Press “1” for English

Press “1” for English

 

I recently viewed an image that someone shared on Facebook that really got me thinking. I probably have changed my mind some over the years as I wasn’t the most tolerant to people here in the United States that didn’t speak English.

The image depicted a woman holding a phone receiver away from her face and looking outraged, with red text superimposed on it that said, “IM IN AMERICA, WHY DO I HAVE TO PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH!” When I looked at the image’s original page, it was full of other images lamenting the destruction of American values.

While I could write forever on what the incorrect use of punctuation and obnoxious style will lead me to believe about the intellect of whoever holds this viewpoint, I’ll save that for another day. I could also write a piece reminding readers that the United States of America does not have and has never had an official national language. And that even if it did, democratic countries with a national language do not require all citizens to speak that language.

Instead, I’m going to focus on how difficult it is to simply “learn English.”

While experts love to squabble about which languages are the most difficult to learn, English is generally regarded as one of the most difficult. English is a Germanic language with significant influences from Latin, French and Greek. This means that unlike French, German or Mandarin, where letters are normally pronounced the same way in every word, pronunciation in English is a crapshoot.

For instance, take the phrase “through tough thorough thought, though.” Much of English pronunciation is memorization, and luckily for native English speakers, we memorized common words when we were young. English language learners have to learn the finicky rules of English pronunciation, then quickly learn all the exceptions to those rules.

For someone who does not speak English at home, constructions like adding an “e” to change the sound of an “o” can be the epitome of confusion. For proof of this, think about the difference in pronunciation between “some,” “one,” “home,” and “epitome.”

Many aspects of our grammar present difficulties, too. English syntax critically important, and yet often the distinction between two different sentences is that the order of the correct one “just sounds right.” Just as I, someone with an untrained musical ear, am unable to immediately harmonize with a note someone is playing, an English learner will struggle to tell you why my ear is an “untrained musical ear” rather than a “musical untrained ear.”

English also has these ridiculous things called “verbal phrases,” which are two-word phrases that change the meaning of a verb, like “ask out,” or “ask around.” Verbal phrases are difficult enough on their own for an English learner. But imagine trying to breakdown your thought process so you can speak properly during a stressful situation, like when you have a broken down car, are going through a break up or have a nasty acne break out. It’s enough for anyone to have a mental breakdown.

Learning another language is an extremely difficult task that requires you to change the way your brain processes and produces information. Foreign language professors will tell you that in order to learn a new language, you have to make mistakes. Mistakes are how language learners reach beyond the basics and learn what exactly they are doing wrong so they can correct it. But when English learners in the United States make mistakes, they are often assumed to be stupid, made fun of or told to try harder. Many ESL learners, discouraged by all this, are driven into silence.

Pressing “1” for English when calling somewhere is not a sign of the destruction of American values. Rather, it is an extraordinary example of many of the values on which America was founded and is supposed to embody — inclusiveness, aide to the underdog and equal opportunity. Most phone calls that give a language option are phone calls that require spoken clarity and total understanding, like calls to your bank or electric company. Allowing people who struggle (understandably so) with English, or are at a stage in learning where they need to make mistakes, to conduct their business in the language they feel most comfortable is not unAmerican. It’s one of the most American things you can do.

Don’t get upset with Press “1” for English but embrace the diversity of this great nation.

Media… Article from the Daily Vidette (ISU)

Media… Article from the Daily Vidette (ISU)

 

 

The following article was written by the Editorial Board of the Daily Vidette at Illinois State University.

I didn’t write this but fully agree with their thoughts.

 

 

People who are passionate about any current event, social issue or government policy would likely claim to have unique views and insights about the topic in question. There is no doubt that people get concerned about public issues for good reasons, but do people really choose what to be interested in? For most Americans, their interest on an issue depends almost completely on how much media attention it receives.

The fact that mass media can control people’s interests and concerns is troubling. There is a direct correlation between how much media coverage a topic gets and the amount of public interest for related issues. People may also base their opinions on very little information. Sound bites are shorter than ever, people trust Buzzfeed for news and many get their news from Twitter headlines (neglecting to click the link to the full article).

When the media has so much influence over the public’s opinions and concerns, it is disturbing just how biased news outlets can be. People often go to the news outlet that will reinforce their way of thinking, raising public polarization of opinion. When biased news organizations like MSNBC and Fox News use their influence to focus public interest on certain issues and back them up with unfair reporting, it erodes the public’s ability to make their own judgments. These news outlets don’t trust our ability to make decisions; if they did, they would provide us with fair and unbiased reporting.

