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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles:
Adjust Your Teaching Styles for English Language Learners (ELL) in ESL/Bilingual Classrooms

Interesting Cultural Contrasts in Values
by guest contributor Berthalina Hernandez

Main Article

NORTH AMERICAN WHITE CULTURE
DIFFERENCES IN OTHER CULTURES
Individuality
Individual is primary. The community is primary.
Independence and autonomy is fostered Individual decision important. Group Consensus is sought.
Privacy is highly valued .
Community life is most desirable.
Individual can control environment. Considered “tampering” with environment.
Weathermen ridiculed if wrong feels he must apologize for weather!
You flow with nature.
Must master/control nature. God’s domain.
Must "do something" at all times. Know how to appreciate time.

NORTH AMERICAN WHITE CULTURE
DIFFERENCES IN OTHER CULTURES
Competition
Winning is everything. One doesn't play to win unless professional. When you win you apologize to others.
Competition is desirable. This is seen as ruthless, egotistical and show off . You do not compete and embarrass others. You learn some, help some.
Recognizing one’s worth is good. Individualistic pride frown upon. You let others recognize you.
No natural separation of men's and women's roles. They seek the same goals and compete for them.
Natural separation of men's and women's roles. They do NOT seek the same goals or compete for them.

 

NORTH AMERICAN WHITE CULTURE
DIFFERENCES IN OTHER CULTURES
Communication
English highly desirable for the immigrant to know the language.
You don't assume others know your language upon arrival to the country; conversely, no bilingual programs exist in public institutions.
Written history is consensus. Oral history important.
Direct eye contact is seen as honest. Direct eye contact is considered disrespectful and defiant.
Limited physical contact (respect your space). Hugging, touching and kissing (on the cheek) are signs of delight at meeting someone.
Control emotions. Show emotions publicly.
Informality is considered a compliment in dress and speech (it means you are comfortable with the person).
Formality is considered a sign of respect in dress and speech.

 

NORTH AMERICAN WHITE CULTURE
DIFFERENCES IN OTHER CULTURES
Time
Adhere to a schedule, even in leisure time.
Time does not control the individual.
"Manana" (tomorrow) syndrome less marked but still alive.
Respect for punctuality. People take precedence. (If you meet someone you know on the street on your way somewhere, you stop and talk to them, even if you are late getting to where ever you were going.)
Always have time for personal relations.
Change translates positively to development, improvement, progress.
Change is not a natural extension, more often it is frightening.
Often, to better oneself in educationally and economically, the young distance themselves from family and community.

 

NORTH AMERICAN WHITE CULTURE
DIFFERENCES IN OTHER CULTURES
Status
Measured by what you've made of yourself AND by your economic possessions. Value upbringing, breeding, family history much more than possessions.
It is natural to "show off" the accomplishments of your family. Bragging about one's family is considered bad form.
Emphasis on academic education. Emphasis on humanistic education.

 

NORTH AMERICAN WHITE CULTURE
DIFFERENCES IN OTHER CULTURES
Family
Nuclear family is the ideal unit . Extended families are the norm (parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, godparents, etc.). They are the core of a child's upbringing, the adults' self esteem, and everyone sense of security and belonging.
The future is more highly valued than the past, therefore-- The past is greatly respected, and the future is unknown.
Society centers around youth. Seniors are not perceived as being as valuable as children. Youth is exalted. Society centers around seniors; they are the most highly valued members of the community.
Parents proud of depending on kids' knowledge, especially if technological know how. Role reversal is diffcult to accept. (It is not 'normal' for the children to know more than the adults.)
Youth has power, it has money! Token allowance if anything.
You're supposed to "break away" and make your own life. Lifelong attachment to family and community.
Parental guidance valued regardless of age.

 

NORTH AMERICAN WHITE CULTURE
DIFFERENCES IN OTHER CULTURES
Aesthetics
Attractive in women means thin, young, blonde, blue eyes. Plump is considered healthy, of good stock, and prosperous.
Attractive in men is athletic, tall, head full of hair. Bald men are seen as super attractive.
Will do anything not to age. Aging is seen as a natural process that brings wisdom, recognition and respect.

Questions or comments? E-mail Tobey.

 

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