL certificates and a smile, nevertheless since Costa Rica is a stones throw from the  United States the locals have a tendency to want to study American English as opposed to another form of it. Faculties and institutes will subsequently usually favour a north American native.  I might not let this put anybody off going as I’m an Irishman from Co.Donegal with a distinct but clear accent and I had no drawback.

Most institutes require the next:

A College Degree: Some institutes won’t ask for any concrete proof of your schooling and some might not decide you on it either, so I might not let this matter forestall anyone from going to Costa Rica.

Certification: ESL educating certificate comparable to CELTA or TESOL/TESL and so on. Although some faculties might not even ask for this, in case you have a bachelor’s diploma in any topic chances are you’ll have the ability to discover a job with no expertise in any respect, aside from you’ll be able to truly train.

Minimum of 1 yr experience educating ESL. Nevertheless this is dependent upon the place, the employer and of course the worker.

No matter your location inside Costa Rica the gown code varies little, often chinos or mild material trousers and a clear sensible shirt is enough. Though in fact in case you are in a business surroundings you’re expected to be professionally dressed reminiscent of ties (in some instances fits) for men, and professionally dressed ladies.

Some locations might want to see proof of monetary stability, nevertheless it isn’t widespread. A beneficial start-up sum of $2,500.00 minimum was recommended by one institute, so it is necessary for you that you simply examine completely beforehand.

Often institutes demand a minimal dedication of six months with a choice of one yr.  Shorter three month contracts also exist and they’re very flexible.  This can be a great way to begin one’s journey in Costa Rica as the experience gained is prime and it provides individuals an opportunity to visit surrounding areas on the weekends.


There are quite a few language faculties, centers, institutes, kindergartens, public and private faculties all dedicated to English language learning. Principally, there are three routes you’ll be able to go down as an English instructor in Costa Rica. You possibly can sign a contract for a long run ‘full time’ position at one of many main faculties or you’ll be able to tackle multiple half time contracts at several smaller facilities or you possibly can train privately.

Working privately has its benefits and drawbacks, the primary places to do it are in the large cities such as the capital San Jose. That is where the market is as there are various professionals that require English for work and trade in international corporations. In addition to this their youngsters typically look for additional tutoring in addition to University students that reside in capital. A personal instructor might cost up to 20-30 dollars per hour relying in your qualifications and the circumstances of your scholar(s).

In Costa Rica the varsity yr runs from January to December. Nearly all of faculties won’t be hiring in the center of the yr. The perfect time to begin your job search is the previous few months of the yr, comparable to October, November, and December. Many faculties and language facilities will rent on the spot, so it’s important to make a great impression.

A normal full time position is considered to be around 20 educating hours per week. Nevertheless, this may be modified in accordance to your objectives and priorities. Most courses run from early morning around 7am to midday and then in the night from 4pm to 8pm. These hours can be applied to personal classes as properly, individuals basic take outing in the noon as the climate could be very scorching and it’s troublesome to be productive.

Where to base yourself?

There are a number of lovely locations in Costa Rica to stay and work, from the east to the west coast, the high mountains and the rain forest.  A lot of the beautiful sea aspect places are usually poor and the standard of dwelling could be very humble nevertheless with the influx of trendy eco-tourism during the last 20 years many small seashore towns are reworking shortly.  Many American business are establishing localities and with this the necessity for English Language academics.  Geographically talking Costa Rica is a small space nevertheless some locations are very troublesome to get to, due to the mountainous terrain and poor infrastructure and all roads lead to the capital San Jose.

Quepos – Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is a nationwide park space situated on the Pacific coast near the city of Quepos about two hours from the capital San Jose. That is magical space with beautiful beaches and a energetic city, with a number of institutes and faculties to discover work in. Wealthy coastal rainforest timber arch over the ivory sands and blue opal waters of Manuel Antonio’s coast. You’ll be able to hear the music by way of the jungle canopy as troupes of monkeys move overhead. Sloths, lizards, tropical birds fill the aspect of the roads getting into the port town of Quepos, the place you discover the faculties and establishments.  Quepos is a quiet port city, that when flourished as a fishing village however has misplaced just a little of its appeal through the years. It is a market town for most of the surrounding villages so there’s a wholesome and vigorous buzz on market day, the place yow will discover an array of exotic foods. Although security is excessive and poverty is quiet apparent, there’s a relaxed and familiar air concerning the town, honestly it’s a place to work and purchase food then get out, as a lot of the nice locations to reside and spend your time are on the outskirts in nature.


