Insight: Construyendo Conexiones

By Malcolm Yates, Spanish Teacher

As a Spanish teacher, being asked to relate the theme of connection to the work done by our discipline group feels a bit like asking a math teacher to relate their academic field to the concept of numbers. “Connection” is what we do.

Ultimately, we aim to connect students directly with some part of the vast and varied Spanish speaking world. It is exhilarating (and not a little daunting) to think that to become a Spanish speaker is to plug into a human network which spans the globe and links half a billion people across dozens of countries. Whether students are using the future tense to plan out the amazing journeys that Spanish may help them take throughout their lives or they are firmly here today, in Kirkland, honing their use of the subjunctive by singing along with Juanes’ “A Diós le pido”, we hope they never forget that learning a language is not an abstract academic pursuit—it’s about connecting with people.

As thrilling as it can be to use Spanish to engage with a wider world, it’s also important to relate the language with students’ own daily lives. To that end, EPS seventh graders are asked to write and perform short skits in Spanish set at school. The project has kids practicing school-related vocabulary and sentence structures like “What is your favorite subject?”, “I have science during B period.”, and more recently, “You are muted.”,  “I think I’m sharing my screen.”, “Am I sharing my screen?”,  and “How do I share Audio? Can you hear this?”.

Inevitably, a few skits feature good-natured impressions of EPS faculty. This year was no exception. During performances we saw loving, Spanish-language portrayals of Dr. Macaluso, Mr. U., and a couple of Profe Yateses, one of whom wore a brown leather jacket and an Indiana Jones hat—a costume which I find totally nonsensical but am choosing to accept as a compliment.

In the end, this year’s skits were some of the best I’ve seen. Students were energetic, engaged, and entertaining. It was a joy to see this group gathered together and building connections with the school, with each other, and with the Spanish language.