Intensive Spanish in Ecuador
Study the Spanish language while you explore Ecuador, a country known for its remarkable geographic and biological diversity.
Gondola ride to scenic view on slopes of Pichincha overlooking Quito.
Central park of Quito.
Common weekend trip
Common weekend trip
Small park, large market
Viewpoint over Quito with large statue of Virgin Mary
Historic center, nightlife area
Common site for internship/research and a big shopping market
Grocery store chain.
Major hospital in Quito
Colonial cathedral of Quito
Pre-colombian art museum
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.
- 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
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).
Program Directors, José Suárez and Dolóres López
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 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.
You will enroll in one language course during the 3-week program and earn 4 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 you frequent opportunities to practice your language skills and receive feedback from the instructor. You 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.
Full Course List
Choose one of the following courses.
Intermediate Spanish II
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 Composition & Communication
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.
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.
Application Open Date: Dec 18, 2020
Application Deadline: May 1, 2021
|Arrival Date||Aug 1|
|Classes begin||Aug 2|
|Last day of classes||Aug 25|
Winter Break 2021-22
Application Open Date: May 1, 2021
Application Deadline: October 15, 2021
|Arrival date||Dec 27|
|Last day of classes||Jan 14|
|Departure date||Jan 15|
University of Minnesota participants pay the program fee instead of on-campus tuition and fees for the term they are abroad.
If you do not see a budget estimate for the term you intend to go abroad, the fee has not yet been finalized. We strive to post fees for this program at least 30 days prior to the application deadline. The Learning Abroad Center will delay the posting of some fees until enrollments, inflation and exchange rates are determined. Note the average increase in fees will be 3–10%. Program fees are based on estimates and may change depending on international economic factors.
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, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.
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.
Winter Break 2021-22
Complete pre-application advising.
You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.
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:
- 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.
For further information or questions about this program, send an email to
Contact Program Alumn
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.