Collection of Vintage Keys

Credit ESL Faculty & Staff


 

Full-Time Faculty

Thi Thi Ma

Associate Professor
B.A. San Francisco State University
M.A. University of California, Los Angeles

My passion and desire to become an ESL teacher started when I was 19 years old. Then, I had to help my mom, who had never had any formal ESL learning opportunity, pass the U.S citizenship exam. Her struggle in learning English for such a specific purpose and eventually success in passing the exam were beyond inspirational. That was the beginning of my undivided focus in pursuing teaching ESL as a lifelong career. I knew in my heart that I was good at it and that there were people who could use my help. 

This motivation led me to triple major in English, Chinese, and Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. I continued to complete a M.A. degree in Applied Linguistics and a TESL graduate certificate at UCLA.  

In the past 20 years, helping ESL and international students in obtaining degrees in higher education in the U.S and mastering the English language remains an unwavering goal. Los Angeles City College is the perfect environment where I can extend my passion to work with students from diverse linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Here, I also have opportunities to mentor young teachers and tutors who are interested in becoming an educator. At LACC Credit ESL Program, we see students as partners and peers within the same community. We want to see them thrive. 

Email: @email
Office: Jefferson Hall 302-B

 

Jieeun Amanat-Lee

Assistant Professor
M.A. University of California, Los Angeles
M.S. Vanderbilt University
M.A. TESOL Biola University

Looking back, I think it was a gradual process through which I realized my passion for teaching ESL. I immigrated to the US from Korea as a teenager, and I was blessed to have highly competent, caring teachers who encouraged me to succeed academically. I still remember their faces and names. After I studied education in graduate schools, I had an opportunity to teach English to high school and college students in Pakistan. It was a very novel but rewarding experience to work with students whose way of life was quite different from mine but who were eager to learn English to achieve their goals just like I had been. (Plus, biryani replaced pizza as my most favorite food!) Upon returning to the US, I continued to teach English at several community colleges. Now at LACC, I love to craft the art of words with my students to say or write precisely what we intend to communicate, not more or less. I also enjoy the highly diverse perspectives and cultures that our LACC students bring to class discussion.

Email: @email
Office: Jefferson Hall 302-A

 

Elizabeth Gordon

Associate Professor
B.A. University of South Florida
M.A. University of California, Los Angeles

My name is Liz (Elizabeth) Gordon. I have been teaching ESL at LACC for 23 years. I typically teach grammar and writing courses.

Email: @email
Office: Jefferson Hall 301-J

 

Lane Igoudin

Professor
M.A. California State University, Long Beach
Ph.D. Stanford University

I first started teaching ESL at LACC in 2005 as a faculty intern with the LACCD Project and, since 2010, I have been teaching here full-time. I have taught all levels and types of ESL classes, but usually teach upper-level writing and reading courses. I also like to develop new courses, so I have created five new ESL courses in our program as well as the new Certificates of Achievements in ESL (ask me about those!). Writing is important to me, and in my free time, I write essays and articles on social topics for magazines and websites. Teaching aside, I enjoy biking with my kids and reading books about history and languages.  

Email: @email
Office: Jefferson Hall 301-B

 

Susan Niemeyer

Associate Professor
B.A. Iowa State University
M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

My road to teaching ESL began as a young teenager when my home state of Iowa welcomed many refugees from Southeast Asia, including the royal dance troupe of Laos, in the early 1980s. My family was very involved in this effort, and I remain close to one of the families to this day.

After graduating from college, I traveled to rural Japan to teach English to middle and high school students for two years. I then earned a master’s degree in TESOL at the University of Illinois. Following that, I lived in Seoul, Korea, where I taught English at Yonsei University and Seoul National University for six years. 

In 2000, my family and I moved to southern California, and I’ve been teaching full-time at Los Angeles City College since then. At LACC, I love the dynamism created by classes of students from all over the world who share the common desire to improve their English and achieve their dreams.

In my classes at LACC, I focus on developing foundational skills for future academic coursework. I particularly enjoy teaching reading courses, in which my students build their comprehension and vocabulary as they read full-length books written for native speakers of English.

Email: @email
Office: Jefferson Hall 302-A

 

Dr. Genevieve Patthey

Professor
B.A. University of California, Los Angeles
M.A., Ph.D. University of Southern California
Postdoctoral Fellow, National Academy of Education

Born in Switzerland in 1960, my first immigration experience brought me to Los Angeles, California, in 1976. After graduating from UCLA, I spent a ‘gap year’ with friends from Guadalajara, Mexico, whom I met in my first California ESL class. This second migration experience crystallized in a five-part poem called “Europe, Too, Came from Somewhere Else” and helped me find my calling as a teacher. I returned to Los Angeles, studied linguistics, and fell in love with teaching at LACC with my first ESL 6A class way back in 1989. I have applied what I learned ever since as both an educator and a researcher, and still love the work. In addition to researching and teaching, I also love to read international literature, speculative fiction, and poems from many lands, and am exploring online possibilities for creatives.  

