Tag Archives: study spanish

Fast Decisions can be the best! / Las decisiones rápidas pueden ser las mejores

It was a fast decision to come to Costa Rica. I feel like I didn’t even think it through or research it like you really should before moving to a different country. But I remember thinking that if I didn’t do it, then I would wonder what I had missed every minute of every day after that.

It was less than a month between the time that the idea was introduced to me and the day I was on a plane headed to Liberia, Costa Rica – a place much different than the small town in California where I went to college and the even smaller town where I grew up.

Although I grew up in California, a place famous for beautiful beaches, I really hadn’t seen very many. Now, according to my pictures, I have been to at least 25 gorgeous beaches that each have a string of memories to go with them. Besides the beaches, I have visited rivers, waterfalls, volcanoes, and national parks that are too beautiful to put into words. Beyond all that, I have met countless awesome people, seen plenty of incredible animals, tried many new foods, learned a beautiful language, experienced and become accustomed to a different culture, and adopted a more relaxed, stress-free lifestyle that makes me thankful every day for the choice I made to come here.

My time in Costa Rica has also taught me a lot about myself and my own culture. Before I came here, I really didn’t think that I had much of a culture. I was often jealous in college when I met people who had customs and traditions that gave them a sense of pride and unity with those in their group. But in teaching my students about things I know well like Halloween Trick-or-Treating, Thanksgiving stuffing and pumpkin pie, hand-written Valentines, Easter egg hunts, and having a really good hamburger at a Sunday barbeque, I realized that I have a culture to share and be proud of. I love telling people about the way things are in my country and discussing the many differences between California and Costa Rica.

Even though I know now that I made the right decision, it was really intimidating for me to make the move to Costa Rica where I didn’t know anyone and I hardly spoke the language. I had to be serious and I had to be quick. I had to be open to new possibilities and I had to be willing to try new things. I think in the end that if I had really thought it through, I might have backed down. I might have chickened out and said ‘no I can’t do this’. But I didn’t over think it and I didn’t let it scare me. I said ‘yes’ and like that I made the best decision of my life.  It might not always be true, but my year in Costa Rica has convinced me that sometimes fast decisions are the best decisions that you can make.


christmas break 2013 (34)

Sharai Kirk, writer of this blog, has been in Costa Rica for a year, studying Spanish and teaching English at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe in Liberia.


Fue una decisión rápida el venir a Costa Rica. Siento que no pensé  mucho sobre mudarme a  un país diferente. Pero recuerdo que pensé que si no lo hacía pasaría cada uno de mis días pensando que hubiera pasado si lo hubiera hecho.

Paso menos de un mes entre el momento en que tome la decisión y el día que estaba en un avión rumbo a Liberia, Costa Rica – un lugar muy diferente a la pequeña ciudad de California donde crecí y fui a la Universidad.

Aunque crecí en California, un lugar famoso por sus hermosas playas, realmente no había visitado muchas. Ahora, según mis fotos, he estado por lo menos en  25 hermosas playas que llevan un sin fin de recuerdos con ellas. Además he visitado ríos, cascadas, volcanes y parques nacionales que son demasiado bonitos como para poder describirlos con palabras. Más allá de todo eso, he conocido a innumerables personas impresionantes, visto un montón de animales increíbles, probado muchos alimentos nuevos, he aprendido un precioso idioma,  he experimentado y acostumbrado a una cultura diferente y adopte un estilo de vida más relajado y libre de estrés que me hace agradecer todos los días la decisión que tome al venir aquí.

Mi tiempo en Costa Rica también me ha enseñado mucho sobre mí y mi propia cultura. Antes de venir aquí, realmente no pensé que tenía mucho de una cultura. En la Universidad a menudo me sentía celosa cuando conocía a  personas que tenían muchas costumbres y tradiciones que con orgullo celebraban. Pero enseñando en Costa Rica he podido compartir con  mis alumnos sobre Trick-or-Treating de Halloween, Thanksgiving relleno y pastel de calabaza, he  escrito a mano tarjetas de San Valentín, buscar huevos de Pascua y disfrutar de una muy buena hamburguesa en un asado un domingo, me di cuenta de que tengo mucho para compartir y estar orgullosa acerca de mi cultura. Me gusta hablar con las personas acerca de nuestra cultura y tradiciones y discutir acerca de las diferencias entre Costa Rica y California.

Aunque ahora sé que tomé la decisión correcta, era realmente apresurado para mí hacer el traslado a Costa Rica donde no conocía a nadie y no hablaba el idioma. Tenía que ser serio y tenía que ser rápido. Tenía que estar abierta a nuevas posibilidades y tenía que estar dispuesta a probar cosas nuevas. Creo que si lo hubiera pensado más detenidamente, hubiera dado marcha atrás. Yo hubiera podido acobardarme y decir ¨ no, no puedo hacerlo¨. Pero no dejé que la situación me  asustara. Dije ‘Sí’ y así tome la mejor decisión de mi vida. Quizás no siempre sea cierto, pero mi año en Costa Rica me ha convencido de que las decisiones que a veces son  rápidas son las mejores decisiones que uno puede hacer.


