Traveling abroad is an adventurous and promising opportunity to enhance language learning with the bonus of new experiences, friends, and perspectives. Dedicating that trip to volunteering not only makes the travel fulfilling and supports your destination, but also provides even more opportunities to interact in Spanish.
For Spanish speakers especially, there are a number of fantastic volunteer opportunities abroad where you can give back and improve your language skills. From Mexico and Costa Rica, to Argentina and Spain, Spanish is the official language in 21 countries across the globe, so you have no shortage of options.
Here’s a breakdown of the 10 best options (in no particular order!) for Spanish-speaking volunteers in 2023, as proven by program alumni and users of Go Overseas.
How did we pick these programs?
Lastly, we used our own industry knowledge to ensure we're recommending programs that are vetted both by you, the community members, and us, the experts, so that we feel confident the programs included are the best of the best!
Best for flexibility: Maximo Nivel in Guatemala
Program length: 1-52 weeks
Price point: $$
What's included: shared accommodation with host family, breakfast and dinner 7 days a week, airport pickup, 24/7 emergency phone support
- You can choose from 14 different volunteer fields.
- Explore Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the local areas in the evenings and weekends.
- Volunteers only work 3-4 hours a day which may not be enough if you're looking for an intensive program.
- You will need to budget for daily lunch costs.
With the beautiful colonial city of Antigua as your backdrop, Maximo Nivel’s broad-ranging volunteer placements allow you to make a real impact in Guatemala.
The organization is locally-based, meaning you’ll have a direct impact on the local community. No matter what your particular interests are, Maximo Nivel will be able to meet them. Volunteer placements with Maximo Nivel vary and can include teaching English or working in fields such as conservation, construction, animal care, eco-agriculture, medical, and healthcare.
Another added bonus is that you can receive college credit for participation. University credit is available for service learning programs from the official School of Record -- California State University-Monterey Bay.
“I came to Antigua with essentially no Spanish skills, and each day my confidence grew. I am leaving with more to learn but a strong foundation to work from. The teachers were patient and understood the diverse learning needs of the students. They are friendly and use real world concepts to help apply language skills. Every interaction with the staff was supportive and helpful.”
Best for skills matching: Integrated Learning Experiences (INLEX)
Program length: varies by project, most offer between 1-24 weeks
Price point: $$
What's included: private room with a host family or hostel dorm, two meals per day, airport pickup, cultural activities
- Participants loved the volunteer location and their close proximity to nature.
- Local cultural activities allow you to immerse yourself in learning about the Maya people.
- Some participants noted a lack of wifi in host family homes.
- If you choose hostel accommodation, only breakfast is included.
Integrated Learning Experiences (INLEX) encourages participants to get involved with a volunteer project while diving into Spanish language study. INLEX works with local organizations to specially match volunteers based on their skills and interests. Choose from 9 volunteer areas in projects like animal care, turtle conservation, healthcare, and teaching children with special education needs.
You'll stay with a host family who will help you immerse yourself in learning about Mayan and Guatemalan culture and practicing and developing your Spanish language skills. Private 1-on-1 lessons with a professional teacher can be bought in packs of 20 hours and break down to only $10 an hour for personalized instruction -- try to beat that anywhere else!
"One of the main reasons I chose Inlex/CA for my experience was because I wanted to learn Spanish, and I certainly was not disappointed. During my three weeks, I truly had an authentic immersion experience. With the support of the Inlex/CA staff, my incredible host family, an amazing one-on-one Spanish teacher (a total of 60 hours), and the staff at El Centro Sabor y Gracia, my Spanish went from beginner to advanced in only three weeks."
Best for health and medicine: Volunteering Solutions in Peru
Program length: 2-24 weeks
Price point: $
What's included: host family accommodation, three meals a day from Monday through Saturday, airport pickup, orientation, 24/7 support
- Past participants loved the local clinic and hospital staff they worked with who were friendly and helpful to volunteers.
- Enjoy excursions with fellow volunteers on the weekend to places like Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
- If your level of Spanish is low, you may not be given many opportunities for patient contact.
- Meals on Sunday are on your own so budget extra for food on these days.
Volunteering Solutions in Peru organizes volunteer programs for dental, nursing, and medical students as well as professionals. Depending on your skills, qualifications, and level of Spanish, you may be given tasks such as suturing wounds, assisting doctors with surgeries, giving vaccinations, maintaining medical records, or doing routine checkups. Working hours are generally 9 am to 1 pm with an extra hour after lunch for the medical program.
You will stay with a local host family with another volunteer in a shared bedroom. You'll eat three meals a day with your new family except for Sunday when you can grab food in Cusco with friends. Not every host family house will have wifi so you may want to buy a cheap local SIM card with data once you arrive in Peru.
"Everything was well organized and the managers were always available if you had questions. I will be very sad leaving. The tours were wonderful, Cusco is such a pretty place."