San Jose

San Jose is a vigorous capital with homes of tradition, universities, parks and other people. Nearly all of the inhabitants stay here so there’s numerous alternative to find employment in any of the various faculties, institutes and universities. It is situated in the central valley of the country nevertheless getting to a seashore on the weekend or exploring the northern rain forest is sort of simply achieved. Like several major metropolis it has all the benefits and the drawbacks. The day mild sunshine in Costa Rica is 12 hours day by day, from 6am to 6pm, thus making the day very brief. When the sun goes down the nation appear to stop, so you might find yourself somewhat locked up in the capital come 7pm every night time with little to do.  Then again it’s what you make of it and I am positive there are all types of cultural centers and actions if one does some investigation.

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A small example of issues to see and do together with your free time:


The spectacular Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is an unimaginable destination for any lover of forests and wildlife and it’s a well-liked ecotourism destination. With its distinctive cloud canopy, this makes it a real cloud forest with everlasting mist. This organic reserve is situated in the northern a part of the Puntarenas provience. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is likely one of the most beautiful and breathtaking nature reserves in the whole world. I might absolutely advocate a visit right here.

Dwelling prices

Costa Rica is surprisingly costly in comparability to its neighbouring nations Panama and Nicaragua. This is mainly due to tourism and high retail prices, so be prepared for top costs.  Buying your food and drinks in supermarkets is probably the most affordable choice and the quality of fruit and greens is cosmic, nevertheless in case you are in a very lovely seashore city the market costs shall be greater.  I like to recommend the local supermarkets and small diners, often they’ll give you as much Rica and beans to give you the power to climb a mountain!

With the wage of an ESL instructor, one can take pleasure in a pleasing life in Costa Rica financially.  Costa Rica doesn’t have a lot of a consuming tradition thus one doesn’t want to spend a lot money, however it is a small nation and so easy to journey to other places and luxuriate in so many unimaginable adventure activities, that spending cash isn’t arduous to do.


Many faculties and institutions will help when it comes to securing housing preparations, alternatively you possibly can go on your own pores and skin. There are several totally different choices, with typical worth ranges shown under:

To reside with a Costa Rican family will usually value from $300 – $350 per thirty days with 2 to 3 meals and laundry included. To lease a room in a shared home with other foreigners costs vary from $275-350 per thirty days. To lease an house or house, they begin from $400 per thirty days and furnished flats run larger.


Costa Rica is nestled between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in central America, it’s typically pictured as an oasis of political stability in the midst of a unstable area. With the presence of over 20,000 north American ex-patriots, Costa Rica at occasions looks like a 51st state, with huge SUV’s and costly summer time houses.  Ex-patriots convey cash to a creating country the place the poles of economic division are very much divided into the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, nevertheless there’s a sure harmony between the two cultures, an understanding of mutual achieve.

Costa Rica prides itself on the fact that there hasn’t been an national Army since 1949 and one feels safe in many areas of the country, nevertheless with the capital San Jose itself there is a degree of high safety and mistrust. Many houses are heavily protected and armed guards are quite common. Walking at night time alone on the streets is a lonely experience thus taxis are often used.  In the small tourist areas tensions seem to be rather a lot lower and other people walk freely at any time of day or night time, I for one felt snug strolling round.

In conclusion

Costa Rica is a tremendous treasure full of spectacular scenery, unimaginable wildlife and incredible white seashores.  It will not be as straight ahead a place to search for safety in employment due to visa problems, nevertheless it makes up for all of it in adventure and the ‘Pura Vida’ way of life that solely consumes you.  I for one would highly  advocate Costa Rica as a spot to spend a yr educating English, I had a tremendous expertise there and met fantastic individuals from everywhere in the world!

By Christopher Mc Laughlin

In case you have any questions for Christopher or also have experience educating English in Costa Rica and would really like to add some further advice for potential academics please depart your reply in the comments part on the backside of the page.

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