English as a Second Language

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Arnie Cooper




Arnie CooperYou would think growing up in Queens, New York, the most linguistically diverse county in the country, would've taught me right from the start to be sensitive to multi-cultural issues. Unfortunately, many of those around me, both family and friends were caught in an "us vs them" mindset. I'll never forget the time driving down Queens Boulevard with my best friend from high school and his mother when she "spotted" an African American. "There's another one looking for trouble," she proclaimed. When I challenged her racism, she countered, "I didn't know you were a liberal."

Truth be told, it took a bit longer for my fully progressive self to emerge, but it was incidents like those that left me with a gnawing desire to promote social justice by working with individuals from different ethnicities. Add to that my love of foreign languages and  it was natural that I gravitated toward ESL.

After graduating from Boston University with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism, I obtained my Master's Degree in TESL from UMass Boston in 1989 while teaching at both the Boston Center for Adult Education and ELS at Emmanuel College. When I moved to Santa Barbara in 1992, I continued working with second language learners at both SBCC's Continuing Ed and EF School. In 1995 I joined the English Language Program at UCSB where I taught university bound ESL students and prospective teachers in the TESL Certificate Program until ELP was disbanded in 2007. I returned to Adult Ed the following year.

As for my pedagogical approach, it's not just about student-centered teaching, it's also focused on promoting cross-cultural understanding, whether I'm instructing a group of Saudi pilots, a mix of Europeans and Asians or immigrant populations such as those we find in this program. In addition to teaching, I'm also a freelance writer covering science, technology, the arts and social issues for a variety of national newspapers and magazines. My work has appeared in The Sun, Poets & Writers, Wired, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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