(limited to 45 participants)
Begin Application $25 application fee
Our summer program is not for everyone. It requires you to live for several weeks in a foreign country - away from the people you know and without the comforts you are used to.
It will be a challenge and many college students do not have the courage to succeed. Some even beg to go back home shortly after arriving at the airport, quickly realizing they are "not in Kansas anymore".
Frankly, if you don't adapt well to new surroundings, you probably are not ready for Latin America.
But you are in the right place if...
If you identify with the above, and know that a summer in Chile or Peru could improve your health care career, as well as the people you'll help along the way, please keep reading.
You will learn how to not only greatly improve your Spanish, gain health care experience, and deep-dive into Latino culture, but also how to stand out in a competitive applicant crowd in a way that transgresses MCATs and GPAs.
"What Level of Spanish is Required?"
No prior Spanish is required to participate in the program.
Our goal is to significantly improve your Spanish, whatever your starting point may be.
Some students start as complete beginners, others are very advanced.
We have appropriate classes for all levels.
Ecela is an acronym for "Español y Cultura En LatinoAmerica".
It is our mission to get 2,000 people fluent in Spanish and fluid in cultural awareness by 2020.
Our six schools in three countries (Argentina, Chile, and Peru) all share the same core principles:
Our simple but effective roadmap to fluency:
We have carefully designed our course to deliver you rapid improvements in your Spanish communications with only four hours of class time per day, leaving you lots of free time for cultural explorations.
"I love my teachers and the school, but most of all my homestay family.." (Lucy Singleton, California)
Yes, the USA has more Spanish speakers than Spain. In fact, only Mexico and Colombia have more.
Soon, the USA will move into second place.
What does that mean for health care?
Of course, to meet that demographic reality, more and more hospitals require Spanish of their workers.
It only makes sense. It’s certainly a tiebreaker between two equal candidates.
Fair or not, ”it is what it is“.
Other than perhaps counting to diez, it is true that most older doctors do not speak Spanish.
They are “grandfathered in”, their English-only ways accepted. Access to an interpreter is what they’ve come to expect.
Newcomers to the field do not have that luxury.
Belt-tightening hospitals cannot keep staffing interpreters when so many other candidates meet the Spanish-speaking requirements.
Hospitals and career placement organizations nationwide agree on the necessity of more Spanish-speaking healthcare professionals.
Petra Luna, of the Ventura County Family Centers, says, “Knowing the culture, the customs, the religions and trying to be sensitive to that is so important. It makes the patients feel like people.”
Adds Dr. Victor Dominguez, of the same clinic, “I find that a lot of patients don’t feel comfortable communicating with a provider that doesn’t speak Spanish, because they don’t like to bring an interpreter into the room, and there are privacy issues associated with that.”
From IMDiversity: “There is a chronic shortage of U.S. doctors who speak Spanish. Amid a record influx of Latin American immigrants, clinics and hospitals across the country are struggling with Spanish-speaking patients.”
From the same article: Dr. Carlos Jaen says that he has witnessed “multiple occasions” when miscommunication has resulted in “dangerous situations.” For example, the word “once” is spelled the same as the Spanish word for eleven.
When a prescription states that a medication be taken “once a day,” some Spanish-speaking patients have interpreted it as 11 pills daily. For heart medication, “this dose could be toxic and cause death”.
My summer in Cusco was one of my most memorable vacations ever. I enjoyed staying in the beautiful city, getting to know both Peruvians and other international students.
Ecela put me together with a host family who was loving and caring. They helped me improve my spanish by talking with me every night.
My experience with ECELA Cusco was much more than learning Spanish for a few hours a day.
The professors were extremely friendly and welcoming and it felt like we were more of a family than just students and teachers.
The staff were always telling us about some location that we had to visit, or even just grabbing some lunch or coffee to get to know us better.
Classes were never boring and always seemed to fly by.
Dr. Mehta, founder of MedSchoolCoach, is nationally known as one of the premier experts in medical school admissions. He is currently on staff at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and is an Instructor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School.
Listen to Dr. Mehta’s advice about the best way to approach medical shadowing, how to best serve your patients even as “just” a shadowing student, how to properly “bring home” your experience abroad, and much more.
0:00 – Dr. Mehta’s introduction
2:02 – Is shadowing for me?
