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Teaching English Volunteer Project Costa Rica - San Jose

Teaching English Volunteer Project Costa Rica - San Jose

Improve access to quality education
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Choose from 1-24 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 16+
Local homestay
Program fees
From £378 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Fluent English speakers who want to share their knowledge of the language. No previous experience is required, however a TEFL certificate can help volunteers gain more from the experience and run their own classes.

Project details

Inspired to Teach English in Costa Rica - San José? International Volunteer HQ’s Teaching English project empowers volunteers to gain teaching experience while providing quality English lessons to people in low-income communities who might otherwise not have the chance to learn. Knowing how to speak English is a growing advantage for those in Latin America where the language is becoming more common and can give fluent speakers better education and employment opportunities.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

English is increasingly being seen as a universal language across Latin America, offering fluent speakers better opportunities in a range of sectors. However, disadvantaged communities don’t generally have good access to English lessons.

As a volunteer English teacher, you’ll help to teach the language in those communities where fluent English tutors are rare. With this shortage of teachers, your expertise as a fluent speaker is best used as a lead teacher. Teaching happens in schools and community centres, with students that range in age from children to adults. Because of the high demand for English lessons, students are generally eager to learn.

Teaching duties usually involve:

  • Teaching English classes
  • Tutoring students
  • Lesson planning
  • Setting up educational games and activities

Please note that schools in Costa Rica are closed from the third week of December until the second week of February and there is a two week holiday from the first week of July. When schools are closed, Teaching English volunteers usually teach in precarios (urban slums), after school programs, community centres or churches.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education

More than half of all children and teens do not meet minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics. Quality education provides an opportunity to learn and grow in a safe environment and is key to preventing poverty, securing long-term employment and improving quality of life.

Why do Teaching English volunteering in San Jose with IVHQ?

When you volunteer as an English teacher in San José you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving access to English classes for disadvantaged communities
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining teaching abroad experience
  • Immersing yourself fully in the Costa Rican culture
  • Exploring San José, Costa Rica’s thriving capital

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16 or 17 on their program start date are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional document to the local team.
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Beatrice Hernandez
03 Jul 2024

I gained a level of appreciation for the blessings in my own life, and how those from cultures and lifestyles very unlike mine appreciate what they have. The kids I was able to meet and teach have left an impact on me that I will never forget, and hope to be with them again next summer. For someone who is hesitant, I would re-affirm that it is okay to be a little more nervous than excited & be very on the fence about the whole situation in general, but within days if not hours, you'll feel right at home with a new community and project because the team is so helpful in getting you accommodated & your role in your project makes your forget and leave behind all your worries.

Sharnell Johnson
19 Mar 2024

I gained a lot of resources. I loved my experience and I’m in the process of trying to come back and volunteer for a year.

Jenna Birdsell
14 Mar 2024

I truly believe that everyone should go on a trip through IVHQ, whether it is a week or a year, you will come back from it a better person. I have gained more knowledge in the 6 days I was in San Jose than I have all year at school. There are lessons that I learned that cannot be taught in a classroom, or on google, or reading a book. There is just something so different and astonishing about immersing yourself in a completely different culture than you are used to.

I took a leap of faith and truly did not know what I was about to embark on, but after adjusting and getting used to everything there, I was in heaven and wish with all my life I could have stayed longer. There is an adjustment period of about a day or two to get used to the life there but after that, I was living my best life and have never felt so content before. There is something so special about putting yourself out there and getting to know people from all around the world, being in a country that speaks a different language, all while making an impact on the lives of others who so desperately need the love and support from us.

I will never stop talking about this experience and pushing others to do it because I have such a greater appreciation for life itself. A piece of my heart is left with the kids I was lucky enough to teach, the family that I had the honor of staying with and getting to know, and all the beautiful humans I met from across the world, all while being immersed in a culture of truly living life to the fullest.

Evajavon Stoudemire
05 Mar 2024

The experience gained from my IVHQ volunteer program gave me wonderful memories, cultural experiences, and growth during my stay. The cultural immersion, especially with the local team and host family truly allowed the growth that I was seeking, which I do not think I could have obtained in this magnitude from another method.

Deborah Chandler
05 Mar 2024

I walked away learning much more than I could have ever taught in an English class! I left the program with gratitude, a better understanding of a different culture and self-awareness. My advice is to just do it! It’s never too late! I hope to have many more experiences to volunteer around the world.

Jacky Westover
03 May 2023

I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed into the Costa Rican culture. I loved writing in my journal every morning and capturing highlights every day. I could reflect on something special and rewarding. I enjoyed teaching, and the many excursions I was able to experience only added to an overall wonderful volunteer experience. Probably my last day of teaching was my favorite experience when so many children came up and gave me “leg hugs” and just the look in their eyes was really special.

If you're still hesitating about volunteering abroad, just do it! It’s wonderful! Go in with an open mind, and lots of flexibility. Remain positive throughout whatever is thrown at you and you will cherish the experience and memories forever.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica San Jose with IVHQ


San José is Costa Rica’s modern, metropolitan, cultural hub. The capital city has been hailed as one of the most visited destinations in Central America and is the central point for tourists arriving in Costa Rica. It’s got excellent eateries, an interesting variety of museums, markets, shops, parks and nightlife and is only a short trip to any of the numerous natural attractions and adventures in the region.

