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Monday, January 15, 2007

Language Schools in Costa Rica

Below is an email written and a list compiled by a new contributor to the blog who has spent a number of years in Costa Rica teaching. This list has not been updated in a little while, but remains a fantastic resource for anyone moving here to look for a job. As you may have already read, it is very difficult to secure a job here without actually being in Costa Rica, so really the best you can do is research as much as possible. This list should give you a great jumping off point - places to email/contact, places to drop off your resume, etc. Keep in mind though, that while this list is long, it is by no means complete, so keep your eyes open for schools all over the San Jose area, look in the Tico Times for classifieds, check out Craig's List Costa Rica, and so on.
Also, I will be putting this list in a Word doc and place it as a link under "resources" so that it is easily accessed or you can download it by clicking HERE.

Finally, if you know of a school that you would like to add to this list, please just email me with as much info about the school as possible.


Over the last few years, I have received an enormous quantity of enquiries by email about teaching English in Costa Rica. It is now time for me to pass the torch on to others, to an extent. I just don't have quite so much free time any more to answer all of these emails personally.

I will still be maintaining my list though, and I have included the most recent version of it below. I am sure that some of the people who reply to you will be able to answer your more specific questions about teaching English in Costa Rica. Please mention my name as your source of contact information, if you decide to contact any of these companies. Also, please let me know if you find that any of this info has changed.

Don't be surprised if you do not get a lot of responses to your inquiries. Many schools are well aware of the fact that you may be considering jobs in Mexico, the Czech Republic, Korea, etc., as well. Generally speaking, you will be taken much more seriously once you are actually in Costa Rica.

Please note that there is only one telephone area code for all of Costa Rica, and it is 506.

Pura Vida,
John Hall"

Academia de Idiomas Escazu Escazu, a high-class suburb of San Jose -seems to focus mostly on Spanish classes(?) Tel.: 228-7736

Academia Europea Paseo Colon, San Jose -have branches in other Central American countries too. They teach English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German. They have quite a bit in common with Berlitz, their main rival, including low pay for their teachers. May be a good option for travellers without teaching experience, or those who want to teach and travel through Central America. Tels.: 248-2360, 248-2221, 248-1214.

Academia New Learning Guadelupe, a suburb of San Jose -Business & conversational English. They are a fairly new private language institute. Tel.: 283-385

Colegio Internacional SOS Santa Ana (east of Escazu) -teach special needs children. Sorry that I don't have any more info on them, but I have heard that they don't hire many foreigners.

Camlex Barrio Dent (between San Jose and San Pedro) -private language institute. Have hired some foreigners in the past. Pay is very low, but they have an interesting program for their students that involves classes as well as various social activities in English. Sorry, I don't have contact info on them at this moment.

Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano Barrio Dent & La Sabana (eastern and western sides of San Jose) -reputable language institute that is part of a long-established and respected culture & art center. Kids & adults. Holds a national conference of English teachers once a year. Has good academic standards, but low salary. Provides work visa. Requires all teachers to go through its own training program first, which the teacher has to pay for. Tel.: 207-7500 Fax: 224-1480

Centro Linguistica Conversa Paseo Colon, on the western side of San Jose -language institute. Intensive and semi-intensive courses. Apparently good academic standards. Low pay. Tel.: 221-7649 Fax: 233-2418

English Academy of Costa Rica Paseo Colon, on the western side of San Jose -company classes. Competitive salary, but has low academic standards, and is poorly administered. Tel.: 256-7556

ESP, English for Special Purposes Rohrmoser (western San Jose) -Business English. For 18 years now, Heidi Smith and Bonnie Brown have been teaching English to professionals here in San Jose. Undoubtedly, they have the highest standards of professionalism of anybody in town. You usually need to have a Master's degree to work for them, and you must be legally eligible to work in Costa Rica. Sometimes hire teachers for special projects funded by the American Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Embassy, etc. Contact Heidi Smith

