How a different language is a different vision of life w/Barbara Ulmer

January 25, 2022 Brigitte Bojkowszky Season 5 Episode 58
How a different language is a different vision of life w/Barbara Ulmer
Show Notes Transcript

“Learn a new language using my system or programs in record time or at your own pace, for an easy transition depending on your needs. We have the expertise to lead you further in your career”. — Barbara Ulmer

Her aim is to help people communicate easily in another language to reach their specific goals.

In this episode we learn about Barbara Ulmer’s perspective on language as a vision and why learning other languages is a doorway to wisdom. We also hear Barbara’s take on personal branding, what it means to her to be our authenticity self, and how personal branding ties into languages.

Barbara has three Masters in English, French, and German from Europe with teaching experience in Oxford, England, and studies in Freiburg, Germany, and Paris, France. Barbara has been an expat for almost 20 years, so she knows firsthand what it is like to transition culturally.

Brands are, who you are and reflect on it and share it with the world. The brand is who you are, your life story. I always say like your brand is basically your life story put into fulfilment.” — Barbara Ulmer

Get in touch with Barbara Ulmer:

Watch us on YouTube: 

Get in touch with Brigitte Bojkowszky:

Get Your Free Brand Building Guide and Checklist “The 4 Essential Steps to Build an Irresistible Brand” NOW: Brand Building Guide & Checklist

For more info visit:


