WorldTeach - Volunteer Teaching in Costa Rica - Past Programs

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from WorldTeach.

Video and Photos

Costa Rican breakfast
WorldTeach volunteer & students
WorldTeach Costa Rica students
WorldTeach volunteer with host family
Small town life in Costa Rica


WorldTeach's volunteer program in Costa Rica, established in 1989, is their oldest continuously running program. Volunteers work with WorldTeach and the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) to provide Costa Rican students the opportunity to learn English. Volunteers teach in rural elementary schools as well as in the only two public bilingual elementary schools in the country. In rural areas, the students wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to learn English in school even though it is an official school subject. At the bilingual elementary schools, volunteers make an impact by working with local English teachers to provide integrated instruction to students who live in areas economically fueled by tourism, and thus where there is a high demand for English language skills. Volunteers have the option of serving for an entire academic year or for a summer.

Yearlong program: January through mid-December
Summer program: late May / early June through mid-August

Questions & Answers

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based on 39 reviews
  • Benefits 9.6
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Facilities 9.5
  • Safety 9.6
  • Instruction 9
  • Support 8.9
  • Value 9.3
  • Academic Rigor 7.5
  • Job Assistance 6.9
Showing 31 - 39 of 39
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Yes, I recommend this program

Pura Vida

I wouldn't trade my world teach experience for anything. They supported me in my scary wildlife encounters and encouraged me to get out and explore the country! I got to experience teaching Spanish speaking students and learned to communicate in ways I never imagined.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the high cost is a deterrent.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica will now forever be "home"

I spent a full school year in Costa Rica, working in a 300 person rural community in the mountains. It was absolutely everything I was looking for! I requested to be as rural as possible, with a host family, where no one speaks English, and this is exactly what I got. I taught grades K-6 every day to 40 students, and spent my weekends going on local hikes, playing in the river with my host family, or helping my host mother cook. I was immediately accepted into the community and have already been back to visit! WorldTeach offered me support but it was definitely a time to teach myself how to tackle daily obstacles and problem solve on my own. I still look back on my year in Costa Rica as one of the best of my life.

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Yes, I recommend this program

world teach Costa Rica fantastic experience!

World Teach Costa Rica was an amazing experience. The program had a very thorough orientation. I always felt I was in good hands with the in country support. I highly recommend the program to friends.

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Yes, I recommend this program

WT Costa Rica Was Amazing

At the recommendation of a professor, I participated in World Teach Costa Rica after graduating from college. From the initial interview process to the pre-trip materials to the month-long orientation to the support I received in-country to the friendships I've made with both fellow volunteers and Costa Ricans I met, it was an outstanding and life-changing experience. Because WTCR is in mostly rural communities, you get a richer cultural and linguistic immersion than other programs. (We all spoke fluent Spanish by the end, even those who started with no Spanish at all.) The fees seem steep but are well worth-it. My host family was wonderful; I was comfortable and well-fed. When ill, I had access to excellent medical care and insurance. An in-country supervisor was always a phone call away. Although I can proudly say that WT volunteers are there to teach and make a difference and become part of their communities, not be on an extended vacation, the program afforded ample time to travel and explore CR's legendary parks and beaches. I came back from CR a more confident, world-conscious person, and like many of my fellow volunteers, I've repeatedly traveled back to visit the place I consider my second home. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!

What would you improve about this program?
Truthfully, nothing comes to mind! I was there nearly 10 years ago, and if there were complaints back then, they've long faded from my memory. However, there is a strong network of communication between all the various years' volunteers in my village, and through recent volunteers, I've heard that the numbers of WTCR participants have dwindled from 30 per year in my time to fewer than 10 this past year. From what I understand, this is not due to problems with the CR program, but rather with the fact that the fee is high compared to other WT programs in Spanish-speaking countries. The high number of volunteers scattered around the country was something I loved, so I simply hope that WT continues to explore ways to reduce the fees or recruit people to this marvelous program in a wonderful country. The only way to fix this "problem" is for people to heed the advice of reviews like mine and take the plunge and sign up!
Response from WorldTeach

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this helpful review. You are correct that our program in Costa Rica is one of the more expensive programs we host. This is because the funding that we receive from our in-country partner, the Costa Rica Ministry of Public Education, is limited. The countries that need WorldTeach volunteers the most often cannot afford to fund the entire program, and for that reason the volunteer pays the remainder after the partner has contributed their funds. WorldTeach has served in Costa Rica since 1989, and despite the financial constraints, continues to provide life-changing experiences for our volunteers and their students.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Still useful after 10 years!

I participated in WorldTeach's yearlong Costa Rica program over 10 years ago, yet I find that the experiences I had are still relevant to me now. Not only did I learn Spanish and gain great teaching experience, I also gained crosscultural understanding that has served me well in a variety of jobs. I also gained friends--fellow volunteers as well as my host family--with whom I'm still in touch.

During my year in Costa Rica, I taught in two small elementary schools in a rural Costa Rican village. Each day I prepared lessons and taught 3-6 English classes for 1st through 6th graders. Though teaching is a lot of work, I had plenty of time for reading, getting to know the little town and my neighbors, and exploring Costa Rica on weekends and during school vacations. I'd happily recommend the program to anyone who loves working with kids and is open to new experiences. My year of teaching in Costa Rica was not always easy, but it was incredibly valuable to me.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Tico Times

WorldTeach provided me with a lot of firsts: my first extended trip abroad (beyond a third grade family vacation), my first time in a developing country, my first stay with a host family, my first time teaching in a classroom, my first time entirely immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture. Even one of these, let alone the combination, could have been overwhelming or terrifying. Instead, through the efforts of the U.S. office and especially the field staff in Costa Rica, the elements of my volunteer experience formed a cohesive, unforgettable summer.

