Intensive Spanish in Ecuador

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Ecuador study abroad posterNote: The summer 2014 application cycle is now closed. Check back in the fall for information about upcoming study abroad programs.

The University of Washington Tacoma's Spanish immersion program in Quito, Ecuador, offers Spanish language and culture classes at all levels from beginner to advanced. The goal of the program is to expose students to the richness of Latin American culture and to afford students the opportunity to develop their skills in the Spanish language.

Classes are held at the Andean Center for Latin American Studies (ACLAS). ACLAS is located in a quiet residential area near downtown Quito, in a converted house with a beautiful patio. There is a computer lab, reading area, and a small kitchen area on the premises. Frequent field trips to museums, historical sites, and monuments take students out of the classroom and allow them to learn about Ecuador by observing and interacting with the Ecuadorian people. Quito is a charming colonial city and official UNESCO heritage site with stunning views of the surrounding volcanoes, majestic mountains, and lakes. As the capital city, it combines its old-world charm with all the cultural richness and convenience of a modern urban environment.

Academic content

Students receive a total of twelve credits for the program as follows:

  • TSPAN 199, 299 or 393 Foreign Study in Spanish (10 credits)
  • TIAS 496 Internship (2 credits)

The ten credits are awarded for Foreign Study in Spanish, TSPAN 199, 299 or 393, depending on the student's previous study of Spanish and level of proficiency. TSPAN 393 can be used for the Hispanic Studies major and minor at UWT. The TSPAN 299 course prepares students to take more 300-level Spanish classes when they return to campus. Ten credits of TSPAN 199 is an excellent starting point for beginners or near-beginners and also satisfies the UWT language requirement for graduation. Students who have not taken Spanish before at the university level take a placement exam to determine the level of class work they will do in Ecuador. All grammar, conversation and culture classes are taught by experienced native speakers. For the internship, students will take part in 2-credits of service learning with a carefully selected non-profit organization in the area.

Excursion around QuitoStudents take Spanish classes in conversation, grammar, and reading everyday at a level that is appropriate for them. The classes are limited to no more than six students per class. As part of the immersion experience, students will explore the city with their instructor and practice their speaking skills in "real life" study tour situations such as the market, a restaurant, the post office, or a travel agency. Some cultural lectures will be in the classroom environment and others will be off-site, as students explore the city and surrounding areas. Students are in class approximately 25 hours per week. Two mornings per week, students take part in their service learning activities. Credit will be granted upon satisfactory completion of the course. Students will have quizzes and exams on Spanish grammar and vocabulary, and will be graded on their homework and in-class work. The program offers a great deal of flexibility and can accommodate students with different levels of competency in Spanish, from true beginners to advanced students or native speakers.

All work will be completed by the end of term A, allowing students the option of taking term B courses during summer quarter. The program runs from June 14 - July 20, 2014 (this includes days for air travel).

Planned activities

Because this is an intensive program, students are expected to participate in all group activities, to attend all group events, and accompany the group on field tours. Students will be in class from 1:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. every day. Two days per week, in the mornings, students will do their service learning. Evenings and non-service learning mornings are "free time" but students should keep in mind that they will have homework assignments to complete. It is important that students understand this is not a "vacation" or a sightseeing trip to Ecuador; it is a university course and the purpose of the program is academic.

View of the mountainsService Learning

As part of this study abroad program, students will participate in a two-credit service learning component. This component consists of twice-weekly visits to area non-profit organizations that work with underprivileged children and adults in hospitals, schools and day care centers. The service-learning is supervised by the UWT faculty member. The service-learning component is an incredible opportunity both to interact with people and practice Spanish outside the classroom, and to give back to the host community.

Weekend Excursions

There are three planned weekend excursions as part of the program. All costs associated with these excursions (transportation, accommodation and meals) are included in the program fee. The first weekend students visit Lake Cuicocha and explore the town of Otavalo with its world famous market of indigenous goods. There, students get to experience the common practice of regateo or bargaining for, among other things, hand-woven ponchos, jackets and hats. The second weekend students visit the nearby town of Mindo, which is one of Ecuador's premier locations for ecotourism. The third weekend will be a three-day trip to witness firsthand the incredible biodiversity of the Ecuadorian section of the Amazon jungle. Students have the last weekend of the program free to explore any of the many other area attractions such as the Inga Pirca ruins of Cuenca, the waterfalls of Baños, or hiking the nearby glaciers.

Lodging and food

While in Quito, students will be housed with carefully chosen Ecuadorian families. From Monday to Sunday, the host family provides students with three meals a day. Students planning to eat out during the week or to be away from their host families on weekends are responsible for paying the additional expense of those meals. Daily transportation to and from school will be provided by the host family during the first week of the program or until the student feels comfortable and has learned the route to school. After that, the students can either walk if the family lives within walking distance from the school, or will be taught to use public transportation. Home stays provide students with a safe, clean, comfortable environment, as well as with social contact and a rich cultural experience. Costs are based on single occupancy. Each host family has only one foreign student at a time, which guarantees the best immersion experience for students.