Email: @email
Office: Jefferson Hall 301-B

 

Adjunct Faculty

Jolie Bechet

Adjunct Associate Professor
B.A. University of California, Irvine
M.A. University of California, Los Angeles

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, the City of Angels. As a young child, my parents began taking the family on wonderful trips abroad. This was the beginning of my love of art, architecture, and foreign languages. At twelve I started learning French and this opened up a new world for me.  

During my junior year I was accepted into the University of California’s Education Abroad Program and studied at La Sorbonne in Paris for a year. While I was studying in Paris, I was offered a part time job teaching English at a local high school and that ignited my love of teaching ESL. 

I graduated from the University of California, Irvine and immediately started looking for a position as an ESL teacher. I worked for over twenty years for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Adult Education Program and have taught all levels of ESL.  I eventually became the ESL Coordinator at Westside Community Adult School’s ESL Program. In addition to my teaching and coordinating duties, I was also  a curriculum developer, test designer, and mentor teacher for LAUSD.

I decided to return to graduate school to enhance my expertise in the field of ESL. I was accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles’ TESOL/ Applied Linguistics Master’s Program and was also offered a position as a teaching assistant in UCLA’s Visiting Scholar program. 

After graduate school I was trained by ETS to become a reader for the TOEFL test. I worked for ETS for over twenty years and scored the Test of Written English (TWE) essays for thousands of international students who wanted to attend American universities. I then went on to design the first TOEFL Preparation class at LAUSD. It was quite a successful program and was a joy to teach.

In 2023 I began teaching at Los Angeles City College. I have enjoyed every minute of teaching and love meeting students from every corner of the globe. I am fluent in both French and Portuguese and understand how difficult it is to learn a new language. 

Email: @email

 

Dalit Berkowitz

Adjunct Professor
B.F.A. Carnegie Mellon University 
M.A. Teachers College, Columbia University

I grew up in the New York City area to immigrant parents from South America and South Africa. Their parents were immigrants from different European countries, too. This gave me an appreciation of many cultures and a deep understanding of the immigrant experience. I know firsthand the challenges and joys that can come with making one’s home in the United States.

My first experience teaching English to speakers of other languages was at the Community Language Program in New York City, as part of the Teachers College TESOL training curriculum. Since that time, I’ve taught at many colleges and universities in New York and Los Angeles. I began teaching all levels of ESL at Los Angeles City College in the early 2000’s. I really enjoy the diversity of the student population at LACC. It makes feel right at home!

In addition to my English language teaching, I’m also a professional actor and music artist. Those parts of my identity influence my teaching a lot. I have passion for sound, rhythm and the human experience. As a lifelong learner myself, I love to help my students grow and make themselves proud.

Email: @email

 

Patrice Dally

Adjunct Associate Professor
B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara
M.A. University of California, Los Angeles

I have been a faculty member in LACC’s English/ESL department since 2001. Previously I taught at UCLA, where I received my MA. In addition, I have taught in Japan, Taiwan, Italy, and Mexico, and I have worked as a language consultant, designing courses and writing teaching materials for a number of specialized learning environments. I enjoy teaching, meeting new people and helping my students improve their language skills. In my free time, I love to garden, paint, and travel to new places.

Email: @email

 

Brian Foley

Adjunct Associate Professor
B.A. Harvard University
M.A. Ryokan College

After receiving a B.A. from Harvard University, I worked for many years in the entertainment industry. I was (and still am) a songwriter for a company that places music in movies and TV shows, and I wrote for a TV production company that produced home-study education courses.

Both of my parents were teachers, so teaching is a tradition in my family. And after getting getting my M.A., I began teaching academic writing at West Los Angeles College before moving here to LACC. I have taught every level of ESL writing many times.

Good academic writing is not difficult to learn. When you understand the rules and have some practice, you can write paragraphs and essays that professors will like to read. And that can make the college experience more successful (and less stressful!)

I really enjoy being able to teach students such an important and useful skill.

Email: @email

 

 

Ron Lapp

Professor Emeritus
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa
Email: @email

I have been teaching both English and ESL at LACC since 1986 full-time as a tenured faculty member and am now semi-retired continuing to teach part-time in LACC's ESL program. I have taught every ESL course in LACC's ESL program and currently teach both ESL 6A and ESL 8 in alternating semesters via Zoom online. My expertise is in the teaching of reading and writing to ESL students, though I also have an equivalent amount of experience teaching reading and writing to native speakers, and in our program that would be English 101, 102, and 103. I have been teaching classes online for more than ten years. I have also been involved in teaching teachers throughout my teaching career, specifically at the Institute of Education in Singapore and at USC. 

