MaximoNivel > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

See answers to the most frequently asked questions about Maximo Nivel’s programs below. Contact us now if you have more questions or if you’re ready to register.

FAQ: General

Maximo Nivel is Spanish for maximum level. Maximo Nivel offers the highest quality, most affordable, safest education travel programs available for individuals and groups. We like to think in terms of “No Limits!”
Maximo Nivel is a locally-based organization with registered offices in Miami, Florida (USA); Antigua, Guatemala; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Cusco, Peru.

Our official School of Record is California State University-Monterey Bay, and CSUMB provides university credit for our Volunteer Abroad, Native Spanish, and International Internship programs.

Maximo Nivel is accredited by the Ministries of Education in Guatemala and Peru. We are a Global Associate member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators; we are recognized for Bildungsurlaub in Germany; we are a member of the Association of Language Travel Organizations (ALTO); and we are a certifying organization for the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Maximo works with approximately 1,200 people every year in each of our 3 countries—Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru—and these people actively share their experiences on Facebook and Instagram.

Maximo Nivel is also verified by a number of international travel sites including: GoAbroad, GoOverseas, Volunteer Forever, and Working Abroad.

You can chat with us live on our website, email us, or give us a call (1-800-866-6358). We’re always happy to answer your questions.

Maximo Nivel has been offering educational travel programs since 2003. We are a locally-based organization in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. We’re the real deal-we’re a feet-on-the street, live here, work here kind of organization. We offer top-notch programs and great client service. Our program fees are affordable and transparent.

We can help you see new places and have new experiences. We can help you move beyond your comfort zone, while keeping you comfortable! We’re experts at working with you to create a personalized program that best suits your needs. We’re not a “sending” or “placement” organization-we directly manage your entire program and we’re personally involved in making sure you have a great experience with us in Latin America.

Maximo Nivel is a locally-based organization in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. You’re paying program fees directly to the organization that is managing your in-country program; you’re not paying a middle man who has high marketing fees to cover.

Maximo Nivel never compromises the quality of our programs-we are totally dedicated to client service! Our fees and the way we allocate our expenses are completely transparent and break down of you program fees is available on request.

Yes-of course! We organize special group itineraries for as little as 1 week and for as long as a full semester. We work with a number of university groups-both faculty-led and student-led-as well as corporate teams, high school groups, government programs, and even families! Read more about our group programs here.
We love to have travel buddies and couples join us at Maximo Nivel! We can make sure you’re picked-up together (or separately) and that you have the same accommodations and program type. Just be sure to make note of who exactly your travel buddy is when you register.
Yes-of course! People who are 17 years old may join our programs with a signed parental waiver. As well, we host a number of high school groups and clubs year-round. We also offer our Spanish Camp between mid-June and end of July every year-this program is especially designed for people 13 to 17 years old. Teens and children can also join us if they’re traveling as part of a family group. We have experience hosting and working with children as young as 5 years old.
Maximo Nivel is directly partnered with California State University-Monterey Bay as our official School of Record. University credit is available for our programs, including Spanish language immersion, Service Learning (volunteer abroad), and International Internships.

There are 2 Ways to get university credit:
1) California State University-Monterey Bay (CSUMB)
– Spanish Immersion
– Volunteer Abroad & Service Learning
– International Internships

2) Your University
– Spanish Immersion
– Volunteer Abroad & Service Learning
– International Internships

Maximo Nivel is an educational organization and social enterprise. We are not an NGO the traditional sense, nor are we a non-profit. We are organized as a privately held limited liability company (LLC). We’re focused on delivering great experiences to our participants and doing good in our local communities!

Our program fees are completely transparent and we’re always happy to provide a breakdown of where your money goes.

Yes-of course! Airport pick-up is included in all of our programs. Maximo Nivel’s professional drivers meet you outside of baggage claim as you exit the airport-just look for the yellow smiley face flag. You receive a Welcome Folder detailing your accommodations, orientation time, and our Emergency contact numbers. Depending on your time of arrival, you come to the Maximo institute or go directly to your accommodations.

Your orientation includes specific details about your program, a health and safety review, and a short walking tour to be sure you’re familiar with the area around the Maximo institute. During your orientation, you also take a Spanish placement exam.

