With a tropical climate and endless outdoor activities, you will stay busy during your off time while obtaining your TEFL certificate in Costa Rica, the Switzerland of Latin America. Since the Costa Rican economy is built around tourism, the need for English is high in order for tourism professionals to be able to advance in their careers. Education is highly valued and learning English is a top priority in public schools. Once you finish your TEFL courses in Costa Rica, English teaching jobs are plentiful. With over 500,000 different plants and animals, Costa Rica is the perfect place for biodiversity enthusiasts with a desire to teach English.
TEFL programs in Costa Rica offer the big city experience, as well as opportunities in small coastal towns to fit all needs and personalities. A majority of TEFL courses in Costa Rica are based at private language institutes, and many are based in the capital city, San José. The most common locations with established TEFL courses are San José, Heredia, and Manuel Antonio.
In San José and the surrounding suburbs, you’ll be living in an area known as the Central Valley. With European influences, millions of people flock to the capital daily for work, while many live outside of the city center due to a lower cost of living and a more comfortable lifestyle. Between teaching training sessions, TEFL students can enjoy touring Teatro Nacional, the most famous public building, bask in the sunshine at Parque Nacional, or soak in Costa Rica’s pre-Columbian roots at the Museo Nacional.
Less than 10 miles from San José, Heredia is another popular and great choice for TEFL courses in Costa Rica. Famous for its namesake, the City of Flowers, Heredia is one of the oldest towns in Central America, drawing tourists and students alike with its colonial architecture and breathtaking floral landscape. Without the hustle and bustle of San José, Heredia is perfect for TEFL students who want a nice balance of cultural and natural attractions, along with some of the most famous Costa Rican landmarks, such as Barva Volcano, Poas Volcano, and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Heredia has a reputation for safety and tranquility, making it an attractive location for many aspiring ESL teachers.
Manuel Antonio is a perfect location for TEFL pursuers that are also outdoor enthusiasts. Between lessons and classes, students often visit the Parque Nacional to relax on the Pacific white sand beaches, snorkel, swim, sail, surf, or even ride horses along the coast. It’s one of the most beautiful areas of Costa Rica, and hiking around the park in the jungle typically includes iguana, monkeys, sloths, and over 350 species of bird sightings.
Courses & Programs
While peak enrollment times are January and June to August, TEFL programs in Costa Rica are offered at any time of the year to fit your schedule. Most TEFL courses cover foundational teaching (pedagogy) techniques for teaching English as a foreign language, methodologies for teaching, English grammar, teaching and learning styles, classroom management, lesson planning, and creativity in the classroom. Most TEFL classes are held daily, Monday thru Friday, involving a balance of classroom work, role playing, group discussions, and teaching practice. The best TEFL providers in Costa Rica coordinate practical teaching experience with legitimate English as a second language learners, all while under the supervision of veteran teachers.
The most common TEFL courses in Costa Rica are four weeks long, and are completed entirely on site. These programs require a demanding 120 to 160 hours of instruction in order to become TEFL certified, and include classroom instruction, practical classroom experience (both teaching and observation), and independent study. When deciding which TEFL provider to go with, make sure it is internationally accredited, offers small class sizes, requires a minimum of 120 classroom instruction hours, has experienced TEFL instructors, and incorporates real supervised classroom experience.
Some TEFL programs in Costa Rica offer a hybrid of self-study and classroom learning where you do theory and reading practice online, and then complete practical teaching experience in Costa Rica.
While you do not need to be a native English speaker, you do need to be fluent in English to enroll in a TEFL program in Costa Rica. Some courses assess your English level before starting, while not all providers require you to have a bachelor’s degree, though the best (and most trustworthy) ones do.
Salary & Costs
The price range for getting TEFL certified in Costa Rica is typically $1,600 to $2,700. While the cost of living is higher in Costa Rica than other Central American countries, you can live comfortably on $500 to $1,000 monthly. Rent is around $150 to $350 with monthly utilities ranging in from $40 to $100. The cost of food is higher than Costa Rica’s neighbors, with groceries typically being $30 to $40 a month. When dining at local restaurants, you can expect to pay between $12 and $20. Once you’re a certified TEFL instructor, you can expect to make around $460 to $930 per month teaching English in Costa Rica. While you won’t be making a great deal of money teaching in Costa Rica, this is a much more affordable option than becoming TEFL certified in a European country.
Accommodation & Visas
Many TEFL programs in Costa Rica will help you find housing throughout the duration of your course. The most common and affordable option is to live with a host family, which also gives you an inside view to the culture (so you can teach your students better!) and this accommodation may include meals. While apartments (shared or not), hostels, and hotels are available options for increased privacy, the price also increases.
Most foreign teachers have a hard time obtaining a work visa due to the high level of bureaucracy in Costa Rica. Due to this high volume, the visa system is backed up by two years. In general, most schools expect you to come in on a tourist visa for 90 days. After 90 days, you will have to leave Costa Rica for three days and re-entry to renew for another 90 day tourist visa. You can easily renew your visa in Nicaragua and Panama, and enjoy visiting a new country!
Benefits & Challenges
Once you’re TEFL certified, the market is good for English teachers in Costa Rica, and those with TEFL certificates are hired over those that who do not. There are just as many opportunities to teach in rural areas and beach towns, as there are in the bigger cities, but the pay is often less (but the quality of life makes up for it). Some TEFL courses in Costa Rica offer job placement assistance in Costa Rica or internationally. One of the biggest adjustments TEFL teachers have is adjusting to the pura vida lifestyle where punctuality isn’t a high priority and school is a social gathering. Living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with amazing weather, and where the friendliness of the locals is second to none, it’s easy to see why many complete their TEFL certification in Costa Rica.