This month, Dave Sperling talks about how he came to love the machine

daveI didn’t always love computers. I took my first and only computer class back in 1977, when I was a high school student in Los Angeles, California. What torture! Most of the students were mathematical and science types (I liked English and history). The material was esoteric, the teacher was boring, and I was always completely baffled. I suffered so much that I purposely evaded computers for several years afterwards. Yes it’s true. Dave Sperling, creator of one of the world’s most popular ESL/EFL Web sites, was a total technophobe!I moved to high-tech Japan in 1984, and for over five years managed to avoid anything that vaguely resembled a computer. “What does a teacher need with a computer?,” I often thought to myself. And in 1988 I moved to rural Thailand. It was easy to stay away from computers over there because there weren’t any!

Things began to quickly change when I moved back to the United States in 1992 and began my graduate studies in Applied Linguistics at California State University, Northridge. Everything around me was totally computerized and I could no longer avoid them. I finally gave in and bought my very own computer – a Macintosh Performa 550. It was love-at-first-site! With my slow little 2400 bps modem and a telephone line, I connected from my home to my university’s computer system, and quickly sent my very first e-mail message to my friend and colleague in Chiangmai, Thailand. To my complete astonishment, he sent a message back to me in a matter of minutes. Wow! I was so thrilled. This was the beginning of my exciting Internet adventure, and I soon met, communicated and interacted with new friends, teachers, and students from around the world. The Internet has been my passion ever since.

Dave Sperling has an M.A. in Linguistics/ESL from California State University, Northridge, where he now teaches ESL in the Intensive English Program. He is known internationally for his highly popular and innovative Web site, Dave’s ESL Cafe.