This past December 2019 my colleague and I decided to attend a Spanish immersion program at the Instituto Estelar Bilingue in Liberia, Costa Rica to strengthen our understanding of the Spanish language. I reached out to the school and spoke with a representative who gave me a brief overview of the program then advised me to take the written exam online. After taking the exam I was then contacted by the owner Bethany Kirk, who was very sincere, enthusiastic, and comforting about my attending the institute. I was then set up with an oral skype exam and once my results were in I was given a class placement level. There were several homestay options one being my friend and I could reside with the same family which I found to be very accommodating. Bethany walked us through the whole process we were given several family options, with complete details about the family, along with pictures. We were also provided with information on the town of Liberia, extracurricular activities outside of the school, extracurricular activities provided by the school, and other fun ways to improve our Spanish while there.
Estelar is in a prime location in downtown Liberia there are plenty of restaurants, shops, markets, and the people are very friendly. Bethany and her staff are awesome and I never had a dull moment. The students were given a tour of the city on our first day to make sure we knew how to get around, they offered cooking classes with local cuisine, excursions (i.e. waterfalls, farmers market, national park), and much more. My absolute favorite activity was the opportunity to volunteer one day each week at a local school that Estelar partners with. Since we were there close to the Christmas holiday we were able to assist with the school Christmas party that Estelar hosts every year. Bethany and her team brought in Santa Claus who gave out presents to each student and a back pack; there were games, candy, hot dogs, chips, juice, cake, ice cream, and music with a live DJ. It was awesome!!!
The instructors at the school do a wonderful job of teaching you Spanish without making it the average monotonous classroom setting, by playing learning games, teaching local customs and culture, with a focus on conversation; which allows you the necessary practice you need in speaking the language. The learning experience also extends to your homestay where the family is requested to only speak to you in Spanish. The couple we stayed with was so amicable and welcoming. They really made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed for a home away from home. We were included in family meals, functions, and conversations. Then after all your hard work and completion of the program the school provides mini graduation ceremony where you are awarded a certificate of achievement.
I highly recommend attending the Instituto Estelar Bilingue it is everything you hope for in an immersion program and everything it claims to be!!!!!!