English Learning Centers, Universidad Interamericana Carretera a Heredia -mostly university classes, but also kids and company classes. Average 12 students per class. Full-time and part-time available. Only hire North Americans. Prefer experienced/qualified teachers. ELCs (there's one in Panama City as well) are private language institutes attached to this private university. Probably a good option for those wanting to live and work away from downtown San Jose. In 2003, the starting salary was 2555 colones per hour. I taught a few classes there in 2002 (before getting seriously ill and not being able to continue). The negative thing about working there was that management did not always have a teacher-friendly attitude. Good teachers and Academic Directors there in the past were fired for spurious reasons. In 2004, Sylvan Learning Systems took over the ELCs and it may be a very different situation there now. Tel.: 261-4242, ext. 261 (to speak to the present Academic Director) Fax: 261-3212

Escuela de Idiomas Berlitz San Pedro & Santa Ana (suburbs of San Jose) -local franchises of the international Berlitz chain. Adults, kids and company classes too. Low pay. You don't need training to work there, just good presentation. Tel.: San Pedro: 253-9191, Santa Ana: 204-7555 Fax: San Pedro: 253-1115, Santa Ana: 204-7444

Fundatech San Jose -very low pay, very large classes. Do you really want to know any more?

Idioma Internacional Now located near Hospital Mexico in La Uruca, San Jose. -company classes. Idioma Internacional is run by an energetic American, Brian Logan. To work for him, you must be qualified, experienced, pretty serious about teaching English, and willing to commit for a year. Training sessions twice a month. Starting salary was US$7.50 per hour (more than 2500 colones/hr.) in 2003, and was paid in U.S. dollars. I worked for Brian once and it was a good experience. He has sometimes had a short-term position available for a female teacher in a five-star Guanacaste beach hotel (room and board free, US$500 stipend per month)! Tel.: 290-1229, 290-1227 Fax: 290-1229 To find out if they have work available, contact Academic Coordinator Joy Blake at And check out their website

Ingles Empresarial Lomas de Ayarco, an eastern suburb of San Jose -company classes. Frequently looking for teachers. Often recruits through Dave's ESL Cafe. Staff do quite a bit to help you get settled in Costa Rica. Training provided. Has some classes outside of the Central Valley sometimes (e.g., Guapiles). Tel.: 283-0175, 272-2000 Fax: 272-4676

Ingles Individual Rohrmoser, a wealthy western suburb of San Jose -small language institute with classes of <6 students. Also does kids and Business English. Irregular hours for teachers. Easy teaching. US$4 - 4.50 per hour. Tel.: 231-7294

Ingles Sin Fronteras, S.A. San Pedro (eastern suburb of San Jose), Heredia -company classes. Damn difficult to get info on this low profile company! They used to go by the name "The New International Language Institute". Run by women only, they have classes in San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela, etc., and even some outside of the Central Valley at times. Salary is lower than at their major competitors. Tel.: 265-8084, 389-9157, 283-6137.

InLingua de Costa Rica San Pedro, eastern suburb of San Jose -language institute with <12 students per class, company classes. Tel.: 225-8758

Instituto Americano de Ingles and Spanish San Jose, San Carlos, & Siquirres -conversational English. Kids & adults. Company classes. For those of you looking for work outside of the Central Valley, you might want to phone their offices in San Carlos and Siquirres. Tel.: San Jose: 258-1482. San Carlos, C.Q.: 460-7570. Siquirres: 768-8284.

Instituto Britanico Los Yoses (eastern San Jose) -long-established language institute with good academic reputation. Does some company classes as well. Full & part-time available. Full-time is a one year contract with four weeks holiday. Split shifts. Semester system. Provides work visa. Pay is not that great, & if you work for them you cannot work for others. For those of you looking to get qualified, they do the CELTA (Certificate of English Language Training to Adults) course every January and July. Tel.: 225-0256 Fax: 253-1894 Send your CV ("resume", as we North Americans call it!) to the Recruitment Officer at

Instituto Cepia San Jose, near Plaza de la Cultura -same management as Instituto Shakespeare, so see that entry further down.

Instituto de Cultura y Lengua Costarricense Carrillos de Poas, Alajuela Tel.: 458-3157 Fax: 458-3214

Instituto de Idiomas GEOS Escazu -"flexible schedules, nice work environment, attractive compensation", they advertise. Escazu is a wealthy suburb of San Jose. Apparently they were set up by GEOS Canada, not GEOS Japan.

