Hispanic Culture


GENDER ROLESThe role of a man in the Hispanic culture would emphasis in “machismo”. This means that the man is the provider the family. As a provider, the man will work hard in order to protect and provide for their family. The man is considered strong and fearless. The role of a woman is to be a mother. These woman are known in their culture for being “Marianismo,” meaning that they are religious, self-sacrificing, and responsible for running the household. They define themselves through their children. In the Hispanic culture the woman are supposed to be submissive and dedicate themselves to their family. With children the gender roles play a major part in their lives as well. Sons are not required to do any housework. As for daughters born into the Hispanic culture, they are required to do housework and care for their siblings. All children are raised to be independent individuals.
All schools are free of charge for all children from age six to sixteen. The school systems include different levels of education available to suit students with special needs. Religious instruction is available if needed. All students receive basic vocational training in secondary education. There are classes available for artistic education and language learning. The schools consist of five different levels of education. The first level is nursery school for 0-3 years of age. Then there is the pre-school. This is for children ages 3-6. Pre-school is not required by law in Hispanic cultures but most mothers choose to send their children anyways. After pre-school, children go to primary school by law. In the primary schools children are taught natural and social sciences. They are also taught literature, mathematics, physical education, visual arts, and Catholic religion (optional). Children attend primary school from ages 6-12. After primary school children attend a secondary school. Attending a secondary school is required by law and is designed for children 12- 16 years of age. They learn about technology and music. After secondary school, a student can then decide to go through with higher education ( this can only happen if the student has received a satisfactory grade in the four years spent in the secondary school). Higher education is not required by law and fees are charged to take classes.


The communication style of Hispanics is formal. Respect is highly valued and shown by using formal titles. Hispanics tend to show affection through touching. Friends can kiss, males hug, shake hands or pat each other on the back. Hispanics tend to be very polite and phrases such as, “at your service”, “my king”, “my queen”.

In the Hispanic culture give great importance to greeting an individual. This is done with a kiss, hug, or hand shake. If in an informal setting, they are normally communicating very fast and loud. In the Hispanic culture there are many terms that are used in order to show respect and to show they that are showing politeness. They are very relaxed and flexible about time and punctuality.

For most Hispanics, present time has more value than the future. For them, the time-dependent ways of the Anglo often look rather like a misappropriation of the present. Hispanics focus more on present needs and little change. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to expect Hispanic students to concentrate on short-term goals rather than long term ones. Hispanic students are more likely to accommodate the passage of time to their -needs, rather than to let time control them. This is why the ESOL teacher would be wise not to place a lot of emphasis on fast-moving and closely timed activities. This creates a very tense learning environment for the student who grew up in a relatively relaxed home atmosphere where minutes, hours, or days are rarely considered to be critical factors.
Hispanics tend to focus on the present time rather than the future. 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.

Anglos communicate with each other; usually maintaining a distance of 36 to 48 inches, while Hispanic tend to stand closer to each other at about l 8 inches. It has been observed, that Anglos draw away during a conversation because they seem uncomfortable when they are too close to a conversation partner. The teacher has to be conscious about this fact and try not to give off the nonverbal message, "Don't come too close to me" with body language. The teacher can, when appropriate, discuss with his/her Hispanic students the cultural differences that exist in matters of proxemics and how to make everybody comfortable.

Hispanics enjoy bright and vivid colors in their clothes, their art, and their houses. Color combinations that the Anglo culture would consider “tacky”, the Hispanic culture find aesthetically pleasing.


Living in the southwest we are already familiar with many Hispanic foods, such as tortillas, tamales, enchiladas, and tacos. A lot of these foods actually originated in the Indian cultures of Mexico and some of the ones we are familiar with have names that come from the Nahuatl language: tomate, chocolate, chile, aguacate, calabaza. Using these words and translating them into English actually validates the students’ culture
Quinceaneras are a debut, a formal introduction of a girl into society on her 15th birthday. The term comes from quince (fifteen) and ano (year). It is celebrated very elaborately, as elaborately as a wedding. The quinceanera is the highlight for a young girl and is just as important as the bar mitzvah is for a young man in a Jewish family. The quinceanera starts with a religious service, a mass of dedication and a festivity with music and dance.
Cinco de Mayo is May 5th and celebrates the Baffle of Puebla which marks the end of the French Intervention in Mexico in 1862.
El Dia de Independencia is celebrated on September 16th, commemorating the Mexican Independence from Spain in 1810. On the 15th of September, at midnight, the President of Mexico stands on the balcony of the presidential palace and gives the grito de independencia, the cry of independence: "Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico" This begins the festivities of the 16th of September which last all day.

El Dia de la Raza, the day of the race, celebrates the blending of the indigenous people with the Spaniards, forming a new race of people after America was discovered in 1492. In Mexico it is celebrated on the 2nd of October and in the United States on the 12th, Columbus Day, and commemorates and validates the "Mexican Race" as one proud people.
RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYSLa Noche Buena, the Holy Kings or the Epiphany is celebrated on January sixth. It marks the end of Christmas, the twelfth day. In Hispanic cultures, this holiday is for the children. It is customary to give children their Christmas gifts on that day, instead of December 25th. The three Holy Kings, Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior bring the gifts as does Santa Clause in the Anglo culture. Today most children receive gifts on both days.
El Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead or all Souls Day of the Roman Catholic Church, is celebrated on November 2nd by bringing food to the cemetery and putting it on the graves of loved ones. Bakeries sell pan de los muertos (bread for the dead) and death symbols such as skeletons and skulls are used as decorations, somewhat similar to our Halloween.
La Virgen de Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12th to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin Mary to an Indio boy in 1531. In his vision, the Virgin made an appeal to the people to honor her. Many supplications, rosaries and prayers of Mexican Roman Catholics are made to the Virgin of Guadalupe and many Mexicans wear a medallion bearing her image. Today, many faithful Mexicans come to her cathedral from their villages, often walking for miles on their knees, to pray to her. Since the Virgin of Guadalupe is considered a national symbol of Mexico, a more elaborate discussion will follow later.
Las Posadas begin on December 16th and continue until Christmas. Posada means inn or lodging. Children and adults carry lanterns and candles, and go from door to door singing and begging for shelter for Mary and Joseph. They are denied many times until they are accepted at the "stable.” When they are finally accepted at the last house, they all meet, sing, eat tamales, drink atole, and break the piñata.
La Noche Buena or Holy Night is December 24th and, spiritually, represents the high point of the Christmas season. Traditionally, families do not have a tree, but rather, a very elaborate nativity scene. Supper, very late at night, consists of fish which is symbolic of Christ's life.

The Hispanic cultures tends to be more hierarchical than that of the U.S. Unskilled laborers in Mexico, for example, are not generally taught that they can grow within the company, even if they show leadership and improve their skills. The Latino culture carries an engrained respect for authority and an employee would dare not challenge a boss for fear of causing him to ´lose face.´ This attitude discourages innovative thinking and initiative. As a result, American supervisors often make incorrect assumptions, such as that Mexican employees do not have good ideas or are able to show initiative. These immigrants are simply socialized to carry out orders. Americans tend to separate work and family life. Family, however, is of primary important for Latinos and this may be felt at the workplace. For example, a Mexican worker may come into the workplace on his day off to pick up his paycheck with his wife and children in tow. While most Americans would considerate it more appropriate for the family to wait in the car, the Mexican employee would more naturally bring his family into the office. His supervisor may be across the room and immersed in his work, yet the employee would be pleased for the boss to make it a point to greet him and to meet his family. Taking time for personal interaction will help to engender more trust and loyalty from this employee. It can also help to break down the stereotype that Latinos hold that Americans are cold and have little regard for common courtesies.

As Hispanics become more acculturated and integrated into American society, they have learned to enjoy many of the same leisure activities as the mainstream American population. Even more, as Hispanics have migrated to the suburbs and become more accustomed to the activities and lifestyles of the mainstream American, their motivations and desires have also changed.

Some goals in the Hispanic culture are to introduce the students to the common core of the Hispanic linguistics. Also it is very important to give students and overview of different Hispanic linguistics. Another goal would be to train the students to analyze basics Hispanic linguistics. Lastly, help students improve their abilities through self-observation. These goals are very important to the student who are in or will be in school.

Siblings are constantly helping with younger children’s assignments. Parents also teach their children what they can. In the Hispanic culture, learning is important no matter who you get it. There are very few families in the Hispanic culture who own their own computer. They do all their learning from books and one another.
Teaching and Learning Implications
To fully engage Hispanic audiences in the learning process, particular attention should be given to gaining and maintaining trust. Greater acceptance of educational efforts will occur by learners if Hispanic community leaders are involved in the planning, delivery, and evaluation of these educational efforts. Be aware that the physical distance between Hispanics when holding a conversation is much closer than in other cultures. Exhibiting respect for learners is another important aspect of the Hispanic culture. Teachers need to pay individual attention to learners (e.g., greeting each learner, handing papers to each individual rather than passing them down the row, being sensitive to different cultures among Hispanics, writing educational materials at appropriate reading levels). Differences in educational levels, language skills, income levels, and cultural values among Hispanics need to be considered by Extension educators when planning educational programs. Even though Hispanics share the same language, their cultures may vary considerably. Churches, local libraries, and recreational centers (with child-care arrangements, if needed) may be appropriate places to hold educational programs with Hispanic audiences. Among Hispanics, information is passed mostly by word of mouth. Grocery stores and churches are the main places people meet, visit, and exchange information.

Adams, L., Baskerville, K., Lee, D., Spruiell, M., & Wolf, R. (2006). The Hispanic Community and Outdoor Recreation (pp. 8-9).

Enriquez, L., & Pajewski, A. (1996). Teaching from a Hispanic Perspective a Handbook for Non-Hispanic Adult Educators.

Clutter, A. W., & Nieto, R. D. (n.d.). Understanding the Hispanic Culture. Culture and your Hispanic Work Force:Cross Cultural Communication Skills. (2007).

BY: Sarah Vick and Cydney King