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Our Team

At the ESL Open Learning Centre, we offer free English language support for any registered students enrolled in the ESL program, and all other academic undergraduate or graduate degree programs at York University.

Our trained team members are here to discuss and suggest effective measures to help you improve your language skills by assisting with reading comprehension, academic presentation, vocabulary building, grammar awareness, academic writing, critical thinking and research skills. Browse below to get acquainted with our facilitators, and use our system to schedule an appointment.

Olga Makinina

ESL OLC Director

Olga Makinina is the Director of the ESL Open Learning Centre and an assistant professor of the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics at York University, specializing in English Language Studies. Her research interests include ESL acquisition, formulaic language acquisition, writing in L2, code-switching, technology-enhanced learning and teaching, and multiliteracies practices and pedagogy.

Marlon Valencia

Glendon ESL OLC Director

Marlon Valencia is the Director of the Glendon ESL Open Learning Centre and an assistant professor of the Department of English at Glendon College. His research interests include language learners' and teachers' identities, autoethnography, visual ethnography, critical multiliteracies, and the role of imagination in teaching and learning.

Brenda McComb

ESL OLC Writing Instructor

Brenda McComb has taught in York's departments of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics (ESL), Humanities and Writing for over 30 years. She has worked extensively in one-on-one tutoring in both the Writing Centre and ESL Open Learning Centre. In her research and practice, she has a particular focus on the roles academic discourse plays in our scholarly, personal, professional and cultural lives, and how domestic and international students can develop skills needed to further engage and contribute in all these areas.

Gillian Beresford

ESL OLC Writing Instructor

Gillian Beresford is an adjunct professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics with interests in language, music, and science. I have published in the field of language planning and have worked with university students at all levels at all stages of the writing process.

Mansour Safdari

ESL OLC Writing Instructor

Mansour Safdari has more than 10 years of experience teaching ESL and communication courses at the college and university level. He has also been a curriculum developer and a teacher trainer in Canada and oversees. Mansour holds an MA in applied linguistics from York University and a BA in English from Iran. He has two teaching certificates—Teaching English to the Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Trinity College, London, England, and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) from Toronto, Canada. Mansour is passionate about other cultures and languages, so outside academic life, he rides his bicycle around the world to get a first-hand glimpse of different cultures and languages.

José Luis Ortiz Soria

ESL OLC Language Facilitator

José Luis Ortiz Soria is a PhD student in the Applied Linguistics program at York University. He has been teaching Spanish as a foreign language for 10 years and he also has experience working with Chinese students to develop their English language skills. Furthermore, he has a background in computer engineering. His main areas of interest are technology mediated language teaching and learning, informal language learning practices, and transmedia literacies.

Ghulam Rasool

ESL OLC Language Facilitator

Ghulam Rasool is a PhD student in Applied Linguistics at York University. He received MA TESOL degree from Michigan State University, USA on Fulbright Scholarship. His research interests include language policy and planning; language identity and ideology; Multilingualism; Multiculturalism; culture and identity; second language (L2) writing; L2 writing assessment; English for Specific Purposes; L2 motivation; L2 Motivational Self System; Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL); and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).

Burcu Boran

ESL OLC Language Facilitator

Burcu Boran is a Ph.D. student in the Linguistics and Applied Linguistics Department at York University. She obtained two master’s degrees in Linguistics from Hacettepe University, Türkiye, and York University. Her research interests include heritage language acquisition, L1 attrition, processing and acquisition of syntax and its interfaces. She has taught numerous ESL students from high school to university levels in Türkiye for 4 years and since 2022, she has been helping students at the ESL OLC to improve their academic language skills.

Precious Affia

ESL OLC Language Facilitator

Precious Affia is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at York University. She specializes in sociolinguistics, particularly on Language and Identity in the diaspora. She has taught Introduction to University Writing for four years and is an instructor teaching Linguistics courses tailored to be better suited for ESL students. She has experience working with students in the Open Language Centre (OLC) at York University and enjoys helping students to advance in their Writing skills and in their overall use of English Language.

HaEun Kim

ESL OLC Language Facilitator

HaEun Kim is a PhD student in Applied Linguistics. Her research interests are language and literacy education, language learning in displacement, forced migration and refugee studies, and understanding barriers that prevent access to learning in urban contexts such as Toronto and settings considered to be ‘education in emergencies’.