Instituto Shakespeare Central San Jose -teaches computers and English. Pay and academic standards are rock bottom. Tel.: 257-1415

Intensa, Instituto de Idiomas Barrio Escalante (suburb of San Jose) & Alajuela -this language institute is well-known for its 3-hour intensive English conversation evening classes. Good academic standards, but very low pay. Tel.: Escalante: 281-1818, Alajuela: 442-3842

InterCultura Heredia -private language institute. Good academic standards and resources. There are free dancing, cooking, and Spanish lessons. It has a "good atmosphere", one teacher told me. Pay, though, was lower (in 2002) than in San Jose: 1570 colones per hour for weekday classes, 1700 colones per hour for weekend classes. Must have degree and/or TEFL/CELTA. In U.S. and Canada, phone toll free for info: 1-800-205-0642 In Costa Rica, phone 260-8480 Fax: 260-9243 To find out about working there, contact

Natural Learning Corporation NLC Sabana Sur -the new age approach to learning English! Sleep learning, superlearning, etc. Teaches students, professionals, civil servants... well, anybody willing to buy into their unorthodox methodology! Tel.: 291-1123.

ProLanguage, Executive Language Training Zapote (eastern suburb of San Jose) -company classes. They hire almost all year round. Competitive salary. I have been working for ProLanguage (which is also known as Pro-English) for more than four years now, and have at times been regularly scheduled for over 30 hours per week. Phone or email Academic Director Damian Phillippe to arrange an interview or get further info. Tel./fax: 280-6053, ext. 11 (In Feb. 2005, this was still under construction.)

Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center -volunteer position. Teach in the jungle! This one you do just for the experience of it. Sarapiqui is located in a heavily-forested area of northeastern Costa Rica. You will be teaching local kids in this remote small town. Lots of frog sounds at night! Regularly advertise on Dave's ESL Caf�.

Soluciones Idiomaticas Pavas, a western suburb of San Jose. -mostly company classes. Wilford Augustus hails from Belize and used to be a teacher himself. In 2004, he had about five teachers and was still expanding. Pay was good at 3000 colones per hour for company classes, 2500 colones per hour for classes in the office. I have worked for Wilford a few times and can say that he is a good person to work for. Tel.: 232-9710 This website has a job application form on it.

The English Institute Hatillo 6 (southern suburb of San Jose) -conversational English for individuals and companies. Tel.: 296-2613

Universal de Idiomas Avenida Segunda, San Jose -language institute. Does company classes too. Low pay & low academic standards. Tel.: 223-9662

Universidad de Costa Rica San Pedro I'm afraid that I don't have much info on UCR, but seeing as they are the best university in Costa Rica, they probably have the best English program of any university in the country. They may occasionally hire foreign professors of considerable merit. They also offer a Master's degree in Teaching English, which foreigners sometimes take.

Universidad Fidelitas Lourdes (near ULatina) A large private university. The only thing that I know is that they have an English program. They might be worth checking out. And if you find anything out about them, please let me know!

Universidad Latina San Pedro, Montes de Oca This is a well-known high-tuition private university located east of San Jose and not too far from UCR. Foreigners are more likely to be hired in the English Speaking Center than in the English Dept. The pay at this "private-language-institute-at-the-university" is very good for Costa Rica at 4000 colones per hour (in 2004). Inexperienced, unqualified teachers need not apply. Be forewarned though that students at ULatina get exactly what they want, and when I worked there, my students demanded my head and got it, apparently because I made them work too hard! However, the majority of teachers who have worked there have not had such a disastrous experience as mine. Most of them speak quite well of the program and its director, Cheryl House. Phone Academic Director Cheryl House at 207-6036, 207-6130, or 207-6037; contact her by email at

Universidad Libre de Costa Rica Barrio California (between San Jose and San Pedro) -small private university that started an English language program in 2002. At that time, they were doing some company classes as well. They were looking for native English speaking teachers, preferably experienced. Classes in San Jose and in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste! The latter is the cultural and transportation hub of Guanacaste, and is where many buses can be picked up to go to those beautiful Guanacaste beaches. The university was developing courses for the staff of the big hotels in Guanacaste. Most classes in San Jose, I imagine. Pay in 2002: 2500 colones per hour in San Jose, but classes in Guanacaste had transportation (and accomodations, if necessary) paid for as well. Speak to University President Carlos Paniagua Vargas, or Indra Calderon. Tel.: 233-8196