Question: Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background (e.g. linguistic, academic, professional, …)?
Camino: I studied English Philology at the University of the Basque Country in Spain and then did a Ph.D in English at the same University.
I wanted to be a translator or a teacher of English literature. However, there were not many of those jobs around when I finished my degree and I started working teaching English in private schools. I specialized in Business English. After some years in private schools, I was hired by a Vocational Training school and by the University to teach English for Academic and for Specific Purposes (computers, business and agriculture). In total, I have been teaching English for almost seventeen years now and I have enjoyed it all along.
Question: What are your areas of interest?
Camino: My main area of interest is the use and integration of new technologies into the curriculum, especially to deal with different levels within a class and with very high numbers of students. I think new technologies foster the individualization of learning. I am also interested in the vocabulary knowledge of Spanish university students.
A new area of interest for me has been the status of NNEST and the results of their students. There is a very strong belief that NEST can teach better language skills to students. However, there is no research about actual results of students being taught by NNEST and by NEST. I have done a little research myself but I can not find any other research which focuses on grades, pronunciation or speaking differences between students being taught by one group of teachers or the other.
Question: And your extracurricular hobbies and interests?
Camino: I love being with my family and friends, reading and going to the cinema. However, I nearly devote all my free time to family and friends and I only find time to read professionally related literature.
Question: What are your most vivid memories (positive/negative) of being an NNEST in your academic and/or professional practices?
Camino: I have lots of negative memories about being a NNEST, especially in the private sector. In Spain, it is very difficult for NEST to enter the public sector because the great majority of them have not got the proper qualifications to apply for the jobs. Nevertheless in the private sector and especially in business English classes to executives, there is a greater demand for NEST than for NNEST so the majority of employers will tell you that the businesses they work with are the ones demanding NEST, no matter your qualifications or experience. Then in the businesses, surprisingly enough, I have never been told that they would rather have a NEST so I do not know whether it is the businesses or the employers. Any NEST, even with no qualifications whatsoever, will be hired before a NNEST so the situation is quite bad.
Question: Do you have contacts with NNESTs (students or professionals) in your present job?
Camino: All my students and my work mates are NNEST, in fact what is difficult is to meet NEST in public jobs
Question: How would you describe the most important contributions of non-native speaker professionals to L2 learning/teaching, and applied linguistics?
Camino: I think the contribution of NNEST is bigger than they are given credit for. First, I think they have experience with the process of learning a second language so they know what their students are going through. Second, they can compare their own culture to the L2 culture and provide enough clues to understand it. Third, I think they are better at making students work and they plan more carefully and for the long term.
Question: How did you get to know about NNEST Caucus? What are the things (if any) you would like to see the Caucus and its members initiate/do?
Camino: I got to know about the Caucus through TESOL. I would like Caucus to try to spread the research being done about NNEST more and I would also like it to be a place where collaboration among different cultures and perspectives could take place.