Una casa en Costa Rica: A culture capsule

Hello dear friends!
I hope that you’re feeling excited about a new school year! That’s my favorite part of teaching, that we get to start over. It doesn’t matter if last year was the worst year of our teaching career (I know I’m not alone!), we get to make changes, welcome new Little Darlings and start anew. Praise the Lord for new beginnings, right?!

I’m super excited to share with you a project that I’ve been working on, a series of “Culture Capsules”, written in comprehensible Spanish for my Level 1 students. This summer I had a fantastic experience with the Live the Osa teacher trip, in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Not only were there CI workshops taught by the marvelously talented Kara Jacobs and yours truly, there was a 4 night homestay experience that was soooo cool! I had the sweetest family and a 9 year old “brother” with aspirations of becoming a YouTuber. With his mom’s blessing (she’s behind the camera, answering my questions) he gave us a tour of his home, that I am encouraged to share with other Spanish teachers! You’re going to love Alex, he’s the best! (Stay tuned Culture Capsule, “Una escuela in Costa Rica” will be published later this week!)

Of course I needed to stretch out his 4 minute video into some great CI, so I made a whole slideshow with photos, questions and a notetaker for students to make comparisons between his home and their own. Links for everything (free!) at the bottom of this post!

An important note: When we’re talking about culture, we need to help our students avoid generalizations. Just because my house has a garage so full of junk we can’t park in there, that doesn’t mean that US homes have garages that are packed full of junk. Mine does. Some people park their cars in their garage. Some houses don’t have garages. Some houses have really fancy wallpapered garages.(My ex-step grandmother’s, not joking!) You get the point. I’m showing them one house in Costa Rica and I want students to make comparisons between it and their own home. Students should not look at this house and make the assumption that it represents every home in Costa Rica, just like their home doesn’t represent all homes in their country, state or even town.

And of course (and this probably doesn’t need to be said!) our students need us to teach them that when we’re exploring another culture, we do not judge “better or worse”. We notice similarities and differences and then think critically to consider “why”. For example, In this picture, there’s a motorcycle on the front porch. I wonder why? What are some possible explanations?

Now, I created these with my Spanish 1s in mind, but I’ll certainly be sharing these with my upper level Little Darlings too. Before we do the actual home tour, they’ll get a little preview of the house and have a chance to “see, think and wonder”. The video goes pretty quick and I wanted them to take a bit of time to really look at the rooms and make some predictions. Hmmm…there’s a fan at the foot of the bed. There’s no blanket on the bed, only a sheet. What could that tell us? Depending on their proficiency level, you might do this in English or Spanish. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to picture talk each picture, awesome! If you just want to give them a minute or two to look at the pictures in silence then partner share what they noticed, that’s a great option too! I wanted to make these slides flexible enough for lots of teachers to be able to use them, so use them however works best for your Little Darlings. If your students need a little extra, ahem, structure, there’s a second “See, Think, Wonder” notetaker, linked in the presenter notes. Praying that this year’s Spanish 1 doesn’t need it…but I will be prepared if they do!

As they look at the pictures and watch the tour, they’ll make checkmarks on their notetaker, to help them later make comparisons between Alex’s home and their own (and give them all the language that novices will need to compare homes, sneaky, right?!)

Grab the Una casa en Costa Rica Slideshow here and the Notetaker here! Hope you find them helpful and Happy Back to School!!


    • It’s so great! I don’t know if they’ll do another CI trip, but if they do, I highly recommend it!! If they run another CI trip, I’ll publicize it (even if I’m not presenting again) or you can like “Live the Osa” on Facebook for trip updates!


  1. This is incredible! As always, I appreciate your generosity in sharing resources. I can both use this one “as is” with my middle-school students, but I’m also inspired with new ideas for how I can create similar resources on my own. ¡Gracias!


  2. ¡fenominal! ¡Muchísimas Gracias!
    When I was in Costa Rica with an EF group a few years back I took tons of photographs of “signs” all over the country! (street, shops, bathroom, no exit, etc) Unfortunately I’ve yet to organize them, but you may have just motivated me!! If & when I do = I’ll be sure to share!
    Thanks for your infinite generosity!!

    Liked by 1 person

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