Maximo Nivel has program participants from all over the world-that’s what makes it so interesting here! Most of our students and clients come from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom; next they come from Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands; next they come from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden; France and Italy. We also have participants join us from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand; Mexico, Brazil, and Chile; and finally from South Korea, China, and Japan.

In Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, Maximo Nivel also offers our intensive Native English Program to local students. This means our institutes are filled with local Costa Rican, Guatemalan, and Peruvian students who are studying English with us. Because of this, the Maximo institutes always have a cool local-meets-international vibe!

Yes, and you can relax while you are here. That said, it’s still important to use common sense and to keep yourself safe.
– Be careful if traveling and watch your belongings when traveling on buses.
– Do not carry your passport, credit card, or excess cash.
– Use only official, registered taxis.
– Do not walk alone at night.
– Avoid any contact with drugs, as laws are very strict in Latin America.

We discuss specific safety precautions and provide you with a walking tour during your in-country orientation.

Maximo Nivel’s institutes offer a great home-base for all of our program participants. All of our clients and students have access to free WiFi and computer lounges. Our institutes are open 7 days/week, including holidays except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Note that some of our volunteer projects are based in rural settings and may not have the same level of phone and internet service. At these projects, you must be prepared for slow and/or intermittent service.

The best way to communicate with friends and family back home is via Skype, Facetime, and other web-based services.

Yes-the majority of Maximo Nivel’s programs place participants in small groups. This includes Spanish classes, volunteer programs, TEFL courses, and our Adventure & Culture programs.

In our internship programs, participants are generally the sole intern at their project site; and our Native Spanish Program offers private classes if you prefer to study one-one-one with your instructor.

Maximo Nivel is happy to welcome you and your entire family to Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. We can arrange a personalized itinerary for you and your family. Read more about our family groups.
Tap water in Costa Rica is safe to drink and tastes good. However, tap water in Peru and Guatemala is not safe to drink. Tap water can be purified by boiling it or adding purification tablets, such as Micropur, which can be purchased at most pharmacies. Generally speaking, bottled water is easy to buy in stores. Showering and brushing your teeth with water is rarely a problem, and at your housing you will be provided with safe drinking water..
No. Maximo Nivel’s program fees are designed to be inexpensive and to provide you with the most flexibility possible. Maximo Nivel does everything we can to ensure your program abroad is safe and that you have a great experience, however we strongly recommend medical insurance to every participant in case of emergencies and unforeseen problems or accidents.
As a starting point, have a look at these 2 providers:
1) Seven Corners (
2) GEO Blue (
The first answer is: As soon as you can. It’s never too early to start planning your program abroad.

The second answer is: No worries-we can always accommodate last minute registrations.

Our Program Managers work with you to make sure you’re onboard, picked-up safe, and that you’re here in-country, no matter how late you register.

We’ll work with you if you’re registering 12 months in advance or 12 hours in advance. That said, 2 to 3 months is ideal.

Visa requirements depend on your country of citizenship; the passport(s) you carry are an important consideration when determining if you need a travel visa to enter your destination country. Most people from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand do not need special travel visas to enter Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Citizens from these countries usually receive a 90 to 180 day tourist visa upon entering the country. If you are unsure in your particular case, please consult with your destination country’s local embassy for confirmation.
How much spending money you need depends on your personal spending habits. It’s important to have money for personal expenses, sightseeing, souvenirs, etc. Generally speaking, we recommend bringing between $50 to $100 per week (USD). All major credit cards are accepted in all 3 countries, though a little cash is always good to have on hand as small stores and shops in rural areas may not accept credit cards. The best method for getting money is to simply use ATMs-most banks in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru offer easy ATM access and you can withdraw both dollars and local currency.
Costa Rica and Guatemala-The key to packing for Costa Rica and Guatemala is to prepare for a warm and often humid climate. The coastal areas are steamy and hot with lots of sunshine. San Jose, Costa Rica and Antigua, Guatemala both benefit because they’re at a mid-level altitude and the weather is warm by day and cool by night with intermittent sunshine and light rain.

