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Teach English in
Costa Rica

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Costa Rica, which translates as ‘Rich Coast’ in Spanish, lives up to its name as a beautiful country situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. With jungles, mountains, and lovely beaches, the scenery of this country will take your breath away. The rainy season lasts for a large part of the year (from […]

Costa Rica, which translates as ‘Rich Coast’ in Spanish, lives up to its name as a beautiful country situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. With jungles, mountains, and lovely beaches, the scenery of this country will take your breath away. The rainy season lasts for a large part of the year (from April to December) so while the scenery is beautiful, the weather isn’t always ideal. However, if this doesn’t put you off then Costa Rica could be a great place for your next teaching adventure.

Costa Rica often features on lists of the happiest places in the world, as well as ranking as one of the greenest, so there are plenty of reasons to consider living there. Other perks of working in Costa Rica include great healthcare, and a variety of TEFL opportunities.

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs : Heredia, Cartago, San Jose, Alajuela, Puntarenas, and Limon
  • EFL Teacher Salaries in Costa Rica: T EFL teachers in Costa Rica can usually expect monthly salaries between $600 and $1,000 USD / £480 - £800. This varies depending on the school type (language institute, private school, tutoring), your hours, and your qualifications. Workweeks are typically 20-25 hours, with contracts lasting 6-12 months.
  • TEFL qualification requirements in Costa Rica: To become an English teacher in Costa Rica, candidates typically need to be native English speakers (or able to prove fluency). A TEFL certification is vital. While a bachelor's degree isn't always required, it's preferred and can improve job prospects and potential earnings. Having some Spanish vocabulary is very helpful. In-person interviews are common, so being in Costa Rica during the application process can be extremely advantageous.
  • Term times : January to July
  • Currency : Colon
  • Language : Spanish
  • Teaching programmes : Voluntary, Language Schools, Business English, and International Schools
  • Age restrictions:  None
  • Previous teaching experience: Required for most positions

English is taught in primary schools as part of government policy, so standards have been improving in recent years. In the most recent EF English Proficiency Index, Costa Rica scored number 36 out of 100; since 2017 it’s score has improved from ‘low’ to ‘moderate’. While there is a large drive to learn English in Costa Rica, it can still be tricky to find paid positions, but for those who are happy to exchange voluntary teaching skills for a great experience teaching English abroad , there are rich opportunities to be found.

About 10% of the adult population speaks English as a second language. Expect to dress smartly for paid positions, though volunteer teachers will probably get away with a more relaxed attire. Students are typically well behaved, friendly, and eager to learn .

Requirements for teaching English in Costa Rica

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Teach in Costa Rica £500 - £800 GBP
($600 - $1,000 USD)
No January to July No No No None

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Living Costs

Costa Rica is the wealthiest country in Central America, but wages aren’t typically high for TEFL teachers. Living in the capital can be expensive, but it’s also where the highest wages are, so you’ll have to look at all the facts and balance everything up. How you spend your free time in Costa Rica will depend a lot on the weather! In the rainy season, many expats enjoy indoor pursuits such as going to a museum, splashing out for a spa day, hanging out in cafes, visiting local breweries to sample craft beer, and of course, spotting the turtles which are easy to spot in the wet weather.

In good weather, most expats hit the beach and sample local delicacies such as gallo pinto (a dish of rice, beans, onions, red peppers, and cilantro), chifijo (rice and pork topped with avocado, pico de gallo, chimichurri, and lime), olla de carne (a slow cooked stew), and pipa fria (a cold coconut with a straw sticking out the top) .

  • Accommodation : £539 - £674 / $757 - $947
  • Utilities : £44 / $62
  • Health insurance : Cost of typical visit to a GP: £54 / $76
  • Monthly transport pass : £25 / $34
  • Basic dinner out for two : £15 / $22
  • Cappuccino in expat area : £2.49 / $3.49
  • A beer in a pub : £1.64 / $2.30
  • 1 litre of milk : £0.97 / $1.37
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola : £1.80 / $2.52

(living costs sourced from Expatistan )

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