4:03 – How do I maximize the experience?
4:51 – How do I treat the patient?
5:52 – What are the best questions to ask?
8:30 – How do I “bring home” my shadowing experience in a foreign country?
9:36 – How do I properly include my shadowing abroad in my medical application?
10:54 – Does knowing a second language really make a difference?
12:36 – How much Spanish helps?
13:22 – How does shadowing relate to medical school?
15:09 – How does shadowing help me get into a competitive specialty?
15:55 – Who are the Med School Coach coaches?
17:23 – Who can be a Med School Coach student?
18:03 – How do I “take the opportunity” when I study abroad?
We ask prospective applicants like yourself why Spanish is important to their futures and have received hundreds of fascinating answers. Here are some of them:
“I plan on becoming an emergency room doctor and will be interacting with Spanish speaking patients on a daily basis. I worked with doctors in an ER in Nashville this past summer and frequently encountered patients that did not speak English.”
“There are many Spanish-speaking patients who, I believe, suffer from the language barrier that is present in many hospitals and clinics, and by expanding my knowledge of Spanish and Hispanic culture, I will be better able to treat these patients.”
"I am currently pursuing a career in physical therapy, and Spanish is an extremely valuable asset to bring to the table. A language barrier can cause many issue in a physical therapy setting, as patient feedback is an integral component of any rehabilitation model. Feedback informs the therapist on when to increase rehab program intensity, so having a strong foundation in Spanish is essential to becoming a skilled physical therapist.”
“I plan on specializing in Endocrinology and diabetes is a common disease among Hispanics. Speaking Spanish would be crucial to my career and I would love to start clinics in Honduras which would be a lot easier if I was fluent in Spanish.”
“Growing up in Manhattan, I’ve been greatly immersed in the Spanish speaking environment. However, it was only when I volunteered in a hospital my senior year of high school that I realized just how many strictly Spanish speakers there are, and how their inability to understand English, especially in a medical setting, is a major detriment. Being able to communicate with patients isn’t just helpful, but imperative.”
"I currently volunteer at LA/USC County Hospital, and even as a simple volunteer, Spanish is immensely valuable for communicating with patients. For physicians, it is absolutely indispensable.”
"Currently I am majoring in Public Health. For my future career I want to travel to Latin American countries and give them access to the healthcare and medicine everyone should be entitled to. The only way I will be able to help these people in these countries will be if they trust me enough to help them, and in order for this to happen they will have to be able to communicate with me and knowing fluent Spanish will help me get that trust.”
"I plan on choosing a career path in the medical field where I know many latinos/hispanics are present. While volunteering at a hospital in Oxnard, CA I personally saw the lack of communication between the patient and doctor which made me realize how many patients do not feel comfortable having their information translated.”
“Communication is key with medicine and being able to talk to Spanish-speaking patients would be awesome instead of having someone translate. It would make the patient feel more comfortable and safe to be able to communicate with their doctor in a language they are accustomed to.”
"I plan on working as a PA in the future. Knowing Spanish will enable me to communicate with patients who are not able to speak English. I would prefer not to need a translator when communicating with patients who speak Spanish.”
“In the town I grew up in there were a lot of Spanish speaking families. My father is a doctor and at the hospital he works at there are as many Spanish speakers as English speakers. The only Spanish he knows is “No hablo español”, but he always tells me that his communication with patients would be a lot better if he spoke Spanish. I too want to be a doctor so I know this will help me with communicating with Spanish speaking patients.” “
I plan on being a physician, and in the US state of Texas, many many patients are poor immigrants from Mexico. Most speak only rudimentary English, but they still deserve the same access to excellent health care as everyone else. I want to provide that care.”
"I love it here. It's so cool and the class sizes are perfect...I wish I could stay forever."
"Overall it's a fantastic experience and well worth it."
Ana & Adora explain the class structure.
"no Spanish when I arrived...just me and a dictionary"(trans).
"It has been an incredible experience. I've learned a phenomenal amount and have made many great friends."
"The teachers are amazing - they really know what they are doing and they really care about you."
$25 application fee
Direct all questions to email@example.com
Let’s face it: With traditional grammar drills, memorization and repetition-based teaching through high school, colleges, DVD’s, books, CDs, apps and even more being some of the most common ways in which students attempt to learn, is it any wonder why so many people give up or fail?