Ready for brand stories get inspired and learn from thought leaders, CEOs, business owners, and managers who tell their brand stories who share their valuable insights from their own experience. Welcome to brandstalk. I'm your host Brigitte. For brand lovers this show is to help you develop and grow your brand in a more strategic and sustainable way. What the talk let's get started and dive with me into the world of brands. today, it's all about languages. According to Federico Fellini, a different language is a different vision of life. We all have versions, short term, long term and project related personal and more encompassing life related versions. However, seeing language as a vision is a completely different perspective to take. Yeah, this is what I will be discussing with my guest Barbara Ulmer today, she is a triple language master with experience in teaching in Oxford, England. She started in Germany and Paris, France. Barbara has also been an expert for almost 20 years so she knows firsthand what it is like to transition culturally. Barbara is the founder and CEO of bu language and learning centre. Her company offers customised lessons for infant to adults in English as a second language to German and French with a focus on communication which is based on functional grammar. With Barbara's help you learn a new language using her system of programmes in record time at your own pace for an easy transition depending on your needs. She has the expertise to lead you further in your career. I warmly welcome Barbara Omer. Welcome to BrandsTalk. Hello, it's such a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me. Thank you for being my guest today. I'm really excited about that, Barbara. Yeah, because you are a globetrotter and a true global person. Which is so inspiring because I've been a global person as well since my early time as a as a teenager too. So it's really nice to have a conversation with someone I can share that with. So Barbara, could you tell us a little bit about your background, about how many languages you speak and there in this world you have travelled so far? Yes, absolutely. Being a Matisse by nature, having an African father from my area and a mother from Germany, I was always exposed to different languages and culture. So it's literally in my blood. And so when I grew older, I decided if I take my A levels in French and English, I would be able to speak with everybody from Africa, because the main language is either French or English. And that works very well. For me. For example, when I was in Paris, I could speak with the people from Cote d'Ivoire. Here in America, there are many people from different African countries. And it's very important to me to be close to my heritage and to my roots. And that was the initial reason why I studied those languages already in school, and then continued in college I was at the Albert lutris only visited and Freiburg, which was a very, very good university, especially for French because it's so close to France and a beautiful occasion as well. That sounds so interested. And once you finished studying, what did you do next? Yes, after I finished studying, I wanted to try something else. I was in England and Oxford earlier. So I decided now I want to finally make it to America. That was like my dream. My parents met in San Francisco. So it was always close to my heart. But I went to Charlotte, North Carolina to teach as an international exchange teacher, and I taught French and German, which I loved very much like it was your seven, eight and six. That's exciting. Good. So at the time, when you were a teacher, you have decided to become your own boss to start your own business. So what made you decide on this bold step into enterpreneurship in the first place? Yeah. What made you want to become your own boss and how was your transition into being your own boss? That's a very good question. We'll get to that was actually it happened fit by Did I was also teaching in private schools. So I wanted to see every angle private schools, public schools, in different countries. And I always felt that you couldn't give the kids as much as you wanted to, I always felt like there's more I want to give them, you know, to fully explored the language and the culture. And that made me decide to do my own business, which I've been doing for 20 plus years now, and I would never go back. Because once you have this freedom, and you can totally focus on each client and each need, you never go back, it's an excellent opportunity, you meet people from all over the world, and every student enriches my life, you know. So what is your big why your purpose your North Star, with your company, be you languages, I really decided, since everything is really about communication, that I want to help as many people as possible to transition, either culturally or language wise, or both, because it is something that you have for life, it cannot be taken away from you. And it is just now in this global world, why we are all online, you can just go all over the world so easily with a click of a button like you had i right now. And therefore, I think it's utterly important. I also feel even though Basically, everybody can speak English, it is important to show some interest in other languages and cultures. So I feel if you just know a bit of French in France, they love you, for it are the same in other countries, it is so important, it shows empathy. Yeah, you connect on a completely different level with the people may be your employees, or if you choose a visitor and a tourist going to this places, just knowing a little bit of that local language is really connecting with them on this visceral on the emotional level, and it shows that you are really having an interest in their culture. So that's one of the first steps to connect with people, right? Yes, absolutely. I also like to connect through food, because I always feel like you know, food is part of culture of the culture as well. And it is very, very specific, you know, and, and to me, food is always like, the biggest gift in the world. You know, it's like somebody puts their heart and soul into the food and explains it, where it comes from, it might be the grandma's recipe. So that is also always a nice way to connect, you know, through food, learning the food vocabulary, cooking together, you know, yeah, that's an easy, easy way into into that culture and then connecting with everyone who's speaking that specific language in that specific culture. So it's really an easy way in a restaurant on an aeroplane or wherever you are to connect. So I was talking about vision before in our introduction. So what is your vision with be you languages? What kind of what legacy do you want to leave behind? I my main legacy is that I want people to easily speak to each other in this global world, exchange culture, exchange language, and also leave this behind for my children for the next generation, just this focus on you are not alone in this world. And so it's important that you make an effort and learn different languages that you can show your empathy. I also like to give back. So it's also a great way to give back in essence, you I use a programme for teenagers, for example, to empower them. Sometimes they have to take a certain language, but they might be passionate about something else. Like I had those French students who chose to learn French because they actually have been dancing at the Houston Ballet for many years. So the passion was already there because of the wording. And that's this intrinsic way of learning, which is so important because if it's really chosen by the kid, not for the kid, or any other person, it makes it so much more meaningful. That's so beautiful. Yeah, and also seeing language as a vision. So what is your perspective on that? Well, a vision also like you said, initially when you when you did the quote or when you read the quote, it is like you literally see the world through different eyes. Like sometimes I think about what Disney you know when Jasmine is on this carpet flying. And he says he shows a brand new world I really feel that's what I do. I think that's my legacy. Really, this is going to be my legacy. Because I literally