Spanish immersion programs: Adults, Families, Students
Spanish Immersion trip -Join the High School Spanish Immersion Info Meeting

Spanish Immersion Programs in Costa Rica & Ecuador: Learn Spanish & Volunteer

The best Spanish Immersion Volunteer Programs for Students, Professionals, Adults and Families

Our mission…

To make your Spanish come alive and give you the Spanish speaking tools you need to have an impact in the communities where you live, work and volunteer. Participants gain Spanish fluency, cultural understanding, volunteer experience and an adventure of a lifetime on these immersion trips.

Click below on the Spanish Immersion Program that best suits your age, stage and interest.
We specialize in Spanish immersion programs for students, adults & families, and professionals. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, contact us for a customized immersion program.

Adult Spanish Immersion Programs

Adult Spanish Immersion

For adults of all ages & stages of life

Adults wanting a Spanish immersion experience guided by expert Spanish instructors and with embedded community service.

  • Highlights

  • 20 hrs. of Spanish classes per week
  • Host family stay – live like a local
  • Community service projects
  • Cooking & dancing classes
  • Weekend excursions to beaches, volcanos, rain forests and more!
  • Dates & Length

1 to 6 weeks:

  • January – March 
  • June – August

Family Spanish Immersion Programs

Family Spanish Immersion

For families with young children & teens

Families wanting a Spanish immersion vacation including host family lodging, language classes, and local volunteer opportunities.

  • Highlights

  • 10 – 20 hrs. of Spanish classes per week
  • Host family stay – live like a local
  • Community service projects
  • Cooking & dancing classes
  • Weekend excursions to beaches, volcanos, rain forests and more!
  • Dates & Length

1 to 6 weeks:

  • January – March 
  • June – August

High School Spanish Immersion Trips

High School Immersion Trips

For individual students

High School students who want to improve their Spanish. Similar to a mini study-abroad experience during their spring and summer breaks.

  • Highlights

  • 15 hrs. of Spanish classes per week
  • Host family stay – live like a local
  • Community service projects
  • Cooking & dancing classes
  • Weekend excursions to beaches, volcanos, rain forests and more!
  • Accredited for college level Spanish credit
  • Dates & Length

1 to 4 weeks:

  • January – March 
  • June – August

High School Spanish Class Trips

High School Spanish Class Trips

For schools, classes & teacher-led programs

High School Spanish classes, clubs and groups interested in a Spanish language travel program in addition to adventures and cultural immersion is welcome.

  • Highlights

  • 10-20 hrs. of Spanish classes per week
  • Host family stay – live like a local
  • Community service projects
  • Cooking & dancing classes
  • Weekend excursions to beaches, volcanos, rain forests and more!
  • Accredited for college level Spanish credit
  • Dates & Length

1 to 6 weeks:

  • January – March 
  • June – August

Medical Spanish Immersion Trips

Medical Spanish Immersion Trips

For healthcare students & professionals in all stages of training & careers

Healthcare professionals wanting a Spanish immersion experience guided by expert Medical Spanish instructors with embedded community health projects.

  • Highlights

  • 20 hrs. of Spanish classes per week
  • Host family stay – live like a local
  • Community service projects
  • Cooking & dancing classes
  • Weekend excursions to beaches, volcanos, rain forests and more!
  • CE, CME, CEU’s available.
  • Dates & Length

1 to 6 weeks:

  • January – March 
  • June – August

Medical Spanish

Medical Spanish International Rotations

For healthcare students that have elective time in the clinical phase of their training

Healthcare students wanting a Spanish immersion rotation with expert Medical Spanish instructors and with embedded community health education projects.

  • Highlights

  • 20 hrs. of Spanish classes per week
  • Host family stay – live like a local
  • Community service projects
  • Cooking & dancing classes
  • Weekend excursions to beaches, volcanos, rain forests and more!
  • Dates & Length

1 to 6 weeks:

  • January – March 
  • June – August

Study Abroad

Study Abroad Programs

For universities and individual students

Students wanting a short term study abroad program that teaches Spanish for their degree track and future career.

