As a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, you will provide additional support to local teachers across the schools in Coronado. Not only this, PMGY’s Costa Rica volunteer programs provide a great foundation to improve your Spanish. Combine your Spanish learning and enthusiasm for teaching to make the most out of your teach English in Costa Rica experience!
TEACHING VOLUNTEER PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS THE UN'S SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL NO.4 - EDUCATION
PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO LOCAL TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOMS OF CORONADO
GAIN TEACHING EXPERIENCE WITHIN A STRUCTURED SETUP INCLUDING 1-TO-1 LEARNING
ENJOY THE LOCAL CULTURE WITH AFTERNOON VISITS TO VOLCANOES & MUSEUMS
ONE WEEK FOUNDATION OF SPANISH LANGUAGE CLASSES INCLUDED
BACKGROUND TO THE TEACHING PROGRAM
The beautiful city of Coronado is located in the suburbs of San Jose. Communities are expanding in Coronado and classrooms are becoming increasingly overstretched. Teachers are overseeing classrooms of as many as 30 students, calling out for much-needed assistance.
For over a century education has been free for all Costa Rica citizens. The literacy rate of Costa Rica is 95%. Moreover, most students will graduate from secondary school with some form of specialised training. This specialisation will help students stand out when it comes to finding a job in Costa Rica in their free time.
The belief behind free education is the empowering future that comes as a result. The government believes that providing a solid education will then provide the country with a more skilled workforce. People that can advance the times and opportunities for Costa Rica.
The mission of the Costa Rican school system is, “To create a well-educated populace that will one day improve their national (and even global) lot.” Costa Rica is a community-based society and not based on the individual success of students.
In 1869 Costa Rica was the first country in Central America to make education free for all citizens. Primary education is mandatory for children 6 to 13 years old followed by a voluntary secondary education lasting five years. The final two years of secondary education are specialised. This includes subjects such as computer science, media & technology, clinical assistance and childcare training.
The public and private school systems are similar in the respect that the curriculum is enforced and determined by the Ministry of Education. The major difference between the two will be that extra classes are offered to prepare students for study abroad. The cost of private education is very high and only those from high-income families are able to receive such programs.
Social classes are a major factor in the social system of Costa Rica. Costa Ricans feel that their high education sets them apart from those of less fortune. Due to this, there has been a great focus on the expansion of primary and secondary education.
Families with a higher cost of living born into the lower classes will almost always remain in this class. However, in certain cases due to free education and family sacrifice to save money, students can have their prospects enhanced. This may be through being placed into private education or English classes that progress them into further levels of education. This is where free assistance within the public school system can really provide a fighting chance for those of lower classes.
PMGY Costa Rica is happy to provide assistance and lessons for the teachers of Coronado. Many teachers have studied with foreign educators but do so at a University level. Consequently, their English was developed at an older level. To ensure our volunteers are equipped to teach English in Costa Rica, the teaching program will include 1 week of Spanish language classes to start your project! This is to ensure you are able to apply yourself with the children and teachers!
Volunteer opportunities provided by PMGY offer a platform to make a positive impact when you teach English in Costa Rica. When working at our volunteer teaching English abroad projects in Costa Rica, it is important to maintain energy, enthusiasm and creativity. Many of these students will benefit from having someone who is fluent in the English language teaching them in Costa Rica. As a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, you will need to donate your time and skills effectively. This is to ensure you can maximise your impact on the local people. If you need motivation for volunteer gap year options, then our projects in Costa Rica provide some fantastic opportunities.
TEACHING VOLUNTEER PLACEMENT EXAMPLES
Patio De Agua - Located in San Rafael de Coronado, Patio de Agua School is 3 kilometres east of the Catholic Church. The school has a population of 70 students, from preschool to sixth grade. Each class has a maximum of 13 students ranging from 8 to 13 years old.
The school is located in an easily accessible area. It is surrounded by nature and beautiful landscapes, near the centre of Coronado. in an area that is characterized by being rural and very quiet. The children who attend this school live in the nearby surroundings. Their parents work in the dairy farms and ornamental plant farms that are in the surroundings.
