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San Jose, Costa Rica English Teaching Q and A with Audrey Kirkpatrick
Written by: Audrey Kirkpatrick
Last Updated: May 28, 2021
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
In college, will graduate this year
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc.
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Costa Rica, Nicaragua
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I have always wanted to teach and always wanted to travel. On my first trip to Costa Rica, a spark of synchronicity led me to the International TEFL Academy and showed me that I could do both.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I was concerned about finding a job and learning a new language.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My friends were all very excited and supportive. My family was a bit apprehensive. They were nervous about me moving to a Latin American country, and they were not convinced that I could make a living while traveling.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
While I was volunteering on a farm in southern Costa Rica, I crossed paths with a former International TEFL Academy student. Not knowing what she did for a living, I started talking to her about my goals and aspirations. I explained that I had always wanted to travel and that I had always had a passion for teaching. Her eyes lit up, and she told me her story. A few months later, I returned to Costa Rica and took the course.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Costa Rica - Heredia/San Jose TEFL Class
How did you like the course?
I truly loved the TEFL course. Luke and Melanie were great instructors. I particularly enjoyed that they both had different personalities and teaching styles. They balanced each other very well and showed us how to put our personalities into our lessons. When we first started, what I found most shocking was every moment that I would realize just how much I didn't know about a language that I had known and spoken my whole life. I was also particularly surprised by how much I knew but didn't know why or how I knew it.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
Getting to do practical teaching was a wonderful experience. I learned so much watching my peers and sharing feedback with each other about our lessons. I left the course feeling extremely prepared and excited.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
San Jose, Costa Rica
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I have been in Costa Rica for 4 months and I intend to stay for the next 2 years.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
I brought my resume to the director and we sat down and chatted for a while. I was hired on the spot for one school. For my other school, I was recommended by the TEFL instructors as a substitute and after subbing a few classes, was asked to stay on.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Idiomas Mundiales and Wizard Instiuto de Idiomas
How did you get your work visa?
In Costa Rica, you don't need to get a work permit. Since you are considered specialists in your field, you are able to apply for a tax ID number. This allows you to work as private contractors for schools and companies. Costa Rica allows you to stay in the country for 90 days on a tourist visa, so I just take a weekend trip to Nicaragua or Panama every 3 months.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
Between my two schools, I work about 30 hours a week and make about $11 per hour. It is possible to save, but it depends on where you live, how you eat, and how often you go out. Both of the schools that I work for specialize in teaching business English to adults. My clients include Western Union and Oracle as well as private contracts. Costa Rica has a long "summer" break around Christmas time (around three weeks), and we also get a week around Easter.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
I live with some friends that I knew back in the states, but before, I was in a home stay that the TEFL school helped me find. The schools can be helpful in getting you set up. It is possible to live on your own or with roommates.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
Costa Rica has a huge expat community, but I find it more fun and interesting to spend time with the locals. They are a very kind group of people. Costa Ricans love to share their culture, show you their country, and teach you their twist on the language. The food is delicious. My favorites are chifrijo and gallo pinto. I was surprised, however, to find that the stereotype of bold flavors and spices does not follow through to Costa Ricans, who instead have a love for freshness and natural flavors.
The country is very easy to get around, and there are tons of beautiful natural sights to see, including volcanoes, beaches, waterfalls, and rainforests. The towns have fun bars, and I have had no trouble finding people to date. The public transportation is inexpensive and all over.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
- Rent ranges from $200-$500 USD a month depending on where you choose to live.
- Phones and internet are relatively inexpensive and offer both pre and post-pay options. I spend about $10/month on my cell phone.
- There is no need to have a car, which is fortunate, because they are very expensive here.
- The food is about $4-$10 a meal to eat out. The cheapest way to shop is at the ferias.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I have everything I need and am able to go out and travel occasionally.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
Research the country ahead of time to determine how the costs of things are in the country where you want to teach. This will allow you to plan properly what to bring with you and what you can just buy there.
Audrey is from Virginia and got TEFL certified at the ITA Costa Rica location is Heredia. Upon graduation, Virginia
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