  • Highlights

  • 20 hrs. Of Spanish classes per week
  • Host family stay – live like a local
  • Community service projects
  • Cooking & dancing classes
  • Weekend excursions to beaches and volcanos
  • Accredited for college level Spanish credit.
  • Dates & Length

1 to 6 weeks:

  • January – March 
  • June – August

Teachers Spanish Immersion Programs

Teachers Spanish Immersion

For classroom teachers, subject area teachers, administrators & Spanish teachers

Classroom, Secondary teachers & Spanish teachers wanting to improve their Spanish to communicate with their students and families or reach that near native proficiency.

  • Highlights

  • 20 hrs. Of Spanish classes per week
  • Host family stay – live like a local
  • Community service projects
  • Cooking & dancing classes
  • Weekend excursions to beaches and volcanos
  • PDU’s, CEU’s or graduate level credit availabel.
  • Dates & Length

1 to 6 weeks:

  • January – March 
  • June – August

Online Pre-departure Courses

Pre Departure Course

For all immersion travelers with Common Ground International

How do I prepare for my Spanish Immersion trip with Common Ground International?

Proper preparation is key – arrive ready to soak in all the benefits of Spanish Immersion.

We value every second you have in-country; so you’ll spend 10 hours in a specifically designed online pre-departure course for your immersion program. This will help you hit the ground running when you arrive and maximize your language growth and cultural experiences while on immersion.

If your goal is to become a better Spanish speaker then you’ve landed in the right place. Our objective is Spanish and cultural immersion.
These 4 program elements guarantee you walk way more fluent, with greater cultural understanding, more mature and independent:

Host Family

Spanish only

Host families keep you speaking Spanish 24/7 so that you learn cultural insights that you would never pick up if you stayed in a hotel. Additionally, the host families go through a rigorous vetting process as they are an integral piece of this program.

Spanish Classes

Taught by native Spanish speakers

When you participate in a true immersion program, you need daily Spanish classes. It’s difficult to make sense of everything as it comes, so we integrate classes into your Spanish immersion program in order to maximize all the day-to-day learning you’re doing.

Community Service

Completed in Spanish

Spanish and humanitarian work mix to create the ultimate learning opportunity, not just about Spanish but about life!

This is a fantastic way for you to lend a hand to those in need while speaking Spanish to meet real objectives.


in Spanish

Every Spanish immersion trip should include some experiences at the beach, visiting volcanoes, trekking through the rain forest… We add to those experiences by integrating Spanish language into every aspect of our adventures!

Why travel with Common Ground International (CGI)?

Our immersion programs cost more than a DIY (do it yourself) trip, and possibly even more than other travel companies.
This begs the obvious value question… Why travel on Spanish immersion with Common Ground?”

Learn more Spanish

You learn more Spanish with Common Ground

If your goal is to learn as much Spanish as possible, we’re definitely the best program for you. We’ve specifically designed every aspect of our Spanish immersion programs to support your language acquisition all day, every day.

Arrive to country prepared

You arrive to the country more prepared and more ready to learn

We’ve spent countless hours building out pre-departure preparation courses for you. We don’t want anything to get in the way of your experience. Spanish Immersion realities like culture shock, unmet expectations, situational realities can derail you from learning all you can.

Planning and Coordination

Your trip planning and coordination is easier

DIY trips are possible, but neither convenient nor do you have complete confidence that your plans will become reality. We’re a language company based in Colorado. You can dial us up and speak English to us at any time! (303) 684-5557


You don’t just live in a community, you get integrated

Yes, you’re a tourist, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be treated like an outsider! Any program can throw together a host family experience, but we take it further. Your host family is invested in you. You will get to know them and their values. You will also partner with local organizations to work on projects in Spanish and rub shoulders with everyday people.


You have confidence that the community work you participate in is ethical, sustainable, and actually needed.

One common complaint of international volunteering is that the work Americans do abroad is more about them feeling better. The purpose should be the community they’re serving. This happens with one-off activities that have no long-term longevity. Furthermore, sometimes work is irrelevant to the true needs of the community. Our team of well-seasoned leaders take care to satisfy the highest standards for international volunteering on our immersion trips.


