Spanish Immersion Programs: Learn Spanish Abroad, Earn College Credit


Immerse yourself in a Spanish Language program abroad and earn college credit. Foreign language courses are required for most university degrees, and being conversational or even fluent in another language can improve your career prospects. Being bilingual can help you stand out in a competitive job market.

Need another good reason to learn Spanish abroad?

Consider that only English, Mandarin, and Hindi have more speakers than Spanish, and it’s an official language on four different continents.

The Pew Research Center predicts that the United States will become the biggest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Currently, an estimated 37.6 million people in the United States speak Spanish, and the Latino population will soar to 128.8 million by 2060.

Other benefits include the ability to work abroad, and be independent while traveling. As an adult, you’ll also be exercising your brain. And some fun benefits include understanding Spanish song lyrics, keeping the captions turned off when bingeing telenovelas, and best of all, making new friends! While it isn’t very easy to find programs where you can learn Spanish abroad for free, there are many cheap Spanish immersion programs.

Let’s take a look at a few different opportunities available for you to travel abroad and learn Spanish!

Featured Programs

Maximo Nivel


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Travel to Latin America with Maximo Nivel on an internationally accredited Spanish Language program customized for you! Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel has placed more than 25,000 people on trips to Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. You’ll earn university credit that can be used toward your major, minor or elective through the California State University – Monterey Bay. Earn the United States’ President’s Volunteer Service Award when you complete a minimum of 100 hours of service as well. Maximo Nivel will verify your volunteer work, then send you your award pin, certificate, and letter from the president. Combine language lessons with a research project to enhance your learning experience. Housing options vary depending upon your needs, so stay in a hostel, a hotel, or opt for a private apartment – or even stay with a host family. Maximo Novel can arrange for private tutoring, as well as one-week add-on adventures that combine travel and lodging to tourist destinations. Maximo offers some of the top programs if you want to learn Spanish abroad.

Spanish Courses in Latin America

Maximo Nivel customizes its courses to your specific Spanish learning requirements. It offers small group classes to learners of all levels or can tailor your instruction with a private tutor and one-on-one lessons. Consider Spanish for Specific Purposes (SSP) courses, such as Medical Spanish and Spanish for Business. Group classes are formed based on your results on Maximo Nivel’s free Spanish Placement Exam. The organization also offers Super Intensive Spanish courses, which places you in a small group class for four hours, followed by two private lessons. Get started today!

Service Learning

Service Learning courses with Maximo Nivel combine volunteering with a project while enrolling in a Service Learning class or independent study. These are available year-round on an open enrollment basis and begin on Mondays. Courses include:

  1. Animal Care
  2. Construction
  3. Environment & Conservation
  4. Medical & Healthcare
  5. Teaching English
  6. Working with Kids

International Volunteer HQ

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) provides affordable programs abroad with an emphasis on safety and responsible volunteer travel. Its goal is for volunteers to contribute to the long-term community initiatives with its worldwide partners while providing unforgettable cultural immersion experiences. These are accomplished by volunteers living and working with local people, communities, and organizations to grow cross-cultural awareness and foster global citizenship.

Founded in 2007, IVHQ has placed more than 80,000 volunteers on quality projects in 40+ countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Its affordable projects, starting from $180, range from elderly and special needs care, education, wildlife, environmental conservation, construction and renovation, medical care, community development, and social enterprise. Partnering with local organizations ensures volunteers are placed where the need is genuine and reduces the costs associated with hosting. Keeping its programs affordable means more volunteers can participate, enabling IVHQ programs to achieve greater social outcomes.

IVHQ prepares its volunteers with unique online training modules, and through a series of email and phone conversations. Once in-country, volunteers receive training and orientation, and the local staff is available 24/7, to provide guidance, advice, supervision, and support.

Spanish Service Learning Course

Immerse yourself in a Spanish Service Learning (SL) Course with IVHQ, earning college credit or simply to learn a new language and add it to your resume. Available to volunteers in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, the SL course introduces you to local culture and language while broadening your global perspective.

During your stay, you will be placed on a community project, helping during work hours with the local organization to achieve its long-term goals. Besides learning Spanish abroad, you’ll also participate in five Reflection Workshops, geared towards training you to look inward, as well as outward, examining the local culture and your identity through observations, writing, reading, and group discussions. The course is accredited by California State University, Monterey Bay, so check with your college to verify they accept the credits. Choose from a variety of volunteer projects, including Teaching English, Childcare, Construction and Renovation, Medical/Healthcare, Special Needs Care and Animal Care.