At least when the media is covering political and social issues, people pay attention to things that matter. In recent years, however, news organizations that are taken seriously often stray from hard news and focus on entertainment. This creates an entirely new problem where the media shifts the public’s attention away from the pressing subjects of the day. This may be why many people know more about Kanye West’s 2020 platform than those of the current 2016 presidential candidates. A great example is the now famous incident where MSNBC cut into an interview about the NSA to cover Justin Bieber’s arrest.

When the media controls interest on important issues and events, key topics do not get attention for long enough. The model of many major news outlets is to keep the new material coming before people get bored and lose interest. This creates an uninformed public with short attention spans. There is often not enough time for people to fully digest an issue and make an informed opinion of it before moving on to the next one.

We need to be careful where we get our news. We need to pay attention to make sure we are receiving news that is unbiased, thoughtful and in-depth. In a world where the media controls public interest, we must make sure we are receiving the best information.

 

It’s Called Hard Work…. not “You’re Just Smart”

It’s Called Hard Work…. not “You’re Just Smart”

 

 

 

 

 

Kids are back in school and beginning their routine for success. Many times people will tell a student that gets good grades that they are “just smart” and it comes easily to them.

That is a slap in the face.

 

People want to be viewed as intelligent. Everyone  loves being associated with the adjective smart, and I, in turn, also have complimented others’ intelligences freely. It wasn’t until later that I realized how damaging and invalidating that simple praise could be.

Some people would try to take the hardest class of any subject they were remotely interested in, sacrifice time with friends and family to study and stay up late to get the grade desired. They wanted people to instantly think of “smart” when they thought of them.

As one gets older, however, being called smart no longer makes them feel accomplished, but rather seemed to degrade all their hard work and effort. Although it was meant as a compliment, “smart” became an excuse that described how success was achieved.

“Of course you got an A,” people said about high level classes. “You’re smart.” With that sentence, they discredited all the nights that were put in with only four hours of sleep because of studying. Instead, they attributed the grade to a single trait.

Smart isn’t just an excuse for successes, but also became an attempted condolence when one fails.

 

Following Stanford professor Carol Dweck’s research on motivation and mindset, the difference between praise for effort and praise for ability is significant. People who are used to their abilities being praised usually experience lower task persistence and enjoyment. They also experience increased negative self-affect and self-cognition.

On the other hand, praise for effort increases task enjoyment and performance. The praised demonstrate greater persistence in face of failure. Improving is more plausible when intelligence is viewed as malleable rather than fixed.

Being known as “smart” no longer flatters but  adds on to the pressure felt. People much rather prefer acknowledgement of to their efforts than to the simple, yet destructive, adjective “smart.”

Be Careful What the Public Deems Sacred

Be Careful What the Public Deems Sacred

 

So much has happened in the news lately in terms of freedom of expression and the abuse of power. As individuals, we look for guidance in leaders and mentors. But when those in power lead us astray, how are we to know?

In my opinion, it is dangerous to leave anything sacred to the public, but it is also dangerous for an individual to leave nothing sacred to themselves.

When a concept is sacred to an individual, it opens the door for necessary contemplation of ethics, morality, and priority. A concept left sacred to the public, however, gives said concept power over the people, a situation that I think is risky enough that it should be avoided.
One of the latest examples of this, of course, was the controversial release of the film, “The Interview”. I’ve heard opinions from both sides of the spectrum, with some saying that Sony never should have prevented the movie from being shown in theaters, and others saying the movie should never have been made in the first place.
I can see the reasoning behind both sides. On one hand, we, as a people who believe in freedom of expression, should never let fear or threats from a governmental power keep us from that freedom. On the other hand, there are people who hold certain things sacred, and we should respect those things.
This is why I believe the concept of sacristy should be held firstly on an individual level. In North Korea, Kim Jong Un and his predecessors have been held on a level of sacredness that prevents them from being ridiculed, overthrown, analyzed, or questioned by their people. And it just so happens that this government does not feed its people the whole truth, or any truth at all. That is a dangerous concept. In the United States, we seem to be on the opposite side. Even on an individual level, many people hold nothing sacred, which I don’t necessarily think is a good idea either, but that is beside the point.

