Program Template / Single

Program Details
24 Weeks From £ 5,035
Code: CRQU0305N

Community Development, Teaching & TEFL Internship in Costa Rica

Become TEFL certified, learn Spanish, explore Central America and receive career development opportunities

Program Information

Gain invaluable community development experience when you join an internship in the stunning coastal town of Quepos in Costa Rica. Your training will encompass leadership coursework; group training sessions; lesson planning; team management and teaching practises as you make a difference in this community by providing an education to children and adults while living in this stunning, culturally rich area.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals


Travel to Latin America, to the laid back and naturally rich country of Costa Rica. Living in the community of Quepos on the Pacific Coast, this stunning location will be your home as you educate children and adults while gaining practical and invaluable community development, teaching and project management experience.

Your first 12 weeks will be spent working alongside other volunteers on our project in Costa Rica whilst also undertaking TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) training for your full certification. Interns will also receive ongoing training that encompasses leadership course work, one-on-one mentorship, group study, lesson planning, team management and teaching practises.

GVI's TEFL Certification is an accredited course through the International TEFL Academy and includes 150 hours of online coursework and 20 hours of practical training in the classroom.

On completion of a successful 12 weeks, interns will have the necessary skills to undertake our 12-week work placement. During this phase, interns will assist the GVI team in the operations and management of our programme, as well as developing our work in the local communities by implementing their own project ideas.

Throughout the course of your internship training and work placement phase, you will receive hands-on professional experience, weekly reviews, a final evaluation from a dedicated staff mentor and a confidential professional reference.

All internships are geared at developing your leadership and role model skills, allowing you to develop a variety of key soft and hard skills that will put you a step ahead the rest of the pack. GVI have been running community development, education, and conservation projects since 1997 and our highly experienced field staff will help you gain and improve vital skill sets to improve your future job prospects. The internship serves as a fabulous stepping stone to developing your personal career, whether it be through the valuable work experience you can gain or the purely unique teaching environment that surrounds you each day.

In the communities where we work, you will be expected to make an effort to speak Spanish. This programme provides you with an excellent opportunity to learn a new language and work with children at the same time. Speak to your coordinator about arranging group/1-on-1 Spanish lessons (extra to the programme) that will fully prepare you for life on the programme (Interns will have to do a min of 20 hours from the start unless they are fluent). We also recommend that you start practicing early in order to get the most out of your experience.

Program Details

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Life on the Internship

Your First 12 Weeks

From Monday to Friday you will be working in local schools near Quepos teaching English, tutoring, assisting classroom teachers, participating/leading activities in sports, arts and crafts, and/or extracurricular workshops.  Outside of the schools, you will take on increasing responsibilities relevant to your area of focus, assisting the staff with house management and project development in order to develop your leadership skills.

GVI aims to create a safe and fun learning environment that allows you the opportunity to provide a variety of lessons that will contribute to the critical early stages of educational development of the local children. Interns will also be working on educational initiatives aimed at adults in the local communities.

Work Placement

After a successful 12 weeks, you will begin your work placement within the GVI team. Your role will see you take on increased responsibility as you take on a leadership role in planning and preparing for classes while managing the volunteers and assisting with the general running of the programme.

You will also be expected to complete a project you are passionate about that supports the project’s goals. You will be guided through the process of selecting your project, developing your ideas and, finally, implementation by a staff mentor on site.


Throughout your internship, you will be sharing accommodation in a comfortable house with other volunteers in Quepos, next to stunning Manuel Antonio National Park, where you will share amenities and general household duties such as cooking and cleaning on a rotational basis.

Project Details

Although the education system in Costa Rica is free, it is understaffed and lacking in resources.  With your help, the children can receive more one-on-one attention that will drastically enhance their educational development.

Intern tasks include:

  • Planning and delivering lessons

  • Organising arts & crafts workshops

  • Designing and delivering after-school activities

  • Organising after-school sports events and environmental lessons

  • Mentoring and coaching the future leaders of the community

  • Designing your own project that will continually help the volunteers and the community learn and grow

The ultimate goal of this programme is to establish a more efficient and stimulating learning environment for the local children.

*During school holidays, you may have the opportunity to organize alternative activities such as summer programs with educational games, arts and sports for the local children, or organizing the resources and doing community/restoration work such as painting or construction work.

How this project makes a difference:

In partnership with the local community in Quepos, Costa Rica, this programme was established to help reduce teacher to student ratios and help provide additional support to keep students engaged.

You will help provide assistance to the community through after-school programmes, sports, arts, English classes and more.

Throughout the course of your internship training and work placement phase, you will receive; hands-on professional experience; weekly reviews and final evaluation from a dedicated staff mentor; and, a confidential professional reference.

