In the United States, it is important to be on time, or punctual, for an appointment, a class, a meeting, etc. However, this may not be true in all countries. An American professor discovered this difference while teaching a class in a Brazilian university. The two-hour class was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and end at 12 p.m. On the first day, when the professor arrived on time, no one was in the classroom.
Many students came after 10 a.m. Several arrived after 10:30 a.m. Two students came after 11 a.m. Although all the students greeted the professor as they arrived, few apologized for their lateness. Were these students being rude? He decided to study the students’ behavior.
The professor talked to American and Brazilian students about lateness in both an informal and a formal situation: lunch with a friend and in a university class, respectively. He gave them an example and asked them how they would react. If they had a lunch appointment with a friend, the average American student defined lateness as 19 minutes after the agreed time. On the other hand, the average Brazilian student felt the friend was late after 33 minutes.
In an American university, students are expected to arrive at the appointed hour. In contrast, in Brazil, neither the teacher nor the students always arrive at the appointed hour. Classes not only begin at the scheduled time in the United States, but they also end at the scheduled time. In the Brazilian class, only a few students left the class at noon; many remained past 12:30 p.m. to discuss the class and ask more questions. While arriving late may not be very important in Brazil, neither is staying late.
The explanation for these differences is complicated. People from Brazilian and North American cultures have different feelings about lateness. In Brazil, the students believe that a person who usually arrives late is probably more successful than a person who is always on time.
In fact, Brazilians expect a person with status or prestige to arrive late, while in the United States lateness is usually considered to be disrespectful and unacceptable. Consequently, if a Brazilian is late for an appointment with a North American, the American may misinterpret the reason for the lateness and become angry.
As a result of his study, the professor learned that the Brazilian students were not being disrespectful to him. Instead, they were simply behaving in the appropriate way for a Brazilian student in Brazil. Eventually, the professor was able to adapt his own behavior so that he could feel comfortable in the new culture.
Professor decides to study students’ behavior. lunch with a friend a university class
33 minutes. 19 minutesAfter scheduled time Lunch with a friendA university class lateness is disrespectful lateness means a person is important.
The American professor was able to adapt his own behavior.
He decided to study the Brazilian students’ behavior concerning time and lateness. The professor gave American and Brazilian students examples of an informal situation—lunch with a friend, and a formal situation—a university class. The American and Brazilian students then defined lateness in both situations.
No, they didn’t. In American culture, students or professors are late for class if they arrive any time after class is scheduled to begin, while in Brazilian culture, lateness is up to one hour after class is scheduled to begin. Also, in American culture, students are expected to leave promptly after the class has ended, while in Brazilian culture, students will stay after class for as much as 30 minutes.
The Brazilians felt that lateness began after 33 minutes; the Americans felt that lateness began after 19 minutes.
The Brazilian students thought that people who are late are important. The American students thought that people who are late are disrespectful. The professor learned to adapt his own behavior to fit the customs of his Brazilian students.
An American professor in Brazil studied the idea of lateness for both Brazilian and American students. His study enabled him to adapt his own behavior while living in Brazil.
