English Volunteers for Change in Costa Rica sought to increase Costa Rica's economic competitiveness by offering exciting teaching opportunities in public, private and corporate institutions. This is a hub for a program no longer running.
I was immediately excited about the opportunity to volunteer in Costa Rica as soon as I spoke to the EVOLC Coordinator about the INA organization and what they provide to young adults seeking better opportunities for themselves and loved ones. I was hesitant, at first, to live with a host family and worried I wouldn't connect with the students or my co-teachers. Although I had some experience training employees, this was my first time teaching in a classroom. My worries quickly disappeared. My host and her family were nothing but very hospitable and kind.
Teaching: I had the pleasure of working with two co-teachers. Both co-teachers worked with me to improve both the academic and social aspect of the classes taught. The rapport built with the students, however, was by far the most rewarding part of the experience. The positive impact you make with the students, community, and colleagues is valued and appreciated. As soon as you notice their efforts improving you become humbled and proud.
There were some communication and scheduling issues with the school throughout my stay in Costa Rica but the EVOLC coordinator was always available to talk and worked with you to find solutions. She kept in touch to make sure things were going smoothly and she also "introduced" me to a couple of people volunteering in the area I was working in - It's always nice to have other volunteers to talk to and share your experiences with, from time to time.
I would recommend this program to anybody willing to open their minds to discover a beautiful country and open their hearts to help develop beautiful minds.
I was the first English volunteer at a school in San Jose and I believe that the work I did really made a difference - and I hope, as a result will offer up further opportunities for other volunteers after me. The two teachers I worked with were extremely friendly - and made me really feel part of a team. They took on board any ideas I had and encouraged me to utilise them with the children - who ranged in age from kindergarten to approximately eight years of age. It was extremely rewarding when the children enjoyed the activities and found them fun - but importantly at the same time helped them to improve their English. For me it was a very positive experience. I never imagined I would have enjoyed working with children so much and feel such a sense of achievement in helping them to better their understanding of English. I should add that Costa Rican children are quite delightful and make it easy because they are so friendly and tend to see their teachers as 'friends' - a very different perspective from Australia and England where I have lived. However, on the other hand, they also present challenges - they are very relaxed in the classroom - frequently moving around and talking. But meeting these challenges means you gain valuable experience and confidence as you work towards addressing them.
In short, it was a very positive experience for me. I discovered something about myself which was a surprise, felt I provided I contributed to the children's understanding of English and provided some assistance to the teachers when they needed it. I would recommend doing such work - you will never forget it!
How can this program be improved?
The social aspect could have been a little better, but this really depends upon how many participants are taking part in the program. Unfortunately one person EVOLC would have put me in touch with, left shortly after I arrived. The family I stayed with were lovely and made me extremely welcome but it would have been good to have explored San Jose with someone participating in a volunteer program. Perhaps volunteer organisations in San Jose could work together on bringing together volunteers for socialisation?
I would add that the coordinator of my program took me out one night and was always very friendly and helpful.
I was placed in a great location with a wonderful and friendly host family. My teaching experience was very challenging and rewarding. I really enjoyed working with my students and getting to know them. I really learned a lot as a teacher and person through EVOLC. They were supportive and wanted me to succeed in every way. I would definitely recommend this program to others! Overall, it was a wonderful experience that I will never forget.
How can this program be improved?
Funding is difficult, but more resources/materials for teaching would have been helpful.
A journalist friend of mine who volunteered in Africa is now investigating unscrupulous voluntary organisations and asked me did I know of any in Central or South America. It made me think how lucky I was to tee up with i-to-i which attracted the interest of not-for-profit group EVOLC [English Volunteers for Change] which aims to make Costa Rica bilingual by 2020. The program co-ordinator's thoughtful placement for me at Escuela Nueva Laboratoria and with my host family continues to have a positive effect and I've formed great contacts that I hope will become life-long associations. EVOLC chose the right fit for me. Everything about the program was professional, which contributed to my sense of feeling totally at ease as a new volunteer in a foreign country. Because I felt I was in safe hands under EVOLC it made my experience in the Costa Rican capital such a positive one. Now looking back on that experience, which only ended in late May, I feel privileged to have been involved with a group such as EVOLC. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the program, and I'd love to return to repeat it but next time I'll stay longer.
How can this program be improved?
It is hard for me to be critical about this program because I truly had the best experience. When I return, given I'd like to repeat my volunteer experience, I'll stay longer and enroll in Spanish language classes as my skills need improving! If anything, knowing more Spanish would have enhanced my experience, although I certainly picked up more words during my volunteer stint over 6 weeks.
I taught English at INA for 3 months through EVOLC and had only great experiences there. The school was very good, the Costa Rican teachers were very competent and fluent in English and they were extremely helpful to me. The students were eager to learn and very hospitable as well. The host family was the best that I could have asked for anywhere. The family the teachers and the students invited me to weekend retreats, restaurants, cafes, parties and their homes. I even went to a wedding and a funeral! I was welcomed everywhere. The classes were beginner to intermediate and very enjoyable. We had alot of fun playing music, movies, videos and games. Of course, I had to teach them grammar and vocabulary too and they grouped up in pairs or more making different presentations in the classroom with power point or just conversations as well as written tests and homework assignments. I saw their progression and felt that I had helped them alot learn English fluency.