A Year of Awesome Students and Staff / Un año de estudiantes y personal sobresalientes

It has been one year since we started recognizing the amazing people of Instituto Estelar in the form of Stellar Teacher of the Month and Student of the Month — “Estelares del Mes.” We are so proud to have such incredible staff and students that make our school great! We want to recognize this achievement one more time and thank them for their hard work, positive attitudes, and stellar dedication.

Ha pasado un año desde que comenzamos a  hacer reconocimiento a la increíble gente del Instituto Estelar, escogiendo un profesor y  un estudiante del mes – los estelares del mes. Estamos muy orgullosos de nuestros estudiantes y personal  del instituto! Queremos reconocer otra vez  su gran logro, duro trabajo, actitud positiva y su dedicación!

Estelares abr 2013-2014


Abril 2013: Greta y Teo

Mayo 2013: Melody y Ana Maria

Junio 2013: Merlyn y Lee

Julio 2013: Manuel y Hellen

Agosto 2013: Sharai y Diego

Setiembre 2013: Brittany y Felipe

Octubre 2013: Rosa y Jasmine

Noviembre 2013: Gabriela

Diciembre 2013 y Enero 2014: Stephanie y Emily

Febrero 2014: Sonia y Charlotte

Marzo 2014: Kate y Amelia

Abril 2014: Kate y Valeria


Learning Language with Stories

Although learning a language is something that takes persistence and dedication on the part of the student, the methodology of the teacher can make a huge difference. Anyone who puts in the time and effort to learn will certainly learn, but when we are able to do so in an interesting and enjoyable way, it is much easier to advance.

Instituto Estelar Bilingüe is proud to use TPRS – Total Physical Response Storytelling – in our curriculum. This innovative method uses bizarre and amusing stories to teach new vocabulary, increase fluency, and get students involved by giving them the opportunity to alter the details themselves.  Because of the silliness, creativity, and repetition involved, TPRS allows students to learn easily and retain information effortlessly.

Making these stories is fun, memorable, and helps you learn new things without knowing it. At Estelar, we make sure that our classes are never boringwith conversation, games, activities, and TPRS, we help our students learn a language the easy way!

To see this method in action, watch our videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHeaisRSiHc

What people are saying about Instituto Estelar Bilingüe’s Spanish Program

We are excited to see such positive feedback on Google reviews from our clients. Thank you for taking the time to write a review! Here’s what they’re saying about studying Spanish in Liberia, Costa Rica, with us:

Greta: The Spanish classes at Instituto Estelar Bilingue are great! They are interactive and fun while still being practical and challenging. I took a few weeks of intensive Spanish classes in 2012 and 2013. What sets Estelar apart from the rest is its bilinugal atmosphere – since there are English classes for local Costa Ricans and Spanish classes for us, there are a lot of opportunities for language exchange and getting to know great people. A bilingual conversation club, called Spanglish, and volunteering with the kids groups were particularly fun! Highly recommended! Pura vida!

Cassie: Estelar is a wonderful place to learn or practice your spanish. You have classes every morning, afternoon activities to practice using your spanish as well as trips on the weekends. You also have the opportunity to stay in a Tico home. I was able to stay with a family that was truly amazing, They helped me with my spanish and invited me into their everyday family activities. Between the great teachers, the city and it’s people I would definitely recommend Estelar. I hope I get the chance to go back some day!


Spanish class with Rosa!

Maria: Had classes at Estelar for 2 months and went back home with a profound understanding of Spanish grammar. They really demand a lot (!) – it’s not only a school to spend time, but a proper educational institution with serious attitude to learning process. Books are designed in-house and are included in fees, so are activities. Recommend to anyone who is eager to learn Spanish up to higher level (I came with intermediate and was very happy with the knowledge I was getting).

Shelley: We took some beginner Spanish classes at Estelar during our 10 day visit. The owner and staff were incredibly accommodating; not only making suggestions about class times that would best fit our schedule, but also offering recommendations on where to stay, eat and “play” in the quaint little town of Liberia. We took classes in the morning and then had the opportunity to explore in the afternoon, including short trips to waterfalls, a national park, hot springs and several stunning beaches in the Guanacaste province. Our teachers were kind and helpful and we also had the opportunity to meet other travelers and local Ticos. This school is an excellent place to experience authentic Costa Rican warmth and charm. This area is not “Gringoland” and you will actually get to practice some of that Spanish you are learning. We plan to return in the future, because we did not feel like temporary language students. We truly felt a part of their school and community.


Cooking class with Dayana!

Jasmine: I am a long term student here. Bethany is a very caring person who hires caring teachers as well. She also offers extra curricular activities for everyday life here that is very useful. She and her teachers try their best for providing students with a fun and learning environment. I would recommend to others.

