STUDY BREAK: Did you know that fulfilling your foreign language requirements can be about a million times more fun and efficient by taking your textbook across the ocean? PS: Also, it’s cheaper than you think.
With 21 countries that have Spanish as their official language, there is no shortage of options of where to learn Spanish abroad. And while personal preferences for climate, accents, and cultural lifestyle has a part in deciding on a country, let’s face it- when you’re living off Ramen noodles, “cheap” has a beautiful ring to it.
You’re in luck: Spanish-speaking countries are an oasis for both experience and value. Cost of living is low, people are super-duper friendly, street food is abundant (and costs half as much as your instant noodles and tastes 1,000x better), the scenery is breathtaking, and opportunities for adventure are boundless. Also: siestas and fiestas.
To sum it up: you can learn a language mil veces more efficiently than in the classroom, while living abroad, and probably paying a lot less per month than you are now. (Yeah, that sounds like a much better alternative than flashcards and subtitled Netflix to me!). So, what is the cheapest country to study Spanish abroad and how much? Read on to find out!
Typical costs for language programs abroad
There are three main things to take into consideration when considering the total cost of studying Spanish abroad: transportation cost to the country, daily living cost in the country, and the cost of the study abroad program. The last one is tricky because what is included in program cost varies greatly: some include ground transportation, some cut back on accommodation and food costs by offering host family options, some grant access to extracurricular activities and excursions, some welcome you with fresh churros and alfajores.
It comes down to what is most important to you when it comes to value and cost, but below is a countdown to the cheapest country to study Spanish.
What are the cheapest places to study Spanish abroad?
Ecuador might be small, but it certainly packs a punch. Not only is it the closest point of the earth to space and the center of practically everything, but it oozes with adventure, nature, and history. Plus, it’s Latin America, so it’s cheap, delicious, and brimming with friendly locals. The diversity is extensive, both in geography (the Andes, the Amazon rainforest, the mysterious Galápagos Islands) and fauna (giant turtles on the beach and grilled cuy on your plate), and indigenous languages if you get bored with plain Spanish. Plus, Ecuador boasts the highest capital in the world: Quito, the #2 UNESCO site that is also voted the cheapest city and best-expat-life hub in the world. This is where to learn Spanish if you love history!
- Popular Cities: Quito, Guayaquil
- Average Program Cost: $6,000
- Recommended Program: SIT: Ecuador (Galapagos)
While Latin America is generally the cheapest place to study Spanish abroad, competition and the current economic crisis makes Spain a very appealing country to call mi casa for a few months, with plenty of high-quality options in both programs and housing available for any type of study abroad excursion. Plus, hombre, it’s Spain- where more authentic to learn Spanish? Between tapas and sangria, after siestas and before flamenco, among beaches and eucalyptus forests, the historical roots of Castilian flow out of every fountain, with all of its lisp-y glory.
There are plenty of literature masters to study (Cervantes and Lorca) and fútbol chants to learn (¿Real Madrid or Barcelona?) at your new home, and pretty much every European country at your fingertip with cheap flight deals for weekend getaways. Whether it’s mastering all of the regional dialects or hiking the caminos, studying abroad in Spain has no shortage of exploration. Bonus: most programs brag transferable credits and plenty of accommodation/term options and it’s one of the coolest spots where to learn Spanish.
- Popular Cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Seville
- Average Program Cost: $3,5000
- Recommended Program: CIEE Summer Language and Culture (Seville)
If you want your study abroad semester to be a colourful whirlwind of music, meals, and mezcal, then look no further. As a country that encompasses everything from America’s largest canyon to the driest desert, from cenotes to volcanos crowned with ice, Mexico strives to astound and dazzle. With market stalls blasting cumbia music and selling grasshoppers, the appeal is a continuous feast full of extremely nice locals under an unjust assumption of drug corruption and violence. Street food galore, sunny plazas, and endless museums await, with plenty of new amigos hiding behind every cactus. And, as the cilantro on top of your taco al pastor, Mexican Spanish is considered to be the most “pure” Spanish, so your pronunciation and accent will be flawless.
- Popular Cities: Mexico City, Oaxaca, Guanajuato
- Average Program Cost: $3,000
- Recommended Program: Sol Education Abroad (Oaxaca)
With peace the new norm, Colombia is one of the fastest-growing hotspots for tourism in Latin America- for good reasons. The hip and alternative capital is the perfect backdrop to the classroom, with museums, expositions, and street art keeping life interesting, while the surrounding mountains offer endless nature excursions on weekends. There are also impressive archaeological ruins, picturesque beaches, and elegant colonial towns to spice up the study routine. Like Mexico, Colombia boasts “clean” Spanish, and there is never a shortage of listening/speaking opportunities to practice the ears and tongue. Gourmet arepas, vegan cafes, and avocados as big as your head will fuel the mind for lessons and the body for salsa dancing later on, so stock up! Want to shake up your norm? This is where to learn Spanish.
- Popular Cities: Bogota, Cartagena
- Average Program Cost: $3,000
- Recommended Program: ISA Study Abroad (Barranquilla)
Bolivia might be one of the world’s financially poorest countries, but it is one of the richest when it comes to culture. Its dominance of indigenous groups makes for a colourful backdrop of art, languages, and cuisine, but the standards of hospitality are top-notch throughout. Spanish immersion is a piece of pay, with locals welcoming and eager to share their traditions. Magical salt mines, dead foetuses sold as offerings to Pachamama, and some of the world’s deadliest roads (tourist attraction #7!), guarantee an adventurous stay in Bolivia, while its pink dolphins and fuzzy alpacas ward off any evil energy. With so many tucked-away towns to explore and festivals to seek out on long weekends, there is much more than just the high altitude to make one’s head a giddy spin.
- Popular Cities: La Paz, Sucre
- Average Program Cost: $2,500
- Recommended Program: Languages Abroad (Sucre)
Not only safe, but also the cheapest country to study Spanish, Nicaragua is a deal for your córdoba. Just like the country borders both the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean, its land bridges old and new to offer a modern learning environment in the midst of ancient history (did you know that Cordoba is the oldest city on mainland Latin America?). The national pastime is baseball, which might almost make you feel like you’re swinging lazy Sundays away on the porch back home, but then there’s volcano islands and cassava, which will quickly bring you back into the present. Surf camps, rainforest escapes, beach study breaks, and a daily dose of gallo pinto will keep up the scenic setting to textbooks and homework assignments.
More resources to help alleviate the costs of learning Spanish abroad
In case that these program costs still have too many zero’s for you, GoAbroad’s many financial resources can make language learning abroad cheaper. Even if it’s not on the same level of fun as rafting down the Amazon or participating in a giant tomato festival, taking the time to research, fill out, and apply, apply, apply is actually the most effective way to make those dreams around the riverbend a reality—whether in the cheapest place to study Spanish or beyond.
Check these out to get started:
- Online Advisor—get customized program recommendations based on YOUR expressed interests
- FundMyTravel—crowd-source for your language learning adventure
- Scholarships for Language Programs—free money, HOLA
- Money Tips Articles—research can save you big bucks in the long run
A few hours of forms now can financially get you to many months of adventurous language study abroad soon and make the cheapest country to study Spanish in even more affordable! (Save your pesos for merengue classes instead!)
You’re ready to master Spanish—without going broke
Immersion is the best method to learning, and the warm hospitality that accompanies Spanish-speaking countries will make this study experience a breeze. So, put aside the verb charts, pack a dose of bravado, decide which of the cheapest places to study Spanish you jive with, and go become a conquistador of the Spanish language abroad!