Ideological and implementational spaces in Covid-era language policy and planning

Perspectives from Indigenous communities in the Global South


  • Nancy H. Hornberger University of Pennsylvania



Mexico, Andes, bottom-up language policy, critical language policy, heteroglossic language ideology, ideological and implementational spaces, Indigenous language revitalisation, transformative language policy


The ongoing global pandemic exacerbates, but does not initiate, longstanding language policy and planning (LPP) concerns around the ways language education policies and practices sustain inequalities across linguistic and social identities. Elsewhere, I have argued there is an urgent need for language users, educators and researchers to counter those inequalities, filling up and wedging open ideological and implementational spaces for multiple languages, literacies, identities and practices to flourish in classroom, community and society. Here, using the lens of layered, scaled and interacting implementational and ideological spaces and focusing on cases of Indigenous education in the Andes and Mexico, I explore how ethnographic studies uncover intertwining LPP dynamics that might be leveraged to promote social change in the Covid heightened context of inequality. For example, potential equality and actual inequality of languages intertwine in Mexican education policy and practice to interrupt spaces for Maya language in a Yucatec Mayan Indigenous preschool, and intertwining monoglossic and heteroglossic language ideologies in the discourse of Indigenous leaders of Ecuador’s bilingual intercultural education reveal tensions negotiated in the politics of Kichwa identity and language across spaces like ministry offices, bilingual classrooms or official translation workshops. Meanwhile, top-down and bottom-up LPP activities intertwining in Peruvian bilingual education are leveraged locally to create transformational spaces for Quechua youth to acquire and use their heritage language in multimodal ways, and critical and transformative LPP research paradigms intertwine in an ethnographic project examining how higher education administrators, teachers and students collaborate to create new spaces for Indigenous language learning in Diidxazá/Isthmus Zapotec classes in Oaxaca, Mexico. How might these dynamic LPP ideological and implementational spaces be leveraged to confront the ever-greater inequities wrought by Covid in Indigenous educational access and ways of speaking and being?

Author Biography

  • Nancy H. Hornberger, University of Pennsylvania

    Nancy H. Hornberger is Professor Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. She has carried out research in the field of language and education in multilingual settings and is well-known for her work in bilingualism, biliteracy, ethnography, language policy and Indigenous language revitalisation. She has published widely and is former editor of the journal Anthropology and Education Quarterly and the Encyclopedia of Language and Education.


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How to Cite

Hornberger, N. H. (2021). Ideological and implementational spaces in Covid-era language policy and planning: Perspectives from Indigenous communities in the Global South. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 2(1), 71–97.