Latin American

Reasons and Conditions for Immigration to the United States
Immigration from Latin America and the attendant growth of the nation’s Hispanic or Latino population are two of the most important and controversial developments in recent history for the United States. Expanding from a small, regionally concentrated population of fewer than 6 million in 1960 (just 3.24 percent of the U.S. population at the time), to a now widely dispersed population of well more than 50 million (or 16 percent of the nation’s population), Latinos are destined to continue to exert enormous impact on social, cultural, political, and economic life of the U.S. with particular emphasis on issues of citizenship and non-citizenship, the long running political controversies over immigration policy, and the global economic context in which regional migration and immigration have occurred. The explosive growth of the nation’s Pan-Latino population is the result of the intricate interplay of national, regional, and global economic developments, the history of U.S. military and foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere, the checkered history of international border enforcement and interdiction efforts, and, not least, the aspirations of Latin American migrants and potential migrants themselves.

Based on our interview with Dr. Quezada, we know that the economy and the Bracero Program, which is published by America Government, have an important effect on the immigration of Mexicans. The Bracero Program had a number of important long-term effects. On the most fundamental level, the program not only reopened the southern border to Mexican labor, but also more significantly, reinstituted the use of large numbers of immigrant workers in the U.S. economy for the first time since the Depression. The scale of the program remained fairly modest, with an average of about 70,000 contract laborers working in the country each year during the war. Over time, however, the Bracero Program, had the effect of priming the pump for the much more extensive use of such workers. Therefore, economy, the history of U.S. military, and the Foreign Program are the main reasons for Latinos to immigrant to America.

The hardships Latino immigrants face
Through interviewing with Dr. Quezada and researching on Internet, I find that speaking and learning English is the most challenge for Latinos because many Latinos cannot learn English before immigration. Therefore, they should study English in order to get a job, make friends, or even complete basic tasks like buying food or filling out forms.

To address this, many refugees and immigrants take ESL classes, but finding the time between jobs and caring for kids can be difficult. This is especially difficult if you are not literate in your native tongue to begin with.

One of the biggest obstacles Latino immigrant parents report is raising their children in a new, unfamiliar culture. Parents often find that their children are quickly “Americanized,” which may be at odds with their own culture. Additionally, kids tend to pick up English much faster than their parents. This throws off the parent-child dynamic, and you know that kids, especially teens, are going to use this to their advantage.

With regards to school, parents often feel disappointed to see their children struggling to keep up in class, and many parents report bullying and discrimination as a result of cultural differences. Kids are often placed by their age rather than by their ability, and for those who are unable to speak English, it’s virtually impossible to keep up. To add further insult to injury, parents may not have the education or language skills to assist their children, and they may not be able to communicate with faculty to address the problem.

While most Latino immigrants are happy to take whatever job is available when they first enter the country, finding a job, and slowly moving up the ladder, is incredibly difficult. Even if ignoring undocumented Latino immigrants who face additional challenges securing work, trouble speaking English is a major problem in positions. Latino immigrants who are educated and who formerly had strong jobs back home, find it frustrating that they can’t obtain the same jobs here. Employers typically prefer work experience within the US, and certifications outside of the US usually don’t transfer. That’s why it’s not uncommon for your taxi driver to have formerly worked as an educator or engineer. Additionally, Latino immigrants are easy victims for discrimination and exploitation in the workplace. Some employers recognize the sense of urgency and desperation among these groups to keep their jobs, so they will have them take the less desirable and even dangerous roles. Undocumented immigrants, particularly, assume they have no rights, and workers who can’t speak English are easy targets.

Moving from one culture to another can be very exciting, but it is also definitely a stressful experience. Transitioning from all the familiar things in your own culture to new cultural stimuli, which have little or no meaning to you, can result in a culture shock. Many Latinos explain that the barrier between two cultures is a serious challenge regarding the food, festivals, and living. To sum up, language learning, raising children, working, and cultural barriers are the primary hardships Latinos face.

Values and Beliefs
The Spaniards took the Roman Catholic faith to Latin America, and Roman Catholicism continues to be the largest, but not the only, religious denomination amongst most Latinos.

