“HABLO Inglés, Español, Français y un poco de Portugués. In case you did not understand, 'I speak English, Spanish, French and a little Portuguese',” was the response given by the multilingual Jamaica internal culture and communication officer at JMMB Group, Kedesha Dallas-Goode, when asked about her foreign language competence.
As internal culture and communication officer, Dallas-Goode plays a vital role in supporting English-speaking JMMB Group team members in meetings and other cross-cultural communication with their Spanish-speaking counterparts in the Dominican Republic, by lending her multilingual skills to bridge the language gap.
“This thereby enhances the internal communication among team members, and improves the synergy among the cross-cultural teams,” Dallas-Goode told All Woman.
“I also serve as a resource person for translation and interpretation for cross-cultural documents and project-related communication. This is an area that gives me great joy,” she beamed.
Her love for foreign languages began at a tender age while attending Ardenne Preparatory, where her passion for Spanish was ignited; and since then she has spent decades nurturing that passion for languages into a way of life.
Bolstering her passion with the necessary educational qualifications with a bachelor of arts in Spanish and international relations, she later pursued a master's degree in sustainable tourism management in Spain in a bid to hone her mastery of Spanish and broaden her appreciation of that country's culture, while nurturing her love for travelling.
“The world is so intertwined and inevitably people will have to go in to foreign markets (that may not share your language) as you seek to expand,” Dallas-Goode rationalised.
“A foreign language adds another element to your technical competence, and demonstrates that you are open and adaptable to other languages and cultures. This gives you a competitive advantage in your career.”
It is this advantage that gave Dallas-Goode the competitive advantage to seamlessly transition from being a teacher to the corporate world.
“Although I traded in my hat as foreign language teacher at the American International School of Kingston (AISK) for the new challenges that the corporate world presents, I have not left the classroom behind,” she affirmed. “I still enjoy teaching foreign languages to people at all levels.”
She is the founder and lead instructor of Icebreaker World Language Programme, which offers small group, corporate and individual foreign language sessions in Spanish and French to children, business professionals and other adult learners.
“Before then, I spent five years juggling teaching at The University of the West Indies, Mona and The University of Technology (Jamaica), and I am also a former teacher at the Venezuelan Institute in Kingston, having started there as a volunteer post-university,” she shared.
When not lending her foreign language expertise, Dallas-Goode's days are spent balancing a hectic schedule, which sees her assisting in the planning and execution of team-building initiatives; designing and communicating company-related updates; supporting team wellness programmes; and helping to drive organisational, behavioural and cultural change within the framework of JMMB Group's “Vision of Love”.
“As the mother of a five-year-old, I am also on a quest to pass on my love for foreign languages to my daughter, and I hope to ignite a similar love in other children,” she said.
She hopes to achieve this through the publication of her third book — a children's interactive Spanish text.
She shared the aim of the book, which is set to be published by 2020 — “I hope to teach children basic Spanish through my upcoming book and help to make learning the language fun, through storytelling.”
Although juggling it all can be challenging, Dallas-Goode would have it no other way, as she confesses she has the unique opportunity to do what she loves by using her God-given talent as a multilingual speaker to live in her purpose and still infuse her passion for teaching, outside of work.
Dallas-Goode encourages individuals who are interested in boosting their competitive advantage by learning a foreign language to “be intentional, especially if you are an adult learner, because in learning a foreign language you will have to make it a priority. Also, you must be patient with yourself.”
She further outlines tips to get individuals on their way to being bilingual.
“Kick-start your journey with an app like Duolingo,” she advised. “This will help you to learn the basics of a foreign language easily and affordably. In addition, this approach allows you to use the app at your convenience, and then determine your learning objective — leisure or business—before making a major financial commitment.
“You can also become a part of a class, as this will give you the added benefit to practise conversation with peers and get feedback about one's mastery and fluency,” the language expert said.
“Finally, you can become fully immersed in a new language and culture by visiting a foreign country, even for short periods,” she recommended. “This gives you first-hand knowledge and exposure to use of the language in real life settings and the culture.”
It came as no surprise to All Woman that Dallas-Goode has trekked across the globe to France, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, with plans to make visiting foreign countries a regular affair.