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Learn Spanish online: Spanish classes on the internet
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Spanish teacher and student in lessons in Quito
Spanish immersion programs in Ecuador, local man with foreign visitors
Spanish dictionary

Learn Spanish and get more from your travels in Ecuador.  Whether you take online Spanish classes or opt for a Spanish immersion program, learning a new language is rewarding.



Learn Spanish

Learning Spanish will greatly increase your enjoyment of a trip to Ecuador.  The ability to communicate with bus drivers, hotel owners and new friends makes so much difference that learning to speak Spanish is highly recommended.
"How to learn Spanish?" has no one easy answer.  The best way to learn Spanish depends on your personal learning style - some learn by listening, others need to write things down to remember them.  Some students prefer a formal Spanish school with structured language classes and invest great effort in their studies, other lucky learners seem to absorb new languages just by talking to people on the bus.  Most people need a mixture of Spanish lessons, immersion, self-study and practise.
Your budget will also impact on how you study Spanish.  Remember you can get the most from paid lessons by also studying the same material in online courses free or cheaper and doing extra background reading, too.  Don't waste your money by booking too many hours of Spanish classes each day.  There is a limit to how much your brain can absorb at one time.  You will get the best value from your Spanish language school if you allow at least 2 to 3 hours for homework, studying the same material in a different format and practising what you have learnt, for each hour of formal lessons.
It goes without saying that you should make sure you do your Spanish homework!  You can also set yourself homework.  For example, challenge yourself to use each new word you learn at least 8 times in the following 24 hours.  Try keeping a travel diary or journal in Spanish.  You might find someone at your hostel or volunteer project willing to help you learn Spanish, or trade for English lessons for a local person.
Online Spanish classes before you leave your home country will allow you to study at your own pace, and you can often find Spanish online courses free or very cheaply.  An evening class in Spanish will cost more, but could provide more interaction.  Linguaphone courses are not cheap but are very rigorous with a thorough grounding in grammar - ideal for analytical students who want to know why and how, and like to see their Spanish vocabulary written down.  If you are prepared to put in the study time, Linguaphone will have you speaking Spanish.  Rosetta Stone take a very different approach, much more visual and based on remembering what you hear in connection with each image.  Is this your learning style?  There are some free courses to learn Spanish online if you search the internet carefully - try the BBC or the Open University.
It's not a formal Spanish course, but there is a wealth of tourist information about Ecuador on the internet.  Look for sites that have both English and Spanish versions, so you can study the Spanish version and have the English page as a backup to help you understand.  (Bear in mind the translation may not be exact).  If you are going to volunteer in Ecuador, study the Spanish version of the organisation's website to learn relevant vocabulary for your project.  (See, for example, www.progresoverde.org, which describes its volunteer opportunities and projects in both Spanish and English).
Spanish immersion programs are another popular learning technique.  Putting yourself in a situation where you have no option but to speak and understand Spanish does indeed work wonders, but it will probably more enjoyable if you have some basic vocabulary before you start, and a good English / Spanish dictionary.  I have found the Langenscheidt mini Spanish dictionary the best of those I have used.  Arranging a solo homestay with a local family is probably the most effective Spanish immersion technique.  Carefully selected volunteer projects can also be a useful way to learn Spanish.
If total Spanish immersion is not feasible (or Spanish immersion programs are not affordable for you), at least try to split up with your travel companions for part of each day and make every effort to communicate in Spanish when you have the chance.  Chat with the person next to you on the bus - most Ecuadorians are friendly and interested to know what you are doing in their country.  Get out of La Mariscal and go somewhere where the menu is only in Spanish - you might discover some tasty traditional foods of Ecuador as well as learning Spanish.  Go to a big supermarket and read labels and packets to learn the vocabulary you need, then go to a local market to buy fruit and veg by the kilo.  Watch Spanish TV and try to read the local newspaper.
You may be lucky enough to find cheap or free Spanish lessons, perhaps through volunteering or with a homestay family.  If not, Spanish courses in Ecuador are usually excellent value for money and it's a worthwhile investment to learn Spanish as a second language here.  If you intend to study Spanish in formal classes, see these tips for choosing a Spanish language school.

Learn Spanish
Enjoy Ecuador more by learning Spanish - try online Spanish classes to prepare for your Ecuador trip - search to get online courses free.  Consider Spanish immersion programs.  Once in Quito, Spanish lessons and a good English-Spanish dictionary should put your Spanish language skills on track.  Note that no responsibility can be taken for the content of external links or for reliance on any of the suggestions on this site.