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Language Maintenance and Promotion Through Quality Bilingual Education

By: Karla Del Carpio Ovando  

Language loss is a problem happening everywhere in the world. Every year more and more languages die due to social, political, financial, educational, and governmental pressures. Unfortunately, many times languages are perceived as a simple code of communication when languages mean people since each language represents its speakers. A language represents a community full of history, knowledge, cosmovision, traditions, and stories. Therefore, all languages should be respected, maintained, and promoted. This is one of the reasons why more attention should be given to languages - especially to those at risk of disappearing. In this presentation, it is emphasized that inclusive education can be used as a powerful tool to prevent language loss while preserving and promoting languages through quality bilingual programs and language classes. Examples to achieve this goal will be provided based on the findings of a qualitative research study conducted at a Spanish-Indigenous Tsotsil elementary bilingual school in Chiapas, Mexico. Tsotsil children as well as their instructors have taken the initiative to promote their indigenous language and culture through a variety of activities such as music festivals, poetry contests, theater plays, etc. It was found that participants embrace cultural and linguistic diversity by preserving their own indigenous language, but also by learning Spanish and other languages.

Language, Preservation, Bilingual, Education, Indigenous, Children
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
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Dr. Karla Del Carpio Ovando

NA, Hispanic Studies, University of Northern Colorado, United States
Colorado, United States

Karla Del Carpio is a Professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Northern Colorado. Karla completed a Master’s in Applied Linguistics at the MLCS Department at the University of Alberta (UofA) and a PhD in the Department of Secondary Education at UofA. Karla has a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the University of Chiapas, Mexico. Teaching is one of Karla’s passions because she strongly believes that being a teacher is an art as it is one of the most fascinating, appealing, challenging and beautiful professions. For that reason, she considers herself very lucky for having the opportunity to teach other people and learn from them as well. She has won different awards such as the City Lumber 75th Anniversary International Graduate Student Award in 2012, the Zita and John Rose Graduate Student Teaching Award and the National Commission on Science and Technology in Mexico Award. She has presented at different conferences in both Canada and Mexico because she likes to share her research interests and to learn from colleagues. Her doctoral research topic dealt with Spanish-Indigenous Elementary Bilingual Education in Chiapas, Mexico. Karla feels committed to contributing toward making a better and more just society where indigenous people’s cultural and linguistic diversity are honoured, respected and preserved.