Unfortunately they are usually:
Then there is the downside to self-study through books, DVDs, CDs, apps...
Fortunately there's a better way. You can learn Spanish at a fast pace while also enjoying yourself so much that it seems practically effortless.
We've come up with a list of the 9 main reasons that learning here could be more effective than any educational experience you've ever had:
Extra small classes, a "Spanish everywhere environment", and a supportive learning community create a pathway toward language fluency.
Your program host, Ygor Zambrano, shows you part of Ecela Cusco....we keep it small enough so the students and teachers can know everyone else's name.
What you can expect during your Spanish immersion in South America...
At Ecela, you’ll advance much faster than any other type of course or language program.
We have seen firsthand the results of “Immersion Plus” on over 15,600 students so far – from seven year olds that come on our “family eduvacations” to adventurous seniors that plan to retire here in South America.
It works on journalists from Australia, “gap year” travelers from the UK, lawyers from Brazil, diplomats from France,
....and, of course, pre-health students from the United States.
Your first three weeks are spent in the country's capital: Lima (Peru) or Santiago (Chile). During this portion the Spanish is extra intensive to prepare you for your shadowing in Cusco (Peru) or Viña del Mar (Chile), where Spanish continues but with a slight reduction in class hours (to allow for clinical time).
"I finally felt like I could converse in Spanish."
The special program includes a significant amount of exposure to South American health care:
The program includes a transcript from Universidad Bolivariana to transfer credits to your school (or to save for a graduate program)
Inside a fundamentals (Grammar) class.
Your program is not limited to class and health care. We also provide a full calendar of events to make sure you experience Latino culture.
You’ll be spending four hours a day in class.
Again, it sounds like a lot…but the classes are fun and go by fast. In addition, there are many cultural and social activities – from cooking lessons to “Cinema Latino” – at the school. It will be your home.
True immersion with a host family:
Suggestion: Bring a small gift from your home region for your host. (Your local airport is a great source.) It will “break the ice” on the first day and give them something to always remember you.
We had an excellent time at Ecela in Cusco. Before we arrived, Mima and I didn’t speak Spanish, but after two weeks we know so much more.
"Mima will never forget her first pisco sour (haha) and I’ll never forget the first time I rode a horse!! Thanks for everything!!
Besos, Ina and Mima, the Slovak girls."
My experience at the school was nearly perfect. I met a lot of nice, friendly people, students and instructors alike.
The instructors are fun, dynamic, and really smart, and they have so much patience!
The people here always want to help. They’re friendly and fantastic!!
My time in Cusco was absolutely fantastic. The professors make learning Spanish fun, help you to practice it in the real world by going on outings to local markets and restaurants, and are always willing to help you practice or correct your writing in the afternoons.
The small class size gives you loads of time to practice speaking.
As if this wasn’t enough, Cusco is a wonderful city—markets galore, delicious cuisine, lots of hiking and other adventurous outdoor daytrips, ruins and museums aplenty, great nightlife, and, of course, the world-famous Machu Picchu.
I will never forget my time there, and, for the person who wants to deeply experience a place and learn a lot of Spanish while doing it, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
When I decided to study at Ecela, I was looking for a school that had good classes and a comfortable environment.
But when I got there, I had a better experience than I ever could have imagined.
The class structure was organized, and the small classes helped me learn quickly. The school’s staff was really kind and professional.
Hola, it’s Ron and I have to tell you all about my unforgettable experience!
It’s very calm here, and I like the mountains and the countryside. Also, my teachers Lili and Mario are fantastic.
I enjoyed my time here with Ygor (the best activities coordinator). I drove an ATV, rode a hourse, went shopping at “El Molino,” and touched a condor!!!
I could not have been more pleased with my progress in Spanish.
They not only taught Spanish, but also helped the students feel comfortable and confident in a new city and culture.
Thank you again for this experience. Thank you for making me feel that I was more than just a language student."
"Cusco is an amazing city with tons of history and culture."
"Everybody's super friendly and I feel comfortable making mistakes in front of them."
"I liked the small classes...it's a richer learning environment in my opinion."
"I'm immersing myself in the culture and the language eventually for my patients. In Colorado a large percentage are Spanish-speaking"
The program tuiton is $9,290 and includes:
The application process is simple:
A past Spanish & Medicine student describes his experience and the opportunities it opened for him later in his studies and career preparation.
