The Promise of Language Planning in Indigenous Early Childhood Education in Mexico
Aldo Tapia

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Early childhood education (ECE) has been branded as a social equalizer that will reverse poverty trends in Mexico. At the same time, language policies that mandate education in Indigenous languages clash with policies that promote Spanish and English as the languages of instruction in preschools, sending contrasting messages about inclusion and justice through the learning of these languages. When language is included in ECE debates in Mexico, it is often used as a proxy for ``school readiness``?as in, students are prepared to attend classes in Spanish, the actual language of instruction?precluding discussions on multilingual education and overlooking the impacts of these policies in Indigenous communities. Preschools, especially Indigenous ones, are the social spaces in which these competing policies first interact, revealing implementation challenges at all levels, from professional development to textbook design. This study provides an ethnographic account of how different stakeholders in one Indigenous community in the Yucatan Peninsula respond to language policies and ECE initiatives that promise quality education under the guise of social justice, inclusive education, and economic returns. Moreover, situated within a region coping with migration and mass tourism, my study also traces the impact of these processes on the compromises parents and teachers make in regard to their children's education. This study deepens our understanding of the ways in which language policies are implemented in ECE settings, but even more crucially, contributes to the design of programs that consider the complexities of ECE in Indigenous contexts.
About Aldo Tapia
Aldo Anzures Tapia is a doctoral candidate in Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in International Educational Development. He holds an M.A. in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University. While receiving his BA in Psychology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, he taught in a nursery-6th grade school in Mexico City, where he became the curriculum coordinator. To better understand how international and domestic educational policies were implemented but also contested at his school, he pursued a career as a consultant for the International Baccalaureate Organization (IB), a position he still holds today. Given his special interest in the implementation of language policies in the early years of education, he became part of their Review Task Force that advanced processes of language learning within schools that attend to early childhood education around the world. At Penn, he specializes in the role of ethnographic research in the implementation of language policies within Indigenous contexts. He also works with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center where his research centers on collaborative Indigenous language reclamation efforts in the Yucatan Peninsula. As a critical part of his doctoral studies, he has engaged in research with different stakeholders in Huaytsik since 2015?the town where his dissertation takes place. His dissertation is a continuation of his collaboration with this community, where he exemplifies how long-term partnerships are crucial components in understanding policy making at the early childhood education levels.

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