Teach English in Costa Rica
2-4 weeks from $1,620
- Become part of the local community in the stunning Costa Rican countryside
- Choose from two rewarding teaching projects in either a rural school in Cabuya or a social work project in San José
- Help to develop and build your students' language skills
- Immerse yourself in Costa Rican life at a homestay with a local family
- Improve and refine your own Spanish language skills
- Travel and explore the rest of the country in your downtime
Become a teaching volunteer and help give underprivileged children the chance to develop important life skills that will open up better opportunities for them in the future and ultimately improve their lives. As a volunteer English teaching assistant, you'll work with the incredible teachers and care staff to help build children's confidence, develop important life skills, and encourage creativity. You'll be staying with a local family in the community, and get to explore Costa Rica's beautiful beaches, volcanic towns, and vibrant cities in your downtime.
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Download more trip information and detailed itinerary
What to expect at the project
There are two separate teaching projects to choose from on this programme, but both include homestay accommodation with a local family close by to your project. Staying with host families is a fantastic way to improve your knowledge of the local area and get a real insight and authentic experience of Costa Rican living, as well as refining your Spanish language skills, and you'll get to travel around and explore the surrounding area and further afield, if you wish, in your own time (evenings and weekends).
Project 1: Teach English at a social work project in San José
Based in Costa Rica's charming capital, you'll get to work with children in orphanages and day care centres in the city centre, using your creativity and initiative to get them involved in a whole range of activities. Working hours are pretty flexible, so you can choose full or part-time hours, but you'll need to be proactive and enthusiastic for this project.
Project 2: Teach English at a school in Cabuya
Working as a volunteer in a small rural school located in a pretty little village on the Pacific Coast, you'll get to help teachers plan lessons, games, outdoor activities, and lead art and craft projects, all with the aim of developing the children's English language skills. The children will be aged between seven and twelve years old.
Day in the life
Your first couple of days will be spent getting your bearings in San José, where you'll have a full city orientation and get to explore the area at your leisure. Be sure to take a wander through the farmer's markets, visit one of the many museums, or catch a performance at the Teatro Nacional (make sure you add a guided tour of the building as well).
On your first day at your chosen project, you'll be introduced to the children and staff (don't worry if you don't remember everyone's names, you'll get to know them with time!). You'll work with teachers and carers to establish where your skills are best put to use and help plan a schedule to get the children involved in a range of fun and educational activities.
You'll teach the children new games and team sports to help build their communication skills, talk them through interesting art and craft projects to engage them and encourage creativity, and offer them help and guidance where needed, all whilst building up their confidence and developing their language skills.
You'll build an unbreakable bond with both the children and the staff as you become more involved with the project and local community. You'll need to be creative and self-motivated and enjoy working with children. Perseverance and tolerance of volunteering in a new environment is a plus; however, the students' genuine need for tuition and conversational English practise makes these projects really rewarding. Just arm yourself with plenty of patience and go with the flow!
From Monday to Friday you'll be working between four and eight hours a day at your chosen project, the details of which will be discussed with you in more detail during your orientation. During your free time, make sure you get out there and explore! Travel around the country and see magnificent places like the Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs, head to the countryside and go on a treetop zip wire tour, trek through a tropical forest, swim beneath a waterfall, or take a tour of a local coffee plantation, take the train to the coast and chill out on the beach, or simply have fun discovering the city.
Please note that all activities, inclusions and itineraries are subject to change.
Purpose and aim of the programme and how do you benefit the programme
There is a huge need for English language education in Costa Rica, with aims of attracting eco tourism to the area in the future as the community grows. With the hope of producing more employment opportunities for the population in areas like San José and Cabuya, English is an essential skill for children to learn as early as possible, to improve their future prospects and give them the chances in life that may not otherwise be available to them.
As well as providing the children in schools, orphanages and day care centres with an education, there's a huge emphasis on child welfare with each of the organisations, particularly with the day care centres and orphanages. Day centres offer working parents the opportunity to go and work without having to worry about leaving young children at home to fend for themselves. The children are cared for during the day and given an education, love and attention, and are fed and watered, with different government initiatives in place to help improve children's education and nutrition. In the same way, orphanages offer a safe-haven to children who have either lost their parents, or have been separated from their family for their own safety, to grow and learn in a home-like environment with loving and supportive care workers (many of whom are volunteers themselves), whilst also providing them with healthcare, dentistry, and counselling, until they find a permanent home with adoptive parents.
Working as a volunteer in communities that are heavily under-resourced and in desperate need of teaching assistance and help with child care, you'll be providing underprivileged children with the care and support they need to develop life skills that will help to ensure a brighter future and a better quality of life. Volunteers are seen as valuable members of the community, and teaching children English through play and creativity allows them to pick up an essential skill without feeling the pressures of being in a strict institutional environment.
