Ecuador Spanish Immersion for High Schoolers
The ultimate adventure – combining Spanish immersion and backpacking in the Amazon cloud forest
When you participate in this program, you will:
Become more fluent in Spanish
Gain cultural understanding
Experience the Amazon cloud forest ecosystem
Be physically challenged
Grow in confidence, maturity and independence
Learn outside your comfort zone
This Spanish immersion program in Ecuador is for teens who love adventures and want to experience personal growth. We weave the four components below so students walk away with improved Spanish, cultural understanding and an outdoor adventure of a lifetime!
Amazon backpacking trip
Exploring the hot spots
Save your IMMERSION Spot!
This program fills on a first come, first served basis. Reserve your spot – no obligation – no credit card, just 30 days to help you coordinate your schedule!
2-Part IMMERSION Program
Part 1: Spanish and Cultural Immersion in Cuenca, Ecuador
- Spanish classes with Ecuadorian teachers
- Cultural activities: markets, museums
- Learn about the Inca and colonial history
- Straddle the equator at “Mitad del Mundo”
- Hike in Cajas National Park
- Explore 7 stunning waterfall on the Ruta de cascadas
Part 2: Amazon Cloud Forest Backpacking
- Hike to a private Amazon reserve dedicated to the conversation, investigation and learning about the untouched ecosystem
- Guided by local mountaineer
- Learn cloud forest ecology from local biologist
- Experiments in outdoor learning lab
- Hike trails in primary rainforest
- Delicious, gourmet food
- Rainwater showers
- Volcano views
- Hot springs
Reserva Alto Coca, Ecuador
I absolutely loved it. The trip leaders, high school participants, and all of the Ecuadorians that I met on the trip were great people. My host family was so welcoming and already felt like family after the first day. It was an excellent opportunity to practice my Spanish in an immersive environment and meet wonderful people. I could not recommend Common Ground enough for a life changing experience, and am so grateful to my parents for investing in this trip.
– Ethan Norris
My daughter had so much fun on the trip. She loved her host family and got a lot out of speaking with them daily, even if she couldn’t understand everything. Another cool benefit for her was meeting so many kids from other parts of the U.S. I think she gained a bigger world perspective and wants to travel more internationally. All her years of study Spanish suddenly became more relevant and exciting.
– Beth Kim
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.
Earn College Credit while you travel!
Get up to 5 university Spanish credits for all of the fun and challenging immersion work you’ll do abroad. Just think, you could start college with university level Spanish credit!
Our trips are accredited for 200-level (2nd year) college credits as follows:
- 3 College Spanish credits for 2-week programs
- 4 College Spanish credits for 3-week programs
- 5 College Spanish credits for 4 week programs
Additional fees apply. Email Leslie for more information
“Don’t be so focused on the little things. I get a sense of how difficult it would be for an immigrant to navigate culture and language in the USA. Living here makes you reflect on how lucky we are in America. I have a better sense of how to help and encourage others who are learning a language.”
– Various High School Students
“I realized at the end that I was having a lot more conversations with my host family in a more defined and detailed way. Before this trip I thought my Spanish was alright, but the first day I couldn’t understand anything but towards the end I could understand a lot more. At first my host mom had to speak to me at like 1 word per minute, but by the end we were having normal conversations. I can speak a lot faster now.”
– Various High School Students
Travel to Ecuador Meet the group- onsite orientation
*Chaperoned flight available
Spanish & Cultural Immersion week: Spanish classes, volunteer work & host family living.
Typical day during this portion is:
– 8am – 11:30am Cultural Activity or Tour
– 12:00 -1pm Group lunch
– 1:00 – 4:00 pm Spanish classes
– 4:00 – 5:30 pm Cultural class (dancing class, cooking class, etc.)
– Dinner and evening with Host family
Amazon & Science Backpacking Adventure
1st day: Wilderness orientation, gear check and get packs ready
2nd day: Arrive at trailhead & hike to basecamp
3rd day: morning hike & hands on science, afternoon science & Spanish
4th day: morning hike & hands on science, afternoon debrief & solo sit
5th day: morning hike, pack up & hike out, visit Volcanic Hot Springs
Return to USA OR combine this program with COSTA RICA
*Ecuador Spanish Immersion and Backpacking Student Travel Program requires physical fitness because it requires you to backpack significant elevation changes on narrow trails.