The cost for the SL course is $880, in addition to your fees for the volunteer program and registration. Begin your Spanish Learning Course here!

Volunteer in Ecuador – Santa Elena

IVHQ has six projects available for volunteers in Ecuador, so there’s sure to be an amazing option for you. Choose Environmental Education, working with the local community to restore and preserve a habitat will help foster social and economic development. Or select the Community Development project and you’ll help maintain and renovate schools, community centers, and playgrounds. Perhaps you’re interested in working with students as an assistant in the Kindergarten, or during School Break, even Sports Education and Teaching English.

These options will have a great impact on your ability to speak Spanish, especially when you choose to work one-on-one with a tutor on your language skills. This is available from the IVHQ local team office and allows you to combine formal lessons with an immersive experience. Fees for one week begin at $315, but give yourself time to accomplish great things, and stay for 12 weeks or longer. Start your Santa Elena lessons today.

Learn Spanish on a Childcare Project in Costa Rica

IVHQ has a motto for its Latin American project volunteers: ¿No Habla español? No hay problema! When you select the right project, language barriers are less of a problem. If you’re teaching English, then you need intermediate Spanish speaking skills. If you’re working with a Childcare Project in Costa Rica, you’ll get by with basic Spanish. When you choose this program, you’ll give individual attention and assistance to children from challenging backgrounds in the capital city of San Jose. You’ll work in community centers, daycare centers, schools, and kindergartens, giving attention and affection, playing games, and helping with hygiene and homework. You’ll also be offered the opportunity to sign up for Spanish language lessons at orientation, or you can arrange for Skype lessons with the local team in advance. Language lessons enhance your cultural exchange and personal education and are an additional cost to the program fees, which start at $365 for one week. Read about the Childcare Project here.

Global Vision International (GVI)

Founded in 1997, Global Vision International places thousands of people with high-quality programs abroad each year. GVI volunteers make long-lasting contributions on community development and conservation projects by partnering with small, local NGOs, as well as well-regarded international organizations such as Save the Children, the Red Cross, WWF, SANParks, and the Jane Goodall Institute.

GVI’s educational programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. GVI has placed more than 24,000 people overseas and 70 percent of its funds directly benefit its projects. The remaining 30 percent enables its operations. Safety is a priority with the organization, which provides real-time updates with its GVI Live platform. This allows first-time, as well as repeat travelers, to communicate with GVI staff and fellow volunteers before departure. It also permits your friends and family to follow your journey.

Conservation and Art in Costa Rica

GVI offers a six-week program that combines an immersive learning experience with a conservation/art project, that also allows you to earn 3 university credits while you learn Spanish abroad. This course is taught by author, educator, and wildlife veterinarian Dr. Lucy Spelman, and includes two weeks of online study, two weeks at GVI’s isolated research station in Jalova, Costa Rica, and two weeks to complete a final assignment.

You’ll participate in conservation activities in the Tortuguero National Park, home to one of the world’s largest nesting colonies of Green Turtles. Your time is spent in the rainforest and on the beach by the Caribbean Sea. Access to the center is via canoe and motorboat only. Guest lectures from scientists and artists in the community round out this project, which is open to anyone with an interest in science and art. Your final evaluation includes the creation of a piece of art or an innovative way to communicate conservation to a non-scientific audience. This program is priced from $3,490. Learn more here.

Mexico Community Development Service Learning Program

GVI offers a service-learning experience in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, a beautiful destination for learning Spanish. This program invites university students to help improve basic human rights by contributing to educational development and infrastructure improvement of the community. If you’re a student studying the academic areas of Women’s Empowerment, Sports and Exercise, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Education, or Global Health, you can choose a GVI project with customized, interdisciplinary learning materials. You’ll spend two weeks preparing for your trip using online lectures, conducting research, and holding discussions with instructors and other students. Then you’ll travel to the Yucatan for a meaningful, context-driven service-learning program with daily reflection. After you return home, you’ll focus on assignments that will continue your global engagement, drawing on the experience and insights gained while in the field. Fees vary based upon your academic requirements. Learn more about this opportunity.

Ready to Travel?

Spanish is spoken in many countries besides Spain, and if you’re interested in Spanish immersion trips to Latin America, this short roundup of reputable partners is a great place to start – and be sure to sign up for a Volunteer Forever account today and begin your search and fundraising for a great trip abroad!

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