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Travel & Teach - Costa Rica


Costa Rica is one of the more popular EFL destinations on the ‘Gringo Trail’, running from the USA down through Central America. Sandwiched between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, its black and white sandy beaches and tropical climate make it a great destination for the adventurous traveller.

Although still a largely agricultural country, it has achieved a relatively high standard of living with a stable economy that depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. There is a high demand for English learning to access better jobs and certainly teaching work to be found.

The country is divided by a backbone of volcanoes and mountains and is part of the Pacific "Rim of Fire", with seven active volcanoes. Travellers should expect the odd tremor and small quakes shake the country now and again. However, Costa Rica is considered to be one of the regions safer countries in which to live, with friendly people and a relatively high standard of living. It is also one of the more expensive countries in the region.

 The present capital, San José, lies in the middle of the Meseta Central (Central Valley), where almost two-thirds of the nation's population live. This is where you will find the majority of the teaching opportunities.

Tips for teaching English in Costa Rica

* TEFL jobs are generally not advertised outside the country and so come with plenty of money to see you through
* The big cities which are the places to begin your search
* Take one of our level 2 TESOL courses, recommended for Costa Rica

Useful Contacts

British Council

Costa Rican Embassy UK:

Costa Rican Embassy USA:

Costa Rican National Tourist Office:

You might find the guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here. 



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Travel and Teach

 As with many countries in the region there is a preference for American English, although this preference should not deter teachers from other countries in their search for employment. A degree and EFL certificate will enhance your prospects, as will any business qualifications or experience. Although wages are better in Costa Rica than in many other countries on the continent, the cost of living can be quite high in comparison.

Teaching positions rarely appear in the UK press and the most likely source of information about working there is likely to come from the Internet.  The academic year runs from March to December and there are opportunities for the adventurous traveller to pick up work on the spot. We would recommend at the very least you take a Global English 70 hour online Level 2 TESOL before you go. A speculative CV sent beforehand might also prove useful. 

Ensure your CV is professionally presented and highlight any business or commercial qualifications or experience. You might find the guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here. 

Permission to work or reside in Costa Rica is difficult to obtain, except for people that have been transferred by large corporations, are spouses of Costa Rican citizens, or are wealthy foreign investors. A U.S. citizen is allowed to stay in Costa Rica on a tourist visa for 90 days. At the end of the 90 days, the tourist is required to leave the country for 72 hours, which then allows a return for another 90 days with the renewed tourist visa. For those who overstay their visa, a small fine is imposed upon exiting the country. Some schools are willing to help prospective applicants with visa, residency, and housing needs.

US, Canadian and Panamanian citizens can enter Costa Rica more easily but it appears that most EFL teachers tend to work on their tourist visas, although this is technically illegal. This is because work visas are very difficult to obtain.

If working for a private language school, expect pay to be the US equivalent of $500-$600 US for a full timetable. 

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Courses Level 1 Level 1 + Young Learners Level 1 + business Level 1 plus 1-2-1 Level 2 Level 2 + Young Learners Level 2 + business Level 2 + 1-2-1 Teaching business English Teaching English to Young Learners Teaching English 1-2-1 Grammar course Weekend face-face
Price £195.00 £295.00 £295.00 £295.00 £315.00 £395.00 £395.00 £395.00 £140.00 £140.00 £140.00 £50.00 £170-£190
Duration (hours) 70 100 100 100 150 180 180 180 30 30 30 20 20 or 28
Time limit (months) 6 6 6 6 18 18 18 18 6 6 6 6 n/a
Modules 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 2 2 2 1 n/a
Content General English General English + Young Learners General English + Business General English + 1-2-1 General English General English + Young Learners General English + Business General English + 1-2-1 Business Young Learners One to One Grammar General


Yes . ACTDEC Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes.20 or 28 hour
Course book provided No Yes Yes No* No Yes Yes No* Yes Yes No* No No
View live teaching excerpts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No. n/a
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