Costa Rica Program
Do you love Latin America? Do you have a heart for students, the Spanish culture and children? Westmont’s Costa Rica semester for credential candidates includes student teaching experience at the Lincoln School in Costa Rica. Westmont student teachers travel to Costa Rica, live with host families and experience a semester of student teaching in a highly regarded, state of the art Pre-K – 12 English speaking International School. For 22 years Westmont student teachers have embraced the opportunity to improve their Spanish, live and teach in Costa Rica. Costa Rica information meetings are held each fall with Westmont Education Faculty and interested credential candidates.
Miranda Lahr, '09 Lincoln School
Second Grade Teacher San Jose, Costa Rica
“Teaching internationally is a fantastic opportunity to understand the world from a new point of view. It's been a experience which has challenged me to reconsider my preconceived ideas about education and the cultural norms I’ve taken for granted in the United States. It's exciting to work with students from different cultural backgrounds and encourage them to appreciate the unique perspectives each of their peers brings to the classroom.
On the other hand, working with international students has also highlighted the commonalities that all students seem to share: all students have a need for acceptance, all students need a good education, all students need positive role models. Working in Costa Rica has allowed me to more directly feel part of a greater global community; this experience has affected how I see myself as an educator and will remain an indelible influence regardless of where I teach in the future.”
Frequently Asked Questions Re:
Student Teaching in Costa Rica
Westmont has worked for over 25 years with the Lincoln School, just outside the nation's capital city of San Jose. The Lincoln School is a private, preK-12 school whose student enrollment is almost exactly the same as Westmont. For more information on the Lincoln School itself, visit: http://www.lincoln.ed.cr
The short answer is that SOME Spanish is a big help. The school is an International School which officially operates in English. That said, 80% or more of the students speak Spanish as their first language, and a majority of the faculty and staff would also identify Spanish as their first language. We've had some student teachers successfully complete the program with NO background in Spanish, but you will feel more confident getting around on weekends and will communicate more effectively with host families, if you have some background in the language and a willingness to learn more.
How does student teaching in another country affect my credential from the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing?
There is no effect whatever. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) accredits Westmont College, not the particular sites where you'd be teaching. A number of accredited and highly regarded teacher preparation programs in California allow student teachers to complete one or more field requirements out-of-country.
But even if I have a California credential, will I really be prepared to teach in California public schools?
Absolutely. First of all, student teaching is only one of your major field experiences in the credential program at Westmont. Secondly, the curriculum at our partner school in Costa Rica is more similar to local K-12 public schools than one might anticipate. In general, California principals are highly enthusiastic about hiring veterans of the Costa Rica program—in particular because of the in-depth experience student teachers have had in working with Latino students and their families.
Student teachers in Costa Rica follow Lincoln School's academic calendar for the spring semester, which typically means starting about a week after Westmont's spring semester. Student teachers stay at Lincoln for the entire semester, which means completing teaching responsibilities around the third week of June.
Lincoln School administrators carefully select host families who live near the school and who agree to follow the procedures articulated by the Lincoln School staff. While host families vary in how much they invite you to be "part of the family" (and student teachers vary in how much they WISH to be part of the family), many Westmont alumni report that their host family was the best part of their experience, and the key factor in improving their Spanish language skills.
Alumni who've completed a semester in Costa Rica typically say their overall budget and spending was on par with their peers in Santa Barbara. Food and housing are significantly less expensive in Costa Rica, but there is a $1200 Program Fee for participation, and candidates typically purchase one or two round-trip air-fares to the US. Air-fares vary in price, but have averaged about $350-$500 (one round-trip fare) in recent years.
Yes, you will have considerable opportunities to explore Costa Rica and even nearby countries, if you wish. Of course, your first priority will be preparation for your student teaching.
Currently Dr. Mullen is the program administrator, but both Professor Hughes and Dr. Mullen have supervised student teachers on-site at Lincoln, and both would be happy to sit down with you in person for further conversation.
For information on student teaching in Costa Rica, contact:
Dr. Andrew Mullen (Department of Education)
955 La Paz Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108