Former TEFL Student, Gemma Stewart, is now living and teaching abroad in Costa Rica
Gemma Stewart, a January 2016 TEFL grad, is now living and teaching in Heredia, Costa Rica. Heredia is a small city in the Central Valley with a mild climate surrounded by beautiful mountains. It is very busy during the day and also very close to the city of San Jose. There are lots of scenic hikes and waterfalls nearby which makes it very easy to plan great day trips.
Gemma teaches at Intercultura Heredia. She teaches teenagers and adults. Gemma told us, “I absolutely love all my students and every day I look forward to teaching. My classes make ESL fun and some of the best conversations I’ve ever had have taken place in the classroom with my tico students. We talk about everything from politics, to Costa Rican tourism, to Justin Bieber trying to sing popular Spanish songs! My students always make me laugh and they are the highlight of my day. I have gained so much insight from them and for that I am truly grateful.”
Gemma has managed to travel a lot on her time off. “It is unbelievable how many amazing places there are to see in this country and fortunately, I have truly taken advantage of all the natural beauty Costa Rica has to offer. From volcanoes and rainforests to the beach, Costa Rica has it all. Not only are the places great, but the people are too. I always feel welcomed and at home in every town that I travel to. In addition to trips, I also enjoy going out in San Jose to bars, food festivals, art fairs, and more!” Gemma has also traveled to Nicaragua and Panama since graduating from Costa Rica TEFL. She plans on visiting Guatemala next month and feels that Central America is a wonderful place to travel and explore different cultures.
Thanks to Costa Rica TEFL, Gemma is extremely prepared to teach abroad. Although she was nervous her first official day of teaching, she was confident she would succeed and that was greatly due to the methods and games/activities she learned at Costa Rica TEFL.
What’s Next? “I am going back to the USA in August to start my master’s degree in International Relations with a focus in Public Diplomacy. It is going to be very, very hard for me to leave Costa Rica, but it is safe to say that this past year and a half has been unforgettable and I am so happy I chose Costa Rica TEFL because it led me to the best experiences of my life.”
A TEFL Love Story: TEFL Grads, Zach & Lauren, met because of Costa Rica TEFL!
Zachary Tucker and Lauren Hancock’s paths crossed when they both decided to come to Playa Samara to complete our TEFL course. Zach remained in Samara to work and volunteer following his September 2013 course, and met Lauren while she was attending the October course. They quickly became friends and bonded over shared interests in travel and using teaching as an avenue to make a positive impact on future generations. Once they met up again in the US last year, their friendship turned into more….. Now they are both teaching English in South Korea at a school called Yeosu Technical High School and enjoying life abroad.
South Korea is host to thousands of Native English Teachers from English-speaking countries. The Department of Education places teachers in public schools, and provides housing, covers flight costs, in addition to plenty of time off and other perks.
Yeosu, South Korea, the town in which Zach and Lauren teach, is a tourist city on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. Yeosu is famous for having hosted the 2012 ocean-themed World Expo. A peninsula itself, Yeosu inhabits 300,000 people in densely pocketed areas, however small mountain hikes and coastline are never far away. Summers are hot and rainy, winters are cool, and spring and autumn are absolutely gorgeous.
On their time off, Zach and Lauren spend time in Seoul, which is a 4.5 hour bus ride away. The beaches are 15-20 minutes away, and shopping is around every corner. There are also mini-mountains that are very hiker friendly. Camping is popular and there are great spots all over the province. The town also has plenty of bars and clubs for the nighttime too!
Zach says that the variety of engaging activities that he learned at Costa Rica TEFL prepared him for his experience teaching in South Korea. Zach is also very thankful, because he met Lauren through our program. He told us, ” Many thanks to Costa Rica TEFL for bringing people of similar passions together in a beautiful part of the world!” -Zach
Former TEFL student, Erin Hellmann, talks about her experience teaching right here in Samara!
“Samara is a small, quaint, and colorful town located in the Guanacaste providence of Costa Rica. The climate of Samara is usually very hot, but during rainy season it cools down. Samara is such a small town that it’s impossible to walk through town and not see at least a dozen familiar faces. The main street is lined with lots of restaurants and shops which leads to the most beautiful beach!”
Mareas International School
Erin teaches at Mareas International School. Mareas is a small, private, international school located right in town. Her students are from all over the world. The school is bilingual, so students spend half of their day learning in English, and the other half in Spanish. Erin co-teaches in the 1-3rd grade classroom and teaches Kindergarten and High School art. Her students range in age from 4-15. Erin spends most of her day with the 1-3rd graders, teaching Math, ESL, and Science.
What do you do on the weekends? “I spend most of my weekends at the beach with friends! I also love to travel to nearby beaches and towns! I spend my weekend nights dancing at local bars with friends!”
“Costa Rica TEFL has definitely prepared me for teaching abroad. I teach ESL every day and use a lot of the techniques, activities, and approaches I learned while in TEFL. I also stayed right in Samara after TEFL, so getting to know the town while taking the class has been amazing! My passion is teaching art, and it is almost impossible to find a paid art teaching job abroad, so I feel extremely blessed I get to teach it every day here in Samara!”
Erin plans on staying in Samara at least until the end of the school year in August. She hasn’t decided what’s next since the TEFL opportunities around the world are endless!
Former TEFL student, Talibah Sun, has been selected for an English Language Fellow project in Columbia
“The humble beginnings of this journey started 7 years ago in Playa Samara. A certificate, TEFL Masters and experience later… here I am, for which I am truly grateful.”
