Teaching English as a foreign language seems like the perfect solution if you want to travel and live abroad. After all, everyone wants to speak English! In many countries, little qualifications are required, a little experience and native language are often more important. In Costa Rica, there is a very high demand for English teachers, always, so why wait?
All is not as it seems!
At first glance, Costa Rica seems like the ideal solution. Many call centers have established themselves here, with an even higher demand for English Speakers. This country is classified as a developing country, rather than a third world, like some of its neighbors. It is relatively safe and pleasant. It is beautiful, with some of the most stunning beaches and rain forests of the world, with an outstanding biological diversity. Tourism is booming, which in turns also means a higher demand of English speakers. So what is the problem?
Salaries are less than satisfactory in this country, or sufficient, while the cost of living is soaring! My daughter just visited from UK and she was amazed upon finding that food costs more here! Teaching is no exception, indeed, because it usually pays by the hour you will find yourself trying miserably to make ends meet and to survive out of a meager income. If you want to live comfortably, rent decent dwellings and explore this wonderful country, you will find it very difficult to achieve, if not impossible! Don’t even dream of saving!
The work visa is another issue as most companies do not help you with the procedures. They will however give you the extra day every 3 months to hop over the border to renew your tourist visa. This solution however can only be temporary. If you do not have a visa, everything is a headache, more often than not, impossible; you cannot get a cellular phone line if you do not have your residency, you cannot open a bank account, etc.
As a teacher, your private life will have to go out the window. Extra hours will suddenly be assigned to you without prior warning, either very late at night or very early in the morning, sometimes during the weekends. They also may be removed without your knowledge. You may be given students who live on the other side of town where it takes over an hour to get to.
These are of course worse scenarios but they are worth contemplating. You will also need to decide where in Costa Rica you want to live; will it be in the Central Valley, in San Jose, where in San Jose, or will it be on the coast somewhere, and if so, which coast, the Pacific or the Caribbean? Or do you prefer to live near a rain forest? What are the potentials? What are the pros and cons?
San Jose may offer more possibilities yet most people do not come here to spend so much time in the capital. There are now some beach towns such as Tamarindo that offer you live on the beach, but again, all is not as it seems! For many such places are considered to be an outcry, ecological disasters that damage the beautiful and fragile environment.
If after reading this you still want to come and teach here, welcome to Costa Rica, the Pura Vida land of sun, sea, beach, parrots, toucans, howler monkeys, sloth, Ocelot and Jaguars. The land of flamboyant sunsets and tropical storms, of primary forests and volcanoes. Welcome to Costa Rica!
While these considerations may seem daunting, teaching abroad is almost always a very rewarding experience. While every job is different, many positions at private academies only require you to work part time, leading to a very stress free lifestyle. Another benefit to working in a country where demand for English is high is that most students are very eager to learn, making the teaching experience that much more enjoyable. In fact, your students will likely serve as invaluable resources in helping you adjust to a new language, an unfamiliar city and a different culture.
|Written by Mireille|
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