show them a whole new world you know where they can meet different people understand different people so much better. I can relate to them so much But so, and that is so important and so needed. Yeah. So it's you understand your customers so much better, as you say. So what are the strongest pain points? And what is the way of how you help them with your school or with your programmes? And who are your customers? Actually? Yes. Yes, that's a wonderful question. Actually. Yes. So I work with a lot of expat families, because when they go abroad for business, I prepare the fathers if they are the ones that are going abroad for business with business, French, or German, and the mothers with everyday life, because it is really not so easy. Like I remember when I was in Oxford, and I felt totally ready to conquer the world. I knew Shakespeare and all sorts of things, and I went to the store, but did not know what a broom is. Because back then you just didn't have the vocab that you need in everyday life. So that was very important for me. And my programmes are designed according to that, it is very important that it is really exactly what they need. That's why they are customised. And the kids, I prepare for schooling and school vocab, because many families enjoy to use the public schools, especially in Germany, they are absolutely excellent. And they learn so much more about the culture and everything. So I do that as well. Then I also have a kid programme where I have like, really, really young kids and I have a very playful approach through doors, where I stay in the target language the whole time, which is very important because like that, it doesn't even feel like learning to them. It's more so like speaking to the nanny or the mom, you know, if the person just speaks the language, it comes natural, it is fun, I play with them, I sing with them, I play the piano with them. I like acting, I like singing, I like puppets. I think we have a strong tradition of puppets in Germany to the castle, and things like that. We also have our fairy tales that we grew up with. So I like to do that with little kids. Because especially when they are shy at the beginning, it helps them because they can go into a different position just like an actor play a different role. And so it's easier for them to get out there and try a different language. It's almost like, I'm John and I speak English. But now I'm Peter Pan, and I speak something else, you know. Wow, that Yeah, yeah, all the different customer said you're having with their different challenges that are out there. So that's, that's very exciting. So, Barbara, by being in this global game of languages, for so many years, you have you have built an authority, and an expertise as a language teacher, and thereby your own personal brand that shines. So what does being a personal brand mean to you? To me, it means to find your own story, and make it relatable to your customers. So they know who they are dealing with. Because like we always say, you're not a programme that you buy from a shelf, you are a person that speaks to a person. And the interpersonal connection is so utterly important. For example, I also have expats that are in America, but they have German heritage, and they don't want to lose their heritage. So they might learn it or they learn it together with their kids. It is very, very important to me to exactly know what they want. Or maybe they just love the country. There are people that just love the French cuisine, and that's why they want to learn it, you know, or, you know, there are so many reasons and I think the most important thing is to really make them understand who you are, what you stand for. And my brand is really, that I'm an expert first. And most of all, you know because I have lived the life like you have lived the life when you live abroad. You really that's something you cannot learn without really doing it. You know, you need to really be there. You need to stand in Oxford, like myself full of ideas and not knowing what a broom is, you know, to to adjust your programme according accordingly. I've also designed language games for example for German students. When they are here for a long time. They forget that nouns are capitalised. So I've designed a game that reminds them. nouns in German are capitalised, which makes total sense to us as Germans because in essence, you have a name, forget it, and so everything has a name and that's capitalised also. But it makes sense to me that the car is auto capitalised because the name of the stain is auto. Wow That's clever. Wow. And I also love what you said, find your own story and make it relatable. That's so important, because that's also how you connect with others because they see themselves in you. And seeing themselves in you also, it's the next step, make it more relatable is being authentic. So what does it mean to you to be your authentic self? Yes, to me, I guess like I initially said, it's in my blood blood, I am authentic already, because I am biracial. So I grew up in different languages and in different cultures. And so this is simply really me, you know, like to understand me, that's a part of me. So I can very much relate to people who take this journey, you know, who venture out to who choose a different country, it could be for love, it could be for fun, there's so many reasons why you want to learn the language. But for me, it is like I've lived it. I know it, you know, I know what it's like to live different cultures, you know, because I have a father culture, I have a mother culture. And so it's much easier for me to teach somebody else about different cultures. And that's really not so easy. Because beyond the language, you really need to understand how people see things, to understand how they see you, you know, because you could otherwise really offend them and without even knowing it. So that's why it's very, very important. And that is more easily done. When you have this experience, you know, my own story. So you have mentioned the different cultures, that's an important thing when you are global. Do you have, let's say, three tips or a Yeah, a bunch of advice, that helps us understanding cultures more easily. Yes, for example, often, I realised when I came to America, for example, that Germans I experienced, or people have the feeling that they appear sometimes almost rude with their directness, but it's just matter of fact, you know, to us, it's just like, well, the paper is white, that's all to it, nothing else to say about it. Whereas the Americans are much more gentle, especially when it comes to negative things, you know, like, maybe they would say something like, Well, you might try this instead, you know, it's like lovingly, and, as Jhansi would maybe more so say directly. Now, this makes absolutely no sense. You should really rather wear head with this outfit, or a different colour, or whatever you see. And that is so very important. Because otherwise you don't know that it could be offensive to somebody else. Or the other way round. When I came as an international exchange teacher, I had cultural training to be ready for America. And they taught me there. If somebody says, Well, I talk to you soon, that doesn't mean that you'll ever see them again. So as a German, who is matter of fact, that's offensive, because I feel like, this is so rude. If the person doesn't want to see me, why would they say that? You know, are you really have hurt feelings? You know, you're like, Oh, my God, what did I do wrong? I thought we were really like, having a good conversation, the person disappeared, you know, there are some crucial things to know. Absolutely. This is also what I have been teaching for 20 years in my global classes about branding and communication. And it's, it's, it's really, you have to have an understanding of the culture and the cultural background in whom you are dealing with when it comes to communication when it comes to negotiation, because also, my students in my classroom having difficult is, at first understanding, okay, a US student understanding a Japanese student or a German student understanding a Spanish student or a student coming from South America, there's completely different