Now we will discuss how the Hispanic values presented in this section manifest themselves in the students' behavior and how they are perceived in the Anglo culture.
Cooperative learning is very essential for Hispanics. They do not seem to openly want to show what they know for fear of embarrassing those who do not know. It is not common in a Hispanic family to encourage children to excel over siblings or peers, rather, it is considered bad manners. The teacher of Hispanic ESOL students should familiarize him/herself with a variety of cooperative learning techniques. The bibliography at the end of this handbook lists a variety of different views on cooperative teaching techniques.
Perception of time
Hispanics tend to focus on the present time rather than the future, as mentioned before. They often live the phrase Dios dira or "God will tell," that is, time is relative. To arrive late for an engagement is called in the southwest "Mexican time." While in the Anglo society, a clock "runs," in Spanish the clock "walks," el reloj anda. The ESOL teacher should be aware of the Hispanic time concept, and try to ease the student slowly into scheduling class activities that require time frames. We all know the manana which can mean "tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or never." Even Hispanics are aware that manana has lost its literal meaning. They often use it with "tongue in cheek. "
ESOL teachers can easily misunderstand their students' dictions if they are not familiar with the differences in their communication styles. A Hispanic student can come across as being shy when praised by the teacher in front of others. The style he/she is used to is not a spectacle in front of other classmates, but rather a touch, a smile and a quietly spoken word of praise as a reward. Hispanic students view the educational process as hierarchical, with the teacher being the absolute authority. Some Hispanic students are almost terrified by the thought of speaking out in class, even in a group setting. It could be helpful to ease the student's fear of speaking out in class by first sharing written assignments within a group. What further perpetuates the shyness of the Hispanic ESOL student is the way we all seem to react toward a student who tries painstakingly to convey a thought in English, hardly audible and filled with many errors. When the student sees the teacher's face, frowning and as if in pain, the willingness to communicate in English shuts down completely and the student becomes introverted. These and many other examples demonstrate that there are basic rules to be followed that tend to ease the communication between ESOL student and teacher. Teachers, therefore, should consider praising a student "privately, should facilitate conversation and communication in a group, and should watch for non-verbal reactions and signals when a student attempts to communicate. By trial and error, every teacher has to find the communication techniques that work best for him/her.
Relation to the Universe
It seems to be more difficult for the Anglo ESOL teacher to deal with the supernatural concept which tends to be easily accepted by the Hispanic culture, even though supernatural occurrences cannot be explained by the laws of nature. One of our ESOL students had a falling out with a member of his community. Consequently, he heard the community member without seeing him, talking into his ear' harassing and threatening him day and night. Finally, he confided to one of our teachers, a Mexican American of the second generation. Both agreed that God needed some help and they had to see a curadora (healing woman) with supernatural powers. They both took off from class to Mexico. The curadora had the gift of healing through the use of natural herbs which used "white magic" or "good witchcraft" to heal him, along with several "Hail Mary's". When he returned the student told the rest of the class of his cure and no one mocked or disbelieved him, nor did they see any contradiction in the use of witchcraft along with traditional Catholic prayer. Modern vs. traditional
Just as witchcraft and religion do not mutually exclude each other, neither do modern medicine and folk medicine. It is not unusual to see a sick student using medicine from a modem doctor, while at the same time taking medicine from a curadora and carrying out the ceremonial exercises she has prescribed. The ESOL teacher who witnesses these things can better serve the student by showing respect for these beliefs, as both the modem and the traditional processes will cure him/her.
When we watch our Hispanic students during the time we lecture and lead the discussions, we will see that they are all quiet and look at us somewhat scared at the thought that we might call on them individually. When they are called upon, they will often freeze, get confused and embarrassed as they try to answer. They feel much more comfortable responding in groups, doing exercises together, and helping each other. The teacher should encourage them, however, to keep their Spanish explanations to a minimum. During cooperative learning situations, students will also upgrade their social skills such as listening, encouraging others, giving constructive feedback, and checking for understanding which are already typical Hispanic traits. These group exercises can cut down the frequent interruptions, when a student explains something to his/her neighbor, namely what the teacher has said and what it means. Today we consider the "parrot" teaching style, having the class repeat the teacher's paradigms, sentences or drills in unison to be traditional and old fashioned, and the emphasis is now on reaming "communicative competence." However, with recent Hispanic immigrants, the more traditional style encourages them to participate more eagerly because they can express themselves as a group and not as individuals. This style of cooperative learning makes the students positively interdependent and individually accountable. They are definitely worth a try.
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