$25 application fee
Direct all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our five-star guarantee promises you an exceptional educational experience every week of your program, or you get TWO extra weeks absolutely free.
“Our goal is to help you have “one of your best experiences ever” and we will want the chance to “make it right” if we fall short.
"If you feel that we failed at any of the above, at any time during your program, just let me know and we will give you two extra weeks of classes, to be used at any of our schools, absolutely free – no questions asked.” - Cecilia Quezada, Director of Services
I got to see many interesting cases that aren’t commonly seen in the United States
"My favorite part about the Spanish and Medical shadowing program with Ecela was having the opportunity to shadow local doctors in El Hospital Regional de Cusco.
During my time in gastroenterology, I witnessed many endoscopies and other procedures. While in the emergency room the doctors put us to work, taking information from patients and checking vital signs.
My favorite part, however, was spending time in the infectious diseases ward, where I got to see many interesting cases that aren’t commonly seen in the United States such as tuberculosis, dengue fever and even parasitic infections.
The knowledge and experience I gained while shadowing in Cusco were not only eye-opening but also increased my confidence both in speaking Spanish as well as working in a health-care environment."
What goes on in this school is an unforgettable experience.
"When I walked into Ecela the first time, I was impressed by how friendly the people were. I could participate in all of the activities even without being enrolled. After a while, they convinced me to take classes, and it was worth it.
What goes on in this school is an unforgettable experience. There are people from all over the world, from different cultures, and everything works so well. I thought it was good that we used what we learned in class in the activities during the afternoon and at night. That way, you learned things much more quickly. Especially those who were new to Ecela. The school is truly a wonderful thing."
...it really provided an incredible opportunity to learn the language
"The Spanish and Medical shadowing program was really an amazing experience. I didn’t have any Spanish experience at all before I arrived and by the time I left, I could understand and speak a significant amount!
I decided to go during my gap year between undergrad and medical school, and it really provided an incredible opportunity to learn the language, see medicine at practice in another country, and fall in love with Peru.
Even though my Spanish skills were very basic, I still absorbed a lot in our shadowing sessions and got to observe big and subtle differences between hospitals there and the US.
Also, one of the best parts was the people I met. I learned so much from the doctors, my classmates, the Ecela staff, locals, travelers, and the kids we volunteered with. I will remember them all for a long, long time."
Application: The program is limited to 45 students, with no more than 2 from any university. During the application interview, we examine your maturity and your tolerance for being out of your comfort zone. Apply here.
If you are accepted, you then can confirm by paying a small program deposit.
Pre-departure: Uur onboarding specialists to arrange your college credit (three semester courses of Spanish). We will also help you get student-discount flights.
Placement: Before arrival you will need to take a class placement exam (most students will start somewhere between “No Spanish” and “Intermediate II”). You will also let us know your preferences for the medical shadowing portion.
Location: Lima (Peru) or Santiago (Chile)
Your first three weeks focus on cultural immersion to the country and an extra heavy emphasis on Spanish so you will be ready for the shadowing in weeks 4-9.
Location: Cusco (Peru) or Viña del Mar (Chile)
Continue with Spanish class and cultural activities while adding your first shadowing component.
This middle period is a special time as you will feel a heightened aliveness as your normal life is far away (both before and after) and you most experience "living in the now."
Location: Cusco (Peru) or Viña del Mar (Chile)
Continue with your third Spanish course and move on to your second shadowing experience.
At this point in the program we add extra free time as you will have your own contacts by now.
Back to Reality: Reentrance into your usual world, but with much better Spanish, some shadowing experience, and lots of travel stories.
Wrap up any loose paperwork relating to making sure you receive college credit for your course.
Begin planning your return to Ecela for one of our Alumni Only Events.
Our summer program in South America (Peru or Chile) is designed for pre-health students who anticipate using Spanish in their careers. The ideal student:
You will not be happy if you:
Yes. The clinics we partner with for shadowing, as well as Peru health care regulations, do not allow our students to diagnose patients or to perform medical procedures. You will be merely observing the professionals that do.
Depending on your level, you will receive a transcript from Bolivariana (South America) or Brookhaven (USA). If your university is cooperative (most are) you will receive credit for three Spanish courses, though you will learn significantly more than in two traditional courses.
