Special Education Internships in Costa Rica
Special Education internships are suited for people who are patient, cheerful and motivated! Intern in special education centers, assisting local staff with all manner of teaching and care duties. While the nature of this work can be challenging, it’s also deeply rewarding, and provides insight into careers in disability support, caring, therapy and social work.
- Genuine experience in special education
- The chance to work closely with individuals and see them making progress
- Contribute to dedicated care providers that rely on volunteers
Type of host organizations:
- Organizations that support mentally and physically disabled individuals
This is an immensely rewarding teaching internship in Costa Rica, providing hands-on care and teaching assistance in dedicated centers for disabled children and adults.
This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided. Click here to view remote Education & Youth Development internships that you can undertake from home.
Special education centers in Costa Rica provide dedicated education and care to locals with a range of mental and physical disabilities. These centers play an important role in delivering targeted services that address the specific needs of the children and adults who attend them. They rely on volunteers and donations to run, so interns provide valuable assistance in all range of teaching and care duties.
Special education interns are placed in centers or schools around San Ramon de Alajuela, assisting local staff with all parts of their day. This is a fully immersive special education internship, where you’ll experience everything that goes into providing care for those with specific needs.
Interns help to teach various classes (such as handicrafts, painting, and reading), assisting students and staff, helping to create educational material and planning classes. Assistance may also be required during the day when students have their meal time. Your primary role is to be caring and encouraging, and contribute to a supportive learning environment.
In all cases, interns should expect that the first week of your experience will focus on settling in and gaining some introductory knowledge, as you will not “hit the ground running”. Rather, you should start with learning about the placement to gain an understanding of what you can build upon, develop, learn, and contribute. Ensure that you ask questions and provide feedback during the introductory period, so that your supervisor understands how you’re progressing. This will help them to better understand important details, such as how quickly you learn, what you find challenging, what you find interesting, etc.
Understand and expect that individual internship experiences vary, as the specific placement that you’re assigned will depend on review of your resume and your current level of studies and experience. Therefore, if you’re at a more introductory level, you should reasonably expect a more introductory internship. Likewise, if you’re interning for a shorter duration, you will have a different experience from someone who is interning for a longer duration. Placement preferences are considered but always subject to availability.
Special Education interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
Preparing and teaching classes
Creating educational material
Helping students with meal times
General care for students
Professional development opportunities:
Work with students with variety of mental and physical conditions
Work alongside experienced staff that deal with disabled children and adults
Help create games and educational material tailored to different student’s needs
Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.
Recommended online TEFL course
For all interns with an interest in developing skills as an educator, we also recommend an interactive Online TEFL Certification Course. The training offers tools and techniques over a 100-hour program. Upon completion, you’ll have earned experience in planning, designing, and adapting diverse language activities and materials. No previous teaching experience or training is required. You can sign up for the Online TEFL Certification Course anytime and you’ll pay the discounted Intern Abroad HQ rate.Get TEFL certified online
Costa Rica photo gallery
What recent interns said about their experience
My internship wasn’t what I imagined it to be, it was way better! The school where I was doing my internship was open to children from underprivileged backgrounds. Being involved in a school that is able to help children in need, with free time activities, sports, painting and baking was incredible. I got to know how open minded and welcoming people from Costa Rica are. Costa Ricans are unbelievably friendly, hospitable and relaxed, fitting the "pura vida“ way of life. It was so easy for me to connect with everyone, despite the language barrier. I feel more empowered to help people all over the world. The internship really opened my eyes, that we have to help people to make a change.
To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.
Academic credit available for all internships
Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing an internship abroad or remote internship program with Intern Abroad HQ.Learn about course credit
It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$499 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$499 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.
Program Fee (USD)
|$1,499 Equivalent to $107 /day
|$1,794 Equivalent to $85 /day
|$2,139 Equivalent to $76 /day
|$2,253 Equivalent to $64 /day
|$2,394 Equivalent to $57 /day
|$2,626 Equivalent to $46 /day
|$2,864 Equivalent to $40 /day
|$3,048 Equivalent to $36 /day
|$3,525 Equivalent to $31 /day
|$3,893 Equivalent to $27 /day
|$4,260 Equivalent to $25 /day
- Airport pick-up
- Daily breakfast and dinner
- 24/7 in-country support
- Program orientation
- Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
- In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
- Sourcing and securing your internship placement
- Personalization of your internship plan
- Coaching from your supervisor
- Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
- Academic credit facilitation
- International reference letter
- Certificate of Internship Completion
- All in-country transportation
- Return transportation to the airport at program conclusion
- Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
- Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
- Personal spending money for snacks, drinks, public transport, laundry, and leisure activities during your free time.
- A deposit of $499 (approximately 499) is required to secure your internship
- Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
- All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
- Terms and Conditions apply.
Arrival and Orientation
Internships in Costa Rica begin every Monday. Exceptions may be made to this when start dates are shifted to avoid public holiday disruptions or closed when the program has already reached capacity. The minimum duration requirement is 2 weeks up to a maximum duration of 24 weeks.
Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee. The accommodation is covered from the Sunday night before the Monday start date - interns are required to arrive no later than the Sunday before their Monday start date, as all orientations are held on Mondays. If arriving earlier than this date, interns will be required to cover the cost of an “out of hours” airport pick up.
The typical port of entry is the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). If you are planning to spend time independently in Costa Rica prior to your internship and will not require an airport pick up, we can discuss alternative arrival logistics with you.
