Here’s my tip written for student travellers on today’s Guardian.co.uk.
Ecuador is considered one of the best places to learn Spanish in Latin America because of the clear accent and low prices. I enjoyed my stay at Quito’s Secret Garden Hostel, a place that is quite rightly proud of its terrace’s panoramic views over the historical centre and the Andes beyond. It has its own Spanish school and if you have more time you can apply for its one-month volunteer programme, where you work in the hostel in exchange for a bed, food, drinks, 10 hours of Spanish lessons and one night at its sister hostel by Cotopaxi volcano. Demand to work at this eco-aware hostel is understandably high, but it also has links with other organisations in the area, so you can also consider working on local environmental projects or helping conserve rare Andean bears.
You can find the prices and details on the Guardian article: 10 of the best trips for students.
I haven’t done the volunteer programme myself as I was heading south to Loja/Guayaquil, however friends have worked there recently and recommended it. And now that I know they work with Andean bears, ie spectacled bears, I may be back…
Disclaimer: these Andean bears are actually resident at a US zoo, but they were too cute not to include. Flickr Creavive Common: Smithsonian’s National Zoo