VCC Instructor Biographies

Joann Chernen

Joann Chernen BA, TESOL Diploma, MA in TESL/TEFL

Department Head and Instructor: Joann has a rich and varied background in the field of TESOL, having been involved in adult ESL for over 28 years in a variety of settings. Joann is the department head of TESOL at Vancouver Community College. She has written a book entitled, Interactive Pronunciation Games, and is the author of a chapter in Insights on Teaching Speaking in TESOL, part of the TESOL Classroom Practice Series. Joann also contributed tasks and advice to Doing Task-based Teaching, an Oxford Handbook for Language Teachers by Dave and Jane Willis. Joann has considerable experience in the areas of teacher-training and curriculum and materials design. Other areas of specialization include pronunciation and content-based instruction.

Sarah Burwood

Sarah Burwood, BA, CTESOL, DTEFLA, MA

Instructor: Sarah has taught ESL and EFL, and managed ELT programs for adults and young learners, since 1988, in Canada, the U.K. Italy and Poland. Her special areas of interest include teacher development and training, supporting new teachers, young learners and the creation of materials and academic resources. She has published, Projects for Children and Teenagers with Oxford University Press. Sarah is the instructor for Teaching Listening and Speaking, Teaching Reading, an Overview of TESOL, the TESOL Internship, various TEFL/Tutoring courses and TESOL Electives, the TESOL Certificate and the Intensive TEFL Certificate for Teaching Young Learners.

Rita Dickson

Rita Dickson, BA, TESOL Diploma, MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL

Instructor: Other than a winter teaching Adult Basic Education in the western Arctic, Rita has taught ESL in the Vancouver area since 1993. She’s taught international students and immigrants, in literacy to advanced levels. She also teaches a communication skills course in the Canadian Pharmacy Practice Program, the UBC School of Pharmacology’s bridging program for foreign-trained pharmacists. Rita has worked as a teacher trainer at Vancouver Community College since 2000; her special area of interest is making pronunciation theory and resources more accessible for use in the field of ESL instruction. Rita has taught the TESOL Distance Diploma courses Teaching Pronunciation and Teaching Listening and Speaking, The TESOL Diploma core courses Communications and Culture, and Teaching Pronunciation, the TEFL/Tutoring ESOL course Teach/Tutor Pronunciation, various TESOL Electives and the TESOL Certificate.


Liet Hellwig, BA, PGCE, MA (Linguistics and Literature), M.Phil. (Second Language Acquisition)

Instructor: Liet has taught ESL/EFL since 1978 in Jordan, Palestine, England, the Netherlands, Mexico, Indonesia, France and Canada. She has also worked as a teacher trainer in Mexico, Indonesia, Jordan, China and Canada since 1984. Her special areas of interest include teacher training, IELTS, EAP, and grammar instruction. Liet teaches the TESOL Diploma Core Courses, Teaching Grammar One and Two: Theory and Practice, an Overview of TESOL and the TESOL Certificate, as well as the TEFL/Tutoring ESOL course Teach/Tutor Grammar and various TESOL Electives.


Anita Schuller, BA,TESOL Diploma, MA

Instructor: Anita has taught ESL at various levels to both immigrants and international students since 1990, including teaching in community-based settlement language training. She has worked as a teacher trainer at Vancouver Community College since 2002.  She is an experienced distance education teacher trainer and currently teaches as a distance instructor for the Foundations for TESOL course and the Teaching Grammar Course in the TESOL Distance Diploma Program. Anita also teaches the TESOL Diploma core courses, an Overview of TESOL, Teaching Writing and various TESOL Electives. Anita’s special areas of interest are teaching ESL at lower levels and incorporating music into the ESL classroom.

Sara Yuen

Sara Yuen, BA, TESOL Diploma, MEd (TESL) in progress

Instructor: Sara has taught literacy and ESL/EFL since 1991 in a wide variety of settings in Canada and China. Her special areas of interest are community-based language learning and critical/ participatory approaches to adult education. Sara teaches the TESOL Distance Diploma Program courses Teaching Reading and Writing and Teaching Listening and Speaking. Sara also teaches the TESOL Diploma core courses Teaching Reading, Teaching Writing, and an Overview of TESOL, various TESOL electives and the TEFL/Tutoring ESOL course Teach/Tutor Conversation Skills.


Dorothy Giroux, Program Assistant

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