Upon arrival, interns will be met, greeted, and transferred to the accommodation. The last night of the accommodation is the Saturday night of the final week, leaving interns free to depart on Sunday. Extra nights of accommodation can be arranged in advance, if requested, and are subject to availability.
Orientation covers important details for your internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. Your specific internship placement orientation will follow the general orientation, as you’ll be shown how to travel to and from your internship and be introduced to the team you’ll be joining.
Please note that all participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.
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Accommodation and WiFi
All interns in Costa Rica are accommodated in various homestay accommodations. Interns are matched to an appropriate host family, taking into consideration convenient proximity to their internship placement. Typical host families in Costa Rica usually comprise of two parents and children or a single parent with children (the ages of a host family’s children can range from young and still living at home, to adults living independently). There are usually 1 - 2 bedrooms in most home-stays and everyone has their own bedroom (unless special requests are made in advance to share with a friend or partner). Bathrooms are shared. Living is comfortable and home-stays offer electricity, running water and western bathrooms. However, showers can be low pressure and unheated/tepid. WiFi is provided in most of the home-stays but it is important to note that it is not guaranteed.
Accommodation upgrades are available at an additional cost, for those who would prefer more independent accommodation and social interaction with other travelers. Interns who have confirmed their participation may opt to arrange hostel accommodation, in either a dorm (sharing a room with 4-8 beds) or a private room. Dormitories provide lockers, so that guests may securely store their personal items. Bathrooms are typically shared. Amenities include WiFi and a common area for guest use. Please note that hostel accommodation is subject to availability (depending on the location of your internship) and includes daily breakfast only. Interns who are interested in arranging an accommodation upgrade are welcome to speak with their Internship Program Manager for more information.
Please note that the accommodation pictured in the photo gallery of this webpage is provided as an example. Since we work with more than one option for homestay accommodation, the exact accommodation that you’re assigned may differ from the photos. However, you can expect a similar standard and similar amenities, to what is shown.
Internships in Costa Rica include two meals per day, served at the home stay. A typical Costa Rican breakfast is provided and may consist of bread, spreads, fruit and eggs accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat (often chicken), soups, pastas, starches and vegetables. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements that you have in advance, so that we may ensure your hosts are aware and make recommendations accordingly.
Internships in Costa Rica require interns to have varying levels of Spanish language proficiency, from either a confident level of basic Spanish to a more developed grasp of intermediate language skills. The definition of having basic Spanish skills (Level A2) includes the ability to exchange brief information with questions and answers, use and understand simple language in daily situations and cultural aspects.
Keep in mind that despite you level of proficiency, a language barrier can still be encountered to a certain extent. Interns should be prepared for the very natural and normal frustration of not always understanding what is being said around them. Most interns are able to have a successful internship experience and it is essential to come prepared and willing to surmount a language barrier, as opposed to being intimidated by it.
We strongly recommend that all interns take advantage of the affordable language lessons offered exclusively to Intern Abroad HQ participants by our host organization in Costa Rica. These can be arranged directly with the local team once registered for the program (ask about online Skype lessons) or at the orientation in-country. Language lessons are tailored to each individual’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday.
Weekends and travel
During the weekends, free time is available to relax, engage in tourism activities and explore other parts of Costa Rica. The program is based in the canton of San Ramon, in Alajuela Province. This is 55 km/34 mi northeast of Puntarenas (the nearest coastal town), 58 km/36 mi from the capital city of San Jose, and 31 km/19 mi from Juan Santamaría International Airport. The Pan-American Highway is easily accessible to the south and a northern route provides direct access to the popular tourism destination of Volcan Arenal.
Popular tourist attractions in and around the Alajuela Province include visiting Poás Volcano National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Los Ángeles Cloud Forest and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Within the city of San Jose, there are various museums and galleries, such as the Precolumbian Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design - just to name a few!
Our local team in Costa Rica are also able to assist interns with trip bookings, to experience more of the country. These can be coordinated directly once you’ve registered to confirm your internship program. Options include:
Tortuga Island: This sightseeing full-day trip includes return transportation from local pick-up points, guides, snacks and entertainment, catamaran tour, and lunch in Tortuga Island. Located within the Gulf of Nicoya, Tortuga Island is a paradise archipelago which has maintained the Ecological Blue Flag status for more than twelve years. The turquoise waters are beautiful to swim in and the trip is not to be missed while you’re exploring the coasts!
Poás Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Tour and La Paz Waterfall Garden: This full day excursion covers some of the region’s highlights. You’ll want to bring your camera and comfortable walking shoes for the three adventures, all across different eco-systems. Within La Paz Waterfall Garden, you’ll have a great opportunity to check out some of the amazing wildlife. There’s a hummingbird garden, serpentarium, aviaries, butterfly garden and tropical frog exhibit.
San Luis Canopy Tour: This tour departs from San Ramon and only takes half a day. Enjoy views of the Cataraticas River, bring comfortable clothing and a sense of adventure! There are 12 cables on this zip-line tour, with lengths from 56 to 550 meters, connected across 18 platforms. You’ll also get to experience the Tarzan swing and Superman cable - woohoo!
Essential country information
|Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Weather and climate:
Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country, situated between 8° and 11° north latitude, fairly close to the equator. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains above 2000 meters, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 20.6°C (69°F).
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