Exploring Culture

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Cultureis the collective characteristics of people who have lived togetherin an area over a long time. These characteristics involve beliefs,practices, and traditions. An individual is usually defined by theculture that influenced their growth. The culture that one hails fromusually plays an important role in determining behaviors andmannerisms when it comes to different situations the might findthemselves exposed to. This paper undertakes to study the influenceof culture when it comes to the learning and teaching of ELLs. Theculture that will be focused on is the Asian culture.

TheAsians consist of Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Philippines and theVietnamese. These groups of people have been influenced by almostsimilar behaviors and traditions over centuries. This has been due totheir geographical location whereby they have always lived close toone another before the immigration into the United States. Theirbeliefs and customs have played a vital role in influencing how theyview the world. The information obtained for this paper was gottenthrough conducting an interview of a Vietnamese restaurant owner moreinformation was obtained through research. The discussion below iswhat I learned

VietnameseCultural Values and Beliefs Based on Research

TheVietnamese are a diverse people that consist of nine ethnic groups.They are originally from Vietnam a country that is located in theSoutheastern region of Asia. They have several religions of which themajority of the Vietnamese are Buddhists while some are Christiansand the remaining small percentage share the other religions. Theirlanguage consists of many dialects based on the Latin alphabet thatwas introduced to them by the French. These dialects are mainlydifferentiated through the pronunciation of different words. Thesepronunciations vary from one region of the country to the next. Aword that implies the same thing is pronounced differently in NorthVietnam compared to the same word being pronounced in South Vietnam.The Vietnamese began migrating to the United States after the end ofthe Vietnam War. This was from around 1975 (Rambo, 2005).

Initially,their cultural practices when it came to the marriage were byarranged marriage. The parents of the two individuals who would meetand agree on the marriage terms did this. The couple was neverconsulted. Nowadays this practice ceased to be carried out, andcouples are usually the ones who decide whether to marry or not.

Whenit comes to death and funeral, the Vietnamese culture views death asfinality. The funeral practices are usually determined by thereligious beliefs. The main steps that are carried out involve thebody being kept at the residence for three days while the grave isbeing dug. After the burial, the people close to the ones bereavedbring rice to the altar of that family for 49 days. The mourningperiod ends after one year, and this is signified by thecommemoration of the first year death anniversary (Nguyen, 1975).

TheVietnamese culture has numerous celebrations, festivities, andreligious events that occur throughout the year. The main one is theNew Year festivity that usually happens for the first three days ofthe year. This is in line with the Chinese calendar. The nextcelebration is the middle year, which occurs around May 5 also by theChinese calendar. On August 15 there is another event known as theMid-Autumn Festival that also follows the Chinese calendar.Christians normally celebrate Christmas in accordance to the Westerncalendar. Other ceremonies and events for ancestors also occur intandem all through the year (Nguyen, 1975).

Theircommunication involves behaviors that have been taught from when oneis very young. A Vietnamese is not allowed to disrespect theirseniors. When addressed by their senior they are required to showutter respect and are not allowed to interrupt unless when they areasked to. The Vietnamese do not verbally react to a compliment theyacknowledge it by smiling (Nguyen, 1975).

Theirvalue system is based on placing the family as the most importantcomponent of one’s life. Loyalty to their country is also anothervalue that is emphasized to the Vietnamese from a very young age.They also place a lot of importance on one’s reputation. They seereputation as a fragrance that can easily be lost. They are alsotaught to have deep respect for other people. Their love of knowledgelearning is also another value that has greatly sustained thesepeople (Rambo, 2005).

VietnameseCultural Values and Beliefs Based on the Interview

Theinterviewee informed me that the tradition practices of theVietnamese when it came to the family structure were based on the manbeing the head of the house. He further elaborated by saying thatalthough divorce was not banned, it rarely occurred. The wife wouldtolerate all the suffering that can happen in a bad marriage just forthe sake of the children’s wellbeing. Although the parents were,the ultimate rule and children were not allowed to question ordisobey their parents. Physical punishment to some extent wasconsidered mandatory for dealing with unruly children. Boys and girlswere strictly forbidden from interacting, and they were not allowedto date whomever they fancied.

Theinterviewee further explained that in recent times the role of thewoman has been increased. They are now allowed to work independently,and although the man still takes the lead, the husband and wife areusually equal partners. Divorce has been on the increase although notas common as for the other cultures. Children have been given morepower, and many Vietnamese parents are willing to hear out theirchildren when it comes to opinions and suggestions. Healthyrelationships between boys and girls are no longer forbidden, and theunmarried youth is allowed to court and marry whoever they so choose.

Thecultural practices that were performed back in their country oforigin were no longer that common as the interviewee stated. Most ofthe Vietnamese have turned to modern ways of living, and the culturehas been further influenced by intermarriages. However, some of theintrinsic ceremonies are still being celebrated by most of theVietnamese people. In contrast, their value system has stood the testof time as the manner in which one should carry themselves out andhow they should interact with others has not changed throughout theyears. This has been due to quality parental skills that were passeddown over the generations.

Comparisonof the Two Sources of Information

Theinformation obtained from the research that was carried out, and thatwhich was gotten from the interview is similar and consistent. Theinformation has shown that the Vietnamese culture is focused oncreating a society that places its importance on respect, love,loyalty and the quest for knowledge. The culture is also rich in itscustoms and beliefs thus making it a vibrant society where theindividuals felt they were at home.

Effectsof Culture on Learning by the ELLs

Cultureis used as an identity of a person. From the above discussion on theVietnamese culture, it is clearly noted that their culture fullydefined them and made them feel as one. When it comes to teaching,teachers usually find themselves interacting a diverse combination ofvery different cultures. For a teacher to be able to reach andeventually teach each of these students, they have to developcultural sensitivity. This becomes useful because when a studentrealizes that their culture is respected and not discriminatedagainst, they open up more and become more willing to learn (Davis,2012).

Astudent’s learning and school performance are centered on theculture they were brought up in. Most of the immigrant communities inthe US came from different cultures that had their view of literacy.If a culture that a student hails from insisted on the importance ofknowledge and learning, the student would be likely to perform wellin school, as they would approach every lesson with a fresh and openmind. The student’s learning is also influenced by the level ofacceptance they feel from their fellow schoolmates who hail fromother cultures. Cultural sensitivity is, therefore, an importantconcept that every student should be taught so that they know how totreat their fellow students (Yoon, 2008).


Fromwhat has been discussed, a person’s culture is the most majorfactor that leads to their growth and development. The need for oneto know and appreciate their culture is important since it makes oneknow where they originated. The same person also ought to know otherpeople’s culture so that they might appreciate them and generate anadequate level of sensitivity. This is paramount for the schoolsystem whereby cultural sensitivity plays a major role in ensuringevery student’s performance is not hindered by external factorssuch as racism or stereotyping. This would, in turn, help improve theschool’s performance.


Davis,T. L. (2012). SupportingELLS by Addressing Cultural Differences in the Classroom: aProfessional Development Program(Doctoral dissertation, State University of New York at Fredonia).

DeJong, E. J., &amp Harper, C. A. (2005). Preparing mainstreamteachers for English-language learners: Is being a good teacher goodenough?. TeacherEducation Quarterly,101-124.

Ebsworth,M., Tang, F., Razavi, N. I. K. T. A., &amp Aiello, J. A. C. Q. U. E.L. I. N. E. (2014). Variation in second language learners` strategiesamong non-native English speakers from three language/culturebackgrounds. AppliedLanguage Learning,23(24),23-46.

Nguyen,L. T. (1976). Vietnamese Culture Kit.

Rambo,A. T. (2005). Searchingfor Vietnam: Selected writings on Vietnamese culture and society(Vol. 9). Trans Pacific Press.

Rosa,M. (2013). Accessing perceptions of high school teachers about theinfluence of language and culture in the mathematics learning ofEnglish language learners (ells) students. Linguistics,Culture &amp Education,2(1),36-71.

Yoon,B. (2008). Uninvited guests: The influence of teachers’ roles andpedagogies on the positioning of English language learners in theregular classroom. AmericanEducational Research Journal,45(2),495-522.


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