The important thing is that, as a nation, nothing has been allowed to be sacred, and while that may sound dismal, it gives us as a people the opportunity to dissect, debate, and analyze ideas that we as individuals hold dear to our hearts. It keeps institutions from becoming corrupted while they still have power over us. I’m not arguing that all institutions are inherently evil and brainwashing, but I do believe that any institution can become corrupted, and if we as a group hold that institution sacred already, it is much harder to stand up as an individual and break away from that power.
Again, I want to advocate for still keeping things sacred on an individual level. It is people who hold life sacred, and people who hold the power to choose sacred, that debate and pass laws related to abortion. It is people who hold justice sacred that keep our communities safe. It is also people who keep our communities safe that sometimes abuse that power. And if we as a group or community hold our leaders – whether local or national, religious or political – sacred, that abuse is allowed to continue on. We must remember what is sacred to us to give our life purpose and drive, but we must never give our individual convictions the power to control people who don’t want it.

Marketing the 2019 College Graduates- Their View of Things

Marketing the 2019 College Graduates- Their View of Things

 

 

First, I didn’t write this list. It came from the Beloit College Mindset List.

 

For marketers, it offers fascinating insights into the next generation of consumers – which makes it must reading for anyone creating a marketing strategy that targets students or young adults.

 

  1. They have a completely different view of electronic communication than their parents: Email is a “formal” communication while casual communication takes place in texts and tweets.
  2. Online search is a given: Google has always existed in their lifetimes.
  3. Their world is multicultural: CNN has always been available en Español.
  4. Time references are different: “Turn of the century” means the year 2000 to this group, not 1900.
  5. They have a different visual frame of reference for video: TV has always been in HD.
  6. Their own lives have always been recorded on video.
  7. They have grown up expecting access to Wi-Fi.
  8. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online.
  9. Cultural icons instantly recognizable to adults were dead before this class was born, including Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Theresa.
  10. And this one that really hit me as a direct marketer: They’ve never licked a postage stamp.

Here is the complete list (some duplicates):

Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997.

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa.

Joining them in the world the year they were born were Dolly the sheep, The McCaughey septuplets, and Michael “Prince” Jackson Jr.

Since they have been on the planet:

1. Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.

2. Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.”

3. They have never licked a postage stamp.

4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.

5. Four foul-mouthed kids have always been playing in South Park.

6. Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.

7. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.

8. The NCAA has always had a precise means to determine a national champion in college football.

9. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.

10. Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.

11. Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times.

12. Ellis Island has always been primarily in New Jersey.

13. “No means no” has always been morphing, slowly, into “only yes means yes.”

14. Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.

15. The Airport in Washington, D.C., has always been Reagan National Airport.

16. Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off it.

17. If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”

18. They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.

19. Attempts at human cloning have never been federally funded but do require FDA approval.

20. “Crosstown Classic” and the “Battle of the Bay” have always been among the most popular interleague rivalries in Major League Baseball.

21. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny has never been the official song of the Virginia Commonwealth.

22. Phish Food has always been available from Ben and Jerry.

23. Kyoto has always symbolized inactivity about global climate change.

24. When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their large phones, usually in cars, for emergencies.

25. The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.

26. The eyes of Texas have never looked upon The Houston Oilers.

27. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online.

28. In a world of DNA testing, the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington has never included a Vietnam War veteran “known only to God.”

29. Playhouse Disney was a place where they could play growing up.

30. Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.

31. Fifteen nations have always been constructing the International Space Station.

32. The Lion King has always been on Broadway.

33. Phoenix Lights is a series of UFO sightings, not a filtered cigarette.

34. Scotland and Wales have always had their own parliaments and assemblies.

35. At least Mom and Dad had their new Nintendo 64 to help them get through long nights sitting up with the baby.

36. First Responders have always been heroes.

37. Sir Paul and Sir Elton have always been knights of the same musical roundtable.

38. CNN has always been available en Español.

39. Heaven’s Gate has always been more a trip to Comet Hale-Bopp and less a film flop.

40. Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.

41. The Atlanta Braves have always played at Turner Field.

42. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have always been members of NATO.

43. Humans have always had the ability to use implanted radio frequency ID chips—slightly larger than a grain of rice.

44. TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks.

45. Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith have always been Men in Black, not their next-door neighbors.

46. The proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.

47. They had no idea how fortunate they were to enjoy the final four years of Federal budget surpluses.

48. Amoco gas stations have steadily vanished from the American highway.

49. Vote-by-mail has always been the official way to vote in Oregon.

50. …and there has always been a Beloit College Mindset List.

 

I find this fascinating as I get older. We don’t think much about how they view the world. If you are in the world of marketing then these facts are some things you need to be paying attention to as you attempt to grab their piece of the pie. Marketing the 2019 College Graduates can be important.

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