Tag Archives: teaching

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



Fish out of Water, by Sharai Kirk

The English students at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe are amazing. I am pretty sure that most people think teachers have a very difficult job, and sometimes that is very true. Some students can be rude or offensive, unable to learn, or even unwilling to learn. However, for the last 8 months I have been blessed with nothing but fun, energetic students who are eager to learn and experts at making my job more entertaining than I ever thought it could be.


Sharai’s English class doing a fun review activity!

Last Friday night I taught my final class with my intermediate students that I have been with since October. They had a quiz to take, so on Wednesday I assigned them homework that made them do more than just study – they needed to prepare to be the teacher for five minutes by briefly explaining one of the grammar topics with examples and a small activity to practice the concept. Sometimes teaching is the best way to learn something, so I felt confident that even if their activities were short, small, or a repeat of one of mine, they would still be studying for the quiz in a fun, challenging manner.

But, once again, my students blew me out of the water (literally, you will see). They all had fantastic explanations, examples, and games to share with their classmates. We did a question-answer matching activity on the board, a dice competition game, a fill-in-the-blank race, a one-word-at-a-time sentence creating game where the person who messes up must make their craziest funny face, and more. But my favorite activity was at the end.

My friend and student, Carolina, took the stage to present her activity. She briefly taught the use of the past continuous and the past simple which we had learned in class. Then she explained the game, Charades, for anyone who had never played. She handed everyone a slip of paper on which she had written some crazy, bizarre, and hilarious sentences using these grammar concepts. One by one, each student went to the front to act out the ridiculous situations that she had invented.

Unfortunately, I didn’t catch all of them on tape, but my class instantly turned into a comedy show as my students began doing things like karate while taking selfies, cooking hamburgers when a giraffe entered the kitchen, dealing with constipation when their mother brought them papaya, dancing like Brittney Spears as their boyfriend pouted at the table, dreaming of being a fat kangaroo, and pretending to be a fish out of water as someone laughs hysterically (I got the honor of doing this one). It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen and half the class was crying from laughing so hard. I couldn’t have asked for a better last class.

To see a few on video, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgp4Z9llbWw&edit=vd

The students at this school are amazing. I have loved every minute of my job at Instituto Estelar Bilingue and I am grateful that the silly actors in this video are also my friends. Special thanks to all my students who have made my time in Costa Rica wonderful!

¡Estelar en la comunidad! – Estelar in the community!

¿Ya sabía que cada semana en el Instituto Estelar Bilingüe tenemos actividades gratuitas para la gente en la comunidad que quiere practicar el inglés con nuestros profesores nativos hablantes de inglés? ¡Infórmese!

Estrellitas Club de Niños – todos los miércoles, 5-5:40pm, en el instituto. Leemos libros a los niños y hacemos muchas actividades. Es para niños de 4 a 11 años.

Spanglish Social – todos los miércoles, 8-9pm, en Restaurante Las Baulas (100 metros del instituto). Hablamos inglés por media hora, y español por media hora. ¡Nos ayudamos a mejorar!

Superstar Club de Conversación en inglés – todos los martes, 8-9pm, y viernes, 5-6pm, en el instituto. Dividimos los participantes según su nivel de inglés, y conversamos en inglés.

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Did you know that every week at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe we have free activities for people in the community who want to practice English with our native English speaking teachers? We very much appreciate volunteers to help us run these programs!

Estrellitas Kid’s Club – every Wednesday, 5-5:40pm, in the institute. We read books to the kids and do lots of fun activities. It’s for kids from 4 to 12 years of age.

Spanglish Social – every Wednesday, 8-9pm, at Las Baulas Restaurant (100 meters from the institute). We speak English for 30 minutes and Spanish for 30 minutes, helping each other improve!

Superstar English Conversation Club – every Tuesday, 8-9pm, and Friday, 5-6pm, in the institute. We divide people according to their English level and converse in English!


Our weekly reading club for kids ages 4 to 11 years old!
¡Nuestro club de lectura para niños de 4 a 11 años!


Our weekly English conversation club!
¡Nuestro club de conversación en inglés!


Spanglish Social is a great way to meet new people and practice the language you’re studying (English or Spanish).
Spanglish Social es una oportunidad excelente de conocer a gente nueva y practicar el idioma que está estudiando (inglés o español).

The Power of Changing Roles

“Six Sundays out of seven, Lionel Parrish preached to his own little congregation, but on the seventh Sunday, he had explained to them, he needed to be preached to. Needed some refreshment for his own soul.”

–          Sena Jeter Naslund, Four Spirits

After reading this quote, I had to put the book down for a minute and think. Something about it made me stop. The book is about the U.S. South during the Civil Rights Movement, but this quote made me think of other things.

First, the idea of a leader recognizing the need to be led now and then is like a breath of fresh air. Leaders can get so fixed in their role, and so hooked on the power and recognition it brings, that they lose touch with the people they’re leading and, sometimes, the values they represent. I’m impressed by the humility shown by this preacher, albeit a fictional character, and wish there were more leaders like him in the world.

Second, as a teacher I believe in the effectiveness of switching things up. I strongly believe in student-centered classrooms where students are active seekers of knowledge, not merely passive recipients of it. To teach best, I have to take a back seat sometimes and let students “be the teacher” – leading, asking questions, struggling, and finding answers. In fact, this is a great way to see if they are actually learning anything in my class!

A student-led activity at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe

I also think it’s extremely important that I continue being a student, whether through language courses or spinning classes, to learn from other teachers. I think it’s sad they say that teachers make the worst students. That simply should not be the case.

Finally, I like the part about resting every seventh Sunday…except that I agree with the Biblical principal of resting one day a week. We all need to take a break, recharge our batteries, and chill out in order to be more productive and successful the rest of the time. As a new business owner, my list of things to do is a mile long, and I tend to work myself into the ground, but I am finding that Sundays, my day of rest, are infinitely important for reaching my goals and avoiding burnout.

I have to say that I love quotes like these – the ones that reach me on so many levels and, in doing so, refresh my soul.