Patrick Henry Elementary School: Marybel Cortes & Ayako Kato, Grade 3

Viva el Español!

How is Spanish influential in your daily life and in your future?

Words by Henry Elementary 3rd Grade Teacher Marybel Cortes, and Teaching Artist Ayako Kato.

We sent our inquiry questions to the students.

Marybel gathered students’ responses and Ayako read through their answers to understand students’ lives and how they are handling growing up bilingual and their social lives in the classroom, during recess, and at home.

1. Which language, Spanish or English, do your parents speak at home?

2. Which language do you speak in the classroom? Is it the same language or a different one at home?

3. Which language do you speak to your classroom teacher, Ms. Cortes? Why?

4. Do you think it is important to speak both languages and why? Or do you think it benefits you to speak both languages in the future? Why?

5. During recess, do you play equally with friends who speak Spanish and English? Are you good friends with everyone regardless of which/what language they speak?

6. When and where do you switch your language between Spanish/your native tongue and English? Why?

7. How much more would you like to improve another language than the one you speak as your first language? (There should be the word: SSL: Spanish as a Second Language.)

8. Can you speak both languages? Which language are you more comfortable writing?

9. Which language do you prefer/are more comfortable to speak, English or Spanish, and why?

10. Do you feel shy to speak either language? Why?

11. Do you wish to read/write in both languages?

12. What is your dream? Do you think being fluent in both languages will help you to make your dream come true? Why?   

Teaching Remotely

During the Google Meets class, Ayako discussed the history of hip-hop music and dance, and rap. Ayako also created a “How to Rap” tutorial video for students. 

Students used their responses to the inquiry questions as the basis for their vocalizations.

Ayako found that students were extremely shy during the Google Meet classes and felt they would have difficulty capturing themselves dancing at home on video. So she started to record the Google Meets to create the final dance video. Rapping on rhythm proved to be a challenge for the students. Nonetheless, Ayako couldn’t help notice students’ pleasure when speaking Spanish and the beautiful sounds they could make in their native language. Consequently, Ayako made another shift and started to incorporate the students’ voices responding to the questions for the vocal part of the project. Amazingly, even just picking out their answers of when they are speaking those two languages were different. With the background of their rooms, and the close ups, it felt very authentic.  

We allowed them to dance to their own favorite music.


We hope students who speak Spanish now keep speaking Spanish and those who don’t speak Spanish will learn Spanish and even other languages!

In the end, Ayako felt even though students couldn’t make a circle dance physically, they could make a metaphorical circle dance by contributing their voice and dance in front of camera as soloists.


Students reaffirmed the importance of carrying on their own heritage and respecting their own and others’ cultures, which could motivate one to study other languages and cultures. They learned to present and express themselves in artistic ways and understand their own identity, opinions, and feelings by sharing their voice and movement with others through the arts.