As a volunteer in Costa Rica, you will largely work as a teacher's assistant at the school supporting the day to day lessons. Volunteers will help with teaching regular subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Spanish and Social Studies. Volunteers can also collaborate with students who need individual attention to work on a more one to one basis.
The School Institute of Integral Education - Instituto de Educación Integral Hogar San Agustín was founded in 1983. The school was established by psychologist and educator Otto Silesky. It was set up as an alternative centre for isolated adolescent students.
Since its foundation, the Institute focused on the incorporation of digital technologies. This would be used as a tool to address diversity within an inclusion perspective. Consequently, younger people have better prospects of developing according to their potential.
The educational proposal of the Institute of Integral Education is focused on the attention of individuals. More specifically, prioritising students individual needs, interests and particular characteristics. It not only focuses on content teaching but also on the development of strategies to learn. As a result, making the most of individual capacities and available resources. The school has a program of hydroponics, pastry, cooking class, craft, carpentry and other workshops that complement the education of students.
The San Agustín Home works in tandem with the project in giving education, attention and protection to 15 male adolescents. More specifically, 15 male adolescents who are at social risk and without parents. The program is all about learning according to the rhythm of the individual. Furthermore, it is about promoting inclusion and social integration whilst accounting for emotional, social and cognitive aspects.
This project environment can be a more challenging environment than others, but equally far more rewarding and involved than other projects. Volunteer tasks will include coordinating activities with the teachers, running language classes and supporting with the administration. Volunteers can also help in different workshops and assist students with their homework.
YOUR VOLUNTEER ROLE & TYPICAL TEACHING DAY
As English teachers in Costa Rica, you will work predominantly as a teaching assistant. Your volunteer work in Costa Rica will consist off preparing classes, working alongside the teacher during the class schedule and tutoring the children. Whether it be in a primary or secondary school, the additional support provided at the project will be appreciated. The teaching program generally lasts from 7:30am-1:30pm on a Monday-Friday basis.
The main teaching English volunteer placement is located just a short 10 minute walk from the volunteer accommodation. Alternatively, other teaching English projects may require a 20 minute bus ride. Should this be applicable, the bus stop is located just outside the volunteer accommodation and Spanish school. Furthermore, the local team will assist you in learning the routes to your volunteer project. As a result, you will be acquainted with how to get to and from your volunteer project.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER TEACHING CHILDREN IN COSTA RICA
Experience - For the English Teaching program, teaching experience is not essential as the mere presence of a native English speaker is invaluable. As long as you are creative, determined and resourceful you can have a constructive impact on the development of the children’s education.
TEFL Course - We encourage volunteers to prepare as much as possible for their teaching program overseas. You can make the most out of your time by completing our convenient, inexpensive and international accredited 60 hour Online TEFL Course. The cost of this course is only 120 USD.
Spanish Requirements - As for all our volunteer in Costa Rica programs, we recommend that you speak basic to intermediate Spanish. The programs only require you to speak a basic level of Spanish. However, we find that the ability to speak a good level of the Spanish language will greatly enhance your overall experience. This is because English is generally not widely spoken. So if you do not speak a reasonable level of Spanish then you will find it difficult to communicate. As a result, this could lead to a more frustrating experience.
All PMGY volunteers in Costa Rica will participate in the learn Spanish in Costa Rica program for the first week of their experience. This provides you with 20 hours-per-week of group Spanish lessons and some optional afternoon cultural and social activities. The aim of this week is to try and improve your level of Spanish before you start volunteering in your second week. Most participants in Costa Rica are purely joining the Language Immersion program rather than volunteering. Therefore, the Spanish language experience is a huge part of the overall culture of the setup in Costa Rica.
PMGY also offer Online Spanish Lessons that you can take before your trip. The lessons provide you with the opportunity to receive one-on-one classes from a trained Spanish teacher. Classes are held via Zoom and can be worked around your schedule back in your home country.
