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Posts Tagged ‘hispanic workforce’

10 Easy & Affordable Ways to Experience Other Cultures

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

“Culture, the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world, and thus with the history of the human spirit.” Mathew Arnold (1822-1888)

Learning about another’s culture allows us to learn about the people of the world and in the process, we gain valuable knowledge about ourselves. Culture affects every aspect of our lives: from the way we raise our children, how we treat one another, the foods we eat, the language we speak, the way we think, to the celebrations we enjoy.

We are fortunate to have so many easy and inexpensive opportunities available to us every day. Here are 10 easy ways you can get started today:

  1. Visit local museums and cultural centers. Many times they have exhibits that correspond with a specific geographical area or an artist from a certain country. You can learn a lot about a people’s culture, by the type of artwork that is created in that region.
  1. Visit the library. Libraries have a plethora of travel books and journals to read through. Many have elaborate pictures of the country and its people. You can almost imagine yourself there by flipping through these books.

  1. Explore the Internet. If you want an endless supply of information about other countries, just tap into the internet. You can read newspapers, local websites, blogs and forums from other countries. This is also great practice if you’re learning the language of that country.

  1. Go to a Local Cultural Event. We are so privileged to have hundreds of different cultures right here in the U.S. In any given month, you can find a local cultural event in many cities across the country. Get out and enjoy the food, music, people and customs of that culture.

  1. Get an Email Pal. There are many sites on line that will help you find an email pal to converse with about the community in which they live. You can compare and contrast with your own experiences. This is another fun way to practice a new language, as well.

  1. Volunteer to Help English Language Learners. Learning English is essential to improving an immigrant’s life, here in America. You can help someone practice their English, while learning more about their native language and culture.

  1. Take a Class. Local schools and community colleges offer inexpensive adult classes at convenient times. You could take a foreign language class, a French cooking class or a Spanish dance class. What could be more fun than learning a new skill and meeting new people, while experiencing a new culture?

  1. Make a Friend from Another Culture. Many of us have neighbors or co-workers who are from other countries. Invite someone to share a typical American holiday or celebration with you and your family. Then, attend one of theirs. Maybe you’ll have the opportunity to go to a Quinceañera (an elaborate birthday party for a 15 year old Latina) or a Diwali (a Hindu festival of lights).

  1. Go to an Ethnic Restaurant or Grocery Store. Eat good food and enjoy a new culture! Many ethnic restaurants and grocery stores hire people who are natives from the country where the type of food they offer originates. Start up a conversation with them about the food and their native country. Don’t be shy; everyone likes to talk about themselves.

  1. Travel to Another Country. You can find inexpensive all-inclusive trips to many popular destinations. You could also volunteer or attend classes in a foreign country. While you’re there, make sure to find out where the locals go, not just the tourists. Talk to natives and ask them about their culture and their country. Who knows, you might just make a friend you can correspond with, when you return.

Now, you can start learning about another culture today! There are so many easy and affordable opportunities awaiting you. Remember, the more we learn about the world and its people, the more we learn about ourselves. Enjoy the journey!

Life Lessons for Language Learners

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

I was recently training a group of world language teachers on language acquisition and methodologies when an interesting topic arose: How can teachers integrate life lessons into daily language instruction?
After an interesting conversation with the group of teachers that day, I returned home and reflected on the language theories I had just taught. I realized that the ways we teach language are actually intertwined with the way we conduct our lives as social beings, regardless of what language we speak. The process in itself is a life lesson.
Let me explain. There are three ways (called strands) in which we teach a language. They are interpretation, interpersonal and presentational.
Interpretation
Interpreting language and situations is what we do as humans from the time we’re born. Before we can speak, we communicate with facial expressions, body language and sounds. We then interpret people’s responses as good, bad or indifferent. As we learn to speak the language, even though we hear the words the same as everyone else, we may interpret what is being said differently. So, in essence communication is dependent on the interpretation of the message. It is the same when we are listening to someone speak another language; we must interpret the meaning, not just the words.
Interpersonal
Interpersonal activities consist of the interactions that occur between individuals or groups. Again, we begin this activity (verbal and nonverbal) at an early age: with our families, at school and with friends. We continue these interactions for the rest of our lives. As second language learners, it’s imperative to use the new language with others as much as possible, to really understand how to communicate well and be interpersonal in the target language. Interpersonal skills are important for all aspects of our lives, regardless of what language you speak.
Presentational
Presentational activities assume there is an audience to whom you are presenting. This happens all the time in our daily lives; whether you are asking your boss for a raise, writing a blog post, sending an email or text, giving a toast, or actually presenting to a group. These are all life skills that are considered presentational. When learning another language, we need to be proficient in this ability as well. Taking into consideration that there is or may be an “audience” for your message is an important aspect of how we use our language. It’s also an important facet of life.

Learning a new language is good practice for learning life lessons. The skills that you learn can be carried over to all aspects of your life. Not only do you gain a new ability (speaking another language), but you also hone your life skills.
It was an interesting revelation to see how entwined life skills and lessons are with language learning. I never really considered it before. But now I’ll be certain to let the teachers know that they are integrating life lessons everyday that they teach.