Nhora Mosquera

My son did the 3 week Spanish Immersion trip. There are no words to describe the amazing experience. Leslie and her team are super professional. Every detail and activities are very well planned! They kept us updated with daily pictures and summaries of their activities. The host family was out of this world. His Spanish improved significantly. We highly recommend this immersion program!!

– Nhora Mosquera (High School Program)


One of the best experiences of my adult life. The program was well run and organized & exceeded my expectations on every level. The Foster family treated us like family, and no detail was missed. I will do another trip in the future and would recommend this to anyone with a desire for fun, adventure, knowledge and getting outside of your comfort zone. I can’t say enough about how wonderful this program is.

– Stacey (Adult Program)

Pat H

Wonderful Program! Rory and Leslie were able to accommodate our large group (2 adults & 5 kids) and we thoroughly enjoyed the family atmosphere of Common Ground. Our 1 week stay in the Central Valley was truly immersive: meals and conversations with our host families gave us the chance to get to know individuals personally, the Spanish lessons allowed us to explore a new language, & the excursions and community building provided greater cultural awareness each day.

– Pat H (Family Program)


I participated in the medical Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica for 3 weeks between my first and second year of medical school and cannot recommend the program enough!! It was the perfect amount of adventure, coursework, learning, and flexibility to get exactly what I had hoped for the summer. I feel so much more confident after the experience and will definitely participate again!

– Sonja K (Medical Program)


I read these before I came and thought, no way could these reviews be real. So, um, they are. This program was incredible. I stayed for 5 weeks with an incredible host family, had 3 passionate spanish teachers who absolutely love their jobs, and got to travel the country on weekends with an extraordinary group of folks. I highly recommend this program. I can speak with my student’s families with a whole lot more confidence and ability, and the journey to speak Spanish will continue.

– Pauline Katz (Teacher Program)


It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I met so many amazing people and got to step outside my comfort zone by speaking more Spanish than I ever had before. I loved learning about another culture and of course all the great activities. Everyone involved was so nice and accommodating, I felt right at home.

– Geneva (High School Immersion)

More reasons to travel with Common Ground International


We’re more than Guides

Program leaders are onsite 24/7 leading, guiding, debriefing this increible culture experience! Our trip leaders have decades of experience, so we can focus completely on the student’s safety, Spanish development and cultural experiences!


You know where we live

We’re a Colorado-based family business with a clear track record of amazing Spanish immersion programs. You can call us any time and get your questions answered immediately. We have a LONG track record of combining safety, fun and learning to offer the best personalized Spanish Immersion Programs since 2003.

Outcomes growth

We offer the best language and cultural outcomes

Students gain confidence in speaking Spanish, acquire independence, and an awareness of the global possibilities for Spanish in their futures. We guarantee Spanish growth more than any other program available!


We prepare you before you travel

We prepare you before you depart! There is no guesswork, you can hit the ground running to avoid cultural and language learning obstacles and maximize your travel experience!

What about volunteer work on Immersion?

How do you make sure that the community work you do is actually relevant, helpful, ethical & sustainable?
Great question! Our guiding principles for Outreach Work on Spanish Immersion are extremely important. Watch the video to learn more about our guiding principles that are our framework for vetting volunteer opportunities on our immersion programs.

What can you expect from the host family lodging aspect of the trip?

Family Meals

You’ll share breakfast and dinner with your host family. ¡Buen provecho!

Private Bedroom

Average homes in most of Latin America aren’t large, but all of our host families have a private space for you to sleep and keep your things (even valuables) safe. You’ll most likely share a bathroom with others in the family. Your host mother will probably clean up a little while you’re out during the day in an effort to help you feel comfortable and well taken care of.

Lots of Conversation

This is the main reason we want you to stay with a host family while on our Spanish immersion program. Your family will want to know all about what you did on a given day and what your plans are for tomorrow. They will help you learn different ways of saying things and more importantly, provide you with a cultural experience that can’t be “learned” – it must be lived to understand.

