ELL Assessment for Linguistic Differences vs. Learning Disabilities
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Home› Cultures› Brazil› Cultural Differences›

Comparisons Between the US Majority Culture and Brazilian Culture

The characteristics and trends that are attributed to the U.S. majority and Brazilian cultures are not presented as definitive descriptions of behavior, custom or practice manifested by every member of either society. Culture is a dynamic, constantly evolving, highly subjective phenomenon, and each individual within either culture may (or may not) demonstrate varying degrees of conformity with such characteristics or trends.

Brazilian culture, in some crucial respects, is fundamentally different from that of the U.S. majority culture. According to Silvana Watson (2000), a Brazilian-American renowned for her expertise on the impact of culture on educational strategies, personal qualities such as independence (acting alone or standing apart from the crowd) and reward based entirely on effort, are not the qualities that Brazilians deem necessary for success. Brazilian’s are more impressed with those who have the means and personality to achieve results. This characteristic or ability is known as “jeito.” “The Brazilian hero does not exhibit merit; that hero exhibits natural gifts. The hero does not earn a place in society; that place is simply recognized” (p.59).

The sense of entitlement that is assumed by those with material means or other forms of power (and conferred on them by those who do not) inevitably creates a more pronounced class structure that has its inherent bias. Even middle-class families have lifestyles that rely on employees (very cheap labor in comparison to the U.S.) to do most of the physical work involved in daily housekeeping chores (Watson, et al, 2000). “Manual labor is not valued in Brazilian culture” (p.66).

This website is attempting to identify general patterns of conduct that may assist teachers in classrooms to understand their students’ knowledge base and learning styles, so as to be able to recognize and distinguish learning differences that can be attributed to cultural factors from those that are genuine disabilities. The contents of this website are NOT intended to create stereotypes, and each child should be considered unique.

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