With a positive and "ready for anything" (yet prepared) state of mind, it became possible to appreciate and love so much more, while materially possessing so much less. During orientation, my co-volunteers, field staff and I realized some previously undiscovered teaching skills, attempted to memorize games and songs, and above all gained a loving, strong and supportive group of friends. A week later, alone in a rural village seemingly accessible only by motorcycles and ATVs, my own abilities and new-found state of mind were tested.

In the community, at home, and in school, I was forced to choose whether I or not I would say "yes." I had already said "yes" to teaching from 8 am until 1 pm, five days a week, but the greatest impact occurred when I was able to say "yes" outside the classroom. With this word, I discovered a love of delicious Costa Rican food (arroz con pollo! gallo pinto! fruit picked from the trees on the walk home with my students!), and made great memories in $10/night hostels and on five hour bus adventures. I swept the floor and hung the laundry out to dry with my host mom, running outside to collect clothes when the afternoon rain started to fall. I watched my students fawn over the camera I had brought into the community, and let them improve my soccer skills and laugh when I slipped on the moss-covered rocks at the river.

Right now, I may not physically be a part of the "pura vida," or even be able to recollect precisely what I did to fill each day in that tiny village outside of San Isidro del General. I do, however, have a group of friends who are always willing to nostalgically reminisce, and the knowledge that each of my small daily journeys in Costa Rica has undoubtedly shaped who I am today. I can credit WorldTeach with confirming my love of travel and exploration. This journey began with the simple realization that if you want to try something new, you can (no matter how crazy it sounds to your "grounded" friends and family). I would encourage anyone who is even minimally drawn to this program, to make the jump and say "yes."

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Yes, I recommend this program

A Year of Rice and Beans - and so much more!

I volunteered with WorldTeach in 2008 and couldn't be happier with my choice to do so. I was placed in a tiny town of about 200 people on the Pacific coast. I had 30 students in my school, spread across 1st - 6th grades. I met with each grade for 40 minutes each day that there was school (supposed to be 5 days a week, but canceled often because of meetings and rain). I lived with a host family of a mom, dad, 13 year old host brother, and 2 year old host nephew. I ate my meals at home and had my own bedroom with a bed, dresser, fan, and small table.

Although I was teaching, I learned many things. I learned to eat rice and beans for three meals a day for an entire year, to laugh at my blunders in Spanish, to keep small children's attention in a foreign language, to make delicious breads at the local bakery with a family who has been baking for over 50 years, to make beautiful jewelry made out of locally found seeds and shells, and to live a little bit slower.

Don't get me wrong - there were definitely challenging moments. Moments where I couldn't handle being bitten by another bug, moments where I wanted the weather to be cool enough to snuggle under a warm blanket and drink hot chocolate (instead of instantly sweating from the moment after I finished my cold shower), moments that I had no idea what to do in the classroom to reign in the sugared and caffeinated energy of my students, and moments when I could no longer smile and swallow all the town gossip.

However, the things that I learned, and the connections that I made, far outweigh those (now insignificant) challenging moments. Four years later I still keep in touch with my host family, friends, and students. I am bilingual and use my cross-cultural skills in my work everyday. In addition to the connections I made in my community, I made friendships with my fellow volunteers as we battled many of the same challenges in distinct small towns throughout Costa Rica. Each of our experiences was unique - different families, different sized classes, different climates, etc - but we were all thread together just the same.

I found the staff support, in-country as well as in the US, to be friendly, very knowledgeable, and flexible. The training was excellent and I always felt safe. I couldn't have asked for more out of my year teaching and learned far more than I taught.

I rated two things slightly lower, "Fun" and "Facilities" but I'd like to explain why below.

Fun - I think "Fun" depends on your interpretation. My weekends were filled with Bingo games, soccer matches, and long quiet walks. There were no movie theaters, malls, or shopping of any kind. Some people may not find small town life fun, but I loved it.

Facilities - Also depends on your interpretation. They ended up working out just fine, but were definitely not your average American classroom. I taught in the cafeteria with one long table, one tiny whiteboard, and with only the materials I could invent from construction paper, index cards, contact paper, scissors, and a sometimes-working-copy-machine. Another challenge indeed, but it gave me the opportunity to really learn how to be resourceful.

In short, really great experience, where I saw the impact my work was doing (my students use English in the developed tourism industry north of their community), and which has brought me to where I am today.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Best Summer of My Life! Pura Vida

I can't say enough good things about this program. The staff were so helpful and caring. They picked out the best (and safest) home-stays with equally caring parents and siblings. I loved my placement, my kids, and my family. All helped me to have a great experience in not only teaching but in improving my Spanish as well. I really felt like a part of the El Paraiso community, and I still keep in touch with them today.

I would recommend this program to everyone!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

WorldTeach Year in Costa Rica

WorldTeach also offers year-long volunteer positions in public elementary schools throughout rural Costa Rica. I lived with a local family in a very remote town and taught daily English classes in the town's elementary school. Despite being an obvious stranger to the area, over the course of the year I became part of my rural town’s close-knit community as I held meaningful conversations and formed lasting friendships with Costa Ricans.

I received excellent support from WorldTeach staff throughout my year-long experience. Plus, WorldTeach is affiliated with the reputable Harvard University Center for International Development, helping to make your experience look great on a resume. I highly recommend volunteering with WorldTeach in Costa Rica.