Once you are in-country then you are also able to organise additional Spanish lessons directly with our local team. Volunteer feedback suggests that it can often be tiring to complete Spanish lessons at the same time as your volunteer programs in Costa Rica. Consequently, we generally recommend extending your Language Immersion Program.
Weekends - Your project work in Costa Rica runs from Monday-Friday and weekends are free. You are welcome to relax and hang out at the volunteer accommodation but most participants will use this time to travel and explore the country. As a result, you can check out our Costa Rica Weekend Travel Guide for top tips on how to spend your weekend.
CHOOSING A VOLUNTEER TRIP
Can people from outside of the UK or USA volunteer with PMGY?
Of course! Although PMGY was founded in the UK, with offices now extending between the UK and US, we welcome participants of all nationalities onto our programs. Within the last decade, we have hosted tens of thousands of volunteers from across the globe. From France to Italy, Mexico to India, Namibia to Russia and Ireland to China – these are only a handful of the countries volunteers have joined us from! We want everyone from across the world to have an equal opportunity at experiencing a different perspective on life, and make friends across the world.
Why are PMGY’s fees so much more affordable than other organisations?
The PMGY International Team works hard to ensure that our fees are kept as low as possible. Consequently, this makes our experiences affordable and accessible without sacrificing the safety and quality of the overall experience.
Registration Fees to join our programs are assigned to the high levels of comprehensive support that we are renowned for. This includes telephone and online support staff available 24 hours each day, as well as detailed hand-guides and interactive webinars. Therefore, the remaining Program Fees to join the program go directly to our in-country teams, covering everything for your time volunteering. In general, these fees are reflected in your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, in-country support and project upkeep during your time abroad. Furthermore, we make sure our fees are transparent, which is something our volunteers really appreciate.
Similar organisations offer fancy brochures, run large high-street offices and are usually owned by larger travel organisations with many shareholders. As a result, participants are charged an extremely high price to cover all of these overheads. Therefore, at PMGY, we have embraced the online age by focusing everything around an online presence. We have done away with out-dated brochures, an unnecessary high street presence and we are an independent organisation without any outside financial interests.
What are the requirements to volunteer in Costa Rica?
PMGY welcomes volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica of all nationalities, religions and backgrounds. The minimum age to join the program is 18 and there is no upper age limit. Furthermore, all volunteers need to have a good level of English, although it does not need to be your first language.
For our programs in Costa Rica, we recommend that you speak basic to intermediate Spanish. The programs only require you to speak a basic level of Spanish. However, we find that the ability to speak a good level of the Spanish language will greatly enhance your overall experience. This is because English is generally not widely spoken. So if you do not speak a reasonable level of Spanish then you will find it difficult to communicate. As a result, this could lead to a more frustrating experience.
As a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, you must be able to provide a clean criminal background check in advance of volunteering with us abroad. Thus, we are unable to accept anyone who has any previous criminal convictions. In general, no formal experience or qualifications are required for the projects, just lots of energy, enthusiasm and preparation! However, medical and healthcare projects usually require additional documentation before participation begins in-country.
Volunteering overseas can be both physically and mentally challenging. Therefore, all participants must be fit in both areas. Consequently, if you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas, then these must be declared to us during your online application. If you have any queries regarding your suitability to participate, we recommend that you contact us before committing to the program.
What date should I arrive and leave the Costa Rica volunteer program?
For your volunteer trip to Costa Rica, you should book your flights to Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose on the Sunday start date. The airport code is SJO. You will be met at the airport by a member of the local team or an appointed driver, who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The program ends on the Saturday of your final week. Therefore, you must depart the accommodation on this day.
When is the best time of year to volunteer in Costa Rica?
Feedback from volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica often suggests that it is best to join a PMGY project outside the European summer months. This is since June-August tends to be when we have peak numbers at each of our projects and volunteer accommodations. Conversely, outside of these months, there is typically the greatest opportunity to become fully immersed in the project and within the local community.
Are there any age restrictions to be a volunteer in Costa Rica?
