One of our more popular posts is about an issue that most Spanish teachers are divided on. I recently asked a Spanish teacher group on facebook if they give their students Spanish names and to give their reasons and the response was split. This post is probably not going to change your mind one way or another, but maybe give you some insight on why other teachers do things, or give you support for the way you do things. I do find that while the polls seem split 50-50, more teachers who do not give names state their reason for doing so.
Below are the top 5 reasons you should and should not give your students a “Spanish name”.
Top 5 reasons for giving your students Spanish names:
- It’s easier to pronounce a name that is already in Spanish when you are speaking Spanish.
- Your personality changes in a second language. It allows students to explore and connect to their different persona.
- It helps students learn about Spanish names and help with pronunciation. It exposes students to names that they otherwise wouldn’t hear and so the next time they see “Jorge” they will know it’s not pronounced George.
- It immerses the students in the language and culture. The environment of the class is like “walking into a different world”. Having a new name is another part of that experience.
- The students enjoy it. Students love picking a new name and embracing this name. Some may even call each other their Spanish names outside of class.
Top 5 reasons for not giving your students Spanish names:
- Students learning English (or any other language) worldwide do not give themselves “American names” (or whatever target-culture names).
- Students don’t get new names for other classes, why is Spanish different?
- Too many names to memorize. From a teacher’s standpoint, you are doubling the names you have to remember, which is a hard enough task already.
- Your name is your name. You don’t completely change your name when you travel to another country. Sure, the pronunciation might be a little bit different (Yessica vs. Jessica), or if there is a similar name (Juan instead of John) but your name doesn’t go from Brittany to Margarita.
- It’s not culturally sensitive. If you are not hispanic, why pretend by using a hispanic name? Do you agree with the practice of immigrants having their names changed at Ellis Island to sound “more American”? And for those with latino students already in class, it seems a bit awkward.
I thought about making a counter point for each of the 10 reasons listed above, but maybe I’ll leave that for the comments section. Have at it!
Tell us your reason in the comments below. Or check out our previous discussion.