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Archive for September, 2009

Passionate about Language and Culture

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

You may be familiar with someone I admire greatly and the Nobel Peace prize winner, Muhammed Unas. Dr Yunus created the concept of micro-finance. He started the Grameen bank that gives small loans to low-income women and men to start and build businesses. His guidance and inspiration has empowered thousands of poor people to create small businesses which take them out of poverty, ultimately promoting peace in the world. I strongly believe that we all have unique gifts that can help people in many different ways and (in the big picture) promote peace in our world. The reason I’m so passionate about what we do here at KAMMS is because I feel communication is the essence of humanity. It’s an innate desire we all possess: to communicate with other human beings. I also believe that bringing people together through language and understanding each other’s culture will promote peace in the U.S. and around the world. And I’m not the only one! Here are a few examples of others who share my sentiments about the importance of languages and culture:

  • The top official for the United Nations stated that “multilingualism is a means of promoting, protecting and preserving the diversity of the world’s languages and cultures.”
  • Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information said: “Languages, which ones you understand or speak, read or write, whether on the Internet or in your society, can make the difference between knowing and not knowing”.
  • The UN Coordinator for Multilingualism said: Knowing languages can also make the difference between “being able to participate and being excluded.”

I think we can all agree that it’s crucial to learn other languages and understand other cultures, given our ever growing diversity, instant connectivity to around the world, and opportunities it would afford us. So why then do so many of us choose not to gain this knowledge. Let’s explore one of the responses I receive when I ask this question:“I’m no good at languages. I tried in high school (or college) and just couldn’t do it.” This one bothers me the most; considering I was a high school Spanish teacher and I witnessed the many antiquated teaching methods still in use today. It’s more than likely you were taught with the following:

  • irrelevant vocabulary you’d never use (my school taught vocabulary for going fishing, scuba diving and skiing)
  • grammar rules first (you learned approximately 50 ways to conjugate a verb – good luck figuring out which one to use when you’re trying to have a conversation)
  • vocabulary out of context (you learned a list you had to memorize, so you know a lot of words, but you can’t put them together to form a sentence)

First thing first: You have an innate ability to learn languages. As many as you want! You learned your first language easily and without stress. The problem is that most educational institutions don’t teach you the way you learned your first language. They start with grammar. You didn’t learn the grammar of your first language until you were in second grade. At that point you had already heard the language for seven years, you were able to communicate and you could put sentences together on your own. The reason you weren’t able to learn easily in high school or college was because most of their teaching techniques go against every law of language acquisition methodology I know. Because of my experience watching and using these techniques as a grade school and high school teacher, I know they don’t work. This is why, after 10 years of research, I created the Spanish on the Job and English on the Job programs; so that learners can understand and speak the relevant language they need immediately. I have watched people learning with my programs be able to converse within three months. I’m very proud of this, but I’m also frustrated that more people don’t know that they CAN learn languages easily.So please, when you meet me, please don’t tell me that you can’t learn languages. AARGHH! I know you can! If you’d like to check out the programs or to contact me, please go to our website: www.kammsworldwide.comI wish you great success! Stacey Kammerman CEO KAMMS WorldWidePlease give us feedback or questions in the comment section below and we will reply promptly. Thanks!

Women in Business~Strength of Mind, Body & Spirit

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Before a plane takes off, the flight attendant tells the passengers: “In case of emergency put the oxygen mask on you before others.” This is good advice for women business owners with regards to our daily lives. We often forget that we can’t possibly take care of everything and everyone, if we neglect ourselves. Moreover, it’s important to nurture all aspects of our well being: mind, body and spirit. Neglecting any one of these areas will result in the others being affected. Ultimately, we won’t live our lives to our full potential.

Most of us know that we should be taking better care of ourselves, but many of us don’t do it for one reason or the other. I hear the excuses all the time: “I work too much. I don’t have the time. I have too many obligations.” The problem with these arguments is that if you don’t practice “preventative medicine” you’ll be spending more time sick in bed, too tired to finish your work or too stressed to deal with common issues that occur. YOU should be the priority! Then everything else in your life will run more smoothly. Essentially you’ll have even more time and energy to accomplish more of what you need or want to do.

The Mind

The human mind thrives on information. The more we learn, the more we want to learn. It’s common knowledge that we need to exercise our minds in order to improve mental functioning and prevent brain aging. Brain games like Sudoku and many hand held games have become very popular. We all want to be quick witted, intelligent and creative thinkers.

As a business owner, it’s absolutely essential to know what’s going on in your industry and to constantly improve your skills. It’s important to read, attend seminars, take classes and learn from others each and every day. Keeping the mind healthy and active will allow you to be successful in your business and stay ahead of your competition.

Body             

We always hear it, but how many of us do it: “Eat right and Exercise”. We have only one body in this lifetime. This is it; no second chances. Scientists have proven that many of our ailments, pains and diseases can be avoided by simply following a healthy lifestyle. Too many times people wait until some kind of illness befalls them to pay attention to their body.

Besides the obvious health benefits of taking care of your body, a fit and strong body is a big confidence booster. Every woman knows that feeling when we try on our “skinny jeans” and they fit perfectly. Or, when we walk into a party, networking event or business meeting and know that our clothes look and feel great on us. We feel instantly energized and confident.

Spirit

Ben Cohen, former CEO of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream said: “At Ben and Jerry’s, we learned that there’s a spiritual life to businesses as there is in the lives of individuals. As you give, you receive. As you help others, you are helped in return. For people, for businesses, for nations — it’s all the same.”

The meaning of spirituality is very subjective and personal. It is basically the development of a person’s inner life through mediation, prayer, yoga, journaling, contemplation or any other method a person chooses to better understand their selves, other human beings, the supernatural, the afterlife, God or the divine. There is no set definition of spirituality. It is what you believe it is for you.

Take time to learn how you can explore your spirituality and make it a part of your everyday life. People report being calmer, more “centered”, less stressed, healthier and simply have more joy in their lives. Does that sound worth a commitment of just few minutes a day?

The Mind, Body and Spirit Connection

These aspects of us are not independent of each other. They are all interrelated. If we neglect or nourish any one of them, they will affect the other. For example: Studies show that exercising our body reduces the loss of brain tissue common in aging. A healthy diet can improve memory. Lack of sleep impairs concentration. Mental stress causes numerous illnesses of the body. The list goes on and on.

In order to be happy, healthy and wise, remember to care for yourself in every aspect: mind, body and spirit. In this way, you will more effectively handle your family obligations, employee and client concerns and business operations. You will live your life to its full potential!

I wish you great success!

Stacey Kammerman