Talibah Sun was recently chosen for a US State Department Language Learning Fellowship in Bogota, Colombia. Since she graduated TEFL in 2010 she has been doing big things! Here is a timeline of where she has taught and all that she has achieved:
2010 – Taught at Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University
2010- 2012 – Taught for the New York Public Schools Summer School for Immigrant Parents, International Rescue Committee, English for refugees for Various English Language Learning Centers in New Jersey
2015- Taught for the Peace Corps TEFL program, Nicaragua (encouraged by Costa Rica TEFL graduate, Claire Bros)
2015 -Completed her MA Ed. TEFL Multicultural and Urban Education, New Jersey City University
2016– current Panama Teaches for CELI – a program of Universidad Latina and the US Embassy Language English Language Program, Instituto Superior Tecnologico, Badi High School, and Oxford International School Teacher Trainer and presenter: TOEFL Conference
In August 2017 she will begin her newest adventure with a US State Dept. English Language Learning Fellowship in Bogota, Columbia. What a huge honor!
Former Student Kristen Anderson Talks About Her Experience
Samara is the same town where I took the TEFL course. I fell in love with the town day one and haven’t left since. Samara is a small, beautiful beach town in Costa Rica. Its warm year round, and I have almost immediate access to the beach 24/7. I ride everywhere on my bike. The town has everything I need, but is also SO much different than home in the states. There are no movie theaters, no malls, etc. However, there Is so much to do – there is surfing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, bonfires, hiking, boating, and more along with an abundance of amazing wildlife. Its a very small, quaint town, you can’t walk down the street without walking into a few friends. When I first arrived, I was impressed by the friendly nature of the locals here. The people make this town what it is (not to mention the gorgeous surroundings), and I can’t have possibly picked a more incredible place to live.
I teach in a bilingual elementary school. I am currently team teaching in a 1st/2nd/3rd combination classroom, so they vary from 6-8 years old. I teach English, Social Studies, Math, and Science. The children are from all over the world: there are Costa Rican, American, Swedish, Swiss, and French students, to name a few. Its been an amazing experience, the kids are fantastic to work with. Classroom sizes are much smaller here, about 12-18 students in a class.
On weekends I typically spend most of my time on the beach, whether i’m in the water, on the sand, or at a beachfront restaurant or bar. There are also beautiful nearby beaches I like to visit with my friends. There are a few great day/weekend trips to make within the area, and it is very easy to rent a car or use the extensive Costa Rican bus system. I also love to go dancing in town on Friday and Saturday nights, I rarely miss an opportunity to dance! I have very quickly come to love Latin music.
I previously had my teaching credential from California, however TEFL taught me SO much, and was incredibly helpful in preparation to teach in another country. I learned so much about teaching and working with ESL and EFL students, which is extraordinarily helpful in my workplace. Almost all of my students speak multiple languages, and most of them speak English as their second language. I routinely utilize the core teaching strategies that I learned and practiced during my TEFL course to create an effective learning experience for my students.
I have only taught here in Samara, as I only graduated a month ago, and plan to stay here for a while at my current job! I have recently traveled to Uvita, Costa Rica which was absolutely breathtaking.
I plan to stay and work in Samara for at least a year! After that, I will either continue to work here in Samara, or find another job teaching either in Costa Rica or somewhere else in Central or South America. I plan to use my TEFL certification to teach abroad for the next few years of my life.
Five TEFL Students Receive Jobs at School in Liberia
Here’s an update from one of our more recent graduates Jamie. She and 4 other TEFL graduates from her session all got jobs at a Instituto Estelar Bilingue in Liberia and they all live together too! Check out what she’s been up in the few short months since she’s been gone…
“It has only been 2 months since I have graduated, and although I did not get my college degree in education, Costa Rica TEFL gave me the tools I needed and the confidence to be able to work in a classroom setting. Costa Rica TEFL teaches students the communicative approach which I use every single day teaching at my job! I often use activities and methodologies that I learned from Costa Rica TEFL in my classrooms. After completing the program, I felt secure in my abilities to teach English as a foreign language.
I teach both group and one-on-one English classes at the school. I teach students of many ages! I teach three different adult classes, all Intermediate low level. I teach two kids’ classes ages 8-12, one kids’ class ages 6-7, and another kids’ class ages 3-5.
Liberia is a great place to live in the Guanacaste area. It has plenty of places that meet your needs: banks, post office, shops, grocery stores, restaurants, bars, etc. Since it is not on a beach, the area is far less touristy and enables you to truly become immersed in Tico culture. Moreover, it is only a cheap, 40 minute bus ride to the closest beach! This makes it very easy to check out the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica on the weekends. On average, the climate of Liberia is between the upper-70s to mid-80s (degree F).
I have a 1-year contract at Instituto Estelar Bilingue so I will be teaching here in Liberia, Costa Rica through October of 2017!
I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to many other places than beaches… so far I have explored different beaches in the Guanacaste region and visited the beach town San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua.
On the weekends, my co-workers and I usually take the public bus to a beach we haven’t been to before. We spend the day swimming, soaking in the sun and relaxing. Later in the day we typically head to a restaurant to get food and drinks. Lastly, we try to top off the day by watching a beautiful sunset over the ocean. It doesn’t get much better than that! Other than the beaches, I have also been to a nearby waterfall called Llanos del Cortes, the mud bath and hot springs at Guayacan.
Before heading back to the United States, I plan on visiting a friend who is volunteering with the Peace Corps in Peru. Back in the United States, I plan to use my college degree to become a school social worker. However, I would like to remain involved in teaching English as a second language as well!”