Arrival and orientation

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José on the Sunday before your start date.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in San José. This is included in your Program Fee.

We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation. If you are travelling in Costa Rica prior to your program, the local team will pick you up at your San José accommodation the day before your orientation.

Your check out is at 11am on the last Saturday of your program.

The compulsory program orientation is hosted by our Costa Rica team at their offices in San José on Sunday or Monday.

Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Costa Rica – an introduction to Costa Rica, its customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Costa Rica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.


During the week, you will have a morning or afternoon shift, which will last around 3 to 5 hours. Your volunteer work and hours are dependent on the location and type of project you are participating in but a typical morning schedule is as follows:

8:00 AM Breakfast with your host family.
9:00 AM Leave home and travel to your placement. You will join the local staff and will receive a duty roster and plan for work.
12:00 PM Lunch at a local restaurant.
1:00 - 6:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. You are free to travel back to your accommodation, go sightseeing or take Spanish lessons.
7:00 PM Dinner with the host family.


Whether you want to explore or relax on your weekends in San José , there’s plenty of opportunity to do both. Stroll down the bustling Central Avenue in downtown San José and take in a museum, listen to street performers or do some shopping. Then check out the stunning architecture of the National Theater of Costa Rica, taste-test the city’s fabulous coffee or sample a brew from San José ’s blossoming craft-beer industry.

It’s worth noting that Sunday is a religious day of rest and many stores and restaurants will be closed. Costa Ricans tend to devote Sundays to spending time with their family. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Latin American church service is a unique and special experience for many volunteers.

On long weekends you may choose to travel around the rest of Costa Rica and the many cities, volcanoes, jungles, coffee plantations and beaches which are more than worth a visit. Many of these are only a short trip from San José .

Most IVHQ volunteers choose to take advantage of our Costa Rica - Travel and tour add-ons in their free time. Please note that volunteers on more remote projects such as Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture Conservation will only be able to join these activities before or after their program.

Accommodation and WiFi

In San Jose volunteers are accommodated in homestays with local families - it’s an immersive experience that connects you with an authentic insight into the Costa Rican way of life. You will find living conditions are comfortable and you can expect your accomodation to have electricity, drinkable running water and western bathrooms. Low pressure showers are common and the water is not always heated. Bedrooms have single and bunk beds with bedding provided. You can expect to share a room with up to six other volunteers of the same gender in most homestays It is possible for volunteers to upgrade to a private room (double bed, shared washroom) for $62 per person, per week.

If you are traveling as a family, the local team will place you in a separate homestay to ensure all family members are accommodated together.

Please note, volunteers under the age of 18 who are traveling solo will be accommodated separately from those over the age of 18. If there are other volunteers under the age of 18 participating at the same time, the local team will do their best to ensure they are accommodated together.

WiFi is available at the homestays, and you will also have access to computers and WiFi at the local team’s office in San José.


Volunteers are provided with breakfast and dinner at their accommodation. Breakfast typically consists of toast, fruit, eggs, rice and beans accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner usually includes: meat (typically chicken), starches and vegetables. Costa Rica’s national dish, Gallo Pinto, is made of rice and beans and served with nearly every meal. Lunches are not provided to San José -based volunteers, as they are typically away from their accommodation at midday. Budget between £4 and £8 per day to buy lunch.

If you have specific dietary requirements, our local teams and homestays can cater to you, however keep in mind that as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately £267) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $465 Equivalent to $66/day
2 weeks $755 Equivalent to $54/day
3 weeks $1,055 Equivalent to $50/day
4 weeks $1,330 Equivalent to $48/day
5 weeks $1,545 Equivalent to $44/day
6 weeks $1,760 Equivalent to $42/day
8 weeks $2,190 Equivalent to $39/day
10 weeks $2,620 Equivalent to $37/day
12 weeks $3,050 Equivalent to $36/day
16 weeks $3,910 Equivalent to $35/day
20 weeks $4,770 Equivalent to $34/day
24 weeks $5,630 Equivalent to $34/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £267) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Costa Rica generally find US$150 - US$200 per week to be sufficient for expenses. Please note this budget is for general expenses and does not include money you will need for any weekend activities you plan to do.
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Lunch
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in San Jose

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in San Jose! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ San Jose program.

Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio
Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio

Immerse yourself in Manuel Antonio’s stunning natural beauty and thrilling activities on this 6-day adventure

Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose

Embark on a full-day adventure exploring La Paz Waterfall Gardens, an animal sanctuary, and a Poas Volcano Tour, followed by a Coffee Farm experience.

Mini Adventure  - San Jose
Mini Adventure - San Jose

Experience a comprehensive 6-day Mini Adventure, featuring Arenal Volcano, the Britt Coffee Tour, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, whitewater rafting, and a visit to the pristine Tortuga Island.


Spanish language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Costa Rica program, however, learning basic conversational Spanish will help you maximise the benefit of your program. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. Please note these lessons are not available on the Holiday Experience, Eco-Agriculture or Turtle Conservation projects.

San Jose Language Lessons:

  • 2-hour Small Group Classes: US$180 (approximately £146) per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: US$205 (approximately £166) per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: US$400 (approximately £325) per week

Check what's required to visit Costa Rica

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital San Jose
Population 5 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 71°F (21.7°C) and 81°F (27°C). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 69°F (20.6°C).

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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