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Volunteer Teaching in Costa Rica

Teach English and Other Subjects
  • Placement locations: Heredia and surrounding small towns
  • Types of schools: Elementary Schools
  • Age of students: 6 - 13
  • Class sizes: 10 - 40
  • Role: English Teaching Assistant
  • Requirements: None
  • Extra-curricular roles: IT, Music, Sports
  • Accommodation: Host families
  • Length of placement: From 2 weeks
  • Start dates: Flexible

English is an increasingly important skill to have in Costa Rica, especially with the flourishing tourism industry. As a Projects Abroad volunteer at the Teaching Project, you will work alongside local teachers to provide children with the skills they need to succeed in future careers by helping with spoken and written English. The exposure to conversational English that the children get with you will go a long way to advance their language skills and develop their confidence.

Our Teaching Projects in Costa Rica are based in elementary schools in and around Heredia in Costa Rica's Central Valley, where you will work with children ages 6-13. Each volunteer normally travels to their school by bus.

To join a Teaching Project in Costa Rica, you do not need to be a qualified teacher or have a TESOL/TEFL certification.

Volunteering as a Teacher in Costa Rica

Did you know? In poor and rural areas of Costa Rica, where children can’t easily get to school, classes are taught over a national radio station.

On your first day at your school, a Projects Abroad staff member will accompany you and introduce you to the local staff and your placement supervisor (normally the Director or one of the English teachers). You will be given your own schedule, but the school day typically begins around 7am and runs until the early afternoon. Your exact hours will depend on the school where you teach.

Your main role at the school will be to assist the local teacher as a classroom assistant during English classes. Typically, you will be supporting the teacher in a full sized class (which could be anywhere from as few as 10 students to as many as 40) and helping out with all aspects of the lesson. This includes pronunciation, conversation, and helping with written tasks.

There will also be times when you may take small groups of students aside to give them individual attention or to practice oral skills. If you demonstrate initiative and enthusiasm, you may have the opportunity to lead part or the entire lesson in the presence of the teacher.

A group of Costa Rican school children listen to two Projects Abroad volunteers during class

It is always worth talking to your supervisor about any ideas you may have for the students. If you are interested in teaching other subjects, local staff will be eager for you to teach students new skills and nurture their creativity through subjects such as IT, music, and sports. Teaching your students useful skills and encouraging them to express themselves creatively will be hugely beneficial for them.

The local teachers will appreciate you taking time to prepare and structure your lessons and activities. Good preparation will help to give you confidence and ensure that you and your students get the most out of your time in Costa Rica.

You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Costa Rica Teaching Management Plan.

Volunteering at a Teaching Placement in Costa Rica with Projects Abroad

Volunteer assisting students with classwork in a school in Costa Rica

During your time in Costa Rica, Projects Abroad staff will also give you support and advice and monitor your progress closely. We run regular workshops that you can attend to get help with ideas for useful classroom games or activities, or just to share your experiences and successes with other volunteers.

Schools in Costa Rica have their main vacations from mid-December to mid-February, with a shorter break in the first two weeks of July. Schools also close for one week over Easter (Holy Week). You will be able to travel or enjoy the festivities with your host family over the Christmas and Easter periods if you are abroad during this time. From the second week of January until mid-February, and during the July break, volunteers can get involved in our special vacation program. This includes activities such as community English classes, painting or renovation work in a local school or day care center, and a sports camp.

While you’re in Costa Rica, you might also consider joining a 1 week Conservation & Environment Project. For more information, please visit our Tropical Dry Forest Conservation & Environment Project in Costa Rica page. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.

Volunteer Profile Volunteer Jaclyn Beshlian shares the experience on the Teaching project in Costa Rica
Jaclyn Beshlian
As a part my assignment I had to purchase bilingual books and make sensory bottles for the children. The most rewarding part of my experience was seeing how happy these kids were while playing with the new toys that I had made for them. It was humbling to see how these kids could be so happy with water bottles filled with different types of beads or some glitter and water. Read more...
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