In order to join as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, you need to be at least 18 on the program start date. Generally, the average age range of volunteers is 18-25.
There is no upper age limit to our programs, and in the past, we have hosted participants up to the age of 70-years old. Whilst we have found that our more mature participants get a lot from the experience, at times individuals have found it more challenging to integrate with a younger crowd. Furthermore, some participants have perhaps expected a higher level of accommodation, the structure within the local community, and general overall communication at the project setup. Consequently, whilst we welcome volunteers of all ages, we stress that all participants should remain open-minded and flexible. Additionally, participants must appreciate that the majority of our participants are across the 18-25 age range.
When should I apply to be a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica?
For the majority of our programs, you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the program. This is since some of our programs only have limited capacity, meaning that spaces get filled very quickly. Therefore, it is particularly important that you apply in good time if you’re looking to travel between our peak period of June and August. This is because spaces can fill up very quickly during this period. Furthermore, please only apply if you are 100% committed to joining the program. You need to apply online by locating the “Apply Now” button on the individual project page. This will guide you through our online Application Process.
Indeed, once you have applied and confirmed your place on the program, it may be possible to change your start dates and this will not incur a fee. However, please note that this will be subject to availability and any changes should be made at least 60 days prior to your start date.
What duration would you recommend to volunteering for?
Based on feedback from previous volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica, we believe that 4-6 weeks is the ideal amount of time to volunteer in Costa Rica. Consequently, this means you have enough time to integrate into the local community and really get involved in a project. For one thing, you will be able to make a positive impact on community development. Additionally, you will have a greater opportunity to explore during your weekends. Volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica who join us for 2 weeks frequently tell us that this was long enough and wish they had stayed for longer!
For those looking to potentially join us for a longer period, we recommend checking out our Encounter Programs that offer a 2-4 week stay across 3-10 destinations.
Can I volunteer abroad with my friend/parent/boyfriend/girlfriend?
You’re more than welcome to travel and volunteer with friends, family members or with a boyfriend/girlfriend. If required, we can make sure that you stay in the same accommodation and volunteer for the same project. However, please note the majority of our volunteer accommodation is on a single-sex basis. Consequently, we cannot guarantee that you would be able to be placed in the same room.
Please outline in the ‘Special Requirements’ box of your online application if you’d like to make sure you’re placed alongside another applicant/s.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we work hard to ensure that our host locations are safe. Firstly, volunteer safety in each of our destinations is monitored regularly. Each of our volunteer programs has been inspected by a member of the PMGY International Team. Additionally, PMGY closely follows advice published by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Alongside the frequent contact we have with our local teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable or unsafe regions.
The PMGY International Team have visited and participated in every program we offer. Thus, we have carefully inspected every little detail of our set-up, from the living conditions to local neighbourhoods and even the food you’ll be eating. Through these checks, we are able to ensure that all of our projects are up to scratch. Furthermore, all of our local teams are experienced development professionals, with years of experience hosting international volunteers. They are PMGY’s representatives on the ground and assist volunteers 24/7 throughout their stay. Our teams are therefore always on-hand to assist in any emergencies that may occur. Additionally, our 24 hour international emergency telephone line is always accessible. PMGY’s in-country staff also have access to local medical professionals should these be required during a participant’s time with us.
When you join as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visas and dress codes. For any unanswered or specific questions, PMGY offers a comprehensive support network, with online and telephone support staff available 24 hours each day. Our advisers welcome participants to ask as many questions as needed for them to effectively prepare for their trip overseas. On a monthly basis, our International Team also hosts both an Introductory Webinar and Safety Webinar. These are interactive opportunities for international volunteers to learn more about our projects and managing their safety overseas.
When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive introduction to the general volunteer program and your specific project. During this session, our team will also cover important safety advice specific to your country. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM-card. This is something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. In like manner, we will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.
Although we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble-free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each program is as safe as possible.
When do I pay for my volunteer program? Can I pay in instalments?