A flexable was to experience Costa Rica.
If you desire to live abroad-as opposed to merely travel-and want to do so in Central America, I would highly recommend this program as a way to do so.
I was introduced to EVOLC by a friend already living in Costa Rica. Thus, I had a bit of an "in" in the application process and found it very easy and convenient to be accepted. But in general the application process and placement will be very comfortable and accommodating for anyone. If you want to be in a city, let them know, if you want to be on a beach, let them know.
I was placed in San Jose which is not a tourist destination in and of itself, but is the central hub for all travel in Costa Rica and has a lot of offer. I was fortunate enough to be placed in two great, and extremely different, programs: a NGO in the morning that allowed me to work with adults and a high school in the afternoons where I worked with, well, high school kids. This allowed me to get multiple perspectives on Costa Rican life. Therefore, my experience was more rewarding. As a plus, you work Monday through Thursday so you have a three-day weekend to travel around Costa Rica.
I was placed into a wonderful host family which treated me just fantastically. It was in a nice community part way between my two programs and near UCR which means there is a lot of student infrastructure: better for those of you in your 20s, or those of you looking to formally study Spanish.
Overall, I think my experience in Costa Rica was great. I would recommend EVOLC to anyone who wishes to have a secure placement in Central America and wishes to actually experience the culture and people of Costa Rica rather than just spend a week traveling though the country. Moreover, you can stay there anywhere from four weeks to much longer so you can adjust the program to fit you.
Great experience with an organization that cares
EVOLC has diverse partners all over Costa Rica so you are guaranteed to find the program and place for you. Also, they have programs with different levels of responsibility from assisting other teachers to running the English program very independently.
Your stay in Costa Rica will depend on the local community and the local partner, because they are very different. EVOLC is based in San Jose and will provide support via phone and email. No matter the challenges or issues, EVOLC is there for you literally 24/7 and ready to help you with any professional or personal issues. They are a small organization and able to focus on the individual volunteer.
My only criticism would be that there isn't always fluent communication between the organization and the local partners and some things do not get done and it may be frustrating for the volunteer. For me it was the case of not having Internet access at home, which I had different information about from EVOLC, my host family and my local partner. Also, we were told that there were many activities and trips during our stay in Costa Rica which never happened. ALso, there was a big typo in our contracts about program fee and deposit.
Examples of how EVOLC did help: My housing situation was not satisfying in the first weeks, and EVOLC took it very seriously and found new housing for me almost immediately. Also, they followed up to make sure I was comfortable in the new housing. They also relocated another volunteer when it was too hot for her in the city she was living in.
All in all it's a good organization that really wants to make a difference in the works. I can recommend it.
San José, Costa Rica
I gave a little and received 10 times more
First of all, I should say that I volunteered with EVOLC Costa Rica in the Administrative aspects of the organization. When I first arrived at EVOLC, I had no clue what to expect and had even less of an idea how to approach the fact i knew nothing about running an NGO. But working with EVOLC has been without a doubt the best experience i have ever made. I went there to volunteer a few days a week and I found myself devoting 5 days and my free time to the EVOLC cause. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing the progress you have made as working for EVOLC has shown me. Moreover, EVOLC and its wonderful team of employee's has given me the idea to start my own NGO with their organization as my first client. If you really want to make a change in the life of others, or even your own life, this non-profit is definitely the one to volunteer with!
San Francisco, California
Best Decision of My Life!
Deciding to volunteer for six months in Costa Rica through the EVOLC program was the best decision I've ever made.
Teaching: Although I had my TEFOL certificate, I didn't have any formal teaching experience when I arrived in Liberia, Costa Rica. However, with some very helpful training and tips from my EVOLC coordinator and "learning by doing" I quickly learned how to be a teacher. My students made it easy to learn: they were excited, engaged and motivated. Ticos in general have wonderful/friendly/funny personalities and all of my students also became my friends. I also felt like I was providing a needed service. For better or worse, many jobs require applicants to speak from 50-80% English so there is definitely pressure for locals to perfect their English skills.
Housing/Living: I LOVED my host family. They were warm and welcoming and wanted me to feel like a member of the family, which I did. When we'd go somewhere, my host mom would actually introduce me to people as her daughter :) The house was clean and cute, and the food was AMAZING! All of my meals were prepared at home, and it was all so good that I usually didn't want to eat out. Again, because Ticos are so friendly, it didn't take long for me to feel like a local.
EVOLC: From reading the other reviews on here, it sounds like EVOLC has come a long way since it's inception. While it's still a relatively "young" program, I didn't have any problems with the program and got more support than I even expected. (In other words, all my expectations were met or exceeded). The current program coordinator is amazing and she's doing a lot to perfect and grow the program. That being said, I think anyone interested in teaching/living abroad should come with a sense of adventure and a "go with the flow" attitude. After all, you're working with efforts between EVOLC, a local partner and the Tico culture, which doesn't tend to run as quickly or efficiently as things in the States!
