ELL Assessment for Linguistic Differences vs. Learning Disabilities
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Comparisons Between Puerto Rican Culture and U.S. Majority Culture

According to Saville-Troike (n.d.) there is likely to be confusion when children who learn in one culture must then learn in the modes of another:
“They are unfamiliar with the school structure, the expectation of the teacher, and the classroom procedure. They may encounter very different values, which are being considered essential for learning (e.g., attendance and punctuality). They may find behaviors, which they have been taught to follow suddenly, and inexplicably penalized or rejected. All of this is in addition to the communication problems they may be facing and the social stress and culture shock they may be experiencing” (Saville-Troike, p.1).

Communication is considered a very important part of Puerto Rican culture.

“It goes beyond being proficient in either Spanish or English but reflects the ‘language of the culture.’ ” To communicate in a harmonious manner within Puerto Rican families means to engage people according to the values of respeto and personalismo, with both verbal and non-verbal expressions. This entails being welcoming, inviting interactions and creating alliances.”

(Giammanco & Bartolomei 1995).

The word “respeto” is the consideration given to an individual based on a person’s status, especially with deference to elders, and within a relationship; it is mutual (Giammanco & Bartolomei, 1995, p. ?). “Personalismo involves the initialized form of engaging someone in a friendly, but respectful, and dutiful manner” (cite).

This research 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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