In order to confirm your place as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, you need to pay a deposit of 249 USD. The remaining fee is then due no less than 60 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge. If you’re applying within 60 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.
Payments made in advance of the 45 day window can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 5% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur. Bank transfers can be accepted by UK participants only.
Can I use the program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to be a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica as part of your university or college placement. However, PMGY is unable to guarantee that your time as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica will fulfil the requirements of your establishment. Therefore, participants are encouraged to speak to a member of the International Team to establish whether the required parameters can be met. This should be done in advance of applying to the program. When appropriate, school/college/university representatives are welcome to contact PMGY to discuss further the suitability of the program in meeting the participant’s requirements.
First of all, the PMGY International Team are able to complete paperwork after a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica has confirmed their place on the program. Additionally, project staff in Costa Rica can also sign-off any paperwork that is required by your course tutors. However, while our team will do their best to complete any paperwork, we are unable to guarantee that we will be able to comply with every learning objective and requirement or your university/college. PMGY regularly receives medical, nursing, childcare and psychology placement students on our projects globally, with ties with some leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programs could meet the placement requirements for your course, please contact us directly to schedule a meeting.
BEFORE YOU DEPART
Do you offer an online TEFL course?
For PMGY volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica, the only real ‘qualifications’ you need are bags of energy, commitment and enthusiasm. However, if you’d like a chance to do some preparation work before you hit the classroom, we’ve got the perfect introductory online TEFL course for English language teaching abroad.
At only 45 hours and completed online, this course is obviously hugely convenient. The course can be done in your own time, at your own pace and you don’t even need to leave the house! You have got a whopping 75 days to complete the course, so there is no rush and you can fit it in when you can. Obviously, an hour here and there certainly adds up. Therefore there really is no pressure.
Once completed, you’ll not only have acquired key skills for teaching English abroad but also an internationally accredited certificate. If you find that teaching really is your calling, this course can be built upon with more modules in the future. There are 5 modules to this 60 hour course, covering aspects including ‘The Roles of the Teacher’ and ‘Lesson Planning’.
The cost of the course is 120 USD. If you’ve already signed up for one of our programs and would like to enrol on the online TEFL course then please contact us.
Can I fundraise for my volunteer trip?
With PMGY, the money our volunteers pay goes towards the structure you receive on the Costa Rica volunteer program. The fundamentals of this cover aspects such as accommodation, airport pick-ups, around the clock support from our international and in-country teams, pre-departure training as well as the implementation and monitoring of the projects.
We do our best to keep our program costs as low and affordable as possible, without sacrificing quality and safety. However, with flights, travel insurance and spending money to factor into your overall budget, you may find you need a little bit of help with the finances. Consequently, a large number of PMGY volunteers decide to fundraise for their trip. In these instances, we recommend that volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica set up an online fundraising page to notify friends and family of your trip.
PMGY have partnered with the online crowdfunding website GoGetFunding for volunteers to create a personalised fundraising page for their trip. This professional online fundraising service allows you to set financial goals and get the message across about what you’re doing. You can also share your PMGY fundraising page across various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.
Can I raise money for the projects?
The PMGY Foundation is a UK registered charity (1169415). This charity has been created to help provide financial aid and assistance to projects we work with on an ongoing basis. Importantly, the objective of the PMGY Foundation is the prevention or relief of poverty for people living in the communities we support. This is achieved by providing or assisting the provision of education, training, healthcare and general living support. Therefore together, we hope that the support offered by the PMGY Foundation helps to enable individuals to generate a sustainable income and be self-sufficient. Consequently, donations made to the PMGY Foundation will be directed to the projects most in need. This is determined by the trustees of the charity during our International Team overseas visits.
If you are looking to help raise money directly for the PMGY Foundation, you can do so via our Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. 100% of all money raised will be donated directly to the projects we support around the world. However, please note that participants are unable to raise money through the PMGY Foundation to help finance the cost of their trip overseas. For volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica looking for further information on how to raise money for their trip abroad, please visit our fundraising page.
How do I register for your online webinars?