You'll also gain an honest insight into daily life in Costa Rica whilst staying with your host family, who will welcome you into the family unit and teach you about the community and local life. They won't speak much English, if any, so your Spanish language skills will be put to the test, which in turn will improve your own communication skills.
- All accommodation
- Breakfast and dinner at your homestay accommodation
- If you are based at the school in Cabuya, lunch is also provided
- Airport transfers
- City orientation in San José
- Local in-country team and support
- 24/7 emergency support
- Snacks and drinks
- Local transport
- Optional activities and excursions
You will stay with a host family during the entirety of the programme, which is the perfect way for you to learn more about Costa Rican living, and really soak up the culture as well as improve your Spanish language skills. There will be a maximum of two sharing a bedroom at the homestay, but you may well have a room to yourself. If you're travelling with a friend we will try and accommodate you at the same house. You’ll be sharing a living space and bathroom with the family, who will also provide a laundry service. You'll be free to come and go as you please, and will have your own key, but please respect your host family's home and let them know when you'll be out so they don't worry.
Host families are carefully selected to ensure your accommodation is clean, secure, and comfortable, and that the families you stay with are hospitable, friendly, and welcoming. Each home will have been visited and checked by a co-ordinator.
Your homestay family will provide you with breakfasts and dinners and are able to cater for special dietary needs as long as you let us know when you book. If you choose to work at the school in Cabuya, lunch will be provided for you each day.
Please be aware that the majority of our host families don't speak English, but they are used to accommodating foreign students. Staying with a host family in Costa Rica is a fantastic way to refine your Spanish language skills and get an authentic insight into Costa Rican life.
You will need to arrange your flights to arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport, San José (SJO) on the first day of your itinerary, where you'll be met by the in-country team who will take you to your accommodation. You can depart any time on the last day of your itinerary - a return transfer to Juan Santamaria International Airport is included.
The minimum age for this programme is 18 years.
To become a volunteer teacher on this project, you will need to have a high level of spoken and written Spanish. We do offer a fantastic Spanish School programme which can be added to your volunteer programme, please contact us for details.
British nationals aren’t required to have a visa to enter Costa Rica and can remain in the country as a visitor for up to three months. You will however need at least six months validity remaining on your passport following your planned departure from Costa Rica as well as proof of onward travel or return home. Please note, there is a 29USD fee payable on exiting the country.
If you are travelling in to Costa Rica from a country at risk of Yellow Fever you must ensure that you obtain the required Yellow Fever vaccinations and bring a Yellow Fever certificate with you when you enter Costa Rica. Please consult your GP for more information.
DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service)
On this particular programme, as you’ll be working with children, you’ll need to undergo an enhanced DBS check and will need to have a clean criminal record.
DBS checks may list past convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings, and if applicable will show whether or not you have been barred from working with certain vulnerable groups. Non-conviction information such as fixed penalties may also be included.
There is an additional cost for the DBS check, please speak to your travel advisor at the time of booking. The DBS process is in three stages:
1. Once we receive your booking payment, you will then be sent an online application link for the DBS check, which you will need to complete.
2. Once you have completed the application, the DBS will need verification of your identity – to do this you will need to take three original documents to your nearest crown post office and use their DBS and ID verification service. This costs approximately £5 and is payable directly to the Post Office.
3. It can take up to two weeks for your DBS to be processed, which will be sent to you directly in the post.
Do I Need Any Vaccinations?
We’re not qualified to offer you medical advice, so you should visit your GP well ahead of time to find out what inoculations you might need. Remember to tell them exactly where you’re travelling to as vaccination and medication requirements vary between different regions. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough of any prescribed medication to see you through the duration of your trip.
How Much Spending Money Should I Bring With Me?
The majority of your meals are included in the cost of this programme, and general costs in Costa Rica are pretty reasonable, so you won’t need a huge budget to get by comfortably. Just make sure you plan for travel and optional activities in your own time as there’s plenty you’ll probably want to do while you’re out there. You can expect to pay between 3,000CRC-10,000CRC/£4-£14 for a meal and between 800CRC-2,000CRC/£1-£3 for drinks, so a weekly budget of around 75,000CRC-115,000CRC/£100-£150 should be a good amount to keep in mind, minus any costlier activities.
How Proficient Do I Need To Be In Spoken Spanish?
It's actually very important that you speak Spanish well for this project. As well as needing to be able to communicate clearly to young and older children whilst in Costa Rica, you'll be teaching them English, and so need to be confident in your own skills of translation, this and the fact you'll be staying with a local family that most likely don't speak English. Due to this, a high level of Spanish is required for this programme, we do offer an excellent Spanish school option which can be added to your programme for you to improve your language skills - please contact us for details.