A teacher at heart

Through teaching and learning at Bow Valley College, an instructor finds an enthusiastic clientele.

As Chris Hyland tells the story of his learner using a computer for the first time, his voice sounds like it should be broadcast on national radio. 

“When Sadaf came to the class. Didn't even know what a computer was. Couldn't type. Didn't even know how to turn it on.”

Long pause. 

“Six weeks later, you should have seen her face light up when she fi-nal-ly…sent…her first email.”

Instead of being on the radio, Chris’ oratory prowess is reserved for the English Language Learning (ELL) students at Bow Valley College. Let’s take a look at how he got here. 

Chris started his career as a substitute high school teacher in Langley and Abbotsford, British Columbia. “I am a teacher, always have been, always will be,” he says. But teaching high school didn’t suit him, and after spending the next ten years instructing ELL in South Korea, Chris arrived in Calgary to pursue a PhD in history. He partially funded himself by getting a part-time job as an ELL instructor at Bow Valley College. 

It’s exceedingly difficult to find full-time, consistent work in Chris’ academic field. If that path didn’t work out, Chris thought to himself, he’d pursue a career teaching ELL, as he enjoyed doing that a lot here. 

Even with Chris’ résumé thick in both teaching experience and academic degrees, he needed an ELL instruction certificate to turn his part-time interest into a lasting career. He registered for the ACE TESOL Certificate at Bow Valley College. He praises the instructors for their “absolute expertise,” and says the program’s strength in lesson planning sets it apart from others. 

Chris is now working full-time as an ELL instructor at the College. This natural teacher has found the learners that suit him best. “ELL students are so engaged. They want to be here. I am continually amazed at the lengths they will go just to get here. It's impressive. Putting children in daycare. Getting a part-time job to work around their schooling hours. I really like that enthusiasm and energy when I’m teaching in class.”      

Is your story waiting to be told? If you’re a learner with an interesting story, we may want to tell it on Email us at

Posted on June 11, 2018

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