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Intensive Spanish in Ecuador

  1. Program Details

    Study the Spanish language while you explore Ecuador, a country known for its remarkable geographic and biological diversity.

    Location Quito, Ecuador
    Term Summer Session, Winter Break
    Housing Homestay
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Learning Abroad Center

    Program Eligibility

    GPA 2.5
    Student Type UofM Students, Non UofM Students
    Student Year Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
    Language Minimum 3 semesters college-level Spanish
  3. About Intensive Spanish in Ecuador

    Few countries as small as Ecuador contain such remarkable geographic and biological diversity. It ranges from coastal deserts to temperate mountain valleys to Amazon forests. Culturally and racially, its population includes every mix of indigenous, Spanish, and African elements. The program is based in Quito, an Andean city—within sight of snow-capped volcanoes—that houses remarkable combinations of colonial and modern, rich and poor.

    The Intensive Spanish in Ecuador program can be combined with the MSID Ecuador semester or academic year program for an extended experience abroad.

    For help deciding between Spanish language options, consult the Spanish Language Programs Comparison Chart (PDF).

    Housing & Meals

    August Pre-Session 2021: Due to COVID 19, homestays may not be possible. In that case, you will be housed in shared apartments with other program participants. Apartments are fully furnished and include cooking facilities. You will be responsible for providing your own meals throughout the program.


    You will live with a homestay family throughout your time in Ecuador. Homestay families provide breakfast and dinner daily. You will be responsible for providing your own lunches. Host families can typically accommodate a variety of dietary needs, but students with severe food allergies and/or restrictions should discuss their situation with the program team prior to applying.

    Homestays are an integral component of the learning experience and provide a vital connection to local culture. The homestay aspect of the program is often a highlight for participants. Nearly all families have hosted program participants before and have been chosen for their genuine interest in sharing Ecuadorian life with a student.


    Although excursions may vary each term, students typically do a city tour of Quito and a field observation trip to Saqusili (just South of Quito) to visit a traditional market.

      Learning Outcomes

      • Improve Spanish speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills
      • Develop strong sense of independence from being outside of comfort zone
      • Learn to appreciate relativity, accept complexity, and embrace ambiguity
      • Challenge previous assumptions about Ecuador and Ecuadorian culture
      • Learn to function effectively as a team member in a diverse workplace

      Faculty & Staff

      MSID Ecuador staff

      A team of dedicated Ecuadorian staff based in Quito work to ensure that your study abroad experience is safe, academically enriching, and rewarding. 

      Pictured above, 1st row: Solange Paez (Secretary), Verónica Catuacuamba (Accountant), Dolores López and José Suárez (Program Directors), Emilia Castelo and Natalia Céspedes (Academic Coordinators), Janet Barros (Research Assistant).

      2nd row: David González (Messenger), Carlos Travez (Researcher), Vicente Pintado (Janitor), Danilo Mastínez (Research Assistant), Franklin de la Cruz (Researcher).

      José Suárez and Dolóres López

      Program Directors, José Suárez and Dolóres López

      José Suárez

      José Suárez is Executive Director of Fundación Cimas del Ecuador, a development-focused nonprofit organization in Quito. Dr. Suárez received his MPH and PhD degrees in public health from the University of Minnesota. A physician and epidemiologist with extensive community experience, he has authored research studies and books about health and environment in Ecuador, participated in many international and national committees, and served as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization and Ecuador’s Ministry of Health. In addition to his extensive experience working with North American students and academic programs—including MSID since 1989—Dr. Suárez has taught at the University of Washington, Evergreen State University, and the Medical School of the Universidad Central del Ecuador.

      Dolóres López

      Dolóres López is President of Fundación Cimas. She studied Anthropology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) and holds a bachelor's degree from Evergreen State College and a master’s degree in Social Science and Ecuadorian Studies from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Quito. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Latin American Cultural Studies Doctoral Program at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito. She has conducted research on social and cultural population issues; gained practical experience in working in indigenous and peasant communities; and organized local, national, and international conferences. In recent years she has been deeply involved in intercultural research projects and actively participates in community-based processes to identify alternatives for development. She has worked with US students and study abroad programs for many years, including MSID since 1989.

      All language courses are taught by Ecuadorian faculty who are experts in their fields. Their CVs are available upon request.

      About the Learning Abroad Center

      Learning Abroad Center programs are:

      • Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
      • Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
      • Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
      • Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.
    • Program Structure

      Program Type Study Abroad Center
      Program Level Intermediate Spanish II (ECDR 1004) or Spanish Composition and Communication (ECDR 3015W)

      4 credits


      Choose one

      Intermediate Spanish II
      ECDR 1004
      Summer, Winter Break
      4 Credits

      Fourth semester Spanish. This is an intensive Spanish language course that places emphasis on grammatical structures, vocabulary and learning about the local culture. This course will help students to increase their linguistic and communicative abilities in both written and oral form through the appropriate use of the language within Ecuadorian culture and Latin America.

      Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 1003, or equivalent, with a C- or better.

      Spanish Department Equivalent: SPAN 1004

      Syllabus for Intermediate Spanish II (PDF)

      Spanish Composition and Communication
      ECDR 3015W
      Summer, Winter Break
      4 Credits

      Fifth semster Spanish. This Spanish language course has an emphasis on composition and communication in Spanish. It is designed to develop and strengthen the oral and written linguistic and communicative abilities students have acquired during their previous four semesters of language study. This course seeks to integrate, in real contexts, speaking, writing, reading and listening skills at a more advanced level.

      Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 1004, or equivalent, with a C- or better.

      Spanish Department Equivalent: SPAN 3015W

      Syllabus for Spanish Composition and Communication—Taught in English (PDF)

      Syllabus for Spanish Composition and Communication—Taught in Spanish (PDF)

      Take one intensive Spanish language course and rapidly improve your Spanish skills through conversations with your host family. This program appeals to students who are interested in advancing their Spanish knowledge through an intensive learning experience.


      One language course is taught over a 3-week period and awards 4 undergraduate credits. All classes are held at the University of Minnesota’s partner organization Fundación CIMAS, a local study center. Language courses are taught by experienced instructors who are native speakers. Small class sizes allow students many opportunities to practice their language skills and receive feedback from the instructor. Students will be in class with other program participants.

      You may also participate in this program as an optional language pre-session for the MSID Ecuador program.

    • Dates & Deadlines

      Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:


      Program Term App Open Date Deadline*
      August 2021 Dec 18 May 1
      Arrival Date Aug 1
      Classes begin Aug 2
      Last day of classes Aug 25
      Departure Aug 26
      Winter Break 2021-22 May 1 Oct 15
      Arrival date Dec 27
      Last day of classes Jan 14
      Departure date Jan 15

      *Program dates are subject to change. Contact the LAC for verification of dates before purchasing your airfare.
      **If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

      Orientation Dates & Locations

      Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

      See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

      Term Abroad Date/Time Location
      August Session 2021 TBD Virtual Session

      Students participating also in the MSID semester or academic year program will receive their program information at the MSID orientation.

    • Fees for Intensive Spanish in Ecuador

      University of Minnesota participants pay the program fee instead of on-campus tuition and fees for the term they are abroad.

      August Session 2021

      August 2021 fees are finalized but have not yet been added to the website. Reach out to the program contact for more information.

      Winter Break Session 2019-20


      Fees or tuition from home institutions may be added to or differ from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center fees listed on this page.

      Billing & Payments

      Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

      Financial Aid & Scholarships

      Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

      Bridging Loan

      Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.

      Cancellation Policy

      Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.
    • Prepare

      Complete pre-application advising.

      Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

      To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

      Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
      Education Abroad Term Winter Break, Summer
      Program Name Intensive Spanish in Ecuador
      Track Name Intensive Spanish in Ecuador
      Country Ecuador


      May & Summer Programs – University of Minnesota Students

      Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.

      Apply Now

      May & Summer Programs – Non-University of Minnesota Students

      Once you submit your application, Learning Abroad Center staff will create a University of Minnesota student internet account for you. You will use this account to access the Education Abroad Application System, and other University of Minnesota services. You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.

      Our staff will contact you within 2–3 business days with your internet account information, and additional application instructions.

      Apply Now

      Fall 2021 & Beyond Programs – All students

      All students, both UofM and Non-UofM should use this apply button if applying for a program Fall 2021 or beyond (academic year, winter break etc.). You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.

      Apply Now


      After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:
      • Essay
      • Course Enrollment Form
      • Transcript (Non-UofM students only)
      • Home Institution Nomination (Non-UofM students only)

      Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

      If you do not meet the GPA requirement for this program you will be required to submit two additional application items—the Low GPA Essay and Special Circumstances Recommendation. Both items will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when they have been added.

      Application Review Process

      After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.

    • Program Contact

      For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

      Molly Micheels or call at 612.624.3949.

    • Contact Program Alum

      Below is a list of additional students who participated in past program sessions. They are ready and willing to answer your questions about this program. Feel free to contact them during your decision-making process or anytime during your pre-departure preparation to get a student perspective.

      Winter Break 2018

    Program Handbook Program Orientation Visa Information

    COVID-19 Update

    This program was canceled for winter break 2020-21 due to COVID-19.