Sharon: If you are planning on learning Spanish and at the same time some local culture, I would recommend Instituto Estelar Bilingue. The class is fun and at the same time informative. The classes are held in Liberia , and some at the beach in Playas del Coco. So have some fun and learn a language at the same time.


Spanish for Expats in Playas del Coco, held at Green Life Academy!

Greg: I took a week-long intensive last spring. I was a beginner, and an old one at that. I spoke Spanish, every day, for 4 hours a day, for a week, in class. And then, I went home and took a nap. The teachers were enthusiastic, devoted, friendly and helpful, as were the extracurricular activities we experienced. Definitely got my money’s worth.

Miriam: Excelente! Wow. I had a fabulous time studying Spanish at Instituto Bilingue Estelar. Even though I could only take a week to study, my Spanish improved soooooo much — I found my confidence and fluency had really taken a “Quantum Leap” when I came back, I just naturally found myself speaking Spanish to anyone I met who spoke Spanish. I loved the Bilingual experience and the “Spanglish Hour” — met great people — my teacher was adorable, creative, and fantastic — Bethany (the director) is super caring, helpful, dedicated — and I learned to cook Gallo Pinto and also had a GREAT time learning (finally) to Salsa Dance! era completamente fantastico. Muchas gracias.


Proud Spanish graduates of our Intensive Spanish program!

Manuel: The school is in an adorable historic house in the middle of a quiet city with everything you need within walking distance and everything you want to do in Costa Rica within reach. Beaches, parks, volcanoes, everything you’ve dreamt of when you dreamt of Costa Rica is just a bus ride away. The teachers are all native speakers and are very good at correcting errors to increase fluency and the classes are small which means you get a lot of personal attention.


More happy Spanish students at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe.

Christine: In November my husband and I attended Spanish immersion at the Estelar Biligue in Liberia Costa Rica. We had been pleased with our trips to a resort in the area but we wanted to have a cultural experience as well as learn some Spanish. We spent 2 weeks in the program and lived at a Home Stay arranged by Bethany the director. When we had our final day at the Institute and with our Home Stay family I was really sad that my amazing adventure had come to an end. Our trip was everything we had hoped for and more…

See more of this review and write your own at https://www.google.co.cr/search?q=Instituto+estelar+bilingue&oq=Institu&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j69i60l3j69i59.1488j0j8&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8#lrd=lrd.

Spanish Immersion Program in Liberia, Costa Rica

Do you know that even just one week of fully immersing yourself in Spanish will yield impressive results?Image

Spanish for Expats in Coco starts on Monday!

This Monday, January 13, 2014, we will start our third session in Playas del Coco of our Spanish for Expats program. We have three groups of 3-6 students in the first, second, and fourth levels. There is still room in two of the classes if you are interested in signing up!

We have made a slight change to the course schedule and are excited to see the results. This session, the classes will meet twice a week instead of once a week, and the course will finish in six weeks instead of three months. We expect to see students progress much better with the additional hours per week. The course schedule is Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30-4:30pm, at Green Life Academy.


Our Spanish for Expats program is specifically designed for people who live in Costa Rica and need to be able to communicate every day in Spanish. Students converse up to 80% of every class, and they also study grammar in order to understand the structure of the language. Each level has two Survival Spanish themes, such as going to the hospital, talking on the phone, or eating at a restaurant, and we also give additional Survival Spanish workshops on these topics that are open to the community and free.

We are excited to also have our Spanglish Social event in Coco every Monday from 5:30 to 6:30pm at Coconutz Bar. This event, also free and open to the community, involves speaking English for 30 minutes, and Spanish for 30 minutes. It’s a fantastic activity for practicing the language and meeting new people. Invite your Tico and Expat friends!


For more information about our programs, please visit our website, http://www.estelarcr.com, or email Bethany, the director, at Info@estelarcr.com. You can also call our institute in Liberia: 2665-6921.

Survival Spanish for Expats: Info Session Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, December 11, we will be at Green Life Academy from 2:30 to 4pm for a special Information Session about our Survival Spanish for Expats program in Coco Beach. Walk in any time to get information, take a placement test, and enroll (and pay) for classes starting on January 13, 2014. Take advantage of our early-bird discount of 10% if you pay for your course before December 23.

Course schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30-4:30pm

Duration of course: 6 weeks

Location of classes: Green Life Academy in Coco Beach

Special price: $250 ($70 less than the same course in Liberia!)

Price includes: Enrollment fee, placement exam, Survival Spanish Workshops, Spanglish Social (a weekly meeting at a bar/restaurant where we speak Spanish for 30 minutes and English for 30 minutes, helping each other improve!), course workbook, and certificate of completion.


Don’t miss this opportunity to learn REAL-LIFE SPANISH that you can use every day living here in Costa Rica. Our classes are fun and interactive with just 3-6 people in each group. We have 15 courses, from beginner to advanced, and our professors are university graduates and trained professionals.

For more information, contact Bethany, the director, at Info@estelarcr.com, or visit our website: http://www.estelarcr.com.