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Second Languages and Second Chances

Second Languages and Second Chances

Tito Aznar, an Argentina native, began studying English at the age of 10. He attended a private institute, and within a couple of years, he was tutoring students in English.

Shortly after the tutoring began, two teachers at the institute were going on maternity leave. Substitutes were not available to fill their absences, so the director of the institution reached out to Aznar for help.

At the age of 14, Aznar began teaching English, his second language, to children and teens in two different classes. Thus began his English as a Foreign Language teaching career.

Aznar worked as a long-term substitute teacher at the institution until he was 17, when he was hired full-time. By 22, he came to the United States — Oklahoma Panhandle State, more specifically — to pursue his undergraduate degree in English.

By 2004, he had completed his bachelor’s degree, been offered a teaching job and began taking graduate coursework through a university that offered a summer in-service program.

“Given a number of circumstances, I became busier at work and my schooling suffered … I didn’t prioritize things correctly. I earned several credits and attended all classes, but I didn’t finish all the work for the MA. Of course, that was something I both needed to do and, most importantly, wanted to do and complete,” said Aznar. “That’s how I chose to enroll at Emporia State University. When looking at programs online — I decided that summers-only programs are definitely not for me — what Emporia offered works well for me.”

Aznar had some specifics he was searching for in a graduate program: fully online and located near Oklahoma in case he ever decided to go to campus, among others.

“I have colleagues in different fields who earned their degrees at ESU, and as their experiences were positive, I decided to look further into the program. A couple of things that attracted me from the beginning were the fact that I didn’t have to take the GRE to be admitted — I haven’t had a math class in almost two decades, and I didn’t have much time to prepare for it — and the department’s website, which was welcoming and informative. A plus was that tuition and fee costs were affordable,” he said.

Aznar has been taking the coursework part-time, and is about halfway through the program, anticipating graduation in May 2019.

“My experience has been very much positive. Every instructor I have encountered has been knowledgeable and helpful. They are willing to meet with students over the phone or through video conference, and they always respond to emails in a timely manner. I feel that I have formed a professional bond with my professors, and the classes certainly promote scholarship and good working relationships,” he said.

“Before enrolling in this program, I had never taken online classes, and I was a bit apprehensive. However, I can say that my experience is nothing as I expected to be — it is so much better. From the way classes are organized to the way people interact, every class has been a positive experience that contributes in some way to my everyday work context, as all I learn I can and do apply in my own classes … the faculty are phenomenal. Faculty are knowledgeable, professional — and above all — caring; they truly have the students’ best interests at heart.”

Although the degree is not yet complete, Aznar says that it has already made a difference in his work.

“I haven’t gotten my degree yet, but my education contributes to my day-to-day doings at work,” he said. “When I finish my degree, it will definitely contribute greatly, as it will allow me to change positions and become a full instructor.”

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