Quepos' short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Quepos:

1. Improve access to education and wellness to El Cocal community

2, Increase environmental awareness in the local community

3. Improve English literacy levels in Quepos community and surrounded areas

4. Ensure that GVI Quepos base provides volunteers and interns unique, safe, responsible travel experiences, exceptional training and career development opportunities, and facilitate the ability to make a real difference

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.

Our 10 Ethical Commitments


Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

What's Included

  • 170 hour TEFL Course
  • 20 hours Spanish classes in local community
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Certification and summary of training and experience received
  • Confidential professional reference
  • Final assessment prior to placement (for qualifying candidates)
  • Final evaluation from your mentor
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Teaching and class management techniques
  • Teamwork and leadership experience
  • Weekly assessments with a GVI staff mentor
  • Weekly evaulation with your mentor
  • Welcome meeting
  • Work placement (if successful during the first 12 weeks of the internship)

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • Food during the placement portion of your internship
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Spanish lessons
  • Visa costs


Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate in programmes assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your downtime or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.

Our long-term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Quepos field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Costa Rica!

Optional Side Trips

On weekends and downtime, the region around Manuel Antonio is excellent to keep yourself as busy or relaxed as possible! See the pristine beaches and hike the trails of the National Park to discover the diverse wildlife the region has to offer, including four types of monkey; go on a canopy and zip-lining tour through the treetops of the rainforest; visit the souvenir shops at the beachfront or cafes along the way and watch the world go by; take surf lessons or surf some of the neighbouring breaks in this famous surf destination.

Further Travelling Opportunities

Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!

Admire the world famous and active Volcan Arenal at a distance, and relax in the natural hot springs; explore the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park; for the advanced surfer, aim for Pavones, the second longest left break in the world; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages; go deep sea fishing in the Pacific Ocean; canoe or kayak along the waterways in the local area on organised river tours; visit the Caribbean coast, snorkel and go wildlife watching in Cahuita National Park; go white water rafting on the world famous Pacuare river – rapids classed III to IV; climb Volcan Irazu and visit coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.

The Team

Hannah Watson

Education Officer
Meet Hannah, our happy education officer. Hannah joined the GVI staff after she decided to work abroad in the field, in a more face to face role. She has a degree in Spanish and English Literature, evidently making her a perfect fit for this role!

Hannah also has other impressive experience working abroad. "I worked in Spain for a year as a language assistant in a primary school. I then went to Colombia and I ran a conversation club in a University. When I returned from Colombia I got a job with World Challeng. In between all this I have nnterrailed around Europe, spent a summer volunteering in a hostel in Barcelona, helped to lead an expedition to Morocco, cycled around Cuba, hiked in Peru, rocked around the Galapagos and Ecuador, spied on Orangutans in Borneo and chased Penguins in the Falkland Islands!"

Luis Jimenez

Logistics Manager
Meet Luis, our well-travelled logistics manager! Luis studied Arts History and also has degree in Human Resources. His first contact with volunteer work was when he was studying at the University of Costa Rica and worked on a project to protect the sea turtles at Ostional beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Luis has a culturally diverse background as his stepfather was German and he had the opportunity to get to travel to some European, American and Latin American countries.

The chance to contribute to community development and help shape the children’s futures is what first attracted Luis to GVI. He loves getting to know and work with all the volunteers from around the world!

Eunice Jimenez

Base Manager
Meet Eunice, our experience base manager here in Quepos. Eunice is a Biologist with a Masters in high school education and has volunteer experience doing construction work in the middle of a forest in Germany, rebuilding some public areas in a small village in the north of Spain, and working with marine turtles in Costa Rica. She has also been lucky enough to have travelled around Europe, China, Canada and the USA.

Her internship as a Environmental Educator was what set her career into motion and now, years later, she is still pursuing her passion for the environment and teaching. She loves working for GVI as it gives her the opportunity to make a difference and to work with people from all around the world!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Cynthia Arochi Zendejas

Costa Rica Country Director
Meet Cynthia, our Country Director in Costa Rica. She started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2006 and later became our Programme Coordinator in Mexico. Her skills and enthusiasm just made it too hard to let her get away!

Cynthia is a certified Veterinarian, an EFR Instructor and holds a Master’s degree in International environmental Science. She is also a member of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, chapter Costa Rica.

The most interesting things she’s experienced during life in the field? “Watching the turtles hatching! Also finding jaguar tracks and being able to participate in community tours.” Apart from those, Cynthia also loves arranging and participating in the fun Charity Challenges with volunteers.

What does Cynthia think volunteers bring to the projects? Since our goal is to provide support to local organisations which don’t have the human or economic resources to achieve their conservation or sustainable development objectives, our volunteers play a key role by being the hands needed, or helping to fund raise for those projects.”

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