Peru-The key to packing for a trip to Peru is to pack for a variety of conditions. The best way to deal with the extremes of Peru-the intense sun during the day, the cold mountain nights, and the heat and humidity of the Amazon Basin-is to dress using layers.

Note that Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru are quite conservative. Be sure to bring long pants, conservative length shorts, and t-shirts. Short skirts or shorts, small tank tops, and other revealing clothing may attract unwanted attention.

Suggested Packing List-Costa Rica
– Day pack
– Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
– Sandals
– 2 pairs of pants (lightweight)
– 3 T-shirts
– 3 short-sleeved shirts
– 1 long-sleeved shirt
– 3 pairs of shorts and bathing suit
– Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
– Hat or cap
– Towel and personal bath kit
– Sun block, lip balm, sun glasses
– Mosquito repellent

Suggested Packing List-Guatemala
– Day pack
– Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
– Sandals
– 2 pairs of pants (lightweight)
– 3 T-shirts
– 3 short-sleeved shirts
– 2 long-sleeved shirt
– 2 pairs of shorts and bathing suit
– Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
– Hat or cap
– Towel and personal bath kit
– Sun block, lip balm, sun glasses
– Mosquito repellent

Suggested Packing List-Peru
– Day pack
– Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
– Hiking boots
– 2 pairs of pants (lightweight)
– 2 T-shirts
– 1 short-sleeved shirt
– 2 long-sleeved shirts
– 1 pair of shorts
– Thermal underwear
– Fleece jacket
– Hat or cap
– Towel and personal bath kit
– Sun block, lip balm, sun glasses
– Mosquito repellent (jungle only)

Suggested Packing List-Study Materials
– Laptop computer (optional)
– Tablet
– Notebook and pen
– Spanish-English dictionary

Yes-of course; our TEFL Certification, Volunteer Abroad, and International Internship programs provide reference letters for our participants. Just let us know you need a letter of reference and we’re always happy to provide one along with your official program certificate. You can also qualify for the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award by taking part in Maximo Nivel’s Volunteer Abroad program.
We offer a nice choice of different accommodations for all of our programs. At Maximo Nivel, you can choose from the following:

– Family-stay (shared room)
– Family-stay (private room)
– Apartment (private)
– Hostel (shared room)
– Hostel (private room)
– Hotel (private room)

Each type of accommodation offers different amenities, but all are comfortably furnished with 24-hour hot water and excellent security. Depending on your preferences, rooms may be shared or private, though bathrooms are generally shared. Breakfast and dinner are provided seven days a week at all family-stays. Laundry services are offered for an additional fee or you can choose to use inexpensive “wash-and-fold” services that are available near Maximo’s institutes.

You should visit a travel-health clinic or your physician at least 4 weeks before traveling. Required vaccinations depend on which vaccinations you’ve previously had. Travelers to Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru should have up-to-date vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Other immunizations may be necessary depending on your personal medical history. Anti-malaria medication is not required, but is recommended if you are planning to visit the jungle regions of Peru. A Yellow Fever vaccine may be required if you’re traveling from Peru to another country in Latin America. Typhoid Fever and malaria prophylactics are sometimes recommended in Peru, but are not necessary.
It is recommended that you bring medications for travelers’ diarrhea. The best way to prevent traveler’s diarrhea is to be careful of the food and water that you eat and drink. Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or Levofloxacin (Levaquin) are good choices for treatment of traveler’s diarrhea.

If you are on regular medication at home, it is a good idea to bring enough supplies to last through the end of your visit. Though you can easily visit a pharmacy in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, the same brands and specific medications that you have at home may not be available. Please be sure to see your physician for specific recommendations.

At Maximo Nivel, most of our programs are specifically designed for people who do not have prior experience with the Spanish language. Our multi-lingual team is always available to help you with anything and everything you need.

Some specialized volunteer programs, such as certain medical and healthcare placements and some of our International Internships require you to have an intermediate level of Spanish.

We recommend Spanish classes and taking part in our free Tandem Conversation Program. These are great programs and they significantly contribute to your travels and how well you integrate into the local culture.

