My name is Garth Johnson and I’ve been a virtual corporate trainer with Idioma Internacional for the past six months. I am from sunny South Africa and even though I live far away, I feel as though I am in Costa Rica because our team, or rather corporate family, works so closely together.

In a word, I would describe my overall experience with Idioma as phenomenal! Having the opportunity to work with highly-educated English trainers and students from around the world is probably the best thing a teacher could ask for and makes working with Idioma Internacional a truly multicultural experience! Not only does this position provide you with the opportunity to sharpen your skills as a trainer by challenging you to change your approach based on the type of students you interact with, but you are also able to learn from professional colleagues who are always around to lend a helping hand at a moment’s notice. And by always, I mean, ALWAYS! 

I have been a virtual English trainer for four years going on five and I can safely say I have never worked for a more organized, flexible, and efficient company than Idioma Internacional.

As a trainer at Idioma, you are provided with lesson plans and materials to follow which effectively aid in structuring every lesson, while at the same time, allowing for the flexibility to make each class your own. This takes a lot of pressure off of the trainer as it enables you to focus on the delivery of each lesson as opposed to the structure itself. 

What are my hours like? Is my schedule consistent? These details can be nightmares for virtual trainers! You’d think it would be difficult for me considering the fact that there is an 8-hour time difference between Costa Rica and South Africa, but to my surprise, it hasn’t been an issue at all! With Idioma Internacional, you can rest assured as you are able to work closely with the Operations Director to tailor your perfect schedule; in other words, scheduling is every virtual trainer’s dream come true!

I got into the teaching career path for two reasons: my undying love for people and for the English language! Most online schools work with new students each day or week which takes away from the experience as you are not able to form relationships and work on students strengths and weaknesses; however, at Idioma Internacional, the opposite is true. Classes consisting of the same students are assigned to you over different periods of time, allowing genuine relationships to form and students to give their best and receive the same in return!

Let me tell you, the feeling you get when you hear that you have made a difference in someone’s life by helping them get that job, promotion or merely just a boost in confidence, by doing what you love with a company that loves what you do, is certainly unmatched. 

I am proud and honored to be part of the Idioma team!

-Garth Johnson

Disclaimer​: Teachers were asked to write about their own personal experience with online/ in-country teaching with Idioma Internacional. This blog post contains the teacher’s own personal thoughts and opinions, and freely expressed views on their part.

It feels like a looooong time ago that we were ending 2019 and launching into 2020!

We had a great Christmas Party at an Argentinian steakhouse in Escazú and then went up the mountain for a zarpe to end the evening and close out 2019. When we came back from our paid Christmas vacation time, we hit the ground running!

The new year kicked off with several new staff members joining our team. We also launched a new automated and recorded speaking assessment policy to enhance the program for our teachers and students. And we started several new accounts and even added some wonderful clients to our community!

In early March 2020, we had just finished up another successful year as the strategic language evaluations partner for the CINDE Job Fair, where we evaluate over 10,000 job candidates’ language levels in English, French and Portuguese. At this same time, the news and first case of COVID-19 were hitting Costa Rica quite hard. 

On Monday, March 9th, the Costa Rican government started taking action against the Covid-19 virus as the first case in CR hit just days before. On Tuesday, March 10th, the Idioma Internacional team decided to close our physical offices and transfer all of our classes to virtual, online platforms. By that next day, the entire team and operations were up and running 100% virtually and with very few bumps along the way.

I have to credit the teaching team the most for making this transition happen so quickly and so smoothly. Prior to the pandemic, we were already operating with around 25% of our classes in a virtual or hybrid (part onsite and part virtual) modality; therefore, all of the teachers were already trained and prepared as virtual instructors, save one or two of the newer teachers, and were ready to lead our students into a fully virtual educational experience from one day to the next. This quick and efficient transition to a completely virtual working and teaching environment by the Idioma teaching team is truly one of the most remarkable efforts that Idioma Internacional, in its 20+ years, has seen.

Of course, nothing is easy, nor should it be. Our team has been working hard to optimize this experience and embrace it as an opportunity.

The curriculum team has overhauled our Virtual Learning Platform to more than double the amount of asynchronous, online resources for students’ learning, available 24 hours, 7 days a week, from anywhere with an internet connection.

The recruiting team adjusted to expand our hiring reach to teachers outside of Costa Rica and our team now includes teachers in Costa Rica and several other countries around the world, adding to the diversity and the ‘internacional’ part of our name and identity.

Our marketing and sales team offered flexible solutions to our teaching projects, all of which help people get employed in an increasingly tight labor market worldwide.

For now, we are following the Minister of Health and President Carlos Alvarado’s guidelines and we are firing on all cylinders in this new and exciting virtual world. With the beaches now partially open and things slowly resuming to a new “normal” due to Costa Rica’s swift and unified handling of this pandemic, we are anxious to start dipping our toes back into this country’s gorgeous oceans and once again hang out as a team, be it on the beach or at a café in the capital. We know Costa Rica will soon return to being one of the best locations to visit and live in the world.

-Brendan Mulhall

Part of being an ESL teacher is having to say goodbye. We watch students learn, grow, and become more and more fluent in English. It is a beautiful thing to see so many students progress and get ready to make the next steps in their lives. However, it is also, always a mixed bag of emotions. The only way for me to describe it properly is to tell the story of three of my classes that graduated our program and are moving towards their new phases in life.

In order to put this in the correct context, I will start from when I first met my classes. All three classes that I had were taken over from other teachers who had to leave because their contracts ended, or they were assigned other classes that conflicted with the schedule of these. I had observed two out of the three classes. During the observations, I was able to see how wonderful these students really are.

Once I was given the classes, I truly connected with the students and found my initial reaction to be absolutely correct. Each student was individually brilliant, and as a whole they made class time incredibly fun. I worked for them for three and a half months. It is not a long time in the grand dance of life, but it was sufficient to understand what kinds of people they are. If every teacher had students like mine, this profession would be saturated with applicants.

Anyway, after working with them for that time, the end had come near. I only had one last week with them. As the final class for each group approached, I began to feel melancholy. I knew they were excited to be finished. I would have been also, in their shoes. I prepared the lesson with a sinking feeling in my chest. I knew I would miss them, but I didn’t think it would actually affect me this heavily.

I kept the lessons light and fun on the last days. All the students wanted pictures of the entire group, including myself. It was very special to me. I felt more like a part of something than I had in a long time. We took many group photos, made sure that we all looked happy and then finished the class with some good group discussions.

It was the end of the final class. I had all the students packing and preparing to leave. I had my bag organized again, the whiteboard cleared, the chairs put up. Then we all stood there looking at each other. I could tell this was going to be the hard part. I could sense the emotions like a bird senses the dawn. I told them that they could leave, class was over. Then, almost in a resounding chorus, they replied, “but teacher, we don’t want to leave.” I could have cried right then. My heart swelled with admiration and a massive sense of appreciation. These students, who were going to school for 7-9 hours a day, and then more class on Saturdays had just told me they didn’t want to leave! I did cry. It was so meaningful to me.

We left together since we couldn’t leave one by one. We got towards the exit and exchanged our cordial goodbyes (I wasn’t crying anymore). I know that they will go on to accomplish great things. I know that they need to be finished and out of the program. I know that they taught me more than I could ever teach them.