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Title page for ETD etd-03282016-233822

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Kingsley, Tara Alison
Author's Email Address tara.kingsley@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03282016-233822
Title Intercultural Bilingual Education and Teacher Agency in Guatemala
Degree Master of Arts
Department Latin American Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Carwil Bjork-James Committee Member
Mareike Sattler Committee Member
W. Frank Robinson Committee Member
  • bilingual education
  • Guatemala
  • Kiche'
  • Mayan languages
Date of Defense 2016-03-28
Availability unrestricted
In Guatemala, a relatively recent education policy articulates the state’s recognition of Guatemala as a multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual country and mandates intercultural, bilingual education in areas where indigenous languages are widely spoken. Education policy is developed and decreed at the state level but implemented in notably divergent Mayan communities, where numerous variables affect how teachers interpret the state’s directives. Quantitative assessments that gauge the effectiveness of bilingual programs minimize the role of teachers as local agents imparting dual language instruction, while anthropological assessments generalize across linguistic communities or focus on the linguistic and cultural revitalization efforts of the larger Mayan movement. Ethnographic research in specific communities highlights the myriad ways teachers embody the spirit of the policy by interpreting it appropriately for the needs of students and the linguistic and cultural context in which students are learning. Interviews and participant observation conducted in the K’iche’-speaking town of Nahualá, Sololá reveal that the strength of the program’s implementation locally is largely made possible by teachers' own initiative and commitment to promoting K'iche' language and Mayan culture. Although teachers abide by a state directive that is sometimes contested by parents and often complicated by a lack of resources and children's wide range of language skills, teachers avail themselves of a certain degree of latitude within the national curriculum. Bilingual teachers in Nahualá interpret the state’s directive in community-specific ways and thus fill the most influential role in the school system.
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