There is no minimal level of Spanish. Our school has complete beginners all the way through people that teach Spanish themselves.
Beginning students will advance the most, yet understand the least. It will be frustrating at first, yet by the end you will be surprised at your abilities.
Technically the program is three college courses, but you should increase your language abilities far more than that. The reasons for superior learning include:
If you have the time, we recommend spending an extra two or three weeks. You may study at any Ecela location and we have special pricing for participants in the Spanish & Medicine program.
Your $9,290 tuition includes:
You should also budget for:
If you do the Peru program, keep in mind that Cusco has a high altitude and takes a few days to acclimate. Check with your doctor if you are worried about being in a high altitude environment.
Listen in as Veronica Vilski, host of Planeta Ecela, interviews students to get an in-depth report of their experiences and to hear what advice they have for future students. Each talk is about 15 minutes long and well worth it if you are considering this program.
Joseph Brewster is an ambitious University of Texas College of Pharmacy student who has traveled the world before even completing his final year.
Joseph is passionate about studying abroad and truly has a heart for people. He gives some sound advice about communicating without being able to communicate at first as well as shows how far even a six-week Spanish immersion program can take you.
Listen as Vanna Ramirez shares her joy in completing a Spanish & Medicine program in Cusco, Peru.
Hear about her frustration with not being able to speak well in Spanish even after years of Spanish instruction, and see what helped her improve.
Vanna is a cheerful aspiring reconstructive surgeon who will show you that hard work is worth it, even if it is bien yucca.
Emily Swafford of Tennessee is a premed student at the University of Miami
.She just recently attended our Spanish & Medicine program in Cusco, Peru, and she has some excellent stories and advice!
From sleeping in the jungle to observing procedures without anesthesia, Emily has memories to share and experiences that will stick with her as she continues down the path of becoming a physician.
Derek Spath of Rochester, New York, is in his undergraduate program at the University of Buffalo.
He attended our Medical Spanish program in Peru, and gives a good overview of what to expect.
His heartfelt descriptions will help you feel his passion for language and helping others, and he will introduce you to a couple crazy (and amusing) Spanish words.
Matthew Rossler is a sophomore at Calvin College and a future dentist.
He was very tentative before his arrival, and he didn’t know anyone else attending the program.
Listen to how Matthew views the immersion process at Ecela and his take on the differences between Peruvian medicine and that of the United States.
Justin Dale of Reno, Nevada joined our Spanish & Medicine program as her first trip alone outside of her hometown.
She recounts her eye-opening experiences and has remarkable advice for those who may be scared when it comes to attending an immersion program abroad and some good tips for making the most of class time and the weeks in Peru.
Shivani Patel was one of our Spanish & Medicine students in Cusco this past summer.
Having only had a couple year of high school Spanish, she speaks to how much understanding she gained throughout the six weeks there.
Shivani jumped right in to the hustle and bustle of a busy homestay experience, and she brought home a spirit of relaxation and enjoyment in most any circumstance.
Gary Huang of Belleville, Illinois, is in the final semester of his undergrad program.
He is an aspiring physician, and he spent six weeks in Viña del Mar, Chile, in our Spanish & Medicine program.
Gary details program specifics, a fun extended weekend trip to La Sirena, and has a realistic view on how his experiences will affect his future in medicine.
Matthew Neumann, an undergrad student at CalPoly, wanted to further his future career as a family doctor or general practitioner.
Matt has a very balanced, mature perspective on his time in South America, despite a few hang-ups.
He speaks of his time in medical shadowing in volunteering, his adventures, and his connection with his homestay family.
Cuidado, after you listen you may just want to jump on the next flight out!
Kia Stern, an aspiring pediatrician, planned as best she could for her Spanish & Medicine program, but there were still many things that caught her off guard.
Kia’s passion for helping families raise up their children is very admirable, and she jumped right in to gain the skills necessary to communicate with even more people.
Listen to hear about her exploration, advice, and obstacles she overcame to get the most out of her weeks abroad.
$25 application fee
Direct all questions to email@example.com
P.S.: Each session is limited to 45 total students.
To avoid missing out on your summer in South America, Apply here ($25 application fee) while we can still save you a spot.
Direct all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org