Among the Hispanic Catholics, most communities celebrate their homeland’s patron saint, dedicating a day for this purpose with festivals and religious services. Some Latinos syncretize Roman Catholicism and African or Native American rituals and beliefs despite the Catholic Church’s teachings against such syncretic combinations of Catholicism and paganism. Such is the case of Santería, popular with Cuban Americans and Puerto Ricans and which combines old African beliefs in the form of Roman Catholic saints and rituals. This religion hybridizes Catholic rites for the Virgin Mary with those venerating the Aztec goddess Tonantzin (earth goddess, mother of the gods, and protector of humanity) and has all her attributes also endowed to the Lady of Guadalupe, whose Catholic shrine stands on the same sacred Aztec site that had previously been dedicated to Tonatzín, on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico.

Latinos tend to be highly group-oriented. A strong emphasis is placed on family as the major source of one’s identity and protection against the hardships of life. This sense of family belonging is intense and limited to family and close friends. People who are not family or close friends are often slow to be given trust. The family model is an extended one; grandparents, aunts, cousins, and even people who are not biologically related may be considered part of the immediate family. The term Latinos use to describe their supreme collective loyalty to extended family is familismo. Financial support of the family by the individual and vice versa is important and expected. The decisions and behavior of each individual in the extended family are based largely on pleasing the family; decisions are not to be made by the individual without consulting the family.

Based on our interviewee from Chile, we know that in general terms, parents have to go to meetings once a month at schools. Parents are also organized within themselves they have different positions so if you have a parent that is president of the parents, there is a secretary of the parents. But when you have children of low income, their parents don’t get involved. One because they are absent or doing other things. Normally with lower social classes you have less parent involvement just like here. Then in middle and high classes you have parents that are really involved. They want to know everything their child is doing. They participate in activities and discussions. So in general terms we think it’s very similar to things in English.

Familial play is an important role in Latino students’ life and study. Therefore, teachers should always contact Latino students’ parents, who not only know students’ study process or attitude, but can also increase the involvement of parents with their children’s learning. Parent involvement benefits Latino students, including raising their academic achievement. There are other advantages for children when parents become involved — namely, increased motivation for learning, improved behavior, more regular attendance, and a more positive attitude about homework and school in general. Also, by having more contact with parents, teachers learn more about students’ needs and home environment, which is information they can apply toward better meeting those needs. Parents who are involved tend to have a more positive view of teachers, which results in improved teacher morale.

The education system in Chile:

  • Pre-primary education (non-compulsory): Kindergarten, 2 years, for children aged 4-5
  • Primary education (compulsory): basic school or elementary school, for children aged 6–13, divided into 8 grades
  • Secondary education (compulsory): High school, for teenagers aged 14-17, divided into 4 grades
  • Pre-university program (optional): Some students opt to enter a pre-university program to prepare for the national exam. Prueba Selección Universitaria (PSU) is the national exam that students must take in their last year of high school, if they want to enter college. Chilean public universities are more competitive than private ones, although the private colleges may have additional entrance examinations.
  • University (non-compulsory, 4-7 years, bachelor’s degree):
  • Bachillerato: A two-year foundation program of general education in a certain area; with it, students can continue their studies in university.
  • Licenciado: A longer program, four or five years, in a more specific area and grants the title of Licenciado, it is similar to a Bachelor’s degree. Only after obtaining this degree level, can you continue your studies with a Master’s degree.
  • Doctorado: The highest degree a university can give is a Doctorado, and the person becomes a Doctor, equivalent to a PhD during which a thesis must be written. Degrees in engineering, medicine and law are given after six or seven years of college.
  • Professional Institute (non-compulsory, 5 years, professional degrees): Private institutions offering professional degrees, except for those given exclusively by universities. They tend to be small and specialized. Degree offerings are limited to programs leading to professional titles, which are not restricted to universities. There are 18 types of “protected” professional titles that can only be awarded by universities.
  • Technical Schooling Center (non-compulsory, 2-3 years, professional degrees): They are private institutions offering technical degrees only. Small institutions that do not receive direct funding from the government. They offer 2-3 years Técnico Superior (Higher Technician) programs, mainly in business administration and technology fields.
  • Base on the information from our Chilean interviewer, bachelor degrees are not that popular, while the more popular are “professional degrees”. Because “professional degrees” implied that you will become like engineer, teacher, or doctor…anything in 5 years, besides you can get a master’s degree. One thing has to be known is that you have to basically study for 4 years if you want to get a job. If you only have a bachelor, it doesn’t really work for anything.

