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Ocotal/Costa Rica (long)

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Joined: 12 Aug 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:51 pm    Post subject: Ocotal/Costa Rica (long) Reply with quote

I have recently returned from the job posted here that's "on the beach" in Costa Rica-- working for Idioma Internacional. It's a unique job that's definately not for everyone, so I'm posting the pros and cons as I see them. To be upfront: the hotel owner cut the contract with Idioma while I was there. I think I can still be objective, but I don't want to hide anything.

The students: You have adults only that work for the hotel-- waiter/waitresses, security guards, etc. You have a lot of classes number wise (I think I had nine) but all are small and only meet for 3.5 hours a week. Class attendence is mandatory for stundents.

They need English for work-- they see why they have to go to class, and most do want to learn English. .

They are nice and friendly.

As Costa Rica resort employees, they are very used to dealing with Americans trying to learn Spanish. They appreciate efforts to use Spanish and are helpful to learners. (By the way, the job requires at least intermediate fluency.)

You see them outside of class all the time, so you can get to know them, help them outside of class, etc.

Teaching adults means no disipline issues (or almost none Smile

Most of them have limited formal education, and things you take for granted students should know-- like using a dictionary-- they don't.

This is a cultural difference between the US and Latin America and not unique to this job by any means, but if they (or your bosses) have a problem they report it to the company bosses in San Jose before ever telling you. For example, the students evidently complained that I wasn't social enough.

Class attendence is dismal! The main reason is that they can't-- class is "mandatory" but either there's a special event (or something going on like 100 people checking in in one day) or they are the only ones working ast their post and can't leave. I'd say 65-70% of absences are because they can't leave work-- and I was there during the hotel's low season only.

I was left with no understanding of what to do about attendence-- it seemed like most people genuinely couldn't attend. I knew some didn't attend because they didn't want to, but I wasn't sure who really couldnt attend vs. who just didn't want to.

Idioma requires English only, and the students don't like that. They asked both me and my boss for Spanish. This contributes to low attendence.

The students seem to me not to know attendence is mandatory, and sometimes they had reasons for not attending like "there's a lack of contact between you and the students.." (that's a reason my boss gave to me) or "we are too tired..".

Unique features of this job:
Your bosses are 5 hours away. I had a few people to report to, but I was largely left on my own. The main disadvantage of this was that it was hard because my bosses weren't there to see/understand what was going on. For example I couldn't find what I needed on the computer and had to send my boss literally dozens of e-mails before I finally figured it out. One week I was sure class was going to be cancelled and told the bosses so-- they got angry. (There was a huge wedding at the hotel.. I could see that there was no way classes could happen, but of course my bosses weren't there.) I guess it's good if you like to just "close your door and teach"., and it was nice not to be watched over constantly. I should mention that I had 2 bosses I reported to in San Jose and both were very nice, helpful, and supportive.

You have an advanced class with no plan-- they just need an advanced level of English. It was fun to almost literally be able to do whatever you want-- I had a dirty word day Smile-- but I didn't have many resources there to help me. I did have internet access, but sometimes I couldn't get on. My boss was supportive of me, however and she had some good websites for me to look at.

You have to share your classroom with dive instructors. I really liked having them around-- they are there to chat with when you get bored (which is often due to dismal attendence)-- especially Diego, thank you sweetie Smile-- and they speak perfect English or are native speakers. (They can also help you if you need Spanish help, although I'm pretty fluent so I rarely did.) I found them to be helpful to me in terms of helping me in class-- playing games with the students, giving me a word I needed in Spanish, reading dialogs, etc. They'll also be happy to let you bounce ideas off them if you ask. But not everyone would have liked this situation.. the fact it it's their classroom. They come in and out all the time, sometimes they are teaching small classes in the classroom while you are, they occasionally use the classroom to store fins and other large diving equipment, and once my class had to meet outside because the boss needed to have a meeting.

The hotel owner does not live in Costa Rica. He does not speak Spanish, and whenever he's there-- which is often-- everyone is on edge and classes are disrupted. He also fires people for no reason.. he never told me why he cut the contract. That's not a slander on my company-- that''s exactly what they told me.

So that's my fairly objective summary of the job. Contact me if you'd like more information: (Kelly Horgan)
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Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 8
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's great feedback about these guys, thanks for letting us know.

How much money can you make in Costa Rica as I was thinking of working in that part of the world, heard the climate is great with fall colours and all
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Joined: 12 Aug 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 3:50 am    Post subject: money.. Reply with quote

I got 500/month plus room and board, but the food was beans and rice and the same employee meal twice a day-- so you will eat your own food at least sometimes. I got a hotel room, but I think future teachers have to live in a "rustic" house-- but it does have electrivity, running water, and a free shuttle to work.

Money varies greatly by job-- Idioma in San Jose pays by the hour, so you can take more hours and make more or take less and have more free time.

The country is still a third world country, but it's better off than most Latin American countries. I liked it a lot and recommend it.
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Joined: 12 Aug 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 12:28 am    Post subject: This job does not exist anymore.. Reply with quote

The hotel I worked for cut the contract because no one every came to class. It is unlikely they will ever re-negotiate it. My job was through a company based in San Jose called Idioma Internacional; they are always hiring, but the job you get will be nothing like this job was. You'd be in a big city, have other employees around, and have mainly professional students needing English for progressing their business career. If you want to look at them google their name and you should get their website. The job I had was not a standard ESL job--in Costa Rica or probably anywhere else--and you just won't be lucky enough to find resort jobs where you get to live in a resort very often--sorry Smile.
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