UC San Diego
¿Nuestro guaraní? Language Ideologies, Identity, and Guaraní Instruction in Asunción, Paraguay /
- Author(s): Lang, Nora Walsh
- et al.
How do young people in Paraguay develop social identities as they engage in multilingual language practices? What are the impacts of language policies that at times encourage the use of Guaraní, and at others discourage it? The primary goal of this study is to explore the relationships between children's language ideologies and the sociohistorical roots of societal level discourses regarding the power and prestige associated with Spanish and Guaraní in Paraguay. Of equal importance is the role of educators in either challenging or reinforcing those discourses. Field-work was conducted in an urban school in Paraguay's capital, Asunción. Participants' language use, language ideologies, and processes of social identification were analyzed through classroom observations, unstructured interviews, and surveys. Findings revealed that students' and teachers' use of Guaraní is closely related to perceptions of the language's ability to provide opportunities for upward social mobility. Data also suggests a generational decrease in the use of Guaraní amongst students, and a tendency to reserve Guaraní for the private sphere. Despite efforts to elevate the status of Guaraní, prestige is overwhelmingly associated with European languages (Spanish, English, and Portuguese). Guaraní, in contrast, is strongly associated with Paraguayan national identity, and communicating closeness. While English and Portuguese are perceived to potentially provide financial and social capital, students lack similar motivation to learn Guaraní within the context of the classroom. Although teachers cannot change societal discourses that devalue Guaraní, they can facilitate a critical inquiry into such attitudes, and encourage students to challenge the status quo