Characteristics of the style of classroom management
At most, teachers in Latin America averaged 65% of class time on instruction, 20% less than the Stallings goal: this translates into roughly one day per week of “lost” instruction. Teaching methods are also very traditional. On average, teachers in Latin America used active instruction only 36% of class time with passive instruction like copying from the blackboard and seatwork occupying 25% of class time. A quarter to over a third of teachers’ time went to classroom management, suggesting that improvements in this area can increase time available for instruction. Every country in the study had at least 9% of classroom time lost to off-task activities. Evidence demonstrates that none of the countries studied comes close to the Stallings benchmark of 85 percent of total class time used for instruction, that many learning materials available in Latin American classrooms are not used intensively by teachers, and that a huge range in average classroom practice exists across schools.

Most teachers in Latin America were unable to keep the entire class engaged in learning for more that 25% of the class. Most commonly, this reflected whole class activities designed for the average student that left smart children bored and slower learners lost, rather than a deliberate choice by teachers to use small groups to support learning. Observers also noted that many teachers needed support in addressing the special challenges presented by classes with students of different ages and learning levels.

Every country studied had large variations across schools, with some schools averaging instructional time of more than 85% while others averaged only 20% (or less than one school day per week on instruction). Practice also differed by regions within a country. Variations in classroom practice among teachers in the same school were almost as big as variations across schools, and, within a single school, researchers found teachers with nearly 90% of their class time devoted to instruction and others with none.

Obviously, classroom management in Latin America lack efficient and active instruction. By helping teachers manage heterogeneous classrooms, training them with more techniques for increasing student engagement, and mitigating structural barriers (like having elementary students change classes or having teachers commute between multiple schools) have the potential to improve the use of class time. Teachers should deal with good time management by organizing the day, organizing the classroom, deciding how long and how often to teach various subjects, recording student progress and try to keep time-consuming behavior problems to a minimum. Also, since the use of the new technologies in the classroom is said to increase teaching efficiency, improvements in teacher use of technology in the classroom need to be promoted. I believe this can further help organize content efficiently and maintain student interest in the classroom.

Type of student participation in the classroom
“In Chile, it was easy to talk with the teachers and ask them questions”(interviewee). By allowing intellectual freedom in the children they build curious minds that are more malleable and can more easily absorb new information. I believe good communication is key to a good education and as a teacher will strive to have open communication with all my future students. There were not many limits on participation “in the classroom, students’ participation can be direct, they can say whatever they want in the class just by raising their hands” (interviewee). Although there was lot of participation in the students, I believe the teacher must still be respected. There can be fun and creative questions and discussions but in the end the teacher much have enough respect from the students to be able the steer discussions onto the correct topics. Therefore, teacher should be explicit about how and when students may respond. By setting clear rules like students should raise their hands before speaking and reframe each other’s statements before replying.

In addition, “there’s no problem being critical. Students are encouraged to actively participate in the classroom” (interviewee). However, in order to help ensure that more assertive students do not dominate, teacher should be aware to monitor classroom dynamics by stressing in advanced that it is as important to ask a question, as it is to make a statement.

“However, some of students may be still reluctant to speak up…….” (interviewee).

There is a common situation that some students tend to shrink from performing and expressing their thoughts for different personal reasons. Although quiet students lose more opportunities to develop critical-thinking and to learn from one another, their capabilities should not be overlooked. By giving each student equal attention and equally specific feedback after his or her participation in the classroom, I believe it will produce a higher response rate in the classroom. And it is important to provide feedback to a learner’s performance; by using compliments, approval, encouragement, and affirmation, I believe students’ participation will become more active.

Overall, student participation is important as a tool in letting students know that they are allowed to make mistakes. The tasks for teachers are to encourage students to take risks, communicate willingly, and to try out their budding language abilities, I would do my best to create a welcoming classroom atmosphere for them.

The interaction and relationships between genders
In Latin America, gender roles and societal expectations of men and women have been shaped largely by cultural-specific values and beliefs. The terms machismo and marianismo describe the set of ideal attributes of males and females (respectively) that has developed in the region. Machismo is defined as the cult of male virility, in which the ideal man is bold, intransigent, and sexually aggressive. On the other hand, marianismo refers to the cult of feminine moral superiority, which defines the ideal woman as selfless, submissive, and possessing great spiritual strength. The Virgin Mary is widely viewed as the epitome of femininity, and is held up as a model to which Latin American women should aspire.