Again, I had a wonderful experience teaching in Costa Rica. I was an English teacher during the week and a tourist on the weekends. It was the best six months ever!
A REAL Costa Rican experience!
I was in the EVOLC (formerly known as CREST) program in 2009, as one of the first volunteers. The program gave us a 2-week training period, which was quite useful, and then we were placed in our respective locations. I moved to the rural town of Uvita, in the South Pacific. Transportation was ok, but I bought a scooter to be able to go to the beach without waiting for the bus once every 2 hours. The people were very friendly - and I still have friends I can visit!
The culture is PURA VIDA, which translates to LIFE IS GOOD. If you don't mind the humidity and enjoy a tropical climate, then this is the place for you!
Self-starters need apply, because you will most likely be the first in a community that has not had a teacher before. This means you are in charge of the curriculum, hours, materials, and placing your students in the correct levels. Shy people need not apply!
What you put into this program, you will get out of it. I taught 20 hours a week, with about 10 hours of work on preparation. It was "English by Kelly" and I loved it!
Be willing to learn Spanish. And don't forget your bug spray and sun lotion, and especially an open mind!
Good luck, and enjoy the ride. PURA VIDA!
Great for teaching with limited resources
When I did this program I was fresh out of my TEFL class, certificate still warm in my hand. I think that it was a good start to my English teaching career, having to design classes on my own and come up with activities and things on my own. It was definitely challenging but very rewarding in the end. Costa Rica is an amazing country with down to earth people and I enjoyed it. My day to day experiences included two classes a day of about 2 hours each class four out of five days a week. We worked with mostly adults and young people who were involved in tourism in the area of Liberia. The family I stayed with were darling and very helpful in the installation of me in the community and also working with the Camara de Turismo to make sure I had everything I needed. I would definitely reccomend this program to those looking for a challenge and looking to lend 5-6 months to helping a community advance.
I loved my students and living in CR, but I would not work again with this organization
I absolutely loved living in Costa Rica. I loved teaching and my students and ultimately they were the reason that I did not leave early, even though I was extremely frustrated with EVOLC at many times to the point that I considered leaving.
This non-profit is very disorganized. There were many things that we were initially told- that did not end up happening (for example we were told that EVOLC would organize an end of the term get together with the other volunteers and leaders, which just never happened).
The same standards were not applied across the board, some volunteers were told that they had to have a TEFL certificate and pay full price, while others did not have to do the certification and did not pay to be in the program. I also was not told that my students would have to be paying for their classes- which made no sense to me because I was paying to volunteer there to offer what I thought would be free classes.
I expressed these grievances multiple times and was not heard.
Overall, I absolutely loved living in Costa Rica. I would go back again in a heartbeat. But- I would go with a more organized program. I wish there had been a website like this when I was looking so I would have known what to expect.
Benefits Exceeded My Expectations
The volunteer program was an overall great experience! Living with a host family was exactly what I wanted, loving people who took me in and treated me as their own. Not only did they do that, they showed me Costa Rica while helping me learn the language and experience their culture.
Teaching was definitely a challenge! With no in-class experience, the students were patient with me and just excited to be there! They were the reason my classes were so enjoyable and made me want to help them learn and succeed. They also became some of my very best friends.
Truly embracing the culture and seeing how learning English can affect your student's lives in such a positive aspect is what made this such a life changing experience. I will always be grateful for what volunteering abroad helped me learn and for the new family, friends, and students I have made in Costa Rica...PURA VIDA!!
My biggest complaint was that the old program coordinator told me one thing, and when I got to my location nothing was what I was told. He said, I would live with a family, I lived in a hotel that was completely vacant except for me. I would have lesson plans, there were none. I would have books, only one book was provided and it was for the wrong level. I would teach 4 days a week, I taught 6 with Sunday as a travel day. I would teach in one community, I taught in 3, I paid my own transportation and got reimbursed biweekly. The idea of the program is what got me there in the first place, but the disorganization of the program was just too much. I hope the new organization does a better job, and respects their volunteers and tells them the truth about what to expect.
Best Volunteer Teaching Organization in Costa Rica
Costa Rica was recently named "the happiest country in the world," again! I immediately recognized this from the hospitality of the host families and the wonderful, grateful students!
Everyday after class my students thanked me and they generally meant it. It was is so rewarding to be also to offer free English classes to those of whom wouldn't be able to take these classes otherwise, and they are truly grateful.
The host families treat volunteers like a member of the family. The food is delicious and plentiful, and there's always fresh tropical fruit.
EVOLC is the greatest volunteer organization because the staff is incredibly caring and supportive. They genuinely believe in EVOLC's mission and are available 24/7 for support. They have locations all over the country to choose from, whether you want to live on a small beach town, in the mountains, or in a big city.
EVOLC was an English teaching initiative sponsored by Aliarse, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the academic competitiveness of Costa Rica by increasing the number of English speakers. Their objective was to act as a catalyst in the...