Best for support: Maximo Nivel in Peru
Program length: 1-52 weeks
Price point: $$$
What's included: shared room in host family house, breakfast and dinner everyday, airport pickup, 24/7 emergency phone support
- Host families immerse you in their daily lives so you can really experience Peruvian food and culture while practicing your Spanish.
- Choose from 12 fields, including a short-term volunteer project over Christmas and New Year.
- The fee for four weeks is a little pricey but additional weeks are reasonably priced so you save on longer-term volunteering.
- Lunch is not included so bring extra money to cover additional meals.
The ancient city of Cusco is breathtaking, sitting high and pretty in the mountains of Peru. it’s also a base to visit Machu Picchu, one of the most important archeological sites in the world and a must for every bucket list traveler.
Similar to their programs in Guatemala, Maximo Nivel offers a wide variety of volunteer placements in Peru including include teaching English, conservation, construction, animal care, eco-agriculture, medical, and healthcare. University credit is also available for service learning programs from the official School of Record -- California State University-Monterey Bay.
Past participants have loved the support they've received from the staff at Maximo Nivel Peru and have truly enjoyed their immersive experiences and the relationships they forged with local residents and fellow volunteers, alike.
"My father, friend, and I stayed with the most amazing family in Umasbama. It was an experience we will never forget. They made us feel so welcome, and just like family. We helped them with their animals, prepare meals, harvest crops, and dye textiles."
Best for independent field experience: Adelante Abroad in Mexico
Program length: 1-12 months
Price point: $$$
What's included: accommodation in a shared apartment, two weeks of Spanish classes, airport pickup, some excursions, academic credit for students
- Adelante Abroad boasts connections with 30+ professional sectors making your placement super customizable.
- Housing, in a shared apartment with international or Mexican roommates, allows you to live independently as you volunteer.
- Inexperienced travelers may find the independence required to live on their own, shop, and take public transport daunting.
- Many programs require a low-intermediate level of Spanish so if you're a beginner you may have fewer placement options.
Perhaps the best way to improve your Spanish skills is by using them directly in the field! With Adelante Abroad's Volunteer in Mexico program, volunteers can work in specialized fields such as law, healthcare, art, psychology, and more, while helping communities and gaining global experience to add to their resume. Oaxaca, known for being Mexico's most diverse state, rich in art and history, is the perfect place to brush up on your Spanish and fully immerse yourself in Mexico's vibrant culture.
Included in your program fee are two weeks of intensive Spanish lessons before you begin your placement. Also, if you're still a student, you'll have the opportunity to gain academic credit. Three months of volunteering is equal to 240 contact hours!
"The process was as stress-free as possible, from the pre-departure materials and interviews, the arrival and integration with language classes, and the departure, everything was well-organized. It was also important to me to have independence and to be able to tailor the program to my goals, and this was fulfilled."
Best for academic credit: Carpe Diem Education in South America
Program length: semester
Price point: $$$
What's included: accommodation, all food for duration of program, insurance, excursions and activities, college credit, PADI Open Water Scuba certification
- With a maximum of 13 people per group, your fellow participants are bound to become like family.
- Various homestays in both Ecuador and Peru give you ample opportunities to practice and perfect your Spanish skills.
- This program is designed for students aged between 17 and 22 years old so if you're a graduate or professional, you will not be eligible to participate.
- The program fees for a semester are high, but financial aid is available, including the opportunity to use your federal student loan money.
Packed with history, adventure, and lessons in sustainability and conservation, you're sure to have a memorable time volunteering with Carpe Diem Education. Their Central America Semester: Spanish Immersion & Sustainability program allows volunteers to experience life in Guatemala and Costa Rica, as they live with local families, participate in fun excursions like treks through forests and a visit to beautiful Lake Atitlan, while leaving a lasting impact, supporting small NGOs on topics like environmental justice, reforestation, and native species conservation.
Their program also encourages their volunteers to leave their comfort zone and grow as a person. In small groups, you'll take turns assuming leadership roles as well as experience a yoga retreat together. Near the end of your trip, you will earn your PADI Open Water Scuba certification as you protect sea turtles and learn about coral reef restoration.
"Throughout this program, I grew so much as a person. My group felt like a second family, and everyone we met along the way was so accommodating and knowledgeable. I highly recommend this program if you're looking for Spanish immersion and are interested in sustainability and hiking."
Best for social justice: Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica
Program length: 1-52 weeks
Price point: $$$
What's included: shared room at host family house, breakfast and dinner every day, airport pickup, 24/7 emergency phone support
- Volunteers of all ages are welcome although teens and children under 16 need to come with a parent, guardian, or adult group leader.
- Volunteer hours are during the morning and afternoon, leaving you ample time for language study or travel.
- Host family living can be difficult if you have a low level of Spanish.
- No lunches are included -- bring extra money!
With program options throughout all of Latin America, Maximo Nivel’s Costa Rica program is another highly-ranked program that has overwhelmingly positive feedback from alumni.
