If you have an adventurous spirit, want to experience a new way of living, and would like to explore teaching, this is your lucky day. In Costa Rica we are looking for you.
«Leave your comfort zone«
«Explore the world»
«Collect experiences, not things«
These are just a few of the many phrases you have likely heard or seen on your social media feeds. Are they cliché? No doubt. But are they true? Well, that’s up to you. Clichés are clichés because they’re true; at least in part.
Here’s another clichéd expression: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’m not going to lie — work is work. But do you enjoy teaching and helping others? Do you like helping someone either get a new job or advance in their chosen professional field? Or, do you have a nudging feeling or impulse that it’s time to shake up your life, to explore, or to just go? Then teaching abroad may be for you. Working in a lovely location with only the limits you place on yourself allows you to love your work. Leaving your comfort zone is one of the most valuable experiences you can have in this short life. This process demands that you stretch and grow as a person and professional. I am originally from Texas, USA and I made the decision to leave my comfort zone and move to Costa Rica.
My experience in Costa Rica so far
I’ve been here for about a year and a half and I have absolutely no regrets. I invite you to brew yourself a cup of the best coffee (which by the way, comes from Costa Rica) and get to know a little more about life under this small piece of sky with beautiful beaches, cloud forests, and volcanoes galore.
Because of Costa Rica’s microclimates and biodiversity, you can explore almost any environment your heart desires within a few hours of the bustling capital of San Jose, with streets that haven’t seen an army since 1949. These are just a few photos of some of my local adventures. Turns out it truly is like teaching in paradise!
Why did I decide to live in Costa Rica?
One of the deciding factors for my decision to come to Costa Rica was based on work opportunities and finding ways to give back to the community, I wanted to find a place to utilize and grow my teaching skills while simultaneously helping others. During my time in this incredible country, I have been able to work with Idioma Internacional. Idioma teaches business English to a variety of companies, some of which are known locally and others that are internationally recognized. We also work in alliance with various Costa Rican government programs to teach scholarship students who are either unemployed or are looking to advance their career. This is one of my favorite things that Idioma Internacional does!
And as for my personal opinion on why I live in Costa Rica, and why I consider is like teaching in Paradise well, outside of working with a great company like Idioma Internacional, living in Costa Rica is synonymous with living in a tropical or alpine paradise. There are microclimates that vary immensely based on elevation and location within the region. Interestingly, living in the tropics can make the sun a variable factor throughout the country.
The tropical climate guarantees a new experience each season. In fact, there are only two: dry and rainy, predicting the presence or absence of rain is impossible especially with microclimates throughout the country. The general recommendation that never fails is: carry an umbrella or rain poncho everywhere you go. I also find it helpful to always carry some sort of dry bag with me for any electronics or things I don’t want to drown in the deluges of the rainy season.
Why Costa Rica and not another destination?
The natural beauty of this magical country attracts tourists and creates a wonderful place for independent workers and digital nomads to set up shop. One advantage is the connectivity. Telephone and internet are accessible throughout the country which easily facilitates remote work. Can you imagine working on the beach or in the midst of the rainforest? There are also internet co-working spaces and cafes readily accessible in the cities.
Whether you prefer to drive or use public transport, in terms of distances, it’s fairly short as there are public transport services and roads throughout the country. Compared to other countries in Central and South America, Costa Rica has one of the best road systems I’ve seen. (And I’ve seen some “roads” that don’t deserve the name in other countries.) If you are looking to explore nature, ecotourism companies can take you wherever you want. However, it is usually cheaper to organize it yourself. Sometimes you can find companies that include meals and honestly, with the gas prices right now, you need to shop around and analyze which option would be the best for you and your budget.
In the ever-growing global community, there are now so many ways to explore the world. Maybe you’ve already started your journey or maybe you are in the midst of planning it now. The truth is that teaching in Costa Rica is one of the best things you can do. At Idioma Internacional, talented native English speakers are welcome teach in paradise, explore all that this land has to offer, as well as participate in the socio-economic growth of the country and the development of the entire region.
Signing off from captivating Costa Rica,
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!
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.
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.