Teachers who pronounce students’ names incorrectly have negative impact on their learning, say US campaigners

Nationwide campaign launches urging educators to take a pledge to say students' names correctly

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Monday 23 May 2016 11:33

Teachers who mispronounce students’ names in class are having a detrimental impact on their learning, according to education campaigners in the US.

To tackle the issue, the team behind a nationwide ‘My Name, My Identity’ initiative - which has launched in order to raise awareness - described how, as the world becomes increasingly connected, cross-cultural communication increases.

Along with the California Department of Education, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) wants the campaign to build positive school culture and promote respect to both students and their families.

Dr. Yee Wan, director of Multilingual Education Services, said on the day of the launch: “In the context of global education, we talk about how important it is for students to feel proud of who they are and to have the ability to connect with people from different languages and backgrounds locally, and also around the world.”

The team behind the campaign added: “Mispronouncing a student’s name negates the identity of the student, and this can lead to anxiety and resentment which, in turn, can hinder academic progress.

“School is a community, which prepares students to succeed in the global world. To be an effective member of this global world, we can model respect for each other in the school community by learning about each other’s stories, our unique names, and their proper pronunciations.”

Launched at the Global Education Summit, the campaign’s site is urging those who work in education to take a pledge that they will do their best to learn and say their students’ names correctly.

According to NBC Bay Area, two students who hope to benefit from the campaign are San José students Michelle-Thuy Ngoc Duong and Angel Gustavo Silva Moreno, who say their names are “butchered” by teachers, particularly substitutes.

The pair told the news site they feel “insecure,” “disrespected,” and even “inferior” when teachers do not say their names correctly.

Students from the city’s Downtown College Prep have also been sharing their stories in a video about how they were given their name and the meaning behind it in order to get the campaign to gain momentum.

Speaking to The Mercury News, SCCOE spokesman, Ken Blackstone, described how names have “deep and important” ties to both family history and culture. He added: “Making the extra effort to use a person’s preferred name and pronounce it correctly is a small step that can create a big impact.”

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