lifestyles involved, and the way of how we act and react and have a conversation with right. Yes, absolutely. Also how we structure our language altogether. Like, for example, because I have those three languages that are my expertise, and I keep studying also to never forget how you do learn languages. I think that's very important for an instructor to not forget, you know, so to me, it's very important that I study all the time. So I study Italian. I've taken some Spanish classes, just because I never want to forget what is it like to learn a new language because that way, you also stay so much more relatable to your students? You know, because after a while you you start to forget what it was like, and you should not you know, it's very, very important as well. And at the same token, for example, I can tell when a German speaks English and she or he uses the German Grandma, I can literally see it, you know, I know exactly where you're coming from. Because in German, we say, and the fact that I can say we say, because I'm German makes it easier for them, you know, they feel really understood. That's part of the authenticity as well, you know, beautiful. Thank you. Yeah, Barbara. So you also you continue learning and you continue doing and in that sense, you're also starting your own podcast, so. So what was your intention with it? Yes, I was really inspired by wonderful people like yourself, that are brave enough to go out there in the world and invite people in speak and share about themselves. I think that's so inspiring. So I felt that is something also that gives your brand so much authenticity, and people get to know you better. Every time you interview, somebody, we learn another thing about yourself, also, and it goes back to the same thing. I prefer working with somebody that I know that I can relate to you see, absolutely, it's a huge step up out there. I mean, podcasting is one thing, you're being on audio, you know, you can edit it and but then putting yourself out there on video is, is another huge thing to do. So you really getting out of your comfort zone, especially if you're not the person who is used to that. So for me, that's a huge thing being out there. Yeah. So um, Yes, that's me. I'm very glad I'm very excited about your first podcast episode. So what is it going to be about languages, I guess? It will always be somehow about communication and transitions are which I do through through languages. Yes. But initially, we communicate and we transition. And transitions are really our life stories. If you think about it, everything is about transitions, you know, like working working with you is a big transition, because I talk to you, you offer me things, and I can reach it, I transition through your work, which inspires me totally. That's why I love everything you do. And it shines through that you are brand specialists, you know, the way you're asked the way you present yourself. So that excites me totally, you know, and that's the main thing. I think this is really my topic, it will be like transitions with Bob about Wilma, because you can transition in so many ways. While Barbara, that's going to be a huge thing, and I'm sure it's going to be a very successful podcast, please keep us posted on that. Barbara, and I like to ask my guests about their experiences that were major learning experiences for them. So a setback or a detour. That was important, however, for you to grow going forward. And in hindsight offers always a huge opportunity. Would you like to share one detour or setback with us that was particularly important for you and shaped your life? Well, that's a super interesting question. I am pretty blessed because languages come easily to me because I see everything knowledge in general as a gift. So whatever you share with me, I literally soak up as a sponge. But I have seen it is a bit like when I learned instruments, I play the guitar, the piano and several flutes. And since I started the piano, for example, later, it took much more effort. And when I was busy with taking my A levels, I literally could not focus and it is the same with your languages because your brain is a muscle and if you don't keep training, you lose. They always say you snooze, you lose. And it's really true. You know, you have to stay engaged. If you have nobody to talk to use an app. I love to use Netflix, you know, to get back into it, you know, so that you don't lose the positivity. And thank you never forget your goal. Like if you're stuck, you know, just think about what is my goal? Where do I want to transition? Yeah, keep that in mind and being intentional. Most of all, exactly. Yeah. And then work towards where you want to be by being intentional from where you are right now. Exactly positive, right. Absolutely. Right. Yeah. Very good advice. Do you have any other advice for corporates who want to start their own business and getting themselves out there? And taking the courage and taking the the opportunity and stepping into their power? So is there any advice that you can give them in order for them to make that transition smooth? Yes, absolutely. Because I think it's always important to know your why, you know, you asked me about my Y, I think the Y is something that should almost be framed somewhere in your house, you know, that you never forget it. Like when you have bad days, when things don't work the way you want to, you know, the same as you asked about the language acquisition. Just remember, what is your goal? Where do you want to go to, like, even with parents, I'm like, if your kid learns French, why not have a goal, like after a certain time, when you reach a certain level, I take you to France to experience the language and the culture. And it's the same with it with a business. You know, believe in yourself, reassure yourself never give up. No, the sky is not the limit. You know, and your why. And I think the legacy is also very important. If you have children or just for yourself, you always think about you initially, we all want to help people, you know, it's all about helping people. And if you can help people, that is so satisfying that it also makes it easier to keep going, you know, when it goes badly you're like, but I help people, I can help people. It's my calling, somehow, you know, to help people I think that is so important. And if it's your calling, you can't help yourself, you know, there's like, you're drawn to it. Something inside you tells you I have to keep going, you know? Yeah, it is. Yeah, keep on going and never ever give up. Yeah. If you feel like that, if you feel it's your calling if you feel it's different. Yeah, yes. Okay, Barbara, before coming to the end. I also would like to do a quick word wrap with you. Are you ready to give me quick and short answers? Absolutely. All right. Languages. Open Doors and windows. Cool. Elearning. Excellent opportunity because you can go global easily. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Communication opens the world. culture, heritage, something you can't live without and last but not least brands. Brands are, who you are and reflect on it and share it with the world. The brand is who you are your life story. I always say like your brand is basically your life story put into fulfilment. That is beautiful. I have to remember that. Barbara, for listeners, where will they find you? Yes, you can best find me on LinkedIn, just under my name Barbara Ulmer. Also under bu language and learning centre, you will find me easily. Right. So Barbara, thank you so much for being my guest today on brandstalk and showing us the doorway to wisdom, which is to learn other languages. Thank you, Barbara. Yeah, very well complicated. It was a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Barbara. And that was my conversation with Barbara Ulmer. If you liked my show, head over to and sign up for my newsletter to never miss an episode. I look forward to welcoming you in my community. Also, don't forget to subscribe to my brandstalk podcast on your preferred app. share it on social media and if you find a minute or two, leave a quick grading or review. Thank you so much. I hope you will stay tuned in on the next episode. When we dive into the world of brands.