FacultyOpen market

Perla Gamboa, lecturer for Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, will lead the group in Ecuador. The role of the instructor is to facilitate interaction between the students, their Ecuadorian instructors, and the Ecuadorian host families. The faculty member will be on school grounds every day and will be available to meet with students. The faculty member will also coordinate the instruction in Ecuador, oversee the grading process, and supervise students on service learning activities.

Student eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students from any UW campus may apply. Participants are selected on the basis of high scholarship, academic preparation, motivation, emotional maturity, and financial responsibility. A maximum of 15 students will be accepted.


Applications are due on March 3, 2014 *April 21, 2014. Applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis until April 21 or until the program is full. Applicants will be notified of acceptance decisions on a rolling basis. Click the "Apply Now" button below to begin. (*Deadline has been extended.)

Apply now button

Travel documents and insurance

All program participants must have a valid passport in order to travel to Ecuador. No visa or other paperwork is required for U.S. citizens.

Study abroad insurance coverage is a UW requirement. We recommend students take advantage of the UW Study Abroad Insurance, as an easy and affordable option. Students with personal insurance that covers expenses for emergency evacuation, repatriation of remains, injury, illness or death while participating in study or research abroad can petition for a UW Study Abroad Insurance waiver. If the petition is granted, the student will be exempt from the requirement to purchase the UW Study Abroad Insurance Plan. [Additional information...]

Program costArtisan working with textiles

The total cost of the program is $5,780


  • Airfare
  • Course fee (in lieu of tuition) for 12 UW credits
  • 25 hours of classroom instruction per week, Monday to Friday
  • Transportation to/from the airport in Quito
  • Room and board (single occupancy) with carefully chosen Ecuadorian families (laundry included)
  • City tour and visit to the Equator
  • Three weekend excursions:
    1. one-day visit to Otavalo
    2. one-day visit to Mindo
    3. three-day trip to the jungle
  • Computer lab and wireless internet
  • Use of the facilities 24/7

Not included:

  • Personal expenses (phone calls, eating out, etc.)
  • Optional bus or taxi fares

Payment schedule

Payments are due according to the schedule below.

  Amount Due
Administrative Fee $250 upon acceptance to program
Program Fee $5,530 July 11, 2014
Total $5,780 (includes airfare)

Monkey in the forestMethod of payment: The Administrative Fee of $250 is due upon acceptance to the program. This payment can be made in person or by mail and will need to be paid by personal check, cashier's check, or money order made payable to University of Washington Tacoma. Please write "Ecuador 2014" in the memo line of the check. The Administrative Fee of $250 must accompany your acceptance confirmation and payment contract for the program. Please submit the check along with the appropriate paperwork to our office in GWP 102 or by mail to:

International Programs
University of Washington Tacoma
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402

For other methods of payment, please contact Tracey Norris, Study Abroad Coordinator, at 253-692-4426.

The Program Fee will be charged automatically to your student account upon registration and can be paid online through your MyUW account. Please note: Students do not register themselves for this program. The Office of International Programs will register the student once the Administrative Fee and all appropriate program documents have been received.

Financial aid

Students receiving financial aid which they intend to apply toward the program cost should consult with a financial aid adviser before applying to the program. Some sources of funding, i.e. the GI Bill, may not cover the cost of study abroad programs. Check with a financial aid advisor to understand how your funds apply toward study abroad. Please bring the student financial aid budget form with you to your meeting. [Click to view and print]

Be aware that you may not receive financial aid in time to cover initial program costs. You should be prepared to pay your expenses out of pocket until your financial aid is dispersed. The deadline for program payment cannot be waived or postponed.

Refund conditions for fees

Once you confirm your participation in the program:

  1. If you withdraw prior to May 2, 2014, all payments, less the $250 Administrative Fee, will be refunded to you.
  2. If you withdraw on or after May 2 but prior to June 14, 2014, you are obligated to pay 50% of the total cost of the program.
  3. If you withdraw on or after June 14, 2014, you are obligated to pay the full cost of the program. No refunds will be given for unused accommodations, meals or other fees and services.

Notice of Withdrawal from the program MUST be made in writing and submitted to our office in GWP 102 or by mail to:

International Programs
University of Washington Tacoma
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402

Changes in Cost or Scope of ProgramPottery artisan at work

In the event of significant devaluations of the dollar, some adjustments to program activities may be necessary. If there are any political events that might compromise the safety of the participants, a rescheduling or cancellation of the program may be necessary. If such changes occur, students will be notified of the changes and options will be presented.

Program Cancellation

If viable enrollment is not reached by April 11, 2014, the program will be cancelled. Participants will be notified and the Administrative Fee will be refunded.

Equal Opportunity and Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations. The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process contact the Disability Support Services Office at least ten days in advance.