Costa Rica – Teaching and Social Work in San José

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If spending your days helping those in need and your weekends travelling Costa Rica with new friends sounds like a rewarding experience, then this is the project for you. Built in a way to allow volunteers to make a significant contribution to the community as well as make the most out of their time in Costa Rica, the Teaching and Social Work in San Jose project is sure to be a fulfilling experience.

Program Highlights:

  • Contribute to the well-being of underprivileged members of society such as neglected children and the elderly
  • Gain skills in childcare and teaching
  • Improve your Spanish language skills
  • Make new friends through organised activities such as dance and cooking classes
  • Have the time to explore Costa Rica, one of the world’s top ecotourism destinations


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum two-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). You will be picked up from the airport and taken to your homestay in San Jose. Take the afternoon to get to know your host family and get used to life in Costa Rica.

Orientation Week: Your first week in Costa Rica will be spent taking Spanish classes (Monday-Thursday for five hours each day) and participating in cultural activities in the evenings. Friday-Sunday will be free for you to enjoy San Jose.

Days 1-5, Monday-Friday: On the first day of volunteering you will be accompanied to the project site, where you will be introduced to your tasks. You will be volunteering 5-6 hours a day and participating in activities such as teaching English, preparing meals and helping to take care of the children or the elderly. In the afternoon you can enjoy dance and cooking classes, as well as join conversation lessons to help improve your Spanish.

Days 6-7, Saturday-Sunday: Your weekends are free to enjoy San Jose. Take some time to rest or go for a walk through the central market. In the evening you can enjoy the many bars with live music and authentic Costa Rican food.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday and having Saturday-Sunday off. If you prefer,you can add an extra hour of volunteering to each day and then enjoyFridays off as well, giving you a nice, long weekend. Wander outside of San Jose and enjoy its many attractions such as volcanoes and the wildlife-filled Tortuguero Canals. Don’t forget to say ‘hola’ to the sloths! Departures are on a Sunday.


Location icon Location of the Project: San José, Costa Rica

Project length Project length: Min 2 weeks – Max 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Teaching or social work (orphanages, school for disabled children, home for the elderly)

Age Age:  18 – 80

Important Note Important Note: Spanish Requirement: Intermediate level of Spanish (Contact your GoEco adviser to discuss option of additional Spanish classes if you are a beginner)


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Homestay with half-board in a private room

Food Food: Breakfast and dinner

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup is provided upon arrival to San Jose

Orientation Orientation: One-week orientation in San Jose including cultural enrichment activities and Spanish courses

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, lunches, daily transportation from homestay to and from project or language school, personal expenses

Though a small country, Costa Rica offers a variety of interesting contrasts: scenic coastlines with white and black sand beaches, tropical rain forests as well as cloud forests, mangroves, volcanoes, canals and turtle nesting beaches. Located in Central America, Costa Rica shares borders with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the southeast; to the east you find the Caribbean Sea and to the west and southwest, the Pacific Ocean. You will begin your adventure in the capital city, San José, surrounded by green mountains and spring-like temperatures all year round as well as lots of activities to enjoy in the evenings and over weekends.


Your volunteer work in San José varies depending on your chosen project and may include, but is not limited to:

  • Teaching arts-and-crafts
  • Teaching English
  • Teaching computer skills
  • Preparing extra materials for lessons
  • Organizing games and recreational activities
  • Organizing and participating in sports and outdoor games
  • Helping out with light chores necessary for the day-to-day running of the homes or centers
  • Helping with the improvement and embellishment of the project facilities
  • Providing warm and caring attention to the children, adolescents and the elderly
  • Assisting the teachers and administrative staff with different tasks


Important: Volunteers are also encouraged to be creative and to bring any of their own personal skills as well as materials to donate to the center. New ideas are always welcome!

A typical day: You will take a public bus from your home-stay to your project location to arrive by 8:00 am. In the morning, you might be helping teachers with reading or painting activities, before helping to prepare and serve the children a mid-day snack and preparing them for naptime. In the afternoon, you could be helping older children with their homework or assisting teachers in the preparation and design of material for the next day. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays will be your free days to spend as you wish.

These institutions are usually flexible with schedules and will allow you to work full-time or part-time. However, they require independent, proactive volunteers with initiative and creativity.

Holidays: Day care centers and soup kitchen projects close for a short break from Christmas to New Year. Community Development activities are open year-round, including holidays.

Internet icon Internet: Most families will have Internet at their homes and you are welcome to use the Wi-Fi at the language school, which is open until 5:00 pm, during the entire length of your stay.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: You will live with a host family in San José who will provide you with a comfortable, basic, private room in their home, which is a short bus ride away from the language school.

Food icon Food: Your host family will provide you with breakfast and dinner. Meals include vegetables, fruits, rice & beans, pasta and occasionally meat, fish or chicken.


Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Police clearance
  • You must have an intermediate level of Spanish. If not, you should be prepared to enroll in additional weeks of Spanish lessons
  • Written Spanish exam must be completed and emailed back prior to arrival in Costa Rica (oral skills will be tested on the 1st Monday)
  • Open-minded and flexible attitude
  • Creative and highly independent
  • Experience working with children

Orientation and Spanish Course (included)
The first week of this minimum three-week program consists of Spanish lessons (5 hours/day, Monday – Thursday) and cultural enrichment activities to facilitate communication at your project and help you acclimate to Costa Rica. During the Spanish course, you will learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and conversational skills. Participation in the orientation week is mandatory. unless you are a native Spanish speaker.

On the first day of your Spanish course, you will take an oral exam to determine your current language level. After you register and submit your application, you will also submit a written exam. Both the oral and written exam will be taken into consideration to determine which class you will placed in for the week. During your orientation week, and after receiving detailed information on the options available, you’ll also select a project.

A typical day during orientation: Spanish class begins at 9am, with a one-hour break for lunch at noon and then finishing for the day at about 3pm. You will then have the chance to join different cultural enrichment activities such as Latin dance classes, Costa Rican cooking courses, yoga lessons or informal Spanish conversation practice. After 5pm, you will have the evenings free to explore the area with fellow volunteers, study or relax at home.

If you speak basic or no Spanish, you’ll need to enroll in extra Spanish lessons for an additional fee.

If you speak fluent Spanish before coming to the project, an exception may be made to waive the language course (though it is highly recommended in order to have the most fulfilling experience). Your fluency will be determined by your written exam and during your phone interview. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.

Volunteer Experiences

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