Do Spanish-Speakers Really Talk Too Fast?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

As a language instructor, many people interested in learning Spanish say to me: “I try to understand Spanish, but they speak too fast.” My response is that it may seem that way, when you first start learning, but once you feel more comfortable with the language, it won’t feel as though the Spanish-speakers are speaking so quickly. As you progress with your knowledge of the language, you won’t even notice the speed of the words being spoken.

When people are beginning to learn a new language, they usually try to listen to every single sound in every single word that a speaker says. Then they translate each word they hear. When they’ve finally translated the word in their head, they’re already many words behind. It can certainly be frustrating for beginning learners, but if they keep practicing, it won’t be so difficult.

Eventually, listening to Spanish becomes just like listening to English; you hear the whole sentence and you understand everything that was said, naturally, without translating. When you have a strong grasp of the language, you no longer have to focus on each word individually. You understand the language in chunks instead of separate words.

I also suggest to those with the concern about Spanish-speakers talking too quickly, to pay attention to their own rate of speech and realize how fast English must sound to a non-native English-speaker. If you say a few sentences out loud, you’ll notice how the words sometimes blend together as you say them. It’s the same as when you’re listening to a Spanish-speaker. It seems fast, but it’s just a natural rate of speech.

Besides the above mentioned reasons why Spanish may seem faster to English-speakers, there are some other factors to consider. I’ve noticed that there are definite variations in the pronunciation of words and the rate of speech among native Spanish-speakers. The differences I’ve observed depend on gender, the country of origin and the topic being discussed.

As far as gender affecting a person’s language, in my experience, sometimes women seem to pronounce words more completely from the first syllable to the last. Their pronunciation of words appears to be clearer and at a slower pace. On the contrary, men seem to cut off the endings of words and blend them together more often. I can’t say that I’ve read research on this topic; it’s just something I’ve observed personally.

Another factor to consider is that Spanish-speakers may come from an array of countries and that may also affect how fast they talk. Culture influences the language of people, so it seems only natural that those from different countries may speak differently. Next time you’re listening to a Spanish-speaker, pay attention to how they pronounce their words and how quickly they are speaking. Take note of the country where they were born and see if you can find a correlation with others from the same country.

A final aspect that I’ve noticed affects a person’s rate of speech is the particular topic the speaker is discussing. If it is a casual conversation, the speaker has a relaxed, slower pace to their communication. If it is a sensitive or volatile subject being discussed, the speaker increases the speed at which they speak. This probably happens no matter what language is being spoken.

Overall, I believe that a Spanish-speaker may sound like he or she is speaking faster, but there are many reasons why this may seem true to a beginning language learner.  After much practice with the new language, it won’t matter how fast they are speaking. When you internalize the language, understanding it becomes natural to you, no matter how fast they talk. It just takes lots of practice with the language, but you’ll get there!

55% of US Workforce will be Hispanic by 2050

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

“Hispanics account for over 50% of job growth in the United States; they have the highest rate of labor force participation across any race or ethnicity and by the end of 2010 it’s estimated over 16 million more persons will be added to the U.S. workforce.” Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics

Over half of all Hispanics report they do not speak English well. Why the concern? Breaking down language barriers is critical to maintaining a safe work environment. As the number of employees with English as a Second Language (ESL) has increased over the past decade, the number of workplace injuries has risen disproportionately. Even the U.S. government has recognized this trend and earmarked more than $2.2 million in funding for education.


Our country’s workforce has a critical need to learn essential language skills in order to avoid accidents, poor service, frustrated customers, mistakes, misdiagnosis, etc.  They need an immediate solution and they don’t have time to spend months or years studying a second language.

 

In response to this pressing need, KAMMS has created two series of convenient, affordable and effective job-specific language learning programs: Spanish on the Job & English on the Job. These audio, video and workbook programs immediately help to build a bridge of communication between Spanish and English speakers in the workplace.  As opposed to other expensive and time consuming language learning programst; we provide an affordable, convenient and instant solution by helping people to quickly and easily learn the essential short and simple phrases they need for a particular profession, situation or industry.

Top 10 U.S. Hispanic Facts

Sunday, January 24th, 2010
  1. Hispanics constitute the largest minority group in the United States.
  2. Over 45 million Hispanics/Latinos live in the United States.
  3. States with the largest population of Hispanics: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada.
  4. North Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia were among the states that experienced the greatest growth in their total Hispanic populations.
  5. The Census Bureau estimates that of 8.7 million unauthorized migrants were living in the U.S. in 2000, 5.4 million (62%) were Hispanic, and 3.9 million (45%) were from Mexico.
  6. The Census Bureau predicts that whites and minority groups overall would be roughly equal in size by 2050, with the Hispanic and Asian populations tripling by that time.
  7. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the projected Hispanic population of the United States in 2050 is 102.6 million people, 24% of the nation’s total population on that date.
  8. Hispanics population growth- 3 percent a year, vs. 0.8 percent for everyone else.
  9. “Over 400,000 documented Latino immigrants enter the US every year. This is the highest flow of Spanish-speaking immigrants in the history of the U.S. Most of these immigrants are filling low-skilled, blue-collared jobs.” Pew Hispanic Center
  10. Even though Hispanics make up only 14% of the U.S. population, they are currently 22% of the nations workforce. This number is expected to increase to 55% by the year 2050.                                                                                           Now you know why the Spanish on the Job and English on the Job series are so crucial for our nation’s workforce.

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