Learn Spanish in Costa Rica with Instituto Estelar Bilingüe!

Instituto Estelar Bilingüe


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!



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Yes, I recommend this program

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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Yes, I recommend this 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.

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Yes, I recommend this program

The immersion concept, which I have been told is the only way to go, works. This excellent program proves it. I was exceptionally worried about the teacher speaking only in Spanish. But, this concept works wonderfully well, too. I remember it from high school and college when I studied another language. My teacher was excellent. The classes were fun and the teacher was flexible when I was struggling with vocabulary or verb conjugation or use of the proper prepositions (all difficult at times.) The homework was helpful and always forced me to study. That's why I came, without my family - to study. I was ¨drinking from a firehose¨ most of the time, but it works, to force the learning. The teacher´s gentle manner for correcting me prevented me from getting too stressed out. She was knowledgeable, easy to work with, and a fun teacher. The school offers several opportunities to learn the language and experience the culture and the people outside the classroom. Spanglish, movies (with subtitles), interacting with children in the barrios, tours of the city, tour of the farmer´s market, visit to the national park (Rincon de la Vieja). Very interesting, and all optional. I enjoyed them all. Club A showed me, as did so many other experiences here (in the school and elsewhere) that children and families, for the most part, are the same all over the world. Certainly there are differences in the economic conditions in each country, but people are people. Club A was fascinating. The visit and 6 hour walk in the park (Rincon de la Vieja) as fun - long and hard, but that's what long hikes are supposed to be. Conversations with others where English is a second language were a bit intimidating, but fun. The teachers and staff were all friendly, professional and attentive. Could not have been better. I stayed with a family only two blocks from the school. The mother and her son spoke English well; the grandfather not well at all. That was fun, though. The mother and her son were able to help both me and the grandfather when we made mistakes in each other´s first language. I ate several times at the house - some breakfasts and dinners. All the food was wonderful, and not particularly different in many ways than in the U.S.; some local variations, but we eat rice, chicken, beef, pork, beans,yogurt, bread, and desserts, and drink juice, coffee, milk, beer everywhere. House and bedroom were spotless, and overall the family was wonderful!

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Yes, I recommend this program

I found Merlyn to be a great teacher. She was able to clearly explain concepts. Her main challenge in this particular class was to manage the different levels of the students, which I think she did quite well. I think the extra activities were fantastic! every opportunity to practice speaking spanish is great, and to have experienced teachers ad willing converstion participants is really helpful! Everyone was truly amazing, being as helpful as possible at every given opportunty. The facility is also great! I love your initiatives to reduce waste (e.g. laminating materials, not writing on the test paper so it can be reused etc.). My hostmom Iris is amazing, she's super patient with my wife and I and takes her time to teach us spanish. She took very good care of us while we were her, cooking and cleaning for us and always making sure we were contento. Johnny was also very patient and helpful in teaching us spanish and making us feel welcome and informed.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I spent a month in this Spanish immersion program, and all of my teachers were awesome. My profesora Nelly was amazing! Gabriela was also a fantastic professor! She was patient, kind and was willing to answer questions. Gabriela is fun and knowledgeable! Class was dynamic and efficient. I learned a lot in one week! The class was fun, and I liked the different learning styles like conversation, dialogue, playing games and writing. The class with Merlyn was awesome too! The class was intense and there was a lot of new information to learn. Merlyn made it interactive, easy, and fun. She answered questions as needed and was willing to give additional examples. Merlyn often shared stories of her own which made her easily relatable and allowed opportunity for conversation. Homework was assigned daily.

I enjoyed the activities during that week that allow me to practice my Spanish. I attended intercambio, spanglish social and a cooking class. I enjoyed the planned trips. It was unfortunate that some of the trips were more expensive or could not be done due to the lack of the number of people signed up to go. The director and staff were helpful. The school was clean and well organized. I appreciated the books available upstairs.

My mama Tica es excelente! My family was amazing - Leti made me feel at home and was willing to change meal plans as necessary. The house was clean and she regularly changed my bedding as well as washed my clothing. They only spoke to me in Spanish and although it was somewhat challenging at first, it became one of the things I eagerly anticipated most when I would return home in the evening and share dinner with the family.

The campus is clean and organized. There are always spaces available for studying and quiet time. 


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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.