All of our programs include basic travel medical insurance with trip interruption, delays, lost bags, etc. Here is the standard description of coverage for your included travel insurance plan.
If you have any uncertainties about your upcoming adventure, it might be a good idea to consider a Cancel for Any Reason insurance policy. We suggest you shop for it here:
High School Spanish Immersion Student Travel Program FAQs:
We have a maximum number of around 24 students at any one time on the summer immersion program with us. However, most programs average about 15 – 18 students.
Common Ground has 2-3 staff members who chaperone the high school groups at all times, and they are awesome! However, if our group size nears 20+ students, then we typically add a teacher from a school that has students traveling with us to help with the larger numbers. Usually there are more female than male chaperones.
Absolutely. We can discuss the details about the chaperoned flights and whether or not your miles will put your student on that flight.
Yes and no. Most High Schools are not offering actual high school credit for the time you spend in Costa Rica. However, some schools will allow you to take an exam after you return and potentially test out of a year’s worth of Spanish classes. This is particularly an option for those students on the 4-week summer immersion program. Additionally, you can apply the amount of time you spend in community service projects to your school and club requirements. Usually students earn between 20 and 60 community service hours for the 2 and 4-week programs respectively. Additionally, if you are an IB student, you may be able to earn up to 75 CAS hours toward your graduation requirements.
Regarding college credit, our trips are accredited for 200-level (2nd year) college credits as follows:
3 College Spanish credits for 2-week programs
4 College Spanish credits for 3-week programs
5 College Spanish credits for 4 week programs
Not a problem at all. Usually it’s a good idea to plan a family vacation directly after your student finishes their immersion program so that they’re able to show you around a little. However, we prefer to know your plans as you’re submitting your student’s application, and we’ll make sure that appropriate arrangements are made.
Of course! If you would like to look into scheduling a virtual classroom presentation at your school, just put us in contact with your Spanish teacher or your Foreign/World Languages department head in order to see if we can get something on the schedule.
We’ll have you complete a lengthy Spanish Immersion placement test that will give us a good idea of what class you should be in and who your classmates should be.
Classes average 4-6 people. They could be as large as 8 and as small as 1:1, but the average is in the 4-6 range.
Immersion is always the best way to learn Spanish in the shortest period of time regardless of your starting level. That said, the more you know before you travel, the faster you learn while you’re there. So, the short answer is that we will work with you at any level of Spanish. We also encourage you to do whatever you can to work on your Spanish before you travel and we know that you’ll be glad you did 🙂
Yes absolutely! Each program has the option of choosing a “Combo” trip. See the details on each immersion trip.
We’re more than happy to transfer 100% of your program registration to another trip if you can’t travel for any reason. Refunds are harder. In fact, all of your payments are non-refundable. If you feel you may need a refund, we recommend a cancel for any reason travel insurance policy.
The default is group format, usually with small groups. There’s also an option for you to have individual lessons for an extra charge.
If you have a US passport you don’t need a visa for either Costa Rica or Ecuador. If you have a passport issued by a different country you’ll need to check it directly.
Covid vaccinations are no longer required to enter Ecuador nor Costa Rica.
Costa Rica – highly recommends all regular vaccines to be up to date. If you do the combo program (Ecuador and then Costa Rica) you also need to have the yellow fever vaccination.
Ecuador – you don’t need the yellow fever to enter.
Both are known to be good places to learn the language, they have a very clear pronunciation.
Main difference is that in Costa Rica they use the “usted” form instead of the “tú” form exclusively.
Yes, you just have to let us know beforehand you want to be paired up.
Ecuador – yes, they actually use the US dollar as their currency.
Costa Rica – yes, they use Colones but there are several ATMs in town.
Yes, along with a pre-departure course.
Yes, we send the information about a week before your arrival.
Cuenca, Ecuador – CUE is the airport code, you may need to book to Quito – UIO and then book a separate domestic flight.
San Jose, Costa Rica – SJO is the airport code.