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With Spanish, Guaraní lives: a sociolinguistic analysis of bilingual education in Paraguay

Abstract

Through interviews with Paraguayan parents, teachers, intellectuals, and policy makers, this paper examines why the implementation of Guaraní-Spanish bilingual education has been a struggle in Paraguay. The findings of the research include: 1) ideological and attitudinal gaps toward Guaraní and Spanish between the political level (i.e., policy makers and intellectuals) and the operational level (i.e., parents and teachers); 2) insufficient and/or inadequate Guaraní-Spanish bilingual teacher training; and 3) the different interpretations and uses of the terms pure Guaraní (also called academic Guaraní) and Jopará (i.e., colloquial Guaraní with mixed elements of Spanish) between policy makers and intellectuals, and the subsequent issue of standardizing Guaraní that arises from these mixed interpretations. Suggestions are made to carve out a space wherein we might imagine an adequate implementation of bilingual education.