Why did you choose this program?
I choose this program as I wanted to learn Spanish as well as complete the final practicum for my Certificate IV in TESOL, which I was already undertaking with another provider in Australia.
The bilingual nature of Estelar really excited me as I could pursue both these concurrently and thought it would provide an interesting culture. Estelar provides many extracurricular and volunteering opportunities, as well as a homestay experience – and I wanted all of this!
I thought Liberia sounded interesting, as it’s an authentic Costa Rican small city.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The program provider organized pretty much everything - the homestay (which included breakfast and dinner), Spanish lessons, extracurricular activities, and teaching opportunities. We received emails prior to arriving with all the details and a schedule as well as a profile of our homestay family. The institute also offered a Skype call to assess my current language abilities and ensure I was placed in the right Spanish course. They provided airport pick up so getting to the homestay was a breeze.
As mentioned above, I have been studying my Certificate IV in TESOL with an organization in Australia and as such the requirements and documentation for the teaching practicum was my responsibility to organize (e.g. filming, submit lesson plans, reflections etc). The institute was always willing to help, signing off on all necessary documentation. I received support with lesson plans from the usual teachers and was able to use the institute’s resources.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Embrace it all! There is so much opportunity to grow and learn with Estelar. I recommend getting involved in all the extracurricular activities, volunteering and making the most of the homestay by spending time getting to know your new Tico family and practicing your Spanish!
For teaching English, remember to have fun with your students!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I, unfortunately, could only spend 10 days with Estelar – if I could have stayed longer, I would have!
I arrived on a Sunday afternoon and was dropped off at the homestay. We got to know each other and ate dinner together. Every morning I had breakfast with my homestay family and then walked to the institute for my Spanish lessons, which were from 8.00 am-12.00noon Monday-Friday.
In the afternoons, I often went to lunch and walked around the city. In the evenings, I either participated in an extracurricular activity or taught English classes. I would then return to my homestay for dinner and to relax.
Weekends were free to explore!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I think going abroad through an institute like Estelar makes it so much easier! They really have your best interest in mind, are organized, and have considered all the small details such as food preferences, transport, what you need to bring versus what they provide, etc. I felt confident in Estelar organizing all these details so my biggest fear was teaching!
Getting in front of a class as a new teacher is scary. Being prepared as well as having support from the institute helped me face this fear. As I got more experience teaching and through my reflection and feedback on previous classes, I overcame this fear, realizing it is a normal part of being a new teacher and reminding myself that is was a learning experience.
What did you think of the teaching quality at the institute?
Learning Spanish was so much fun and my teacher, Merlyn, was amazing! She encouraged lots of speaking and only spoke Spanish, so it was very immersive.
The classes were intensive and we covered a lot in one week but it gave me such a great foundation. I felt confident leaving that I would be able to practice my new language in conversations.