At Maximo Nivel, we believe an important part of any program abroad is to get out and take part in sightseeing and local events. As experts on Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, the Maximo Nivel team can answer any questions you have. Travel plans are easy to arrange through our on-site travel partners.

In Costa Rica, participants can hike up volcanoes, go whitewater rafting, and take a trip to the Pacific or Caribbean coasts. At the beach, you can scuba, surf, snorkel, and body board; or stick to land and explore the National Park in Manuel Antonio, including hiking, adventure tours, and zip-lining. In and around San Jose, you can take a city tour, go to the National Theatre, visit the central market, and hike through cloud forests and waterfall gardens.

In Guatemala, there is plenty to see and do including cultural events, tours, treks, mountain biking, and outdoor markets. Just outside of Antigua, explore coffee farms, volcanoes, and both Mayan and colonial ruins. Participants can also visit beautiful Lake Atitlan, Semuc Champey, and the famous Tikal archaeological site.

In Peru, the Cusco area offers a huge variety of historical sites along with epic treks and cultural tours. Most commonly, people like to explore the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca, and of course Machu Picchu. You can also take part in a mix of Inca and Catholic festivals.

Maximo Nivel offers special discounts on most programs. Discounts that you may be able to take advantage of include:
– Early pay discount
– In-country discount (TEFL course and Spanish programs)
– Spanish program discount (for volunteers)
– TEFL certification discount (for volunteers)
– 11th person free discount (for groups)
Contact us to learn what discounts may apply to your program.

FAQ: Native Spanish Program

Maximo Nivel uses 10 levels to classify Spanish learners. Our system is matched to both the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Spanish levels at Maximo Nivel include:

1) Basic
2) High Basic
3) Pre-Intermediate I
4) Pre-Intermediate II
5) Intermediate I
6) Intermediate II
7) Advanced I
8) Advanced II
9) Fluency I
10) Fluency II

Spanish courses available for university credit include:

– SPAN 101: Beginning Spanish I (4 credits)
– SPAN 102: Beginning Spanish II (4 credits)
– SPAN 103: Beginning Intense Spanish I & II (4-8 credits)
– SPAN 200: Beginning Spanish Conversation (4 credits)
– SPAN 201: Intermediate Spanish I (4 credits)
– SPAN 202: Intermediate Spanish II (4 credits)
– SPAN 203: Intermediate Intense Spanish I & II (4-8 credits)

We also offer specialized courses in Business Spanish, Medical Spanish, and Spanish for Law Enforcement.

The total number of hours you should study depends on your individual goals for learning Spanish. You may choose to study for as little as 1 week, though we recommend a study period of at least 2 weeks. We normally recommend studying 2 to 4 hours per day; and for clients wanting super-intensive courses, we are happy to program Spanish classes for 6 to 8 hours per day and for up to 3 to 12 months in duration.

Our Native Spanish Programs is separated into week-long modules; you may enroll for as many consecutive weeks as you would like. Classes are offered year-round. Small group classes begin every Monday; private classes can begin any day of the week.

Acquiring new language skills depends on each person’s motivation to learn Spanish, the amount of time dedicated to homework and conversation practice outside of class, as well as the learner’s talent for learning languages. Generally speaking, if you’re a motivated learner, you spend 1 to 2 hours outside of class studying, and you live with a host family, you can move up 1 level every 4 weeks-for example from Basic to High Basic.
When studying Spanish, it’s important to strike a balance between studying with a teacher with whom you have personal chemistry, but also pushing yourself to learn different accents and teaching styles. You are encouraged to change teachers every 1 to 2 months, though this is not a strict requirement.
At Maximo Nivel, learners can choose to study in small groups of 4 to 6 people or you can receive one-on-one instruction. In private classes, you receive more personal attention and can focus on specific areas of interest or parts of the language you find most difficult. You can also choose to study specialized Spanish, for example business, medicine, social work, law enforcement, etc.
At Maximo Nivel, we teach all levels of Spanish. Many advanced students have studied with us over the years-since 2003! Our Spanish instructors are very experienced at working with the special needs of advanced learners. If you are an advanced Spanish learner and there are no other students currently at the same level, then Maximo Nivel provides you with one-on-one instruction at no additional charge.
Yes-of course! Maximo Nivel offers a family friendly learning environment for parents traveling to Latin America with their children. We are happy to provide specialized classes for your kids or groups classes for the whole family together. Note that younger children often have a shorter attention span and shorter classes and a different pedagogical approach may be appropriate. Maximo Nivel has lots of experience teaching Spanish to children as young as 5 years old.
Yes-of course! Learners should request their certificate during their final week of study. Your certificate will reflect the highest Spanish level that you have achieved during your studies and will be signed by our Academic Director and have the official Maximo Nivel seal.