Every Tuesday at 4pm (London time), the PMGY International Team hosts one of four pre-departure webinars. These last approximately 45 minutes each and importantly provide volunteers in Costa Rica with invaluable advice on their upcoming trip. The webinars are hosted by a member of our International Team, who all have extensive knowledge of our projects around the globe. You can attend (and even ask questions) from anywhere in the world, simply by logging in through your own computer. All you need is a computer, a good internet connection and a pair of headphones. In addition to this, if any family or friends would like to attend the session as well, they are more than welcome to do so.
For individuals who have not yet signed up to one of our programs, but would like to learn more about us, we encourage you to join our Introductory Webinar. Across 45 minutes, a member of the International team will introduce you to the concept of volunteering abroad, our destinations and both social and safety aspects of our programs.
For volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica who have already confirmed their volunteering role on the program, there are three for you to choose from. Please note that you need to sign up for the webinar a few days in advance.
Travel Essentials Pre-Departure Webinar – covers all the basics.
Program Preparation Webinar – covers specifically childcare and teaching community work programs.
Safety & Wellbeing Overseas Webinar – covers the risks associated with overseas travel and how you can keep as safe as possible.
Will I require vaccinations and malaria tablets for my volunteer work?
It is possible that as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica you may require a course of vaccinations in preparation for your volunteer work in Costa Rica. However, unfortunately, PMGY is unable to legally advise on these matters, since we are not medical experts. Therefore, it is vital that you contact your local doctor or travel clinic a few months in advance of your intended travel. Your local doctor/nurse will be able to advise you on vaccinations and malaria prevention you may need for entry into your volunteer destination. Additional information can be found on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights to volunteer in Costa Rica?
When you apply to be a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, we cannot guarantee your place on the program immediately. Indeed, on receiving an application, we have to liaise with our local team to ensure there is space available on the program and to assess your suitability for the specific project. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not make any flight and/or travel arrangements until your program has been confirmed by us in writing. Of course, once your place as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica has been confirmed, you are then free to book your flights either with PMGY or through a third-party travel agent.
After confirming your place on a PMGY volunteer program, we strongly advise that you book your flights as early as possible. This is since it will help ensure that you get the lowest airfare. You can choose to book your flights independently or we can help you with arranging them. PMGY has a wealth of experience in travelling to and from our host countries. Therefore, we know the most affordable ways to travel and the best airlines to use. Therefore, if you would like any assistance booking your flight, you can request an optional flight quote during your online application. Alternatively, feel free to contact us on the phone or by email.
Do you offer travel insurance?
Importantly, having an appropriate travel insurance policy during your time abroad is essential. Therefore, it is mandatory for all of our international volunteers to be appropriately covered across all of their trip dates. This includes your travel to and from the host country, as well as any onward travel. Although PMGY does everything to ensure your trip is safe, inevitably things can go wrong. Therefore, having a travel insurance policy in place helps you effectively deal with any problems you may encounter during your time away.
We have partnered up with the insurance company Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive optional policy. This has been designed with our international volunteers in mind, to cover our participants for all of their travel essentials. The policy is available to anyone across the globe, up to the age of 65 years. The document will cover you for your time on any PMGY destination and any onward travel (excluding the US and Canada). You can purchase PMGY Travel Insurance during your online application or you can contact us directly to arrange it.
How do I obtain a background check?
To become a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, you’ll need to provide us with a clean DBS or Police Check before you travel. This is a check that must be issued by an official Governmental or Police Body. PMGY have a commitment to the projects we support to ensure the volunteers we send are trustworthy and of sound moral character. Consequently, we are unable to accept participants who have had any previous criminal convictions.
If you hold a current DBS or Police Check, then we can accept this, providing it is clear and issued no more than 18 months prior to your program start date. You will need to upload a copy of this to your online portal after confirming your place on the program. Furthermore, the DBS or Police Check must be submitted to us no less than 21 days prior to your program start date.
