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!