Spanish Immersion for Families | Costa Rica & Ecuador
Family Spanish Immersion trips in Ecuador and Costa Rica

Spanish Immersion Programs for families in Costa Rica and Ecuador: Learn Spanish and volunteer

The perfect Spanish immersion adventure and family vacation all in one! Learn Spanish as a family, experience another lifestyle and culture, and have a safe trip of a lifetime.

Info Meeting: March 21, 2024 – Register below!
(6pm Pacific, 7pm Mountain, 8pm Central & 9pm Eastern)

This presentation is a general overview of our Spanish immersion programs in Costa Rica and Ecuador.

How the family Spanish immersion program started:

In 2003 Rory & Leslie Foster (owners of Common Ground International) started running Spanish Immersion Programs for professionals and students.

The next year, in 2004, they had their first child. They knew they didn’t want to stop traveling with clients, and they wanted to raise a bilingual family with exposure to other lifestyles and cultures.

They began learning all the tricks of the trade of traveling to Latin America with their children in all stages; diapers, nursing, crawling, toddling, pre-teens, teenagers and now young adults.

After nearly two decades of travel with their children, they have put together the trip that’s perfect for families that want to weave Spanish immersion and cultural exposure into their vacation or travel plans!

How our Family Spanish Immersion Program started
CHOOSE YOUR SPANISH IMMERSION LOCATION

Costa Rica

Costa Rica Spanish Immersion - Common Ground International

Costa Rica Spanish Immersion

Our family Spanish immersion in the Central Valley of Costa Rica puts your family in an small non-touristy city where you can live life like a local!

Santo Domingo de Heredia is located in a historical coffee plantation area of the central valley.

This location is great for:

  • Families who love to explore
  • Families who want to incorporate volunteer projects in their immersion
  • Museums and cultural activities
  • Optional chocolate, coffee, and animal rescue ranch tours
  • Exploring farmers markets and central markets
  • Moms traveling with kids who want some support on their trip (during our regularly scheduled programs)

Location

Based in Santo Domingo de Heredia
Dates

2024 Dates

Starts June 29, 2024

24/7 Support

24/7 leadership, coordination & support by engaging program leaders

Possible to combine with Ecuador programs

Ecuador

Ecuador Spanish Immersion Program

Ecuador Spanish Immersion

Our family Spanish immersion in the colonial city of Cuenca gives your family exposure to cobblestone streets, historical churches, Incan ruins and a plethora of cultural activities.

Cuenca is a city located in the south central region of Ecuador. “Cuenca” means bowl, the city got its name as it’s in a valley surrounded by mountains.

This location is great for:

  • Families who love to explore
  • Families who want to incorporate volunteer projects in their immersion
  • Museums and cultural activities
  • Embedding your family in a non-touristy area
  • Hiking in the nearby mountains
  • Cuenca is a long bus ride from Quito (8hrs), or a shorter bus ride from Guayaquil. It’s a quick flight from Quito (45 min.)

Location

Based in Cuenca, Ecuador
Dates

2024 Dates

Starts June 15, 2024
Support

24/7 Support

24/7 leadership, coordination & support by engaging program leaders

Possible to combine with Costa Rica programs

Two Ways to Travel as a Family: On Program and Off Program

Join us during our specific dates in February, June and July OR customize your dates!
Foster Family - Common Ground International

On program

  • February, June, July
  • Perfect when just 1 parent is traveling with children. We provide infrastructure and day to day support.
  • Various volunteer opportunities throughout the trip.
  • Other families with children present so that your children can make friends and have classmates.
  • Planned and effortless 1/2 day tours, weekend excursions, etc.

Off program

  • Customized travel dates: You choose the dates, we put the itinerary together for you.
  • Daily Common Ground support via whatsapp, email, etc.
  • Limited volunteer opportunities.
  • Extremely immersive. Likely no other (or very few) English speakers around while you’re traveling.
  • Customized weekend trips, activities and half day tours.
Fill out this form and let us know which dates you prefer and other considerations


This program was perfect for us because it allowed the girls to take lessons, for me to take lessons and for Andy to take lessons that were geared towards his interest in medicine. We’ve loved being here. 

Smock Family

Ohio

Watch the most recent Adult & Family Spanish Immersion Info Meeting:

How does Common Ground’s Spanish Immersion for Families Program work?

Flexibility

Flexibility: Customized to fit your family
needs. Choose the location you prefer, your timeline, and desired activities.

Local Focus

Live like a local: safe and full integrated into the language and culture as a family. Not your style- we have house, apartment and hotel recommendations too!

Spanish classes

Family Spanish immersion classes: rarely is the whole family at the same Spanish level, we have classes for adults, kids, beginners or advanced. 10 to 20 hrs. per week, you choose!

Engage in the community

Engage in the community: with our unique, family friendly volunteer activities. (Not available in all locations)

Spanish classes and volunteer work take place Monday to Friday, the weekends are yours to travel or spend with your host family. We have great suggestions for weekend adventures!

What does it take to reserve my family immersion trip so we can begin planning our Spanish immersion?

It takes a non-refundable deposit to reserve your trip. The minimum deposit is $500 per person so that we can begin planning your Family Spanish Immersion Adventure.

Save your Spot!

This program fills on a first come, first served basis. Reserve a spot on the trip – no obligation – no credit card, just 30 days to help you coordinate your schedule!

What are the related costs and inclusions for the Family Spanish Immersion Program with Common Ground?

We work hard to keep the program affordable for families because we’d love to share Latin American culture and all it has to offer with you! We break down our costs to per person, per week, and our various locations have varying costs.

These weekly per person costs include:
These costs do not include:

Depending on your destination and the activities you’d like to do, you may want to consider renting a car. Volunteer projects, day & overnight trips vary greatly in cost depending on location, length, and guide needs. We’ll work with you on a clear proposal for your Family Spanish Immersion program and work within your budget.

We came to Common Ground in order to educate our family and our kids on how to speak Spanish and get a glimpse into a culture.

McDevitt Family

Colorado

COSTA RICA & ECUADOR SPANISH IMMERSION FOR FAMILIES

The perfect Spanish immersion adventure and family vacation to Ecuador or Costa Rica!

If I participate – What are the expected outcomes?

Spanish skills

Become more fluent in Spanish

Life changing experience

A life-changing experience

Understanding culture

A deeper understanding of the culture

Succesful communication

Participate in relevant, sustainable and language-rich community engagement projects

Natural Beauty

Explore the beauty of Costa Rica and Ecuador

Learn outside comfort zone

Learn outside your comfort zone

This family Spanish immersion and experiential learning opportunity provides families with intensive Spanish language and cultural learning in its natural context. We intentionally integrate the four components below so you walk away with practical Spanish skills and cultural understanding.

SPANISH
CLASSES

Volunteer work

Volunteer
work

Host Family Living

Host family
living

Exploring the hot spots

Exploring the hot spots

COSTA RICA IMMERSION PROGRAM DETAILS

COSTA RICA SPANISH FOR FAMILIES IMMERSION

Highlights

  • 1 – 6 weeks in length
  • Consider 10 days to have a full weekend to explore
  • Live like a local with a host family (hotel / hostel options too)
  • 20hrs/week of Spanish classes
  • Optional 1:1 private lessons
  • Tuesday – Thursday outreach projects
  • Explore amazing beaches, volcanoes , cloud forests, coffee tours, national parks & más!
  • A great place to include your family or significant other for a post-trip vacation
  • Interprofessional mix of fellow travelers
  • Fly in and out of San Jose (SJO)

Location
Based in Santo Domingo de Heredia

Sloth - Costa Rica Spanish Teachers Immersion Trip

2024 On-Program Dates

1-Week Programs

• 6/29/24 – 7/6/24
• 7/6/24 – 7/13/24

2-Week Programs

• 6/29/24 – 7/13/24
• 7/6/24 – 7/20/24

3-Week Programs

• 6/29/24 – 7/20/24
• 7/6/24 – 7/27/24

4-Week Programs

• 6/29/24 – 7/27/24
• 7/6/24 – 8/3/24

5-Week Programs

• 6/29/24 – 8/3/24
• 7/6/24 – 8/10/24

6-Week Programs

• 6/29/24 – 8/10/24

General Program Itinerary:

Monday

Return from Optional Excursion
Lunch
Spanish classes 1-5pm

Tuesday

Volunteer orientation
Lunch
Spanish classes 1-5pm

Wednesday and Thursday

Volunteer work
Lunch
Spanish classes 1-5pm

Friday

Volunteer work -or- 1/2 day excursion
Lunch
Spanish classes 1-5pm

Saturday and Sunday

Optional Excursion

First Saturday

Saturday is generally the day we ask you to arrive in country so that you can get settled in with your host family and have Sunday to get to know the town before your program starts on Monday.

Mon – Fri Afternoons

Small group Spanish classes from 1-5pm

Tue – Fri Mornings

These are the days we dedicate to community outreach work.

Weekends

Take time to explore the country! We put together a weekend trip every weekend. You are free to join us, stay with your host family, or DIY a weekend excursion!

Family Spanish Immersion Program in Latin America


We’ve really had a great experience and we plan on coming back […] Great place to bring a family, even little kids, we feel very safe. We’re going to share it with our friends. 

Lupov Family

ECUADOR IMMERSION PROGRAM DETAILS

Ecuador Spanish for families immersion

Highlights

  • 1 – 2 weeks in length
  • Consider 10 days to have a full weekend to explore
  • Live like a local with a host family (hotel / hostel options too)
  • 20hrs/week of Spanish classes
  • Optional 1:1 private lessons
  • Tuesday – Thursday outreach projects
  • Explore local markets, Inca ruins, national parks, the Andes, soak in volcanic hot springs, mitad del mundo & más
  • Include your family or significant other on a post-trip vacation to the Galapagos Islands
  • Interprofessional mix of fellow travelers
  • Fly in to Quito (UIO) with domestic flight to Cuenca or overland travel with us on optional weekend excursion

Location
Cuenca, Ecuador

Ecuador Teacher's Immersion Trip details - Common Ground International

2024 ON-PROGRAM DATES

1-Week Programs

• 6/15/24 – 6/22/24
• 6/22/24 – 6/29/24

2-Week Programs

• 6/15/24 – 6/29/24

General Program Itinerary:

Monday

Return from Optional Excursion
Lunch
Spanish classes 1-5pm

Tuesday

Volunteer orientation
Lunch
Spanish classes 1-5pm

Wednesday and Thursday

Volunteer work
Lunch
Spanish classes 1-5pm

Friday

Volunteer work -or- 1/2 day excursion
Lunch
Spanish classes 1-5pm

Saturday and Sunday

Optional Excursion

First Saturday

Saturday is generally the day we ask you to arrive in country so that you can get settled in with your host family and have Sunday to get to know the town before your program starts on Monday.

Mon – Fri Mornings

Small group Spanish classes from 1-5pm

Tue – Fri Afternoons

These are the days we dedicate to community outreach work.

Weekends

Take time to explore the country! We put together a weekend trip every weekend. You are free to join us, stay with your host family, or DIY a weekend excursion!

COMBO IMMERSION PROGRAMS IN ECUADOR & COSTA RICA

Combine both countries

2024 Dates

Ecuador
Costa Rica
2-Week Programs

1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

1 wk CR:
06/29/24 – 07/06/24

3-Week Programs

2 wks EC:
06/15/24 – 06/29/24
1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

1 wk CR:
06/29/24 – 07/06/24
2 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/13/24

4-Week Programs

2 wks EC:
06/15/24 – 06/29/24
1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

2 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/13/24
3 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/20/24

5-Week Programs

2 wks EC:
06/15/24 – 06/29/24
1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

3 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/20/24
4 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/27/24

6-Week Programs

2 wks EC:
06/15/24 – 06/29/24
1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

4 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/27/24
5 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 08/03/24

*Check out the Costa Rica or Ecuador programs

2-Week Programs
Ecuador
Costa Rica

1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

1 wk CR:
06/29/24 – 07/06/24

3-Week Programs
Ecuador
Costa Rica

2 wks EC:
06/15/24 – 06/29/24
1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

1 wk CR:
06/29/24 – 07/06/24
2 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/06/24

4-Week Programs
Ecuador
Costa Rica

2 wks EC:
06/15/24 – 06/29/24
1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

2 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/13/24
3 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/20/24

5-Week Programs
Ecuador
Costa Rica

2 wks EC:
06/15/24 – 06/29/24
1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

3 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 7/20/24
4 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/27/24

6-Week Programs
Ecuador
Costa Rica

2 wks EC:
06/15/24 – 06/29/24
1 wk EC:
06/22/24 – 06/29/24

4 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 07/27/24
5 wks CR:
06/29/24 – 08/03/24

*Check out the Costa Rica or Ecuador programs

How do we get more information?

It’s easy to get more information and make sure you’ve got all the details squared away for your Family Spanish Immersion trip. Fill out the following form to let us know what you’re looking for so we can help you find your best options in Costa Rica!

Family Spanish Immersion

The ratings and reviews and for these Family Spanish Immersion Trips speak for themselves

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:

Adult Spanish Immersion travel insurance

Diversity and Inclusivity on Spanish Immersion

Our mission of Impacting Communities Through Language extends to ALL travelers and learners regardless of age, gender identity, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.


We chose the Common Ground program because they were so responsive and made us feel very at ease with the program. We wanted an experience that was total immersion. 

Hoarty Family

Omaha, Nebraska

Earn College Credit while you travel!

Get up to 5 undergraduate university credits for all of the fun and challenging immersion work you’ll do abroad.

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

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.

9 thoughts on “Spanish Immersion for Families in Costa Rica”

  1. Hello! I just sent an email using the contact me link (I think), but wasn’t sure if it went through. My family (self, spouse, 6 year old) are interested in several weeks abroad this summer. Would love to share more about our specific goals and learn more about your programs.

  2. Definitely interested in a family immersion vacation with room for volunteering or excursions if possible in April of 2023. Looking forward to receiving as much information/ possibilities to see if this can happen. Thanks so much! Tanya

  3. Hi, my family is looking to travel to Latin America the last two weeks of July to do a language school for dad and two kids. Mom is fluent and would love a school by the beach to hang out and maybe take some surfing lessons when family is in school.

  4. Pingback: Have Kid, Will Travel: Our Costa Rica Itinerary – That Mango Dream

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