If you don’t have a valid DBS check, then you will need to apply for one. UK volunteers need to apply for a “Basic Disclosure” through Gov.uk (which serves all people in the UK). This costs 23 GBP and takes around 15 working days to process. Full information on how to obtain a DBS check through Gov.uk is outlined in the Volunteer Handbook, received once you have confirmed your place as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica.
For volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica from the US, you can apply for a background check through Sentry Link. It costs 19.95 USD and is usually processed immediately. Alternatively, you are welcome to arrange your own background check through your local Sheriff’s Office or governmental body.
For all other international participants, we recommend you obtain a Police/Criminal Background Check through your local police station or official governmental body.
When will I receive my Volunteer Handbook?
All volunteers in Costa Rica will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the program. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we do not send a hard copy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains everything you need to know to prepare as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica. Ranging from what to pack to how to obtain a visa, we do our best to ensure you are ready to hit the ground running. Therefore, it is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you find any of your questions unanswered after reading through this, then our team are always on hand to assist you. You can contact us via email, telephone, Zoom, Facebook, online chat…whatever works best for you!
ON YOUR TRIP
Can I arrange a private room?
All of our accommodation options on the Costa Rica volunteer program involve sharing a room with other participants (usually same-sex). Unfortunately, we are unable to arrange private room options for our volunteers teaching English in Costa Rica.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
During your volunteer trip to Costa Rica, meals are not included. However, the shared apartments will be equipped with a kitchen including all the appliances and items needed. As a result, you will be able to prepare your own meals. It is your responsibility to manage your own dietary requirements when doing so.
Are there any public holidays that affect project availability?
We aim to communicate as clearly and accurately as possible all holidays that impact project availability. This information can be found via our Holiday Dates page and in the Volunteer Handbook. However, due to the nature of developing countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change. In turn, these can unexpectedly affect project availability. Therefore in such instances, we ask our volunteers to be flexible and appreciative of this. These periods often provide volunteers in Costa Rica with a unique experience to enjoy the festivities and holidays themselves. However, our local teams will always do their best to find alternative project work if applicable/possible.
What is the dress code at the projects?
Dress code varies from country-to-country and sometimes from project-to-project. Importantly, we ask that our volunteers adopt a smart and responsible image during their time in the communities. Of course, we will outline the specific dress code requirements in your Volunteer Handbook so you know exactly what to pack. In addition to this, our local team will also brief you during your in-country orientation on arrival in Costa Rica.
The general rule of thumb for girls is to cover shoulders, chest, stomach and thighs. In a like matter, for men, shorts should not lie above the knee and shirts should cover shoulders. Whilst we do not wish to impose strict regulations on our volunteers, we do ask that you respect the local culture during your travels. Moreover, dressing appropriately will earn you the respect of the people you’ll be working with. Therefore, our Volunteer Handbooks, outline preferred dress-codes in detail.
Additionally, it’s also a good idea to take some nicer clothes for the weekends and special occasions. However, please avoid tight and very short clothing. You should also avoid clothing that may have potentially offensive slogans on it. Tattoos and piercings should be covered where possible whilst you’re at your placement, particularly if you’re working with children.
How much spending money will I need?
The amount of extra spending money you should take with you as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica can depend on a multitude of factors. Considerations include what you undertake during your free time and how many souvenirs you purchase! Therefore, if you plan to go for a safari in Tanzania or perhaps go trekking in South Africa, you will need to budget accordingly. However, for general expenses and some independent travel, you should find 100-150 USD per week a suitable amount.
Will I be able to travel whilst on the program?
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel during your time with PMGY. In fact, we encourage you to travel during your free time! Most of our programs have been designed so that you have weekends off. Therefore, this gives you the opportunity to explore the local area or even travel further afield within your host country. Our local coordinators will provide you with all the weekend opportunities and travel tips you need to help you plan any independent adventures. During your time as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, you are sure to make some travel buddies along the way!
