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Home > Costa Rica > Travel Center > Teaching English

Teaching English

Working in Costa Rica is easier than you think!

If you are looking for a way to finance your travel expenses while living in Costa Rica, how about teaching English? A positive attitude and enthusiasm can open doors for you that you never expected.

I came to Costa Rica with little teaching experience, an incomplete degree in English, and a little ESL training, and I found a job teaching English for a reputable company right in San Jose. But the one thing I DID have was a positive attitude, and I had the opportunity to get acquainted with Costa Rica through the ISLS Welcome to Costa Rica Program. Both were vital for me finding a job teaching English.

My experience began in January 2000. I left Canada with high hopes, but no guarantee of a job once I arrived here in Costa Rica. Call me adventurous, or just plain crazy, but I knew that with the right attitude I would come across something. I took the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course out of Canada through the Canadian Global TESOL Training Institute (an 80 hour correspondence course), and I gathered as many English resources I could pack into a suitcase. I had very little knowledge of Spanish, so I enrolled in one week of Spanish studies through ISLS (Institute for Spanish Language Studies) with a one-week homestay for the full “immersion effect.”

I tried contacting various organizations via internet/ fax/ phone, but I found it very difficult and restricting. Many organizations wouldn’t even look at my credentials or experience without a graduate degree. Another organization told me to call back once I learned a bit more Spanish. Needless to say, opportunities did not look promising.

I managed to find an organization that would possibly hire me, but I would have to take a 2 month training course once I arrived here that covered all the same material I had completed through my TESOL training. Furthermore, a job wasn’t guaranteed, the training wasn’t full time, nor was it very cheap. But it was a potential lead and that’s all I wanted.

As it turned out, once I arrived in Costa Rica and started at my Spanish school, the Tico Times Newspaper had an ad looking for English teachers. I immediately met with the director, went in for an interview, and began the 3-day teacher-training course two weeks later. From there I started teaching English 20 hours a week, and had weekends to travel and visit other parts of the country.

After becoming acquainted with the other teachers I was working with, I began to realize that they did not have the same opportunity that I had going through ISLS. They didn’t know how to get around San Jose (which I had learned through the Welcome Program), they hadn’t experienced whitewater rafting, they were having difficulty finding decent places to rent, and they knew very little about the opportunities available to them on the weekends. These were all things I had taken for granted because of my comfortable lifestyle change with ISLS. At the Student Guesthouse I had a fast mail service available to me, a phone line where family could reach me, travel excursion resources, a beautiful, clean home (with a washer and dryer – a huge advantage for any typical tico), free internet and a wealth of information available to me whenever I needed it.

So, if you’re curious about teaching in the tropics but are worried about qualifications, lack of employment opportunities, or just overseas life in general…ISLS can help.

What ISLS can do for English Teachers

Not only will ISLS acquaint you with life in Costa Rica, but we can help you pursue a teaching job. It is essential to have some knowledge of the Spanish language. By attending an ISLS school in Costa Rica, even for a short amount of time, you will not only learn Spanish, but almost as importantly, you will learn about the Costa Rican culture by staying with a host family. You can then stay at the Student Guesthouse while you look for a job and even after if it is possible until you find a place to live. The ISLS Guest House in San Jose has an excellent location central to most English teaching positions.

For more information, contact the ISLS office at Someone will be happy to answer any questions you may have about teaching English in Costa Rica, and help you pursue a job in San Jose. So “Pura Vida” and all the best in your search for employment in Costa Rica.

Buena Suerte!

Laurie Raho
Former ISLS Intern & English Teacher

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