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TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 03/12/2023

Volunteer Teaching in Costa Rica with ALIARSE/EVOLC

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

EVOLC is a non-profit volunteer program which was established by ALIARSE and Costa Rica Multilingüe, a government sponsored initiative that seeks to create a bilingual Costa Rica. Supported by the Ministry of the Presidency of Costa Rica, the Ministry of Tourism, various local development associations, public and private enterprises, and the ALIARSE Foundation, EVOLC has brought more than 120 volunteers to Costa Rica to date, including a number of our International TEFL Academy graduates.  Check out grad Katherine's (December 2018) experience!

How Can I Volunteer in Costa Rica?

I found out about ALIARSE through an email from my instructors while getting certified to teach English at International TEFL Academy (ITA) Costa Rica. I was initially intrigued because I had wanted to spend my time as an English teacher abroad doing meaningful work and giving back to the community I was staying in. This program seemed like a good fit because it is partnered with a Costa Rican government initiative to more evenly develop the country. It focuses on helping Costa Ricans living in extreme poverty gain skills to become more employable.

The commitment for the program is typically four months. However, I personally will be extending my stint to six or eight months. After some experience, I feel truly invested in this cause and excited for the future of ALIARSE.

The position entails approximately 40 hours of work a week. This includes teaching, preparing for class, and even some work to help develop the program and improve it for the future. The teaching component alone is around eight hours a day from Monday to Thursday. The curriculum is supplied by ALIARSE but is flexible and allows for teachers to try new ideas and be creative in the classroom.

This is a fully-funded volunteer position, so we receive housing (typically with a homestay) and food for our entire stint with the program. We also receive money for daily transportation, and a $500 flight reimbursement. There is no fee to sign up for ITA grads!  I was placed in La Cruz, a small town in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. La Cruz lies on the Pacific Coast and is located very close to the Nicaraguan border.

During my experience with ALIARSE, I have learned about the unique struggles of managing a class and being an authority figure to a group of students. The beginning of the program was hard, especially as a new teacher. However, this work helps you find your teaching style very quickly and I harbor a great deal of new confidence after coming up against barriers or problems and having to work out logistics on the fly. I also have learned to not take to myself so seriously, and this has been the greatest aid in feeling more resilient to challenges. This job has forced me to think creatively and stay calm and collected in times of chaos. I feel as though I am adapting and growing every single day. I have frequent check-ins with my students about what I can be doing better as a teacher and what they can be doing better as students. We work together as a team with the same goals. I enjoy leaning in and embracing the difficulty! It is worth it!

It is incredible to see the students bond with one another as a group and gain confidence in the classroom as they build their English abilities. The students support each other and have begun to really care about one another. We all have fun and make each other laugh! The best feeling is to see a class full of students begin to “get it.” This program completely immerses you in the Costa Rican lifestyle. I live with a Costa Rican family, work for a Costa Rican organization, and constantly interact with Costa Ricans. The culture of La Cruz, my volunteer site, is heavily influenced by Nicaragua. Many of the residents have dual identities as “Nicas” (Nicaraguans) and “Ticos” (Costa Ricans). Living here has increased my awareness of nuances in many socio-political challenges faced by Costa Rica, as well as given me a sense of the authentic day-to-day experience in Costa Rica.

Living Abroad vs. Traveling Abroad?

I would recommend this volunteer experience for people who can learn to embrace hard work and are altruistic-minded. The work is challenging, and essentially full-time, but is very gratifying. Personal growth is inevitable. In addition, as far as volunteer experiences go, this is a very legitimate organization. It is partnered with the Costa Rican government, and the demand for native English speakers comes from the community itself. It does not impose, and truly feels like making a meaningful difference in the lives of Costa Ricans by giving them better opportunities for employment.

Want more information about volunteering with ALIARSE in Costa Rica?  Take our 4-week TEFL course at International TEFL Academy Costa Rica to learn more!


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