FAQ: Volunteer Abroad

Maximo Nivel offers more than 150 projects across 3 countries. The majority of our projects are located in the cities of San Jose, Costa Rica; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; Antigua, Guatemala; and Cusco, Peru. However, we also offer projects in various areas including the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and the mountains and jungles of these 3 beautiful countries.

Volunteer abroad program types include:
Animal Care
Indigenous Communities
Medical & Healthcare
Teaching English
Working with Kids

Most of our volunteer programs are designed with no specific qualifications required. The most important thing is that you bring a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and that you’re ready to pitch in and really contribute to your volunteer project-you should be a motivated volunteer and ready for challenges!

Note that some of our medical projects require more specific education and experience, such as relevant training and education in the medical field. You must present documentation of your qualifications prior to starting the program.

Maximo Nivel’s approach to volunteer abroad uses an important 2-point mission:

1) Deliver a great volunteer experience.
2) Improve impact at our project sites.

Volunteers are led by our in-country Field Managers who facilitate your volunteer experience. Field Managers are there to guide you and help you integrate at your project and to make sure you’re productive and stay committed even when obstacles inevitably arise. Maximo’s Field Managers also introduce you to what we call “structure,” which is how we define the work stations and tasks at our social projects.
Volunteer work hours are organized in AM shifts (8:00am to 12:00pm)and PM shifts (1:00pm to 5:00pm. Each shift is 3 to 4 hours long. Note that actual working hours are approximate and vary by project and by country.

The Maximo team works hard to make sure you have a safe, impactful, and meaningful volunteer experience.

While paying to volunteer might seem counter intuitive, it’s important to understand that you’re paying to be sure your program is organized and to help ensure your safety; you’re paying for airport pick-up, orientation, housing and food; and you’re employing the in-country team that supports you during your program.
Yes-a criminal background check is required if you’re participating in our Volunteer Abroad program. Volunteers join us from all over the world, so there is no single process to get your background check, because it varies from country to country. As a first step, you should check online or contact your local police station to find out what the process is in your country. If you need help, just let us know.
Maximo Nivel works closely with you to make a change to your volunteer placement if the reasons for your request are genuine. We usually insist that you stick it out and try to integrate with your assigned project for at least 1 week. Volunteers should note that it is only possible to change a project based on availability and project changes only take place on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Maximo Nivel’s volunteer abroad programs are designed for people who want to spend as little as 1 week and up to 1 year working with us in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Most people join us for 2 to 4 weeks; lots of people also join us for 3 to 6 months; and about 2% of our volunteers stay with us for 6 to 12 months.

FAQ: TEFL Certification

You need to be a trained educator to be a good teacher-it’s that simple!

Some people who are new to ESL, might think, “I speak English. I went to university. I’m sure I can teach English; after all, what could be so difficult about teaching my own language?”

However, what might seem easy on the surface is actually far more daunting. For example, ask yourself the following questions…

– If I stepped into a classroom in Lima, Peru; Tokyo, Japan; or Florence, Italy tomorrow, would I be able to communicate with my learners? Would I have the skills to teach English to basic, intermediate, and advanced learners for 5 to 6 hours per day?

– Do I know how to manage and communicate to a class of 15 to 30 non-native English speakers? What if they speak zero English and I don’t speak their language-where would I begin?

– Do I know how to design lesson plans? Do I know the correct methodology and sequence for correcting learners’ errors? Do I know at least 20 classroom activities that definitely engage my learners and get them speaking in English?

– Would I be a good enough teacher that my employer could ethically charge $20.00, $30.00 or even $40.00 per hour for me to teach English to the vice president of a major corporation?

Language teaching is a challenging job. It requires creativity, patience, and knowledge of language learning theory and language teaching techniques. Simply knowing English is insufficient if you plan to teach English in South America, Asia, Europe, or anywhere else in the world. Language schools and professional institutes want teachers who are qualified, experienced, and who have practical training in the methodology of teaching English as a second language.

Maximo Nivel’s TEFL certification programs show you how to effectively teach English to non-native speakers and equip you with the tools and experience needed to be successful in the ESL classroom. You will come away from your TEFL training with a thorough grounding in both the theoretical and practical concepts required for teaching English to non-native speakers including: Speaking, Reading, Writing, Listening, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Pronunciation.

The TEFL Certification Program is a 12-Module course that provides you with an important set of competencies required to effectively teach English to second language learners.

1. Approaches to Learning & Teaching
2. Critical ESL Techniques
3. Class Management
4. Lesson Planning
5. English Grammar Review 1
6. English Grammar Review 2
7. Teaching Grammar
8. Teaching Vocabulary
9. Teaching English with Games
10. Teaching Speaking & Writing
11. Teaching Listening & Reading
12. Assessing Learners
13. Introduction to International English Exams

Participants in the TEFL course are continually assessed throughout the program. There are no written examinations, but there are 2 required academic papers and a course portfolio. Class attendance is required.

Final assessment is based on the following:

Practical Teaching-50%
Written Assignments-20%
Practical Teaching Lesson Plans-10%
Class Participation-20%

On completion of the course, TEFL participants are awarded grades as follows:

– Pass/Excellent
– Pass/Good
– Pass/Satisfactory
– Fail

Even though it is an intensive and challenging course, the majority of our TEFL participants (around 95%) pass the TEFL course on their first try. Overall, 60% are awarded a grade of Pass/Good, 5% receive a grade of Pass/Excellent, and 30% receive a grade of Pass/Satisfactory.

Yes-of course! Your TEFL training qualifies you as a professional ESL teacher. Whether you want to work in South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world, Maximo Nivel’s TEFL Certification is recognized and will open doors to rewarding employment opportunities.
Yes-of course! The whole world wants to learn English. People everywhere, especially young people, recognize that speaking English is their passport to better academic opportunities and a more successful career. Worldwide, there are many more ESL jobs than there are native-speaking ESL teachers to fill them, and this means that TEFL certified teachers are in very high demand in every part of the world.

English teaching jobs are found in every country and in virtually every region of the world-Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. There is also high demand for professional ESL instructors in English-speaking countries such as the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Yes-of course! We offer our very successful Native English Program for local Costa Rican, Guatemalan, and Peruvian students who want to improve their English, and we’re always looking for talented, hard-working ESL teachers to join the Maximo Nivel team.

We give preference to the top-performing participants in each graduating class and they have their choice of employment opportunities at our institutes in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru. Every month Maximo Nivel makes 3 to 5 employment offers to our TEFL program graduates.

Yes. There are many opportunities for long-term permanent positions and for advancement into management, such as Director of Studies, Institute Director, and other administrative and executive positions. Other possibilities include teacher training (TEFL Instructor) and materials and curriculum development.

In Latin America, ESL teacher salaries can appear very low at first, but remember the cost of living in places like Peru and Guatemala are very inexpensive. Most ESL teachers can earn enough to pay for a decent apartment (shared) and enough to cover food and other normal expenses, and travel by public transportation. Note that frugal teachers can likely save between $50 to $100 per month, but this depends a great deal on your personal spending habits.

In Europe, teacher salaries are enough to cover basic expenses, travel by public transportation and have some extra money to travel, but you won’t be able to save much.
In Asia, ESL teacher salaries are quite good and teaching contracts typically include housing. Teaching here, you can save up to $200 to $500 per month. In countries like Thailand, salaries are still relatively low, but so is the cost of living; and in countries like South Korea, salaries can actually be quite lucrative. In South Korea, be ready to teach large groups of children in public and private schools for at least your first year.

In the Middle East, ESL teacher salaries in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are the highest in the world, often ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 per month or even more. Benefits at these jobs are also quite generous including free housing, paid vacation, health insurance and flights to/from your home country. Note that the cultural transition and feelings of isolation can make these positions feel quite tough and lonely for some teachers.

