KQED, a news source for Northern California sponsored by NPR and PBS, recently published an article about the long-term effects of mispronouncing your students’ names and strategies to remember their names correctly.
The article cites evidence from a 2011 study conducted by Professor Rita Kohli and Professor Daniel Solórzano which determines “mispronouncing a student’s name may seem minor, it can have a significant impact on how they see themselves and their cultural background, causing feelings of anxiety, invisibility, shame, resentment and humiliation, all of which can lead to social and educational disengagement.” To combat these negative effects, institutions such as California’s Santa Clara County Office of Education have started “My Name, My Identity” campaigns which we have previously written about here.
The 2011 study concedes that white and nonwhite children both have the possibility of having their names mispronounced in class, but suggest that the experience is far more destructive for a student that “goes to school and reads textbooks that do not reference her culture, sees no teachers or administrators that look like her, and perhaps does not hear her home language,” as these signs indicate “that who they are and where they come from is not important.”
In order to address these concerns, the article suggests methods for correctly pronouncing and remembering students’ names. Additionally, the article addresses what to do when you witness another adult mispronounce the students’ names.
Dr. José Medina references a similar post from NEAToday via Twitter and highlights another very important aspect: writing students’ names correctly. Dr. Medina emphasizes correctly writing names as well as using accent marks when writing your students’ names, as accent marks are equally a part of the students’ identities.
Please comment below with your strategies for correctly pronouncing and remembering your students’ names!
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Research Assistant
Photo courtesy of Lessons with Laughter