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Instituto Estelar Bilingüe

About

Located in the Guanacaste region in northwestern Costa Rica, Instituto Estelar Bilingüe is committed to helping people of all ages and backgrounds learn a new language and improve their lives. Becoming bilingual is a challenge that takes time, dedication, and perseverance on the part of the student. However, we know that the methods and materials used by the teacher play a significant role in the learning process. For this reason, we have developed a Spanish program that allows students to learn from highly trained, certified teachers while being immersed in the language and the culture of Costa Rica.

As a young school in the historic city of Liberia, our students benefit from small class sizes, attentive teachers, a welcoming staff, and fun bilingual events with local people in our English program. Our goal is to make sure that each student can do more than just communicate - after studying with us, they are stellar Spanish speakers!

Founded
2010

Reviews

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Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Everything was fantastic!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks here. It’s been a fantastic, Supportive experience all around. I’ve enjoyed the classes, meeting everyone, being in Liberia, and more. I’d definitely come back!

I really enjoyed all my teachers and their different styles. I particularly liked 1) speaking with Deidy on a variety of different topics which helped me understand life in Costa Rica more! And 2) the teaching approach Greivin has, where he uses games, we left the classroom, etc but also he helped me understand some concepts in new ways due to innovative approaches and ways of thinking about things like verbs! Nelly is a fantastic teacher! Given I was the only student, she ensured she used a variety of different techniques, exercises, and activities so I could learn. She is patient, understanding, and creative!

I really enjoyed the activities! I enjoyed the excursions as well, although they were limited because it was a holiday week. I really liked going to the farmer's market.

Everything was amazing! Great place, very welcoming and friendly. Everyone is amazing! I so feel like I am in good hands here in Liberia and cannot thank everyone enough for such a great week! I especially appreciate all the effort that was made given I am the only student! Bethany is incredible in terms of being helpful, making you feel included, and organizing an amazing experience.

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Wayne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Such a great experience!

My wife and I have learned more than we expected in the first week. The courses have been interesting and fun. I would recommend this program to anyone serious about increasing their Spanish skills.

Mariala has been patient and fun. We have increased our vocabulary and grammar with her help. She is a great teacher.

The Spanglish social and intercambio were fun and helpful.

Great location, people, and facility!

Digna is the best! She is patient and kind. Her meals are incredible and her home is clean and comfortable. She helps us with our communication, pronunciation, and homework (no cheating). We are lucky to have been matched with Digna.

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Len
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Exceptional Program

El profesor Sebastian fue genial. Social de spanglish fue divertido. La feria fue interesante! Family is great, lots of Spanish. Mi mama tica es muy amable, la casa siempre está limpia, comida deliciosa y una perrita preciosa! We had great discussions and I loved that we talked a lot in class, The farmers market was really great. I would recommend to all. Club A is great. Very eye-opening and fun! Everybody at Estelar is very friendly and helpful. Doña Celena is the best! I´ve had such an accommodating experience with her!

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Lesley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Recommended

Teacher Merlyn made my learning experience very entertaining and enjoyable. I think the extra activities at Estelar were fantastic! Every opportunity to practice speaking Spanish is great, and to have experienced teachers and willing conversation participants is really helpful! My hostmom Iris is very welcoming and the food is varied and plentiful. La casa es limpio. My only problem was it was a little noisy for sleeping, mucho perros. Overall a very comfortable experience, Iris made me welcome and I never felt uncomfortable. Recommended.

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Miranda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Exceptional Program

I really enjoyed how Instituto Estelar tailored the class to my needs. We worked on the topics and conversations that would be most useful for me in my job as physical therapist, with very specific vocabulary and situations. That being said, I wouldn't necessarily say that this was a 'Medical Spanish' program. For example, the course workbook was more about general Spanish grammar and Latin American culture, rather than being a medical Spanish reference that I could take back home and use later at my job. Thankfully, the professor went the extra mile to make sure that I was still learning the things I wanted to! Nelly was so kind and patient with me in explaining words or concepts I didn't know, correcting my speech, or giving me a chance to talk even though it was sometimes slow and difficult. She was always exceptionally prepared for or lessons, and even took the time on her own to look up physical therapy scenarios that we could go over in class. Thank you for all your hard work, Nelly! I was here in a low season - and honestly, there wasn't a whole lot to do! For medical Spanish learners, I would not recommend observation at the private hospital nearby - there were not very many patients and I spent a lot of time just sitting at the nurses station. These were some of the highlights of the program. I loved the intercambio, and it was truly magical to get to visit the Festival Navideno de Club A. Everyone has been very kind and accommodating of my needs, and helping me make the most of the experience even in spite of it being low season. Beni and Dona Alice are excellent hosts - very welcoming, patient, and went above and beyond to take me on extra outings to make sure that I enjoyed my visit and got to enjoy Costa rica. I also appreciated that they made an effort to speak only Spanish with me, even though at times it would have been easier to switch to English.

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

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.