 

Nandini Patnaik

Lecturer
M.A., Ph.D., Ravenshaw University, India
M.A. California State University, Los Angeles
Email: @email

My entire life has been a journey of teaching and learning.

Having completed my M.A. and Ph. D. in English Literature from India, I worked as a tenured college instructor in India for thirteen years until I came to the USA in 2000. After my arrival, I developed an interest in exploring ways of teaching English to speakers of other languages. Soon I joined CSULA and graduated with a Master’s degree in TESOL.

I joined LACC as an adjunct faculty of ESL in 2007. My favorite areas of teaching include grammar and academic writing, and I always focus on applying my teaching expertise to bring out the best in my students.

I encourage my students to develop their innate human values and learn from their observation of life’s affairs. I love to see them express those lessons through ESL activities such as oral discussions and written assignments.

When a student’s speeches and essays convey their personal observations, beliefs, and thoughtful opinions, unawares, they begin to teach others while learning themselves. In this journey no student is ever alone.  

 

Slavka Pironti

Lecturer
B.A. West Virginia Wesleyan College
M.A. Biola University

Growing up in Sofia, Bulgaria, I was on my way to becoming trilingual (Bulgarian, Russian, and English) at a very early age. I attended the American University in Bulgaria for two years, after which I transferred to West Virginia Wesleyan College, where, in 1997, I earned a B.A. in English and Speech Communication and Dramatic Arts. I then moved to Los Angeles and received an M.A. in Intercultural Studies in 2000 and an M.A. in TESOL in 2001 from Biola University.

I started teaching credit ESL classes at Los Angeles Mission College, and since then, I have taught at a number of other community colleges in the Los Angeles area. I have been teaching at Los Angeles City College since 2004 and have enjoyed getting to know students from all over the world.

I like teaching listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills and helping my students improve their knowledge of English as well as gain confidence when it comes to achieving their academic goals.

Email: @email

 

Hassan Pourtavasoli

Adjunct Associate Professor
B.A. University of Esfahan
M.A. San Francisco State University

Email: @email

 

Lisa Saperston

Lecturer
B.A. University of Southern California
M.S. University of Southern California

My name is Lisa Saperston, and my professional career is teaching English to diverse English language learners (ELL) from all around the world who chose LACC as their home college! I have been an ESL educator at LACC for nearly 30 years now and have had the wonderful opportunity to see thousands of ELL students reach their English language goals and continue their education to pursue their academic and career goals. I specialize in all aspects of English language learning instruction at all levels focusing on language areas such helping students: 

  1. strengthen their American English pronunciation and intonation; 
  2. deliver effective presentations and connect to one's audience;
  3. build strong listening skills and the ability to take meaningful and organized notes;
  4. learn and apply grammar concepts at each ESL level to generate unique student-generated sentences, paragraphs, and essays. 

I look forward to each new class to meet with students and teach, learn, listen, discuss, and laugh together in a space dedicated for cultural exchanges and understanding!

Email: @email

 

Rita Stafford

Adjunct Associate Professor
B.F.A.  New York University
M.A., Ph.D.   University of Southern California

I’ve been teaching ESL at Los Angeles City College since 1997. Though I’ve taught ESL and Linguistics at other colleges and universities, LACC is my home. I especially love how LACC’s diverse student population brings people from different cultures and different language backgrounds together. Each semester is a new opportunity to appreciate what we have in common and learn about the ways in which we are unique; and of course, supporting one another in learning English in an academic, higher education setting.

I hold a BFA in Filmmaking from New York University, and an MA and PhD in International Education from USC. I came to ESL after a 15 year career in Film and Journalism and consider the surprising direction my life took to have been a great blessing. As a Greek-born American, raised in New York City, I share an immigrant’s experience with my students in that my early home life was separate from the mainstream and English will always be my second language too!

Email: @email

 

Dr. Bernadette Tchen

Professor Emeritus
B.A. Universite de Paris-Sorbonne IV
M.A. Universite de Paris-Sorbonne IV
M.A. University of Southern California
M.S. University of Southern California
Ph.D. University of Southern California
MAP University of Antioch at Los Angeles

As an immigrant of Chinese origin born in Vietnam and educated in the French system in Laos, I never dreamt of becoming an ESL teacher in the USA. Yet, here I am, still living my dream that started over 30 years ago at LACC. Since Fall of 1989, I have been privileged to start each semester with exciting anticipation because I wonder whom I will meet in my classes, and what enrichment they will add to my life while I am guiding them one step further on their paths towards fulfilling their dreams through their English acquisition.