Volunteer programs in Costa Rica have great geographical diversity, ranging from the capital city of San Jose to the beaches in Manuel Antonio. Maximo Nivel offers a wide variety of hands-on projects ranging from conservation and reforestation to refurbishing schools and local clinics.
It's also a great opportunity for volunteers interested in social justice projects. You can work in after-school programs and community centers, spread awareness about the basics of health through medical campaigns, or teach English classes.
University credit is also available for service learning programs from the official School of Record -- California State University-Monterey Bay.
"Maximo Nivel has an awesome program in San Jose where you can teach English to refugees at Fundacion Mujer. I had a great time. My students were awesome and I gained teaching experience. I started the volunteer program in the beginning of August. My third day into it, I learned that I loved teaching English and I decided to get my TEFL certification through Maximo Nivel in Manuel Antonio."
Best for service learning: GLA in Dominican Republic
Program length: 12 days
Price point: $$$
What's included: accommodation, three meals a day every day, in-country transportation, excursions and activities, 24/7 phone support for parents, 24 community service hours
- Teens aged 14-18 can travel, volunteer, and meet new friends in an all-inclusive and safe environment.
- Activities include kayaking, ziplining, boating, cooking, dancing, and more.
- Programs only last for 12 days so this is not for anyone looking for long-term volunteering.
- Projects with GLA are limited to teens -- adults have to look elsewhere!
Sharing a border with Haiti, the Dominican Republic is a vibrant and colorful country in the Caribbean. Volunteers in this program can expect to develop leadership skills to address humanity's greatest environmental challenges.
Global Leadership Adventures offers programs throughout the world. Their programs in the Dominican Republic cover environmental conservation and public health programs. With such a range, Global Leadership Adventures matches all interests.
These short-term, immersive programs integrate volunteering for service learning hours along with exciting outdoor adventures. Volunteers will stay in comfortable eco-lodges where they will have three meals a day. Spend 12 days in paradise while making a difference.
"Dominican Republic Caribbean Service Adventure: An absolutely fantastic and genuine experience! This is real community service, working alongside locals and learning about the country. The education component and communal labor made it truly hands-on learning."
Best for affordable volunteering: IVHQ in Peru
Program length: between 1-24 weeks, depending on the program
Price point: $
What's included: accommodation in volunteer house or homestay, all meals, airport pickup, discounts on language lessons, 24/7 support, in-country orientation
- Volunteering with IVHQ gets cheaper the longer you stay.
- Choose from 18 different projects, from volunteering in a remote Andean village to teaching English in Cusco.
- Night owls should be aware that schedules for most programs begin at 6 am.
- You can't drink the water in Peru so you will need to budget extra bottled water and avoid sources of contaminated water like ice in drinks.
The archeological capital of the Americas, Cusco is also a popular choice for travelers and volunteers alike. However, in spite of receiving thousands of tourists every year, the ancient city also has one of the highest levels of poverty in the country.
IVHQ offers programs that have a direct impact on the local community through projects in agriculture, environmental conservation, working with the youth, and more. With your volunteer placement and homestay opportunities, you'll have plenty of chances to practice your Spanish.
IVHQ's programs are all-inclusive with all meals and accommodation included. This organization is also unique in that the longer you volunteer, the more you save. Four weeks amounts to about $29 a day but that goes down to $23 a day after 12 weeks.
"With IVHQ I found the perfect program for me! I went to Cusco for medical volunteer and through IVHQ planned activities around the city, it was an incredible experience! The family host was amazing and I got to make friends from all over the world. Definitely was more than I expected."
Best for education: Village Book Builders in Mexico
Program length: 2-12 weeks
Price point: $$
What's included: accommodation with a host family, 3 meals a day every day, airport pickup, project supplies, mentoring
- Propose, plan, and carry out your own community projects.
- College students may be able to earn up to 15 credits.
- Those with low levels of Spanish or who are not confident with the language might find initial interactions intimidating.
- Excursions aren't included so budget extra for weekend trips and activities.
Interested in empowering communities through books and libraries? If you consider yourself to be a fellow book lover, why not take that passion overseas and help others in need?
Volunteers with Village Book Builders can find placements all throughout schools in Mexico. You'll work alongside teachers, assist the school librarian, and work with local families to empower students through the love of books.
In addition to working on projects to improve literacy, as a volunteer, you can also participate in culturally immersive activities like going river rafting, sightseeing, or spending time with your local host family. Your Spanish skills are sure to soar!
"I was completely immersed in the Spanish language and Mexican culture. I made lifelong friends in Mexico and was honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of a great cause. The best decision I ever made was to spend 3 months in Mexico through Village Book Builders."
Where will you volunteer abroad in 2023?
We hope you're feeling inspired and ready to start your volunteering journey abroad! No matter where you decide to volunteer, we're sure it'll be a rewarding experience helping local communities.
Check out more volunteering advice and information: