The Name Game

Brian in Jeollanam-Do wrote an interesting post today about how more Koreans are changing their names. On a sort of related note:

I fail at memorizing my kids names. I really do. I have seating charts, I try to only address people using their names. I study the seating charts, I make notes about different students...and yet the Korean names seem to go in one ear and out the other. I have a few down in every class...and I know every single kid's name who has an English name (care of their English hagwon or from Winter Camp). To be fair, I do have many students (302 this semester) that I only see twice a week but lots of teachers have more students that they see even less.

Here's my view on making your students use English names: teacher's shouldn't just arbitrarily give out English names or even let students just pick random English words for names (that's when you end up with Candy, Silver, Bunny, Sponge Bob and all sorts of strange things). However, I remember my first Latin class in high school and on the first day, the teacher distributed a list of common Roman names, helped us with pronunciation and then had us all choose a Roman name.  That Roman name was the only way she addressed us in class (and how we addressed each other) and what we wrote on our assignments. It helped us get down the basic phonetic differences between English and Latin a bit faster and above all, it was fun. In case you were wondering, Cytherea was my Latin name...something I remember despite only taking one year of Latin 10 years ago.

The conflict: learning English names is as hard for your co-teacher as Korean ones are for the native teacher. At least, that's what co-teachers have told me. It makes sense, unless you are fluent or have a lot of experience with English names they would be difficult to remember, like a giant set of vocabulary words. My current co-teacher had zero desire to spend any class time on figuring out English names. I suppose I'll save it for the kids who decide (or whose parents decide for them) to come to my camps during vacation.