Host families - Immersion trips - Common Ground International

Here are a few of the common optional excursions that our students and professionals take while on Spanish immersion:

Manuel Antonio - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

3 days and two nights at the beach on the Pacific coast. Manuel Antonio boasts a national park with monkeys, sloth, and many other interesting critters.  This is a must!

Arenal Volcano - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

3 days and two nights in La Fortuna with active Arenal Volcano. Join the zipline canopy tour, bathe in thermal pools, there is very little more relaxing.

Tortuguero Turtle Preserve - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

3 days and two nights out at Tortuguero National park. See amazing wildlife abounds, and turtles laying eggs.

Isla Tortuga - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

A beautiful island off the port town of Puntarenas. This is an all day tour, about 12 hours total. Take a catamaran ride out to the island for an elegant meal on the beach and spend the rest of the afternoon snorkeling, playing soccer, volleyball, or just relaxing in the shade of the palm trees.

Poas Volcano - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

Enjoy a day trip to Poas volcano just outside the Central Valley. This tour lasts about 5 or 6 hours, and you get a chance to hike up to the vista points to see down into the crater.

Café Britt Coffee tour - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

If you like coffee, this 3-4 hour excursion in Heredia is an absolute necessity. Learn the process of cultivating, harvesting, and roasting coffee – and the history of coffee presented by entertaining actors. It’s a wonderful tour and a great spot to stock up on coffee to take back home.

Sibu Chocolate Tasting - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

Costa Rica has been producing cacao for centuries – but only in the last decade has it actually been producing fine chocolates. Sibú Chocolates is one of the pioneers in organic, sustainable Central American chocolate, and it’s some of the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted!

Toucan Rescue Ranch - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

The Toucan Rescue Ranch is a great 2-3hr experience to see endangered animals in Costa Rica that have been rescued. The owner is a wonderful lady and personally takes you around her rescue and introduces you to her birds, owls, sloths and other animals that she is rehabilitating.

Explore the mountains surrounding Cuenca, Ecuador on an optional day trip to Cajas National Park! This is an all day guided excursion in which we’ll hike in the Parque Nacional El Cajas for a few hours, enjoy a gourmet lunch and experience the “gateway to the snowy mountains”.

Ingapirca ruins - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

Day trip to Ingapirca – one of the most important Incan ruins in Ecuador. Ingapirca is a word in Quichua that means “wall of the Inca”. It is estimated that this area was constructed in the early 1500s before the Spanish arrived to this zone.

Avenida de los Volcanes - Spanish Immersion Trips - Common Ground International

3 day adventure from Quito to Cuenca on the famous Avenida de los Volcanes! One of the most scenic routes in South America. We will pass through Andean Valleys, view 20,000 ft. glaciated peaks, spend the night at the headwaters of the Amazon basin, feel the spray of tremendous waterfalls, and soak in volcanic hot springs.

Spanish Immersion Program FAQs

What happens in case of an emergency?

Our trip leaders will seek the attention of a health care worker and make decisions along with parent/guardians/emergency contacts back in the US. We will be in touch with parent/guardians/emergency contacts as soon as possible. We will also help the participant initiate the process for claims on the travel/medical insurance policy that was purchased.

What if I have a food allergy or dietary restriction?

Usually this is not an issue. We have several host families that can accommodate to food allergies and dietary restrictions. Please let your trip coordinator know ahead of time so we can prepare for this accommodation.

What if my host family does not work out and I need to switch?

If there is an issue with your host family, trip leaders will be very involved and be able to make a quick switch to find a family that is a better match for you.

Will I have access to the internet?

Yes. Year after year more and more host families have Wi-Fi in their homes. Additionally you are able to connect to Wi-Fi at the language school. There are also Internet cafes in the center of town that you can use for a minimal price.

What type of preparation should I expect to do before going on this trip?

You will be involved in at least 3 virtual pre-departure meetings beginning 1-2 months before your departure. During these meetings you will have a chance to meet the other participants, learn specific trip details and itineraries, start working in groups on your volunteer projects, and a number of other things.

What is the weather like in Costa Rica and Ecuador?

