The Teacher Tip
Pronouncing Students’ Names Correctly
August 10, 2018
Adapted from No More Culturally Irrelevant Teaching by Mariana Souto-Manning, Carmen Lugo Llerena, Jessica Martell, Abigail Salas Maguire and Alicia Arce-Boardman.
Mispronouncing students’ names, albeit unintentionally, may have lasting effects. When teachers mispronounce students’ names, they may foster the notion that students’ cultures and identities are not valued, and the students are often left feeling ridiculed or embarrassed, believing their names are troublesome and wishing they were different.
Naming a child can be an emotional, painstaking process. Expecting parents may thoughtfully consider a child’s gender, ethnicity, heritage, and religion to select a name that is just right. Names may come from pop culture, family members, historic events, or suggestions from others. Our charge as teachers is to know what is unique and special about each child we teach; and inquiring about the meaning and stories of their names is a good place to start—especially as students are learning to read and write their names.
By committing to pronouncing students’ names in the manner in which their families do, children and their families will feel that they are welcome in the classroom and that their identities will be honored.
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