Machismo and Marianismo not only outline the expectations of men and women in Latin America, they also serve to establish and reinforce the sexual division of labor. Because women are expected to be nurturing and morally superior to men, they have been assigned to duties associated with the family, in particular the rearing and education of children. In short, they have been relegated to the private sphere.

Whereas Latin American religious and cultural values have defined the feminine ideal as passive, selfless, and pure; popular culture and the mass media have defined the perfect woman in terms of physical appearance. Consequently, the number of expectations imposed on women has increased. For working with the gender issue in Latin American classroom, teachers should be aware that women from an underrepresented group may feel the effects of gender, ethnicity and race in different ways. Don’t assume that all the female students in your classroom have similar thoughts, attitudes or experiences or that “concerns about gender will be more pressing for your women students than those of race, class, religion, or national origin” Also, by revising curricula if necessary to include female experiences and to include them in more than just stereotypical ways can be promoted gender equality in the classroom. Coming to recognize gender in all of its complexity allows students to see concepts in more realistic terms. Helping them understand the idea of a spectrum—a range of possibilities and not simply the “opposite ends” of a binary—builds their capacity to critically examine concepts in other areas of learning as well as building their appreciation for gender and other forms of diversity. In building students’ perspectives about gender and gender diversity, schools are able to introduce notions of ambiguity and degree that will serve them they explore other complex topics for the rest of their lives.

Language characteristics
Latin America consists of those countries in the Americas that Spain and Portugal conquered and colonized. Often, when people say Latin America, they really mean Hispano-America – the places that only Spain colonized. Such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central, and South America, and other Spanish cultures. Technically, Latin America are Hispanic speaking. Spanish is a Romance language and part of the Indo-European language family. It is closely related to Italian and Portuguese. Spanish is a major language, with up to 400 million native speakers in Spain, Latin America and the USA.

Spanish uses the Latin alphabet. The vowels can take an acute accent, and there is the additional letter ñ. When spelling English words or writing them from the teacher’s dictation, beginning Spanish students may make mistakes with the English vowels a, e, i. The consonants h, j, r, y may also cause trouble, since they have significantly different names in Spanish. The English writing system itself causes no particular problems to Spanish learners. Beginners, however, may be tempted to punctuate questions or exclamations as follows, since this is how it is done in Spanish: ¿What is your name? / ¡What a goal! Punctuation of direct speech may also be a problem because quotation marks are not used in Spanish.

Phonology: The phonological system of Spanish is significantly different from that of English, particularly in the aspects of vowel sounds and sentence stress. These differences are very serious obstacles to Spanish learners being able to acquire a native-English-speaker accent. Coe (1987) says: “European Spanish speakers, in particular, probably find English pronunciation harder than speakers of any other European language.” Spanish has 5 pure vowels and 5 diphthongs. The length of the vowel is not significant in distinguishing between words. This contrasts with English, which has 12 pure vowel sounds and 8 diphthongs. The length of the vowel sound plays an important role. It is not surprising, therefore, that Spanish learners may have great difficulty in producing or even perceiving the various English vowel sounds. Specific problems include the failure to distinguish the sounds in words such as ship/sheep, taught/tot, fool/full or cart/cat/cut.

Producing English consonant sounds is not so problematic for many Spanish learners, but difficult enough! They may have problems in the following aspects:

  • Failure to pronounce the end consonant accurately or strongly enough; e.g. cart for the English word card or brish for bridge or thing for think
  • problems with the /v/ in words such as vowel or revive
  • difficulties in sufficiently distinguishing words such as see/she or jeep/sheep/cheap
  • the tendency to prefix words beginning with a consonant cluster on s- with an /ε/ sound; so, for example, school becomes eschool and strip becomes estrip
  • the swallowing of sounds in other consonant clusters; examples: next becomes nes and instead becomes istead.

Spanish is a syllable-timed language. When Spanish speakers transfer the intonation patterns of their mother tongue into English, which is a stress-timed language, the result may sometimes be barely comprehensible to native English speakers. This is because the meaning or information usually conveyed in English by the combination of stress, pitch and rhythm in a sentence is flattened or evened out by the Spanish learner.