From about May/June through October/November it is rainy season. The sun may shine in the morning (and it will be humid), but it will certainly rain in the afternoon (but it’s usually not a cold rain). December through April is dry season. It will be sunny, humid, and may rain here and there.

What time zone is Costa Rica and Ecuador?

October – March Costa Rica is on Central Time. April – September it is on Mountain Time. October – March Ecuador is on Eastern time, April – September Ecuador is on Central Time.

How safe are Costa Rica & Ecuador?

This is actually the #1 reason we chose to have our Spanish Immersion Programs in Costa Rica and Ecuador. Costa Rica has a long history of peacefulness and political stability, and it hosts over 1.5 million tourists a year. Tourism is a very large portion of the country’s economy, which means that in general tourists are treated very well. For many years Ecuador has attracted a great deal of international attention and tourism to its Galapagos islands and the interior of the country is stable and peaceful as well. One of the biggest factors contributing to your safety while on Spanish immersion with Common Ground is that you’re traveling with a group, and you have a Common Ground leader with you. We’re there by your side day to day to help you keep your focus on improving your Spanish.

Where do we stay while on Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica & Ecuador?

The bulk of the time you spend in Costa Rica is in a small town called Santo Domingo de Heredia. This town is about 20 minutes N of the capital city San Jose. The language school where you will walk to every morning is about 600m south of the downtown area on the main road. In Ecuador we stay in host families as well. Cuenca is a beautiful colonial city surrounded by beautiful mountains.

What are the host family homes like?

You will be staying in a middle-class home setting. You can expect the home and your bedroom to be small. Your bed probably won’t be as comfortable as your bed is here in the US. Most homes have tile floors, no carpet. Most families do not have dish washers nor clothes driers. You may be given a couple different keys for the home: one for the exterior gate off the street, and another for the actual doors to the house.

Will my host family speak English?

Your host families may speak a little English, particularly if they have school aged children. However, we encourage them to not let you know. The best way for you to continue learning Spanish is to have to use it!

Will I have another student from the trip in the same family with me?

This depends. In Ecuador you may have another participant from our program staying with you in your host family. Usually in Costa Rica you are paired 1:1 with a host family. When possible we like to limit the number of students to one per family. This increases your opportunities to speak Spanish. If you’re traveling with a sibling we’ll make an effort to place you in neighboring host families so that you’re at least close to each other. If you’re traveling with your spouse for some or all of the time, then yes we can place you in the same family.

How are host families chosen?

Having a student is a significant boost to our host families’ income.  Because there are more families requesting students in the town than we have need for, we are selective in who we employ to host you. The host families that our students stay with are screened for various things:

– Criminal and/or questionable social activity
– Suitability of the living quarters that you will occupy
– General “likeability” and friendliness
– Availability of a family member at the home during the hours you are scheduled to be there
– Age and sex of the family’s children. We would not place a teen girl with a family that has teen boys for example.
– Proximity to the language school

Will I be able to go to church?

Certainly, there aren’t a ton of different faith options in town, but there is a nice Catholic church in the middle of town with several service times throughout the week, an evangelical church close to the town center center and several other faith worship options in nearby towns.

Will I be able to shower every day?

Yes, you will be able to shower every day. There is no guarantee that your shower will have warm water, but you’ll certainly have access to a shower.

Is the water safe to drink?

You can drink water from the tap almost anywhere in Costa Rica. In Ecuador you need to drink bottled water. If you’re on our program and we’re headed to a place where water is not safe to drink, we’ll certainly let you know and have you get bottled water.

Do you have payment plans?

Absolutely. Most of the time the program cost is spread out over 3 payments. If you need other specific arrangements, we can probably be flexible with you. If you’d like to make just one payment, that’s fine too. Acceptable forms of payment are Visa, Master, Discover, Check and Cash.

Will I receive a packing list for my Immersion Program?

Yes. Shortly after your register, you will receive a list of clothes, personal items, donations you need to begin collecting, and other miscellaneous items to pack as soon as we receive your application.

How long does it take for a passport?

Typically 60 – 90 days.

Will my cell phone work while I’m on Spanish Immersion?

