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  • Locations: Vina del Mar, Chile
  • Program Terms: Academic Year, Fall, Spring
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Subjects Available: Cultural and Area Studies, Latin American Studies, Literature, Spanish Additional Program Requirements: 2.5 GPA
Credit Load: 12-16 per semester Exchange Program: 0
Faculty-Led: No Internship Opportunity: Internships are available, Service Learning or other volunteer opportunities are available
Language of Instruction: Spanish Language Requirement: NO previous study required
Partner University: N/A Program Advisor: Martinez, Andy
Program Description:

Spanish Language and Chilean Culture at ECELA Viña del Mar (Semester) 


 Program Information | Requirements | Academics | Support Services | Housing | Cost Estimates | Resources

Program Information

UAlbany’s study abroad program with the ECELA Spanish Language School gives students the chance to experience rapid advancement in Spanish abilities while experiencing first-hand the Chilean culture in and around Viña del Mar. As an intensive immersion course (Spanish classes within a "Spanish everywhere" environment), the program's goal is to give you several semesters worth of Spanish skill enhancement in only a few months. In addition to the 20 hour per week language course, you can also participate in cultural activities such as cooking classes, salsa dance lessons, Cinema Latino, and folklore shows.

Viña del Mar, Chile is one of South America's prime beach resorts.  Although it's a major tourist destination (for Chileans and as well as foreigners), there are enough year-round residents to support plenty of cultural activity.  In fact Viña del Mar and Valparaiso are bustling with young people due to the great number of university campuses in the area, making it a fun place to be year-round.  Easy day trips from Viña include historic Valparaiso, vineyard tours, and national parks.
The school in Viña is just a few blocks from the ocean on a quiet residential street.  It's a comfortable building within a short walk to convenient restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers.  It’s also a comfortable two hour bus ride from Santiago, which means Viña del Mar can be used as a stand-alone school or easily combined with our location in the capital.
Ecela is dedicated to helping students get closer to Spanish fluency even if they are not "naturals" at picking up foreign languages. The 50/50 ratio of grammar and conversation, taught in separate sessions, ensures you of balanced progress. The extra small classes (capped at only 8 students) are intimate enough that you will comfortably join the discussion, even if you normally resist raising your hand. Finally, the "demanding yet understanding" teachers and staff push you to do the necessary work so you will vastly improve your Spanish.
Ecela schools attract students from many walks of life. They come from 42+ countries and have an array of personal and professional interests. You’ll bond with them in your classes, in the refreshment breaks in between them, and in our many social and cultural activities after them. For many of our students, forming a new set of very diverse relationships is a real treasure and an unexpected highlight. While you may come to Ecela alone, you are quickly plugged into an instant social life.


Our program is open to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors with a 2.5 GPA.

Program Video:

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1The best way to master a language is with native, college certified teachers using a proven curriculum in a small class environment. Classes at ECELA are capped at 8 students per instructor allowing students to have individual attention resulting in dramatic language skill improvement within a short window of time. Students can participate as a total beginner or with many years of speaking the language.

The program offers daily scheduled activities in and around Viña del Mar. Participating in these activities is an excellent way to practice your new language skills in a fun and exciting environment.

Weekend trips are also offered where you can discover Chile's fantastic landscapes and outdoor sports. Historical landmarks and experiencing the arts and culture that make Chile so unique are integral parts of this program.

On the ECELA semester-length program, students will take up to five Spanish language classes.  For the final two courses of the semester, students will have the option to take a Chilean Culture & History class and/or a Latin American Literature class in place of a language class.  To take an elective class, students will need at least an intermediate Spanish level.  These two elective courses are included in the cost of the program. 

Other elective courses (i.e.- Medical Spanish, Business Spanish, Legal Spanish, and Spanish Composition) may also be available for an extra fee- please contact for more information.  Full course descriptions can be found in the ECELA course catalog (listed below).

The Spanish language classes are modular, and go in sequence.  Only one class may be taken during the duration of each module.  After successfully completing one language class, students will move on to the next level.  You will earn 3 credits for each course you successfully complete (students may earn up to 15 credits total for the semester-length option). 

