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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Overseas Phone Call from Costa Rica


Central America and Mexico, Costa Rica
Grades 3-5
Social Studies & Geography

Overview For many ESOL students, deciphering and extracting information without visual cues is a challenging task. With this directed listening activity, students will use "previewing" strategies to better comprehend and learn about the experience of a Peace Corps Volunteer: likes, dislikes, types of animals, festivals, language, food and sports may be discussed. Students will also be able to locate the country on a map.

For 50 years, the Peace Corps has helped communities around the world. Volunteer Voices is a collection of audio stories from just a few volunteers who have served since 1961. With cellphone and internet technology, Peace Corps Volunteers get to talk with U.S. classrooms they've been communicating with through the Correspondence Match program.

Visit peacecorps.gov to learn more about Peace Corps programs and Volunteer activities in the country.


  • To listen for specific information without the help of visual cues and correctly answer questions
  • To paraphrase information forming complete sentences
  • To locate Costa Rica on a world or regional map and two major cities
  • To formulate 2 or more questions concerning Costa Rica culture, customs, geography and climate to deepen understanding
  • To compare and contrast Costa Rica culture and customs with those of the United States using a Venn diagram
  • To summarize and synthesize information 



  1. Have students locate their state and Costa Rica on a world map (see link above), then estimate the distance between the two locations.
  2. Discuss with students some characteristics of Costa Rica: food, sports, language, geography, climate, education, etc. Have students form questions about other information they'd like to learn about Costa Rica.
  3. Distribute "Overseas Phone Call from Costa Rica" handout (see link above). With students, preview the questions and have them predict answers. Ask students to explain their prediction/s.
  4. Listen to "Overseas Phone Call from Costa Rica" podcast (see link above). Depending on language levels, either teacher strategically pauses or students raise their hand if they want to pause the recording, then answer handout questions. Play twice or more if necessary.
  5. In pairs or with whole class:
    1. Have students review answers by verbally summarizing information learned, forming complete sentences. Additionally, students could write their summary sentences.
    2. Students discuss characteristics of Costa Rica and the United States (or their community/city/state), documenting them in the Venn diagram.
    3. Students share what the learned about Costa Rica.
  6. Have students locate two cities on a map of Costa Rica. 

Frameworks & Standards

Enduring Understandings

  • There is much to learn from living in a different culture and country.
Essential Questions
  • What can be learned from living in a different culture and country?

PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards

Standard 1: C ommunicate for social, intercultural, and instructional purposes within the school setting.

Standard 2: Communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the area of social studies.

Common Core State Standards for Speaking and Listening

Comprehension and Collaboration

  • Engage in discussions with diverse partners
  • Evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats
  • Evaluate a speaker's point of view
  • Summarize the points a speaker makes

U.S. National Geography Standards

Essential Element I: The World in Spatial Terms

  • Use maps and other geographic representations to acquire, process, and report information

Essential Element II: Places and Regions

  • Physical and human characteristics of places 



  1. Students estimate and calculate the distance between their town/state and Costa Rica.
  2. Students research which is geographically larger: their state or Costa Rica.

Social Studies/Language Arts

  1. Create a travel brochure or poster advertising Costa Rica.
  2. Have students create their own handout to accompany the podcast.
  3. If students' questions about Costa Rica are not answered during the podcast, have students investigate and report back with their findings.
  4. Create a podcast
    1. Each student researches a Peace Corps country using the Cultural Science handout (see link above).
    2. In pairs or small groups of 3-4 students, interviews are conducted where one student is the Volunteer and the others are "students" asking questions.
    3. Students rotate interchanging roles and recording their interviews.
  5. Sign up for Correspondence Match and correspond with an actual Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Costa Rica.
  6. Sign up for Speakers Match and have a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Costa Rica share her/his experiences.
  7. Using Spanish-English vocabulary word cards:
  8. Distribute all cards to students.
  9. Have students match Spanish word with English word.
  10. Have students group words by category (color, animals, professions)
  11. View other slide shows from Peace Corps Volunteers based in the same country. 
  12. Ask to students verbally produce complete sentences summarizing information.
  13. Have students locate Costa Rica on a map of the region
  14. Ask students to locate two large cities on a map of the country 
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