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What is it Like to Teach English in Costa Rica?

Teacher in Costa Rica


Have you ever wanted to teach English in Costa Rica? With its misty rainforests, dazzling Caribbean and Pacific beaches, and relaxed pura vida lifestyle, it’s no surprise the country continues to be a TEFL hot spot year after year. Demand for teachers remains high, too, and with requirements flexible enough to include a range of backgrounds– from teachers with online certificates, to those with or without college degrees- teaching there is a very real possibility.

So how can you make it happen? We spoke to Greta, who has been a teacher in Costa Rica for five years now, to get the inside scoop on how she did it.

What kind of TEFL course did you take to teach in Costa Rica?

I actually just took a weekend TEFL course, in the classroom. It was pretty basic, but enough to get a foot in the door!

How did you find your first teaching job in Costa Rica?

I traveled to Costa Rica first and found out about a school through a local friend. They just happened to need a teacher last minute, so I was very lucky in that aspect!  Being in the country is probably the best way to get a job, since a lot of schools don’t hire from abroad.

What was your first job like–who did you teach and what hours?

My first job was at a language institute called Intercultura in Heredia, a town near the capital if San Jose. This school taught mainly adults, from university students to professionals, and even retirees. There were about 15 foreign English teachers total, and maybe half were new like me. The school provided a nice orientation and we did some training and got to know everyone. The teaching schedule was from 4pm to 9pm, since a lot of the students were coming after school or work. It was a really fun atmosphere. We could have classes outside on the patio, have cooking classes in the kitchen, or even go on mini-field trips with our students. The salary was decent, too–definitely enough to support myself while there, and the school offered perks like free dance classes and Spanish lessons.

Download a Costa Rica country guide to learn about teaching requirements, typical salary, peak hiring season, and more.

Looking back, what did you wish you had known before going to Costa Rica?

Honestly, nothing! Except I wish I had made the move earlier, like right when I graduated from college!

What are you doing now?

I’m still teaching ESL, but at a different language institute and only part-time because I have another full-time (non-TEFL) job on the side. I’m also married now– my husband is Costa Rican. We just bought our first house here, so it looks like we’ll be staying a while!

Want to hear more? Read some tips from Jen, Bridge’s content manager, on how she went about learning Spanish in Costa Rica while she was teaching English there. 

Jennifer is from Tampa, Florida, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in both English and psychology. After a short career in social work, she gave in to wanderlust, got TEFL-certified, and moved abroad to teach English. She has taught students of all ages at language centers in Costa Rica, Morocco, and Spain.