Posted 07/11/2019

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A with Crispin

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A with Crispin

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

 

What is your citizenship?

British

What city and state are you from?

Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK

How old are you?

43

What is your education level and background?

Bachelor’s degree, taking a year-long sabbatical from my media career

Have you traveled abroad in the past?

Extensive short-term travel and one longer trip (8 months)

If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?

Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, the US, Central & South America

If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?

I’ve taken week-long language courses in Colombia & Guatemala.

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?

I teach a class once a week as a volunteer in the UK and I have found this experience extremely rewarding and I wanted to find out more about the profession, gain a qualification and improve my skills. Also, I’ve recently started studying Spanish and so I wanted to live somewhere where I can practice daily.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?

I was worried that the course would not be of a high standard, that it might not equip me properly to teach and that I might not be able to find work after I had completed the course.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?

My family were extremely supportive as they all have experience of living and working abroad. My boss and the company I work for were also very encouraging, and those friends who know me well were very excited, although some people called me ‘brave’ and confessed that they’d not have the confidence to live and work so far from home for a year.

TEFL CLASS INFORMATION

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?

I knew that getting a TEFL certificate would give me the best chance of finding work at a good school and then give me the best chance of succeeding in that role. A friend who had completed a program with Greenheart personally recommended them and it was through that organisation that I heard about the ITA.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?

I took the course at the ITA in Barva, Heredia, Costa Rica in March 2019.

How did you like the course?

It was an incredible experience. The standard of teaching was exceptionally high. I made friends for life whilst taking the course, and they helped me find work afterwards with two local schools.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?

Although I still have a huge amount to learn, the course gave me the skills and confidence to be comfortable teaching all different levels of students. The six practicum classes I taught during the four-week course were crucial in this.

 

TEACHING ABROAD IN COSTA RICA

 Which city did you decide to teach English in and why?

I stayed in the Central Valley of Costa Rica where I took the course and teach at a school in Heredia and one in Barva. On a practical level, the Central Valley is a big population hub in Costa Rica and so this is where you can find the majority of opportunities. Additionally, the Heredia province is a beautiful area to live. The higher altitude (it’s around 1,000 metres above sea level) makes for a really pleasant year-round temperature.  It’s close to all the modern conveniences of a big city like San José but there’s still a palpable sense of community, and it’s a great base to explore the rest of the country and beyond.

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?

I’ve been here four months and I’ll stay until at least Christmas.

What school, company, or program are you working for?

I work for Idiomas Mundiales in Barva and Intercultura in Heredia.

Do you have a work visa?  If not, please elaborate on working without a work visa.

As I’m only away teaching for one year then it’s easier for me to just complete a ‘border run’ every three months. Essentially, it’s an enforced 3 or 4 day trip to a neighbouring country so that you can recross the border and be issued with a new 90 day tourist visa. There are always other teachers who need to make these excursions and so they can be a great excuse for a mini-break. My friends and I went to the beautiful island of Ometepe in Nicaragua for our first ‘border run,’ and I’m planning on visiting Bocas del Toro in Panama next time.

Tell us about your English teaching job.

At Intercultura I teach four 3-hour classes each week. The majority of our students are young adults who either work or study during the day. Therefore two of my classes are in the evening, and I teach in the morning and the afternoon on Saturdays. All different levels are taught at the school, but each of my classes are with ‘intermediate’ or ‘higher intermediate’ students. I also teach an evening class of starter students at Idiomas Mundiales, and I look after a 10-hour a week online contract that the school has working with ‘advanced’ professional students which I conduct during the day. All together I have 25 classroom hours a week, which is a little higher than the average with between 18-22 hours considered ‘full-time’.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?

I found a place to live through a Costa Rican friend that I made here and I’ve been incredibly lucky because their whole family has ‘adopted’ me and it’s a beautiful house where I could not be better looked after.

COSTA RICA

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, and travel opportunities in your country:

Ticos (the term that all Costa Rican people use and readily identify as) are friendly, polite, respectful, family-orientated people with a genuine interest in the foreigners who live and work here. There’s an extensive, inexpensive bus system that links each town in the area that’s safe and clean. San José & Heredia offer all the nightlife typical in any big city worldwide.

All sorts of sports and social clubs are easily found, and I play football and go cycling with groups of both Ticos & ex-pats. The people here readily welcome visitors into their social and family groups and my friends and I have already been to lots of parties and other social occasions with Ticos.  My friend has even been to a wedding here!

The food is typical for the region with rice & beans served as part of most meals, but all types of fruit and vegetables are tasty, abundant and inexpensive.

The teaching community functions as a big ex-pat group and so there’s always the opportunity to hang out and social with people from your own country and other places around the world.

Lots of the people I know here are in relationships with Ticos or with people from the ex-pat community and the dating scene is relaxed and friendly.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country to explore and travel is much more affordable when you live here and get familiar with the local bus system. 25% of the country is designated as National Parks and the nature and wildlife is as spectacular and diverse as any country I’ve ever visited.

What are your monthly expenses?

$800-900 per month

How would you describe your standard of living?

Very good

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?

$800-900 per month


ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN COSTA RICA

What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?

I couldn’t recommend the experience of teaching abroad highly enough. It’s a cliche, of course, but for me it’s been a life-changing experience. Costa Rica is a friendly, safe, beautiful country with a strong economy and a large English-learning population that means there are lots of teaching opportunities here for people who are prepared to work hard.

ITA Costa Rica Alumni Trip to Irazú Volcano & Cartago

ITA Costa Rica Annual Soccer Tournament

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