adapt (v.) to change to function in a new way, to adjust The children are finding it hard to adapt to the new school. Courses can be adapted to suit the needs of the individual. Back to Text
although (conj) even though Although in poor health, she continued to carry out her duties. Although he’s got a good job now, he still complains. Back to Text
apologize (v.) express regret for doing something wrong, usually to ask for forgiveness I'm so sorry, I do apologize. There’s no need to apologize. Back to Text
appropriate (adj.) correct, suitable It would not be appropriate for me to discuss that now. The manager should take appropriate action if safety standards are not being met. Back to Text
as a result (ph.) consequently As a result of the pilots' strike, all flights have had to be cancelled. Colby died as the result of a heart attack. Back to Text
average (adj.) ordinary, typical The average cost of making a movie has risen by 15%. Incomes here are nowhere near the national average. Back to Text
behavior (n.) a way of acting It is important to reward good behavior. Anna was sick of her brother’s behavior. Back to Text
complicated (adj.) complex, having many parts or details that make something hard to understand or deal with, difficult or problematic For young children, getting dressed is a complicated business. The situation seems to be getting more and more complicated. Back to Text
consequently (adv.) as a result Most computer users have never received any formal keyboard training. Consequently, their keyboard skills are inefficient. They’ve increased the number of staff and consequently the service is better. Back to Text
culture (n.) the ideas, activities, and ways of being that are special to a country, people or region In our culture, it is rude to ask someone how much they earn. The two firms have very different corporate cultures. Back to Text
discover (v.) find out She discovered that she was hurt. The lost bike was discovered at the bus stop. Back to Text
disrespectful (adj.) showing a lack of respect, rude The disrespectful boy laughed at his father. “How to handle disrespectful students” is one of the most popular articles on this website. Back to Text
etc. stands for et cetera, Latin for "and other similar things", and so on The children can take part in music, dance, painting, etc. More diverse views are heard from authors from the rest of the world such as Europe, Asia, Australia, etc. Back to Text
eventually (adv.) happening later, ultimately He eventually escaped and made his way back to England. We’re hoping, eventually, to create 500 new jobs. Back to Text
few (adj.) a small number Very few of the staff come from the local area. Many have tried, but few have succeeded. Back to Text
finally (adv.) in the end, at last They finally realized that the whole thing was a joke. After several delays we finally took off at six o'clock.
important (adj.) having great meaning or significance It is important to see that everything goes well. The accident taught him an important lesson. Back to Text
in contrast (ph.) in opposition or difference; to show difference The stock lost 60 cents a share, in contrast to last year, when it gained 21 cents. In contrast to his predecessor, Bush has little interest in foreign travel. Back to Text
misinterpret (v.) to misunderstand She had misinterpreted his silence as anger. Some parts of the report could be misinterpreted. Back to Text
neither (conj.) not one and not the other Neither John’s mother nor his father spoke English. Neither he nor his wife eats meat. Back to Text
not only....but also (ph.) not just, but in addition Shakespeare was not only a writer but also an actor. There are problems not only with the students, but also with the teachers themselves. Back to Text
on the other hand (ph.) viewed in a different way On the one hand, expansion would be good, but on the other hand it would be sad to lose the family atmosphere. On one hand, loss imply gain; on the other hand, gain imply loss. Back to Text
prestige (n.) the combination of qualities that bring admiration and honor, such as an excellent reputation, wealth, and power The king wanted to enhance hisprestige through war. The move was designed to enhance his personal prestige. Back to Text
punctual (adj.) arriving or leaving on time She's always very punctual for appointments. Mrs. Marsh liked her guests to be punctual. Back to Text
question (n.) acts of seeking an answer I'm afraid I can't answer thatquestion. They asked me quite a lot of difficult questions about my job. Back to Text
react (v.) to speak or move when something happens, to respond How did Wilson react to your idea? I wasn’t sure how you would react. Back to Text
respectively (adv.) in that order, consecutively The cups and saucers cost $5 and $3 respectively. Walsh and O’Neill were jailed for 12 and 11 years respectively. Back to Text
rude (adj.) impolite, making people angry by one's bad behavior or unkind words I didn't mean to be rude, but I had to leave early. It’s rude to keep people waiting. Back to Text
situation (n.) the way things are at a certain time, the state of what's happening She coped well in a difficult situation. If the situation had been different, their plan might have succeeded. Back to Text
status (n.) one's position in society in terms of power and importance Doctors have traditionally enjoyed high social status. Dr Harrison held a high status at the university. Back to Text
unacceptable (adj.) not suitable or satisfactory because something is offensive or wrong I found her attitude totally unacceptable. This sort of behavior is quite unacceptable in a civilized society. Back to Text
while (conj.) although OR at the time that While there was no conclusive evidence, most people thought he was guilty. While most children learn to read easily, some need extra help. Back to Text