Cristina Garcia-Versteegh - Multilingual Education Advocate and Director of LangoKids Irvine Language Academy
We are very pleased to introduce fellow Collegiate Gigster Cristina Garcia-Versteegh, owner and director of LangoKids Irvine Language Academy. She is a strong proponent of teaching children more than one language, believes in continuing one's education throughout life, and is also an amazing positive influence for children and Gigsters everywhere. We could not be more pleased to share her story.
What kind of work do you do? Do you also have a side-Gig? If not, do you have any hobbies or other activities you wouldn’t mind developing into a paid Gig?
I own and direct a language school in Irvine, CA. We specialize in teaching Spanish and French through the Immersion approach. We teach kids ages 2 to 10 years old and we offer from the most basic to the most advanced level of fluency in Spanish and French. Our classes are highly dynamic and non-traditional. My side hobby is to read literary works, and also to write Emergent Reader books and picture books for kids. These books are educational and highly cultural. I intend to one day create an interactive platform for people to download the material, and for me to go around places (schools, libraries, educational organizations) giving conferences about Spanish language and the cultural things embedded in the books, and reading the books and teaching how to read in Spanish in a fun and easy way.
What did you study in college? What did you enjoy the most about your chosen course of study?
I completed most of my education in Colombia. In College I studied Modern Languages Teaching (Spanish, French and English). I enjoyed learning the languages more in depth, all the required reading, and doing my internships. I knew from that point that I was shaped and called to be a teacher. As I worked as an English professor at a university, I pursued another degree called a Specialization in Bilingual Education. Then, I was introduced to the concept of teaching languages through play for kids and adults. I created and applied different games with a linguistic focus and they were well received and I could see great results. Lastly, I wanted to pursue some degree that fed my intellect and my passion for World Literature. I was awarded a scholarship to earn a Master of Arts in English and World Literature in PA, USA. I just loved to have the tools I needed to dive deeper into literary works. I was able to study, compare and analyze authors and works that were close to my heritage under a different, more specialized lens and learn more about myself and where I came from.
How does your education help you in the work that you do today?
Immensely. All I do now revolves around all my studies in second language acquisition and language learning. The concepts I apply now and teach my teachers and clients I learned back then through classes, research, and readings. I also had amazing professors that taught me the power of being a good influence for my students. Of course, I had bad professors but from that I also learned to never settle for less when I can give my all in a class and in the development of curriculum and material for my classes.
Would you also consider returning to school to learn something new? If so, what would that be?
I am interested in pursuing a PhD program in Educational Neuroscience or a Ed.D program in the near future.
What resources could a site like Colégas provide that would help you achieve your goals?
The Colegas group is lead by Marie who has vast knowledge of education, schools, grants, and more. I know I can reach out to her when I look for a guide, and she can connect me with schools and other gigsters in the field. I see this platform as a great way to network with people in different professions and expertise. We can work together with the Colegas group to link people with schools and for the ones that come out of out school to have a space to share their experiences and work and have a place to start spreading their knowledge.
Do you have any advice or professional strategies you could share with our readers?
Readiness an timing are important. I consider that right now being a business owner, educator, and mom of young kids is my main focus so my educational goals are on standby and that's OK. I don't regret it or dwell on it, I just wait patiently as I am not ready to jump on the roller coaster of a rigorous study and put it all in jeopardy. It's prudent to do things when the right time present itself.
To learn more about Cristina Garcia-Versteegh and her language school, please visit their website: LangoKids Irvine Language Academy.