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Debra McPherson

Debra McPherson, M.A.

English As A Second Language, Language Arts

Email: dmcpherson@cypresscollege.edu

Phone: 714-484-7000 Ext : 48424

Office Hours : Fall 2015: MW 2pm-3 or Tues/Thurs 5pm-6

Location: Humanities 208, room J



I did not go directly into teaching or English as a Second Language. Though I always enjoyed language and writing, my interest in animals and medicine led me to begin my college career at the University of California, San Diego with the intent of becoming a veterinarian.

But my interest in language was renewed when I learned about all of the people in the world today who are cut off from written communication ( books, letters, the Internet...) because they never developed a written form for their language. Some of these language groups are small but others are quite large. I responded to this challenge by changing my major to linguistics, the science of language and communication. I earned my Master's Degree in Linguistics and left the United States to go work among a people whose language was still unwritten.

I spent a year and a half in France learning the French language and then continued to Chad, Africa. In Chad, I lived in the African countryside with the Kera people to learn their language and develop an alphabet and literacy. For the next six years, I lived and worked among the Kera people while also teaching linguistics, principles of dynamic translation, and cross-cultural communication at the university level in Africa, France, and the U.S. When I left Chad for the last time, the Kera people had a working alphabet, several short health booklets, some portions of the Bible translated into their language, and literacy classes in many of the villages.

I enjoy language and other cultures! I know what it is to learn another language as an adult and I know what it feels like to live in (not just vacation in) a country whose language and culture are very different from my own.

After I returned to the U.S., a good friend told me about teaching ESL in the community colleges. I immediately saw that it would be a wonderful blend of working with language and with people from other cultures, so I began teaching ESL in 1991. While teaching at Santa Ana College and Orange Coast College, I completed a Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages within the TESL graduate program at California State University, Fullerton. I have been involved in teaching and developing ESL and linguistics curriculum ever since.

I was hired full-time at Cypress College in 1999 and I absolutely love what I do!

Horses remain one of my main interests, together with my church and a large and very close family throughout the state of California.


Recommended Course

ESL 066 C  Advanced Reading

For students eligible for ESL 184 or above, it is a very good idea to strengthen college reading skills.

Grammar Classes:

    ESL 052 or 062 for verb structure focus.

    ESL 053 or 063 for sentence structure/punctuation