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!


300 Metros Norte del Hospital San Rafael
Provincia de Guanacaste, Liberia
Costa Rica


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Yes, I recommend this program

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!!!!!!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Translated by Go Overseas:

I feel I learned a lot in Merlyn's class. Elle has very funny stories and we also have many conversations. I would like to see more reading in this class because grammar is advanced and better to see how grammar works in context. I love my mom Tica, Leti. We have many interesting conversations every day. It was very easy to talk with Leticia and she also cooks many different foods. I like that she gave me lots of fruits and natural juices every day. Merlyn is really great at explaining things and because she knows a lot of English it is BEYOND helpful for me and I know others feel the same way too! Club A is great. Very eye-opening and fun! Everybody at Estelar is very friendly and helpful.

Original review:

Siento que aprendí mucho en las clase de Merlyn. Elle tiene las historias muy chistosas y también tenemos muchas conversaciones. Me gustaría ver mas lectura en este clase porque la gramática es avanzado y mejor de ver como la gramática funciona en un contexto. Me encanta mi mamá Tica, Leti. Tenemos muchas conversaciones interesantes cada día. Fue muy fácil conversar con Leticia y también ella cocina muchas comidas diversas. Me gusta que ella me dio muchas frutas y jugos naturales cada día. We had great discussions in the Spanish course and I loved that we talked a lot in class. Merlyn is really great at explaining things and because she knows a lot of English it is BEYOND helpful for me and I know others feel the same way too! Club A is great. Very eye-opening and fun! Everybody at Estelar is very friendly and helpful.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Overall, I had a really great 4-week immersion experience here at IEB. I will recommend this place to friends, family, and students hoping to learn Spanish in an authentic way. I had a really great time with profesora Gabriela. One day, the class went from two students to one student, and Gabriela made changes accordingly to ensure that I received the support I needed. I learned a lot and enjoyed my time in this class. I had a great experience learning with profesora Nelly too and appreciate how patient she is with us. Grevin es un buen maestro también! Quiero la manera que Grevin enseña!

At first, I didn't participate in any extra curricular activities, but I fully appreciated that there was a schedule for us. My last week I participated in the intercambio, and it was excellent. Everything has been well organized and the experiences are fantastic. I appreciate the communication which has been quick, consistent, and persistent. Me gusto el viaje a la finca Tree Chocolate.

I am so sad that I have to leave Doña Digna this weekend! She is the best! I had such a wonderful experience with her and her family. I´m thankful to be placed there and to have her full support of my bad Spanish. We´ve had wonderful conversations and experiences thus far and I hope to continue. She is truly an excellent person, hospitable, and kind. I am gracious to have been placed at her house and hope that others will have the experience I had.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I spent just over a week at Estelar and it was fantastic! Everyone I met was super friendly and I learnt a lot. The bilingual nature of the institute is really great as it merges both Costa Rican people studying English and foreigners studying Spanish making it a great cultural experience as well.

I participated in the Spanish Immersion for TEFL graduates and lived with a Tico family as part of the homestay program the institute can organise for you.

The Spanish classes (4 hours per day, 5 days) were great and my Spanish improved so much over a week. Our teacher Merlyn was such a good teacher! Highly recommend the Spanish lessons!

The homestay was a great way to get to know a Tico family. They were super friendly, happy and patient while I was practicing my Spanish. The house was really comfortable, and a short walk to the institute. It was nice to spend some time in Liberia, as most of my travels so far have been in small coastal towns with a fair amount of tourism. It was great to get to know a small Costa Rican city.

Teaching english and getting my practicum hours for my program was a great learning experience. The students were great and I felt supported by the teachers and institute.

Would return to Estelar in the future if I wanted to study more Spanish, or maybe even one day I’ll apply for a teaching job there! Thanks for everything!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Stay for longer! It was an awesome community so it would be great to spend more time getting involved.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I am abolutely loving the experience and the school. Nelly is wonderful and she only spoke to us in Espanol. Class was fun and I learned a LOT this week. I think what I need the most is conversational practice with changing verbs. I think the most effective practice was all the homework where I had to memorize words at night and in the afternoon so I could use class time to practice and speak. This week I have used the school space to study on Monday, done the intercambio on Tuesday, Club A on Tuesday, went to the cataratas y posa on Wednesday, and tried to do the intercambio on Thursday but no one came. I will be going on the trip Sunday. So far, I have REALLY appreciated the extracurriculars of the class. I will be trying the cooking class next week and other trips. I am still really thinking about the experience I had with Club A. For me, it was very helpful to see what poverty cerca de Liberia is like and to think about educational opportunities for kids is so important to me as a teacher. I am not sure the kids got anything out of me going, but I am thankful for the experience. I am vasilating between feeling like a voyeur and being helpful to kids... but that is more of a me thing than an Insituto thing... Naomi was SUPER interesting at the Intercambio, so I was very glad to speak with her. So happy to be here! My homestay family, Leti and Geraldo, are the BEST!!! SO patient and so kind! They have really made this trip incredible. They talk with me for about an hour each night and Leti eats some dinner with me to make me feel at home. It is really lovely and I am SO blessed I am living with them.

What would you improve about this program?
As a single female traveler, I would appreciate a little bit more guidance with navigating the city, taking the bus, and getting settled... but I also have not asked for such things myself (I could be more proactive, but I do not want to be a bother to anyone also). I also understand it is very important for me to get out and try things, but I am a little worried about safety (perhaps this is something I need to work through, but I am a very cautious traveler and typically do not travel alone for this reason).


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Alumni Interviews

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

Meisha Grant

Meisha loves connecting with people while she travels. Meisha studied International Relations and Sociology at university. She has lived and worked in Indonesia for three years - studying Indonesian and working in community development.

Meisha has recently taken a break from her role in international health and is now exploring Central America. Meisha plans to work teaching English and has just completed her TESOL certification.

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.