Dubbed the Land of Eternal Spring, Ecuador offers aspiring bilingualists a temperate climate year-round, made even more comforting by genial locals and an affordable cost of living. Ecuador is also home to a host of natural wonders. Think scenic mountain peaks, rainforests, rare wildlife, and volcanic islands! Alongside its colonial cities and tranquil mountain villages, Ecuador offers a myriad of language program options. Locals don’t commonly speak English, providing both a challenging and ideal environment for Spanish language learning.
Those with a desire to learn Spanish will truly enjoy living and learning in Ecuador as the nation is not only a great place to live, it is a fantastic place to explore. Language programs in Ecuador often take place in small towns or cities where making friends with locals is easy. But aspiring language students won’t have trouble finding programs in larger cities either. Considering language programs in Ecuador? Here are three of the top destinations to get your search started.
Quito. Sitting on a river basin atop the eastern slopes of an active stratovolcano at an elevation of 9,350 feet, Quito is the world’s highest capital city. Founded on the ruins of an ancient Incan city and boasting a rich pre-Colombian history, the city has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as it is home to 5,00 heritage properties and more than 100 buildings that host different types of art and sculpture. Quito also happens to be the least altered, best preserved historic center in all of Latin America. A bustling capital city spanning the stunning Andean valley amidst volcanic peaks, Quito combines the traditional Ecuadorian Sierra culture with a sophisticated nightlife (and don’t forget the local eats!).
The Galapagos Islands. Located about 1000 kilometers off the coast of South America, the Galapagos Islands offer a remote and isolated paradise for language study in Ecuador. Largely unknown until the year 1535, when the Bishop of Panama was accidentally blown to the islands while on his way to Peru, the archipelago retains an almost mythical atmosphere and a population of unique wildlife species that appear to overpower the human inhabitants. With a population of less than 30,000 people, the Galapagos Islands have distinctively limited any manmade footprints. Made famous by the survey ship, HMS Beagle, which brought Charles Darwin to the archipelago, the diverse species endemic to the Galapagos Islands, which contributed to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection, continue to offer unceasing learning experiences for language students and tourists alike.
Guayaquil. With a population nearing 3 million people, Guayaquil is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador. Home to the nation’s main port, the city is an important access point for cruises to the Galapagos and a thriving center for the nation’s import and export industries. Guayaquil has made enormous advancements in recent decades, with urban renewal projects giving it a big-city profile, and consequently ushering in throngs of tourists. However, there are still historic neighborhoods, like Las Peñas, provide a peek into the city’s colonial past.
Language Programs in Ecuador
There are language programs in Ecuador that can match even the busiest of schedules, or students with anywhere from limited to advanced language skills. Since Spanish is the national and predominantly spoken language in the country, most language programs in Ecuador focus on Spanish language learning.
With several Spanish language schools in Ecuador dispersed throughout the country, students can easily join a language program that will match their specific needs and interests. Add to this the affordability of language schools in Ecuador and the slow, clear accent that makes communicating even easier and you have the perfect destination for language study abroad. Students can also choose to take Spanish courses alongside regular University courses at a local university, and earn transferable academic credits.
Additionally, there are intensive language programs in Ecuador that offer one-on-one or small groups lessons. These programs are ideal for students who want to focus on achieving advanced fluency in the Spanish language. This type of program is also often offered to individuals who want to learn specialized Spanish that is specific to their field of work, such as healthcare, business, and counseling. Spanish language programs in Ecuador that provide new language skills specific to your profession will help you gain an edge in your industry.
Many language programs in Ecuador provide students with an incredible opportunity to acclimate to the way of life in Ecuador. Several programs even specifically emphasize cultural immersion, incorporating certain activities and components, like homestays, that truly enhance the experience of the local culture. Homestays provide students with the chance to share meals with their host family and take part in everyday family life. These offer a great way for language students to integrate fully into community life.
Language programs in Ecuador make Spanish learning a vacation, as you will be surrounded by beautiful mountains, lush valleys, and snow-covered volcanoes anytime of the year. Most programs also include a range of excursions, which also help students experience the culture in meaningful, fun ways.
There are also some language programs in Ecuador that emphasize service-learning alongside language study, which integrate multiple forms of volunteer work and internships into programs. These programs further contribute to language learning and give participants a very meaningful addition to their language study in Ecuador.
Costs & Affordability
The cost of living in Ecuador is very low compared to Western Europe and North America. You can enjoy restaurant-quality food for minimal costs, with a traditional Ecuadorian lunch ranging from $1.25 to $2 and dinner for just $2 and above. Accommodation costs an average of $300 a month. Transportation is also quite affordable, even in the nation’s larger cities, with trolley or bus rides costing only 25 cents each way. Generally, the cost of participating in a language program in Ecuador is much less than attending a British or American university and taking language courses. Ecuador has adopted the American dollar, making it easy to travel and make purchases around the country, and it also saves American visitors from paying fees for currency exchanges.
Accommodation & Visas
As mentioned above, it is very common for language programs in Ecuador to include homestay accommodation. Homestays typically offer students a private room, meals, and active participation in the family’s daily life. This type of accommodation is often preferred by students who wish to live like more like a local and immerse deeply into the culture. Students will be able to find homestay accommodations in both urban and rural areas in Ecuador. On the other hand, it is possible to find practically any type of accommodation in Ecuador, including private apartments and individual room rentals, which provide more independence and privacy than homestays.
Travelers from most countries can enter Ecuador without a visa, if they intend to stay for 90 days or less. Visitors must only show a valid passport and a return ticket in order to gain entry into the country. For those planning to participate in a language program in Ecuador for longer than 90 days, it is important that they secure a visa before arrival. One of the best options for language study in Ecuador is to obtain a Student Visa (12-V visa), which has a validity of up to one year.
Benefits & Challenges
A place you can’t help but love. Ecuador has gotten a lot of attention lately, with revered publications ranking it as one of the best countries to retire in. Along these lines, Ecuador is lauded for its tranquil way of life, relatively low cost of living, natural beauty, cultural diversity, good public and private services, and year-round spring-like weather.
It is still developing. For all that it has to offer, Ecuador still has its way of reminding you that you are in a developing country. Unpaved, underdeveloped roadways, chaotic intersections, and daredevil local drivers are common.
Not everyone speaks English. Another challenge you will encounter during language study in Ecuador is the locals’ minimal use of the English language. Do not expect to easily find English speakers who can help you with directions and other such daily essentials. Nevertheless, this is also a benefit of language programs in Ecuador, as it will motivate you to practice and learn Spanish more.