Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Meet Dr. Sedique Popal

Professor of applied linguistics, Dr. Sedique Popal, shares about his path to USF.

by Lisa Klope, School of Education

Dr. Sedique Popal is a professor of applied linguistics in the USF School of Education, and coordinates the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programs. We recently talked with Dr. Popal about his path to USF and the field of education. Check out our conversation!

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan and it's where I spent the first 28 years of my life. I worked as a professor at the university where I went to school. I primarily taught undergraduate students, and through this role learned that I really enjoyed teaching!

What is something about you that readers may be surprised to learn?

Something that may surprise people is how much I enjoy sharing my expertise as a volunteer. I currently volunteer as president of the Noor Islamic and Cultural Community Center. The center is a space for the community - it provides seniors a place to gather together to tell their stories, we offer a heritage language program that helps immigrant children maintain their primary language, culture, and religion, and we offer weekend courses in Arabic, Farsi and Pashto. Thanks to USF’s laptop donation program, we can now provide youth who do not have access to computers or Internet at home a place to come and do their school assignments. The center also includes a mosque and provides community members a place to pray. 

I’m also a volunteer English teacher and I teach on television. The classes are free of charge and are accessed by audiences all over the world - Asia, Africa, throughout the United States, and more! The lessons provide access to language instruction in the comfort of the students’ homes. This is especially important for people that cannot afford to go to a private language school, or drive to a place where they can learn. My students include refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Oh, and I’m a gardener! I grow vegetables and flowers. My favorite flower is the rose. I have 41 different types of roses growing in my yard.

What brought you to the University of San Francisco School of Education?

I originally came to the School of Education as a student. I earned by doctoral degree in the department of international and multicultural education. I am now a professor of applied linguistics in the School of Education and faculty coordinator of the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages programs. 

What is a highlight of being part of the School of Education community?

The highlight for me is working with diverse students, faculty, and administrators.  Everyone is committed to promoting and defending social justice and human rights education. It is very rare to have the whole community - teachers, faculty, students, staff - committed to advancing social justice. It impacts every area, from curriculum to decision-making within departments and the school.

What is something you are working on that you are excited about?

Two things! I’m working on a textbook called "A Grammar Book for Teachers."  The book offers explicit knowledge of English language for those that want to teach English as a second language. The book is written for native speakers of English who have implicit knowledge of the language, but need extra support to explain English rules to an English language learner.

Additionally, I’m working with a school in Beijing, China to develop a training program for middle and high school teachers. I am very excited about the opportunity to work alongside this community.

What is your advice to those considering graduate school in the area of TESOL?

Prepare to work hard and to learn how to teach English communicatively. Prepare to work with multilingual and multicultural learners across the globe. I see my students as future leaders in the field of TESOL, so I approach my teaching as leadership training. I want my students to not just be “good” teachers, but to be the best. I believe that if you want to be the best, come here - come to USF!