Note that private clients are often a great source of extra income for ESL teachers. However, you must be careful to know the rules of the institute you’re working for, because many schools prohibit their teachers from teaching outside students.

Maximo Nivel does not require a second language to study in our TEFL Certification Program, nor to teach English at our institutes. Most employers do not require you to speak any other language other than English. That said, some experience learning and speaking a foreign language helps you understand languages in general and how people learn them.
You must be at least 18 years old to study for your TEFL certification at Maximo Nivel. Generally speaking, our TEFL participants range in age from 18 to 80.

In terms of career prospects, it can be more difficult to find employment if you are under 21 and over 65. Preferred age depends very much on the country, the culture, the school, and the type of students the school has; legal requirements in terms of visas may also play a part. Some schools prefer more mature teachers, especially if their students are primarily business people. Other schools feel that younger teachers are more in-tune with their learners’ needs.

Don’t let the question of age put you off. With the Maximo Nivel TEFL certificate, you can definitely find a good ESL teaching job.

Maximo Nivel DOES permit non-native English speakers to matriculate into our TEFL course. However, you must provide proof of English proficiency (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS exam results) before being accepted on to the course, and/or you must complete an interview with a qualified member of our TEFL team.

Generally speaking, if you have earned a TEFL certificate from Maximo Nivel, the fact that you’re not a native speaker shouldn’t be a major problem. In many other countries, your English fluency and TEFL certificate will be welcome additions to any teaching staff! That said, non-native English speakers may not be accepted in some countries-for example, South Korea requires that your passport be from a native English-speaking country.

The Maximo Nivel TEFL Certification Program is 4 weeks long (150 total hours). Your certificate is awarded to you immediately following the course.

We also offer an Online TEFL certification program that can take between 3 to 8 weeks, depending on how quickly you move through the material.

Maximo Nivel does not require a college degree to enter our TEFL course. The most important qualification is the TEFL certificate itself. However, you may find resistance by some employers if you do not have at least a 2-year college degree. As well, especially in Asia and the Middle East, good ESL jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. That said, with a TEFL certificate, it is certainly possible to find work without a university degree, especially in South America and other developing regions.
A valid passport is required to enter Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. When entering the country, you should specifically ask for a 90 day stamp (Costa Rica and Guatemala) or a 180 day stamp (Peru) for your passport. This will be sufficient to cover your time while you study for your TEFL certification and to do a little traveling and job-searching afterward.

To work legally in a foreign country, you need a work permit. That said, it is common practice for ESL teachers to work all over the world with only a tourist visa. When registering for the TEFL course, our Program Managers help you understand all the ins-and-outs and considerations in terms of work visas.

Please note that all TEFL program participants MUST bring clothes for teaching classes. Whereas the dress code is casual during the TEFL course, the Practical Teaching requires you to dress like a teacher, because you are teaching live English classes-this means well pressed slacks, skirt, or dress, nice collar shirt or sweater, and dress shoes.

FAQ: International Internships

Maximo Nivel offers more than 50 internship projects across 3 countries. The majority of our projects are located in and around the cities of San Jose, Costa Rica; Antigua, Guatemala; and Cusco, Peru.

International Internship project types include:

Education (K-12)
Special Education
Hospitality & Tourism
Human Rights

Our internship programs are designed for university students who have completed at least their second year of university and who have relevant studies and training in their chosen internship area. The most important attribute interns can bring is a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and that you’re ready to pitch in and really contribute to your project-you should be a motivated intern and ready for challenges!
Maximo Nivel’s internship programs are offered in 2 formats:

1) 4 week Practicum
2) 8 week Internship

Additional weeks can be added to extend your internship program for as long as you need.

