Time to talk about the elephant in the classroom

With the recent discussion about names, this message popped up:
What are your thoughts about this? Does this seem right? Would this spark controversary? Take a minute to gather your thoughts before reading ahead….









If that situation seems inappropriate and makes you uncomfortable, then explain the difference between that situation and doing the same thing in a language class. We have many (white) teachers giving a list of “Spanish names” to a students to assume an identity of a latino without facing the discrimination that latinos face.  Don’t think latinos face discrimination in this country just by their name? Ask José:

Don’t think that names like Walter, Steven, Alan are authentic “Spanish names”. Ask Kristy Placido who is writing about 3 real Guatemalans with those names.

A lot of comments on the last blog post said I was “too sensitive” and yes, I am sensitive to the issue of stereotyping, discrimination, and identity. I will not apologize for that. But I was also glad to see a lot of teachers REFLECTING on this practice. As I said, this has been a common practice and many teachers did it with good intentions without questioning it. But all I can ask you to do is to really reflect on if this is the best practice moving forward for you and your students.

For many years, blackface was a common practice. White people trying to portray a black person. Some people still even defend this practice and think it is not wrong. Are there any similarities between blackface and “Spanish names”?

I am glad that people are discussing it and I’ve seen many teachers reflect on social media as a result. Because it’s time that we finally address this elephant in the language classroom.


About SpanishPlans

Spanish Educator, with focus on acquisition Educator Enthusiast I love learning about and sharing culture.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Time to talk about the elephant in the classroom

  1. Katya Higdon says:

    Thank you so much for this. We really need to reflect on this, we need to learn, to be more sensitive about these topics.
    I worked at a school that everybody made fun of me bc I mispronounced a word, English is not my first language, or many ppl called me Shakira bc I Ian Latina.
    I made me feel bad, and some ppl told me that I was being too sensitive about it.

  2. mrssraj says:

    Thank you for initiating this conversation. Names are an important part of culture and personal identity. Neither should be negated by changing a student´s name. That is not to say that we shouldn´t learn names that are characteristic of a certain culture, and even adopt them as part of a role play situation. In my opinion, however, a student´s personal identity should never be changed for regular classroom use because it is the preference of the teacher. Over the course of my academic career, my name was changed on a yearly basis. My name is Margaret and I have been called Marge, Maggie, Meg, Peggy, Marjorie, Margot – in spite of my preference to be called Margaret. It´s just disrespectful. Your parents give you your name NOT your teacher.

  3. Pingback: White privilege of Names | SpanishPlans.org

Share your ideas!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.