Miglena Nikolova grew up in a multilingual family in Europe.
“The proximity of different countries, languages and cultures sparked my curiosity and motivated me to learn languages and explore the culture of the neighboring countries,” she said.
She earned her bachelor’s degree at South-West University in Europe and then both her master’s degree and a doctorate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she worked as a head teaching assistant and research assistant. After graduation, Nikolova obtained a position at the DANK Haus, The German Cultural Center in Chicago, where she spent three years and served as the Language Program director of the German school.
Now at College of DuPage, Nikolova believes teaching is a profession of inspiration, in which educators can affect positive changes in learners’ lives.
“My natural curiosity and passion for learning inspires students to surpass their expectations and arm themselves with the tools necessary for success in life,” she said. “By developing their linguistic competence and cultural awareness under my guidance, learners become independent, competent and active participants in the process of communication in and outside of the classroom.”
Her goal is to improve academic achievement by supporting the appropriate learning environment and maintaining high expectations. To achieve these objectives, Nikolova follows two essential principles.
“First, I believe that education has to be student-centered. Second, I hold that learning should be enjoyable,” she said. “In order to maintain these principles, I structure the learning process around students’ individual learning styles and personalize the instructional content for each individual student. Additionally, I rely on instructional techniques such as group/partner work that emphasize collaborative and cooperative learning.
“I also motivate students to engage in self-directed learning and support them in making important decisions about their own learning so that they feel empowerment about acquiring lifelong skills. Last but not least, I place great value on creativity and the ability to engage in independent critical thinking. Accordingly, I teach my students to analyze, evaluate and question information, and creatively synthesize across disciplines.”
In return, Nikolova’s students provide her with the greatest inspiration.
“Students’ academic success, their motivation and dedication to learn German, their eagerness to communicate, read and write in the target language, their curiosity about German culture—all these factors encourage me to be the best version of myself.”