Culture, Language, and Child Development in Ecuador
Why you should go
Quito, Ecuador is an ideal international location to study first hand the intersection of language, culture, and learning. Quito is a major urban city with visible and tangible influences from old world Europe, Indigenous cultures and peoples, and modern industrialized nations. There are various ethnic and cultural communities living together in Quito and around all of Ecuador, allowing many opportunities to experience diverse cultures and languages in one region. Given this mix of linguistic, cultural and socio-historical practices, the city of Quito provides an excellent opportunity for students to observe and participate in diverse cultural communities with diverse practices related to child rearing, language use, and teaching and learning.
We spend the summer investigating the cultural nature of child development, specifically looking at cognitive development and the intersection of language, culture and schools. We will visit various sites within Quito to investigate historical and cultural influences on contemporary learning theories, conduct naturalistic observations of children and families and write ethnographic field notes of our experiences within Quito and on the two excursions outside of Quito. Students will return home with a deep understanding of both basic theories of development and learning and first hand understanding of how development is itself a cultural process.
The ability to speak Spanish is not necessary—a passion to learn about culture, child development, and education is!
Meet the professor
Alison Wishard Guerra joined the UCSD Education Studies faculty in 2005 after completing a Ph.D. and MA at UCLA and her B.A. at UC Santa Cruz in Latin American Studies and Psychology. She teaches courses on early childhood development and education, cognitive development, culture and developmental theory, quantitative research methodology, dissertation writing seminar, and research on curriculum design. Her research interests include cultural practices and development, educational equity, story telling, pretend play, attachment relationships, family immigration experiences, and parenting practices.
Wishard Guerra developed a passion for Latin American culture when she studied abroad for the first time in high school and has lived, studied, and traveled in 12 countries in Latin America. It was during these experiences abroad that she became fascinated with the intersection of culture, language, and child development. She enjoys working with immigrant families in the United States as they learn to raise their children in a cultural community very different from their own.
Alison’s current research project integrates teaching, research, and service, working closely with a team of undergraduate research assistants in The Mi Clase Mágica Preschool Project. She enjoys working closely with undergraduates students in applied settings, developing new opportunities to support young children’s language and school readiness skills.