Learning Spanish Through Art, With Artist Sandra Mayo

"Azul – blue."
"Hexágono – hexagon!"
You might think that colors and shapes belong in an art class rather than in a Spanish class, but at Gann, this is the exact blend that makes our teaching approach so unique. Students in Elena Morgan’s Spanish III class recently created art with artist Sandra Mayo. Mayo, who is Argentinian, led students through an art lesson entirely in Spanish, beginning with encouraging each student to share their favorite colors and shapes.

“Learning another language involves learning about the cultures of countries and people who speak it,” said Morgan. “I bring art appreciation to my classes because art represents the history, the lifestyle, the ideologies of those countries.”
Over the past month, Morgan’s students have expanded their Spanish learning through art by learning new vocabulary, reading about Latin-American artists, and discussing the deeper meaning behind pieces of artwork.
For Agam ‘24, Sandra’s visit brought the lessons to life. “When Sandra visited our classroom,” Agam noted, “I learned about the meaning behind her own works of art and how she approaches the creative process of creating art.”
Talia ’24 agrees, adding that “Sandra's visit helped to reinforce what we were learning in class because she took the art techniques and history we were learning and turned it into a real-life experience.”
By blending art, history, shapes, and language skills, Morgan’s language class inspires students to talk about their own perspectives, and preferences as entry into a new language.
“The ultimate goal is to have students communicate in the most spontaneous way possible using the language they are learning,” says Morgan. One visit to her classroom proves the point. After all, few things are more spontaneous than discussing shades of blue and hexagons.
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