Some do, not all. This depends on your service provider and your specific phone, so check with your service provider first. If your specific phone isn’t capable, most service providers have world phone rental options. This isn’t usually the most economical way to call home when you’re in Costa Rica or Ecuador. You can purchase local chips you arrive to the country. We recommend using Skype, What’sApp or FaceTime. If you won’t have a computer with you, your Common Ground trip leader always will and you’re welcome to use our computers to call home.

Will we have the opportunity to exchange money?

Absolutely. Of course it’s always a good idea to have a little cash on you in Colones (Costa Rican currency) or USD for Ecuador (Ecuador is on the US dollar), but honestly you don’t need much right away when traveling with a Common Ground Spanish Immersion group. After you get settled into your host family, we’ll make sure you have the opportunity to get local currency right away. We do not recommend exchanging you money at the airport as they generally have unfavorable exchange rates. Credit & Debit cards are accepted throughout the country, and ATM machines are more and more common every year. The ATM is convenient, and usually provides a good exchange rate. It is important to notify your bank that you will be traveling abroad, and you’ll probably want to inquire about any foreign transaction and/or currency fees.

What is meant when referring to private in-country transportation in the application form?

You will most likely have the same guide and driver for your group the whole time you are on the program with Common Ground, and our destination is further than walking distance. In the mornings we will head to our volunteer site together (either walking or on the private bus). In the afternoons we will leave the outreach work site and head to the language school. During the weekend excursions we will certainly be on the private bus with guide and driver chaperoning our travels.

What is the proposed tip amount for guide and driver?

A good rule of thumb is $2-$3/day that our driver is shuttling you around, and $3-$5/day that a guide is leading you. They work very hard for you, and we take great pleasure in thanking them generously at the end of our programs.

What if my family, spouse or partner wants to join me for part of the program?

Many spouses, fiancées, friends and other family members join our groups for a portion of the program. We’re happy to arrange this for you with both your host family, and any private hotel accommodations that you require while on vacation portions of the program. If this is something you’re considering, we just ask that you let us know early on so that we can make appropriate arrangements for you. This is not a last minute decision that you can make, it does require special arrangements, so we ask that you notify us at the time you submit your application.

How much extra spending money should I plan on bringing?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to not budget enough money for additional expenses. The challenge is that this is a question that depends heavily on your tastes and the specifics of the program you’re applying for. To give you an idea of the typical expenses you may be responsible for: a normal lunch will usually run $7.00-$12.00; dinner runs $10.00 – $15.00. Optional excursions are something you should also plan for, but each program is very different. These excursions really add some amazing experiences to your Spanish Immersion Program. Tips excluded (see tips FAQ question), if you were to not include any additional excursions, and live as frugally as possible for the time you’re there, you should plan on $150 for a 2 week program and $300 for the 4 week program.
The best approach however, is to take a look at the specific itinerary for your program that highlights the expenses you’re responsible for, and begin planning your additional expenses accordingly.

Do I need any special immunizations or take any other preventative measures?

Of course you need to be current on your standard immunizations before you travel on Spanish immersion. When traveling in Central and South America there is variation risks of Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Hepatitis A and B. We suggest you consult both the CDC website for Costa Rica and CDC website for Ecuador and check with your primary care physician to prepare for your Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica or Ecuador.

5 thoughts on “Spanish Immersion Programs in Costa Rica & Ecuador: Learn Spanish & Volunteer”

  1. Is the Spanish spoken in Ecuador different from the Spanish spoken in Costa Rica? Most of my students come from Mexico.

  2. Kathleen Torquato

    I’m very interested in your Teacher Spanish Immersion trip. Will you please send me a brochure or catalog about your program?

    Also, pls include info about your adult Spanish immersion trips as well.
    Thank you!

    Kathleen Torquato
    1750 Cumberland Green Dr
    Unit 66
    Saint Charles, IL. 60174

    1. Alexandra MacPhee

      Hi Kathleen, I’ve forwarded your comment to Leslie in Colorado to see if we can send you something! Happy to answer any other questions you might have!

  3. Pingback: Online Spanish Tutors | Common Ground InternationalCommon Ground International

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