The decision to teach English as a foreign language comes into our lives at many different times. It could be a post-high school gap year, a pre-career sabbatical, a mid-life job shift, or even a retirement adventure, but the common thread is a desire for transition and change. That’s when you discover TEFL. You already speak English and it doesn’t require you to have prior teaching qualifications. It is a brilliant way to see the world whilst also being able to maintain a steady income and offer something to the community. You can teach online or in a school. Suddenly, a new world is ahead of you. One that you aspire to pursue.
So then, why Costa Rica TEFL in Sámara?
Joe, a Costa Rica TEFL grad, sat down with us to share what he made of the experience and to provide a little advice for those who are not sure what to expect.
What were your initial thoughts when arriving in Sámara?
“Well, it was dark when I first arrived. Door-to-door from my house in England, it took 24 hours, and I didn’t sleep a wink of it. I wasn’t tired though. I was excited. Still, everything was closed at that time, and I didn’t want to wander around an unfamiliar town in a foreign country in the middle of the night. But upon arriving at the hotel, I met the night security guard. He was a super relaxed dude, totally calm and I could just tell from his energy I could trust him. I relaxed, and when he said that Sámara was safe and fun, I believed it.”
So, you arrived at night, how did you feel in the morning?
“I was anxious, not in a negative way, in a completely excited and ‘I can’t wait to meet everybody’ way. I get like that, I always want to meet new people. I’m an extrovert, but I can also take some time to adapt to a new group. The quicker it happened, the better I would feel. I walked out of my room, and instantly, I was greeted by a happy, smiling person (completely by chance) who introduced herself and proceeded to tell me how amazing all the other students were. It completely set me at ease for the evening dinner planned by the TEFL school so we could all meet each other”
What about the place itself?
“Sámara is a mini paradise. The people are friendly, and true to the night security guard’s word, I have very rarely, if ever, felt unsafe here. The tourists flocking in and out of the town bring a fresh vibe with them, and over the course of a month, I met a ton of people from different walks of life, all with differing perspectives. The beach is amazing to live by, at least for someone whose only experience with beaches has been on holiday. I may not be much of a swimmer, but I love lying in the sand, listening to the waves, and feeling calmness wash over me.”
When you started the course, how did you feel?
“Nervous! When we started and the course curriculum was laid out in front of me, I started to panic. Can I do this? A part of me believed I’d flown all this way and paid my money, only to find out that I couldn’t stomach it. I’ve been in that place before, I think, in many ways, it is just an overreaction to a large amount of information. Still, I was nervous, the fact of it was though, the people around me, teachers and other students alike, were amazing and super empowering. Before long, I realised I was entirely capable.”
Outside of the learning aspect of the course, did you get anything more?
“Yes, I learnt so much about myself. It was an amazing journey and both of our teachers were perfect at getting us to come out of our shells, just as much as they were amazing at teaching us the curriculum. We always got a chance to talk and discuss our thoughts and feelings, above and beyond just sitting in a classroom and being taught things. This experience helped all of us to grow in our friendships, and I also believe it helped us to grow as people. It certainly helped me.”
Any final thoughts?
“Costa Rica TEFL is something I highly recommend to anyone who is looking at a TEFL course. It’s very hard to look back on any part of it with a negative feeling, it was all so positive. Truthfully, I only have some pieces of advice. Never doubt yourself, if you are sitting there on the first day questioning if you can do it, you definitely can. Every single member of the team will be on your side to help you. Help your fellow students. I cannot tell you how nerve-racking it is when you have to teach in a few minutes, even the simple assistance of helping someone else set up, will do wonders for them. And then, they’ll help you when it’s your turn. And finally, if you’re sitting there thinking about all the unknowns of moving abroad and questioning: is it worth all the hassle? It definitely is.”
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”Joe, Costa Rica TEFL February 2020