I am very grateful to have been put on this career path where I can thrive in a multicultural environment. My own family, both nuclear and extended, reflects cultural and linguistic diversity since it is composed of inter-racial and inter-ethnic marriages. My husband is of European descent, and our son was born in Saudi Arabia, and among my relatives are individuals from Laos, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Mexico, and El Salvador.

Email: @email

 

Jack D. Warner

Adjunct Professor
M.A. California State University, Los Angeles
M.A. California State University, Los Angeles

With over three decades of experience, I have established myself as an innovative ESL professor dedicated to empowering students from around the world. Since 1989, I have taught at prestigious colleges and universities across Southern California including USC, PCC, CSULA and LACC, where I have developed groundbreaking techniques for teaching speaking, reading and listening skills.

My experience as an actor, musician and filmmaker has also allowed me to bring a creative spark to the classroom. Many of my students have gone on to achieve great success as actors, musicians, singers, businessmen and more. My diverse background has been the driving force behind my passion for helping students master English to excel in their careers, businesses and lives. I aim to continue this mission by drawing on my decades of experience and innovative spirit.

Email: @email

 

Terry Wusnack

Lecturer
B.A. University of Texas at El Paso
M.A. University of Texas at El Paso

I'm Terry Wusnack, a familiar face in the English/ESL Department here at LACC. Let me give you a glimpse into my world. I've been part of the LACC family since 2001, and I'm a true LA local, having spent most of my life soaking in the city's vibes. My academic journey led me to the University of Texas at El Paso, where I earned my degrees back in 1995. After some inspiring years teaching in Mexico, I made my way back to the City of Angels, where I stumbled upon the treasure trove of languages right here at LACC.

I'm what they call a "Renaissance Man." What does that mean? Well, I'm your go-to guy in three diverse areas: ESL Professor (with a whopping 30 years of experience), Musician (a lifelong passion), and Electronics Technician (can you believe it, 20 years of tinkering with gadgets!). These might seem worlds apart, but let me tell you, they're more connected than you'd think.

First and foremost, all my pursuits are rooted in one common theme: fun. I believe in the power of joy, and I infuse my classes with that same playful spirit. Learning should be exciting, right? Secondly, these seemingly unrelated interests weave together beautifully. They create this fascinating tapestry of perspectives that I bring into my teaching. It's all about seeing things from different angles, something I encourage my students to do too. Lastly, I've mastered the art of sparking curiosity. Whether it's about ESL, music, or gadgets, I love igniting that spark of interest in my students. It's like opening a door to a world of endless possibilities, and that's what I strive to do in every class.

Before I sign off, I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to my colleagues in the English/ESL Department. Your support, kindness, and friendship have made my journey here unforgettable. Here's to more fun, curiosity, and learning together

Email: @email

 

Paula Yerman

Lecturer
B.A. Brooklyn College
M.A. New York University

Born in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant parents, I developed a sensitivity and appreciation for people, places, and things from different cultures.  As a New Yorker, I was exposed to a variety of cultures from my earliest recollections.   These experiences helped form my appreciation and understanding of what it’s like to be a newcomer in a new home.

I began teaching English to speakers of other languages in Chinatown, New York City.   From there, I taught English to a variety of cultures in community colleges and universities, workplace settings, as well as public high schools.  I love traveling and learning about different cultures and have been to almost every continent except Australia and Antarctica!

In 2000, I began teaching at LACC.  I love the rich diversity of our student population. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world, and luckily, that happens naturally at LACC.  

Email: @email

 

ESL Lab Staff

Wendy Witherspoon

Assistant Professor
B.A. University of California, Los Angeles
M.A. University of California, Irvine
Ph.D. University of Southern California

Email: @email
Office: AD 100

 

Dimitri

Instructional Assistant

B.A. University of California, Los Angeles
M.A. California State University, Los Angeles

Email: @email
Office: AD 100 / JH 318

 

Staff

Jasminee Haywood-Daley

Secretary
B.A. San Diego State University

Office: Jefferson Hall 301
Email: @email

 

English & ESL Department

Office Hours and Location

Mondays to Thursdays: 8:00AM - 4:00PM
Fridays to Sundays: Closed

Our department is located on the 3rd floor of Jefferson Hall in room JH 301.

Contact

Jeffrey M. Nishimura, Department Chair
Email: @email
Phone: (323) 953-4000 ext. 2706

The Chair usually attends meetings in the afternoon, so please call before you come.

Jasminee Haywood-Daley, Secretary
Email: @email
Phone: (323) 953-4000 ext. 2700

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