Teaching English in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, the skill of speaking English is an excellent way to advance a career. As Costa Rica interacts more and more with the Western world in terms of business communication, knowing how to speak English is becoming a priority among businessmen and students alike.

If you're interested in teaching English in Costa Rica, you can pretty much rest assured that you'll have an intriguing and enlightening experience. The following tips are designed to help you locate and land a job.

How do I know if I'm qualified?

Costa Rica, unlike many countries, does not require native English-speaking teachers to be certified in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). In general, those interested in teaching in Costa Rica need only have a Bachelor's degree, in any subject, from a four-year college.

The one exception to this is if you are planning on searching for and landing a job while still in your home country. Without the benefit of meeting you in person and interviewing you, many Costa Rican schools prefer their teachers to be certified. In this case, you should attend a certification program. Most colleges offer TEFL certification courses that last about a month.

The skills you learn from TEFL certification, regardless of whether or not they help you land a job, will be invaluable in a classroom setting, particularly if you've never taught before. If you can, get yourself certified before you begin your job hunt.

Should I head to Costa Rica to find a job?

The answer to this question is generally yes, if possible. The fact is that not many Costa Rican schools will hire you from overseas- and, as stated above, the requirements placed upon you may be stricter if they do so. If it all possible, you should plan a trip to Costa Rica for the sole purpose of job searching.

The good news is that many Costa Rican schools and businesses will hire you immediately if you interview in person. The effort involved in traveling to Costa Rica for these interviews shows that you are dedicated to teaching English, and also gives you a chance to make a good impression and display your English skills on the spot.

Where should I begin my job search in Costa Rica?

The real question here is when. If you're interested in teaching English in Costa Rica, you should be familiar with the fact that the school year runs from January to December. The majority of schools will not be hiring in the middle of the year; on the other hand, as December rolls around and current teachers change jobs and put in resignations, the roster will begin to open up. The best time to begin your job search is the last few months of the year- October, November, and December.

Keep in mind that if your preference is to teach somewhere other than a typical school or college, then the time of the year won't necessarily matter. Many large Costa Rican companies are hiring English teachers at any given time. If you're looking for this type of job, your best bet is to seek out connections wherever you can find them. Many Costa Rican newspapers have classified ads that offer information on available English teaching jobs.

Regardless of what type of job you choose or how you go about landing it, you're likely to fall in love with Costa Rica. It's considered a comfortable, laid-back country with wonderful weather and friendly people. Chances are good you'll spend much of your free time exploring the countryside and learning about the culture of which you're a part. Teaching English in Costa Rica can be a true learning experience!

By Michelle Simmons