Before booking your flights, we recommend that you look into travel opportunities across dates on either side of your volunteering placement. It is always great to spend some time travelling and seeing more of the country you wish to volunteer in. However, if you plan to travel extensively, please factor this into your flight itinerary. This is since we only encourage travel during weekends while you’re volunteering, as you have made a commitment as a volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica.
During your time on the Costa Rica volunteer programs you will live in our Volunteer House. This is located in Coronado, a suburb of San Jose. You will find restaurants, convenience stores, cafés, pubs and ATMs all within walking distance. You’ll be living with other volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.
The accommodation is comfortable and comes with free Wi-Fi. Each room has single beds with up to 3 people per room in same-sex rooms. Volunteers are provided with cupboard space and bed linens. Bathrooms are shared but have a shower and western-style toilet.
The house has a communal area for international volunteers to hang out after completing volunteer work in Costa Rica. We encourage you to bring some small padlocks to store any valuables in your own bags. However, there is a safe in each room for shared storage should you wish to use this. In addition, there will be fridge space available for volunteers to store any chilled items. The Volunteer House has a laundry room on-site. Consequently, you can do all your own washing equipped with washers and dryers!
Volunteers are a short walk from the centre of Coronado. As a result, many restaurants, supermarkets and volunteer projects are nearby! The residence accommodation is in a compound that comes with 24 hour security. Moreover, there is a digital keypad to open and close the front gates. This is to ensure that volunteers are safe. There are fully equipped kitchens to prepare all of your food within the house. To sum up, the volunteer accommodation setup offers volunteers a unique experience. That is, you get the opportunity to live with other volunteers as well as an independent living environment.
During our busiest months (June to September) on the volunteer in Costa Rica program, you may be placed at alternative accommodation. For instance, you could be placed in a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
During your volunteer trip to Costa Rica, meals are not included. However, there is a food truck that comes to the volunteer residence Monday-Friday. Moreover, the truck is packed with sandwiches, local meals, Caribbean dishes and yummy desserts.
The food truck ensures that even if you aren’t quite the chef your fellow volunteers may be, you can still eat well. As a result, you will feel full whether you are learning the Spanish language or making a positive impact on the volunteer project! In addition, if you like something specific you can even ask for them to bring it the next day.
From time to time, the Spanish school will host a cuisine night to teach you how to make Costa Rican dishes. These are free to join. Your dinner will be some of the best-prepared food. Who needs to go to a restaurant when you can try your very own Latin American cuisine!
Local supermarkets are within walking distance of the volunteer accommodation. On the weekends, there is a local farmers market that volunteers love to visit. This is located just a few blocks from the Volunteer House.
* These fees apply to each individual application.
In order to apply to join PMGY you are required to make your Registration Fee payment of 249 USD. In the unlikely event we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your Registration Fee will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying. The remaining fee is then due no less than 60 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge.
If you’re applying within 60 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.
Any remaining payments must be made no less than 60 days prior to your start date. This payment can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. If you chose to take our insurance or book a flight with PMGY then these must be paid for (in full) at the time of booking.
Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 5% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur.
OPTIONAL TRIPLE CARBON OFFSET SCHEME - 45 USD
PMGY provide participants with the opportunity to contribute towards our Triple Carbon Offset Scheme. This not only helps eliminate your carbon footprint but helps the planet with a positive contribution every time you fly. The Triple Offset Idea for volunteers in Costa Rica works as follows -
🇰🇪 Kenya - 51 mango trees are planted in Kenya. These are capable of absorbing the total carbon emissions for a volunteer trip to Costa Rica and also help provide a sustainable income for local farmers.
🇮🇳 India - 80 days of access to a solar cooker are provided to a family in India. This means the family don't have to spend on firewood and thus reduce their dependence on trees.
🇺🇸 USA - 1.25kg of rescued meals are provided to the homeless in the USA. This recycles wasted food reduces methane emission from food waste which is equivalent to 1lb of CO2 emissions.
This optional add-on can be added during the online application process or can even be added on at a later date. The offset platform is provided by our charity, the PMGY Foundation and ensures that 100% of contributions are put towards high impact projects around the world.