Course Descriptions:

Please click here to see ECELA's course catalog: 2
ECELA Course Catalog for SUNY Albany.pdf

Elective Course Equivalents for UAlbany students: 
(See all ECELA course descriptions through the above link)
Programa de Cultura y Historia de Chile:
International Perspectives GenED + ASPN 317

Curso Literatura: International Perspectives GenED
+ ASPN 316
Language Course Equivalents for UAlbany Spanish Credit:
1. Students who complete Beginning level 1 = ASPN 100
2. Students who complete Beginning level 2 = ASPN 010
    [does not count towards Spanish minor]
3. Students who complete either intermediate level= ASPN 101
    [counts towards Spanish minor, may come in as 010 if student already has 101]
4. Students who complete either advanced level = ASPN 103
    [counts towards Spanish minor, may come in as 010 if student already has 103]

Credits from the host university will be converted to SUNY credits as follows:
1 SUNY credit per every 15 hours completed
48 hours = 3 credits
64 hours = 4 credits

Grades from the host university will be converted to SUNY grades as follows:
100%  - 93% = A
90 - 92% = A-
87 - 89% = B+
83 - 86% = B
80 - 82% = B-
77 - 79% = C+
73 - 76% = C
70 - 72% = C-
67 - 69% = D+
63 - 66% = D
60 - 62% = D- 
59 - 1% = E

General Education Information for UAlbany students: credits earned on this program will automatically satisfy the International Perspectives requirement. Three credits of foreign language study will satisfy the Foreign Language requirement. No additional approval is required for you to earn these General Education credits.

Support Services

5Our program in Chile offers support at every step of the way. The program director and staff assist students with any concerns or questions they may have throughout their stay. Faculty and/or staff will accompany the students on all activities and outings and provide superb assistance to students throughout their stay.  The staff will also arrange excursions for students, some of which are included in the cost of the program.  More info on these excursions will be given to students by the staff at ECELA. 

Living with a host family also provides an additional layer of support. A local host family assists our students with learning the best ways to get around the city, what regional cuisine to try, what sites to visit in the city and beyond, and how to find the best deals in Viña del Mar.

The staff at the University at Albany's Study Abroad Office also provides support to students wishing to participate on this program. We will assist students during the application process, in their preparation to travel abroad and once they are in Chile if necessary. 

Trips and Excursions:
The activities included in the cost of the semester-length program include: (TBD)


4Housing is provided with local Chilean families. Living with a family is one of the most effective ways to improve language skills and learn about the local culture. All of the families are warm and welcoming and experienced at making students feel at home within their house. All host families are located within an easy commute to the school and are in a safe and lovely neighborhood.

The families are chosen with the utmost care and go through extensive screening and training before being accepted as host families for our students. Their passion in educating our students about their language and culture goes above and beyond many other language and culture programs found elsewhere. The families make every attempt to accept our students as part of their "Chilean family" during their stay in Viña del Mar and after.


To view the most recent cost estimate, please click here:
ECELA (All Locations) AY 17-18 REV 080817.pdf

Click here for more information on Program Costs and Financial Aid


5Student Testimonials:
Curious about what other students have to say about their experience at ECELA's school in Viña del Mar?  Click the following link to view testimonials from past participants:
ECELA's "School Hopping" Option:
During the semester and summer length programs at ECELA, students have the option of dividing their time between ECELA’s many locations (in Lima (Peru), Cusco (Peru), Mendoza (Argentina), Viña del Mar (Chile), and Santiago (Chile).  This is a great way to experience various other countries and cultures, while still being able to take your desired courses at other ECELA locations.  Click here to view all of the different location options with ECELA. 
Please note that you will be responsible for the travel costs between locations, and you must notify ECELA and UAlbany of your intention to transfer at least two weeks in advance of your intended transfer date.  The basic costs of the program paid to UAlbany (consult the cost estimate listed below) will remain the same though, regardless of the locations that you choose.  If you are interested in the multi-location option with ECELA, please contact with your request.
Top Activities and Excursions in Viña del Mar:
Note: only some of these activities and excursions are included in the cost of the program with UAlbany.  More information on this will be included in your acceptance packet. 
La Sebastiana– Experience the quirky museum/house of beloved Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.
Cooking Lessons – Learning to prepare food typical to the region, including empanadas and sopapillas
Paseo en Lancha – Tour the coast in a small boat and visit important parts of the harbor.
Asensores de Valparaiso – Explore the hills of Valparaiso by cable car!  Experience the “Patrimonio de la Humanidad”.
Salsa Classes – Learn to dance salsa to prepare for nights out in Viña or Valpo.
Isla Negra – Visit Pablo Neruda’s famous house and spend a relaxing day on the coast.
Cerro la Campana – Trek the beautiful Parque Nacional, one of the country’s most famous natural reserves.
Viñedos – Tour of the area’s wine producing valley of Casablanca.


In Pictures: Viña del Mar, Chile

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Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Academic Year 2018-2019 03/01/2018
03/15/2018 TBA TBA
Fall 2018 03/01/2018
03/15/2018 08/12/2018 11/24/2018
NOTE: Orientation starts on August 13, 2018. Class and Exams end on November 23, 2018.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications.