Rules of Etiquette in 4 Latin American Countries
If you want to be a TEFL teacher around the world, it is important to make sure you are as well prepared as you can possibly be before entering a classroom. It is equally important to have a good understanding of the country and culture you are hoping to make your home while you are teaching.
The countries of Latin America are an increasingly popular destination for newly qualified TEFL teachers. While they are generally more relaxed when it comes to formal rules of etiquette than other regions of the world there are, as with any country, particular social norms that any visitor should make the effort to understand.
It’s better late than never in Chile
Bargaining is not expected in shops or markets. Punching your left palm with your right fist is an obscene gesture. Gifts should be opened when they are received. Arriving late for social events is usual and you should try to arrive 15 to 30 minutes late. Maintaining eye contact in conversation is important. Chileans stand quite close when talking with you. Avoid discussing politics or human rights issues.
Costa Ricans appreciate a gift
Punctuality is important to Costa Ricans and you are expected to be on time for appointments. When invited to a person’s house, it is appropriate to bring a gift of flowers, chocolate or alcohol. You should avoid putting your feet up on any furniture that is not expressly designed for that purpose. Handshakes are the common way of greeting each other. It is fine to talk about politics in Costa Rica but you should avoid discussing religion.
Don’t forget to smile in Colombia
Although Colombians are generally relaxed about punctuality, as a foreigner you will be expected to be on time. Shake hands when meeting people and remember to smile. Don’t beckon people with your index finger but use your whole hand faced palm down instead. Be prepared to take some time over greetings as it is considered a sign of respect.
Get ready for a big hug in Brazil
Using the ‘OK’ hand signal is considered very rude and should be avoided. Punctuality is not important in Brazil and you should be prepared to wait for people to arrive late. Personal subjects such as salary, job etc. should be avoided in conversation. Shake hands with people you meet and maintain eye contact. Friends will often hug each other on meeting. Be prepared to take time greeting and bidding farewell to people. Using a person’s title is not important and first names are often used.
Also read: The Top 5 Places to Teach English in Brazil
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