Grammar – Verb/Tense: Although Spanish is a much more heavily inflected language than English, there are many aspects of verb grammar that are similar. The major problem for the Spanish learner is that there is no one-to-one correspondence in the use of the tenses. So, for example, a Spanish learner might incorrectly use a simple tense instead of a progressive or a future one: She has a shower instead of She’s having a shower; I help you after school instead of I’ll help you after school. Problematic for beginners is the formation of interrogatives or negatives in English. The absence of an auxiliary in such structures in Spanish may cause learners to say: Why you say that? / Who he saw? / Do you saw him? / I no see him. / I not saw him.

Grammar – Other: Spanish word order is generally Subject-Verb-Object, like English. However, Spanish allows more flexibility than English, and generally places at the end of the sentence words that are to be emphasised. This may result in non-standard syntax when Spanish learners speak or write English.

Vocabulary: Due to shared Latin influence English and Spanish have many cognates, and the corresponding collection of false friends, such as eventual (English translation > possible) or particular (English translation > private). Since the Latin-derived words in English tend to be more formal, the Spanish student will benefit when reading academic text. He or she may sound too formal, however, if using such words in everyday spoken English. Conversely, phrasal verbs, which are an essential aspect of colloquial English, are difficult for Spanish learners and may obstruct listening comprehension.

Long noun groups such as the standard language classroom teacher-student interaction pattern, commonly found in academic English text, are troublesome for Spanish speakers, whose language post-modifies nouns.

Miscellaneous: Spanish has a strong correspondence between the sound of a word and its spelling. The irregularity of English in this respect causes predictable problems when Spanish learners write a word they first meet in spoken language or say a word first met in written language. A specific problem concerns the spelling of English words with double letters. Spanish has only 3 double-letter combinations cc, ll, rr. English, in comparison, has 5 times as many. Spanish learners often reduce English double letters to a single one, or overcompensate by doubling a letter unnecessarily; for example hopping for the present participle of hope.

This is the biggest plus in learning Spanish an abundance of cognates. You can get entire books that give you long lists of Spanish cognates and include usage tips and important warnings about false cognates or false friends as they are often called. And there are many word endings in Spanish that have corresponding endings in English. You can immediately know hundreds of Spanish words by knowing these word endings. When you see a Spanish word with the ending ación that is a word that corresponds to the English word with the ending of ation. And words with the ending ology are the Spanish words that end like this: ologia. You can read more about Spanish cognates here.

We all realize many languages use a character set that is completely different and removed from the English character set we’re used to. Not so with Spanish. Spanish, for the most part, uses the letters written and shaped exactly as the letters we’ve been using all our lives. This is a big similarity and a big plus and assistance for us as we learn Spanish. As most of you know there do exist some special characters with accent marks but not like the differences you’d see studying Japanese or Russian.

For the most part Spanish word order and sentence structure are very similar to English. There can be some differences — for example, in English the adjective comes before the noun and in Spanish the adjective comes after the noun. But when comparing Spanish to other languages its word order is similar to English.

Spanish has all the parts of speech you learned when you learned English in school. Spanish has nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. And they work in a similar way. And Spanish makes plurals like English by adding s to the end for most of the words.

The Spanish spoken is Spain has different words and some of the letters make different sounds from the Spanish spoken in other parts of the world. In a way this is similar to the way the English of England is somewhat different from the English spoken in the United States.

Cognates, Character Set, Word Order, Sentence Structure, Parts of Speech, Dialects, Accents. Spanish has a lot of features that we already know about from knowing English. Spanish is probably more similar to English than most any other language you would study. So it’s good to be aware of this and use it to your advantage. “I can really translate this and say exactly the same thing in Spanish in the same order of words. …so everything is very similar. I think in terms of language when I was teaching people in Chile, I quite usually used Spanish to teach English. I think it’s really easy when you translate because it’s so similar so you can think about things in Spanish, translate them and its really easy. …That’s the good thing about Spanish about how similar it is to English. I love teaching Spanish speakers because I know how the language works I know how to relate it, it’s really similar… when I’m teaching people who can speak Spanish I feel extremely comfortable. I mean it’s really easy I would say. ” (Interviewee). ESL teachers can use the similarities between English and Spanish to foster English teaching. This is a good example of how L1 can be beneficial to L2 learning. When Hispanic-speaking teachers are teaching ESL to Hispanic-speaking learners, they can attain more efficiency by using the knowledge of Spanish to pass the knowledge of English. However, they are still two different languages, some of the particular differences between Spanish and English also need to be aware of.