4-Week Practicum
– 4-6 hours daily of practical work, Monday-Friday
– 1-hour private Spanish classes, Monday-Friday
– Final deliverable requires a 1-hour presentation or 10-20 page final report
– All additional requirements from your university

8-Week Internship
– 4-6 hours daily of practical work, Monday-Friday
– 1-hour private Spanish classes, Monday-Friday
– Weekly journal entries (1-2 page reflections)
– Final deliverable requires a 1-hour presentation and 10-20 page final report.
– All additional requirements from your university

Every intern has an internship advisor who is a senior member of Maximo Nivel’s in-country team-this is usually the Country Manager, Director of International Programs, or the Director of Academics. In the field, interns are led by our in-country Field Managers who, along with your project site staff, facilitate your internship experience. Field Managers are there to guide you and help you integrate at your internship and to make sure you’re productive and stay committed even when obstacles inevitably arise.

Your final internship presentation is delivered to a small board of people consisting of your internship advisor, your onsite project manager, and other staff from Maximo and your project site.

Paying for an internship placement has become common place, especially since 2008. This is most notable for international internships where your ability to find and apply for these positions is usually very limited. It’s important to understand that you’re paying to be sure your program is professionally run and organized; you’re paying for airport pick-up, orientation, Spanish classes, housing and food; and you’re employing the in-country team that supports you during your internship program.
Maximo Nivel works closely with you to make a change to your internship placement, but only if the reasons for your request are genuine. We usually insist that you stick it out and try to integrate with your assigned project for at least 1 week. Note that internship placements are limited and project changes only take place on Mondays and Tuesdays. A change in your internship project can seriously hinder your ability to fulfill all the program requirements, so we strongly suggest interns focus on being committed, ready to adapt, and prepared for language, culture, and work-style challenges; after all, this is exactly why you’ve chosen to do an international internship.

FAQ: Adventure & Culture Programs

Maximo Nivel offers a unique set of programs to help you explore and experience Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru to the fullest.

Our Adventure & Culture programs include:

Gap Year
Surf School
Scuba certification
Mini Adventure
Volunteer Adventure
Yoga Instructor Certification

At Maximo Nivel, we offer pre-set gap year itineraries that last for 24 weeks (6 months); itineraries are flexible and can be adjusted and personalized for each person. Our programs combine Spanish language studies, volunteer work, and specialized courses that build life skills.

Spanish classes include all levels from Basic to Fluency.

Volunteer program (service learning) options include:

Animal Care
Indigenous Communities
Medical & Healthcare
Teaching English
Working with Kids

Learn more about Maximo Nivel’s Gap Year programs.

Maximo Nivel’s surf school programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru are led by high-qualified, bi-lingual instructors-this keeps it safe, fun, and you definitely learn good surfing techniques. All surfing gear is provided in the price of your program.

We work especially well with beginners and intermediate surfers who are looking to uptick their skills.

All year long except September and October. The beaches we use are ideal for learning and getting good waves for both longboards and short boards and there are breaks nearby that will stimulate most surfers. Each season has its benefits and typical weather patterns, though remember Mother Nature can be unpredictable.
Maximo Nivel’s scuba certification programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru are led by high-qualified, PADI-certified, English-speaking or bilingual instructors. All diving gear is provided in the price of your program.
In Costa Rica and Peru, scuba courses run all year long except September and October. In Guatemala, the Scuba program is available year round.
Maximo Nivel’s Yoga Trainer Certification courses in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru are led by high-qualified, English-speaking or bilingual instructors. Our programs are 200 hours and they follow Registered Yoga Trainer (RYT) 200 course requirements as dictated by the Yoga Alliance.
The Mini Adventure program includes 6 days of adventure and cultural tours in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru-it includes the highlight tours in each country. The Mini Adventure can be done as a standalone program, but most participants add the Mini Adventure on to their existing Spanish, volunteer, or TEFL program, either at the beginning or end. All tours are led by licensed, bilingual guides.
The Volunteer Adventure is a 2-week (13 day) program that includes 5 days of volunteering and 6 days of travel and exploration in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. Participants begin with 5 days (Monday – Friday) in Maximo Nivel’s Volunteer Abroad program-participants can choose from volunteer projects including: Animal Care, Conservation, Construction, Eco-agriculture, Indigenous Communities, Medical & Healthcare, Teaching English, and Working with Kids. Following the week of volunteering, participants move on to enjoy 6 days of adventure and cultural tours in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru-this program includes the highlight tours in each country.