Kaplan Teacher Spotlight: Cristiana LaSelva
Imagine being able to exist between two cultures, two languages. We all identify with a cultural backstory, but what if that backstory was split between countries? For Cristiana LaSelva, an ESL teacher at our English school in Philadelphia, bilingualism was instilled in her from an early age, growing up both in Italy and the US. And through this cross-cultural experience, Cristiana was inspired to teach others the benefits of speaking and understanding multiple languages.
“I was raised bilingual. Learning how to speak two languages allowed me to perceive reality in two different ways. It’s important to understand that the culture we grow up is only a lens through which we see the world. Learning a new language is like buying a new pair of glasses. It’s a change in perspective, observing the world through a different lens.”
A cross-cultural education
After attending school in both Italy and the US, Cristiana pursued higher education in Italy, getting a degree in Linguistic Mediation and Intercultural Communication at the G. d’Annuzio University of Pescara, and a Master’s Degree in Linguistics, Literary and Translation Sciences. While at university, she studied issues like multiculturalism, cultural mediation, learning a second language and bilingualism, which were vital in shaping her ESL teaching skills.
“Every day I enter into a class of students from all parts of the world. Without these theoretical tools it would be very difficult for me to set up an effective lesson and be understood by everyone.”
Building from personal experience
While at university, Cristiana started teaching private English lessons for individuals and small groups, both in Rome and in Philadelphia. She was passionate about sharing her knowledge of languages with others, which showed through her teaching method. Soon after, she started teaching Elementary English at Kaplan in Philadelphia.
“In the classroom there is a continuous exchange of ideas and information. I think the beauty of Kaplan is just that. Kaplan is not just an English school. It is a place where learning English also puts into practice some of the advantages of speaking the language: communicating with people from all over the world and learning from them.”
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Sharing her love for languages
At Kaplan, our teaching methodology is based on total immersion in the language, integrating the best of modern teaching with the life-enhancing adventure of exploring the world.
The classroom experience is key to the development of our students, which is why our teachers work hard to create a comfortable and fun learning environment in which students feel confident enough to practice their new skills.
“Every day I enter into a class of students who have no basic knowledge of English and I find myself having to find ways to communicate with them. Thanks to the support of my fellow teachers, I created valuable strategies to communicate with my students and help them to assimilate new words and construct sentences.”
Exploring English in Philadelphia
One of the best parts of studying English abroad is being able to explore a new and exciting city. For Cristiana, this is her opportunity to share her American home with her students.
“Philadelphia is full of attractions. It is the sixth most populous city in the United States and a historic city. It’s where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were signed. It’s the city of Rocky Balboa and 'Brotherly Love.' Each time I choose a different destination to visit with my students, and I enjoy listening to what they think and watching them discover new places. This is a way for them to make friends, practice their speaking and get to know this beautiful city.”
The Benefits of being bilingual
For Cristiana, languages are more than just part of her culture, they’re a part of her personal identity. Teaching English to international students allows her to express her love of languages and inspire others to follow the same path towards experiencing the world from multiple perspectives. With English, especially, Cristiana is opening doors for a range of international students, inspiring them to explore the wider world and everything it has to offer.
“Studying a new language is about studying the culture linked to it, and studying English abroad will come into contact with customs and traditions that you can hardly know remaining in your country of origin.”
Have you studied with Cristiana in Philadelphia? Or maybe you have another teacher you’d like to highlight from your own Kaplan experience. Share your stories with us in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.