Volunteer Teaching in Costa Rica
- Placement locations: Heredia, San Jose, and surrounding small towns
- Types of schools: Elementary Schools, High Schools, and Kindergartens
- Age of students: 6 - adult
- Class sizes: 10 - 40
- Role: English Teaching Assistant/Teacher
- Requirements: None
- Extra-curricular roles: Dance, Drama, IT, Music, Sports
- Accommodation: Host families
- Length of placement: From 4 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
As a Projects Abroad volunteer in Costa Rica at one of our Teaching placements, you can provide effective, practical help with spoken and written English. For the students, the increased exposure to conversational English will enable them to advance their language skills and brighten their futures. You can also teach subjects such as dance, drama, IT, music, and sports to further enrich students’ education.
Most of our volunteer Teaching projects in Costa Rica are based in elementary schools in and around the pleasant city of Heredia in Costa Rica's Central Valley, as well as in the capital, San José. We also offer placements in high schools and with younger children in a kindergarten.
Heredia and the surrounding area is an excellent base for exploring Costa Rica. It is only a few miles from San José, which has reliable transportation options to a variety of stunning Pacific and Caribbean beaches, and within easy reach of several national parks and volcanoes.
Volunteering as a Teacher in Costa Rica
Most of our placements for volunteer teachers in Costa Rica are in and around Heredia and San Jose and volunteers normally travel to their placement by bus. When you arrive, a member of Projects Abroad staff will take you to your school on your first working day and introduce you to the local staff and your placement supervisor (normally the Director or one of the English teachers).
Projects Abroad volunteer teachers, depending on where they are placed, could be teaching children as young as 5 or as old as 18. The size of the classes may vary from as few as 10 students to as many as 40. Although you will be given your own unique schedule, work generally begins at around 7am and runs until early afternoon. Your exact hours will depend on your specific placement and you will be given your own unique timetable when you arrive.
Your main role at the elementary and high schools will be that of a classroom assistant during English lessons. Normally you will be supporting a teacher in a full-sized class, assisting with all aspects of the lesson, including pronunciation, conversation, and helping with written tasks. At other times, you may take small groups of students aside to give them more individual attention or to practice oral skills. If you demonstrate initiative and enthusiasm, in some cases you may have the opportunity to lead part or the entire lesson in the presence of the teacher.
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, dance, drama, music, and sports. Teaching your students useful skills and encouraging them to express themselves creatively will be hugely beneficial for them.
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.
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.
I think I have become far more mature and well-rounded as a person. I know now how easy it is to make a difference – a presence in a classroom, an extra pair of hands, or simply using what skills you have to help – and this only adds extra incentive to do so again. Read more...
Volunteering at a Teaching Placement in Costa Rica with Projects Abroad
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 Teaching volunteers.
The 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). Volunteers are able to travel or enjoy the festivities with their host family over the Christmas and Easter periods. 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 project.
All volunteers participating on standard projects in Costa Rica have the opportunity to spend one week on a Conservation & Environment project at the end of their main placement. 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.