www.costaricatesol.com - ITA Costa Rica
Posted 10/06/2016 in Alumni Q&A

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A with Ben

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A with Ben


What is your citizenship?


What city and state are you from?

Columbus, Ohio

How old are you?


What is your education level and background?

I studied Art and Spanish at Ohio University.

Have you traveled abroad in the past?

Yes, to Spain and Mexico

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

Toledo, Spain

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?

I grew up traveling around the US but hadn’t done a whole lot of traveling outside of the country. I became really passionate about Spanish during college, and wanted to share my love for learning new languages with others.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?


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

Everyone was very supportive. I’m sure my mom was pretty nervous but she excited thatI was doing what made me happy.


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

I wanted to live in Central or South America and it seemed like the best way to do so. I did a lot of research before I decided on getting the TEFL through ITA. Out of all of the companies I spoke with and read about, it seemed to have the best support system during and after the course, as well as many connections around the world.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?

Costa Rica - Barva, Heredia (June 2016)

How did you like the course?

I was literally minutes away from signing up for the online course, but the best decision I made was to come and do the course in person. You get so much more out of it with a hands-on experience. Luke and Melanie are both amazing teachers and they truly want all of their students to succeed. They have totally different teaching styles, both of which are great examples for the TESOL students. Not only are they great teachers, but they also have a lot of connections throughout the country and do everything they can to help students get hired. Actually, I’m pretty sure everyone in my class had jobs lined up before we completed the course.

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

I can’t imagine walking into a classroom to teach without taking the class with Luke and Mel. I had no teaching experience before coming here, but the course helped me feel extremely comfortable working with students of all levels.You finish the class with a big stack of activities and lesson ideas that they strongly encourage you to use with your future students. I look forward to using what I learned in the course for many years to come.



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

I decided to stay in Heredia. Like pretty much everyone else who comes to Costa Rica, I envisioned myself living and teaching on the beach, but most of the jobs are in the central part of the country. I also came to the conclusion that life in the Central Valley is just as comfortable and laid back. The weather is amazing; it feels like spring pretty much every day. It’s hard to have a bad day when you walk outside and see the mountains in the distance over San Jose.

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

I’ve been here for a little over 4 months and will be here for at least a year. I don’t think I’ll be ready to head home after this year, so I’ll either stay a bit longer, or head south to check out another country (Chile, Ecuador, or Peru).

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

Idiomas Mundiales

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

No but most teachers don’t either. Every 3 months I jump on a bus to leave the country for a few days. You can get a ticket to Nicaragua or Panama for pretty cheap, and it is a good excuse to see a new place every few months.

Tell us about your English teaching job.

I work with students of pretty much all levels: starter to advanced. During the week, I go to a medical company to work with intermediate and advanced adults. On Saturdays, I have an intermediate class with high school students and young adults as well as a class with children 8-12 years old. I also have a few one-on-one classes on the side. I usually work at least 15-18 hours a week with most hours in the evening.Some teachers work for multiple companies in order to get more hours, but so far I have been enjoying my “productive downtime” during the day. I spend most of my free time playing guitar, reading, doing yoga/exercising and exploring the city.

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

There is no shortage of apartments and houses to rent. I did a lot of research/checking out different places but eventually found an apartment through mutual friends. I currently live in the center of downtown Heredia with 2 other teachers, and an exchange student from the Netherlands. Heredia is great; it’s a big small city so I feel very comfortable here…good nightlife and restaurants, as well as a cool little market to buy your fish, fruits and veggies.


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

Ticos are amazing people and this country has it all. If you want to hang out in the Central Valley, there are a ton of bars and restaurants to check out. If you are looking for a weekend / day trip to the beach to surf or relax, you can get a cheap bus ticket to pretty much any beach. The mountains are also a short bus ride away. As far as meeting people, it’s easy if you reach out. Also the Chile Guarowill change your life.

What are your monthly expenses?

Apartment - $250 (including electricity, water and internet)

Food / drink - $200-250

Phone: $4-5 at most

Social / traveling - $100+

How would you describe your standard of living?


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

It depends on the person but probably at least $600-700 per month to break even. If you come here expecting to live like you did back home you will need more, but if you want to simplify your life and live comfortably, $600 should be plenty.


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

As cliché as it sounds, just go for it! Costa Rica literally has it all so come enjoy it. I’ve only been here for a few months but I can already tell that my life has changed for the better. I would definitely recommend saving up some money before making the journey so that the transition will be as smooth and stress-free as possible. Oh, and don’t forget your umbrella.

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