Friday, April 13, 2012

What's in a Name?

March marked the beginning of a new school year for me, and boy, am I loving it! My students are precious and my co-teachers are, overall, very helpful. That's not to say there are never problems, but I love my job.

With the beginning of the new school year came a funny sort of challenge - giving my students English names. As I arrived late in the last school year, there wasn't much I could do at the time about 'Potato', 'Tomato', 'Lady Gaga', and 'Blue Kimchi', to give you a taste of some of the 'English names' I was told. I'm aware that naming is hard - 10-15 names in, and you're resorting to re-using that one name you kind of like, and then you realize, wait, I have 500 students to go... So I came up with an idea - I combed through to find names I could endorse, and made lists of Boys and Girls names. Then I whittled each list down to 200 of each. I wrote each name (and a Korean pronunciation guide - by yours truly) on a separate Post-It, giving me a total of 4 blocks of 100-name Post-Its (color-coded, even! Blue for Boys, Pink for Girls). Then I put up a 5x6 square(rectangle) of Pink and Blue names (so 2 rectangles) for the children to pick from when they came in. I greeted them at the door with a handshake and 'What is your English name?' A number were re-routed to the board as they answered with 'Um...' or an outlandish name... Bunny, the boy, is now Abraham (and boy, does he have a talent for drawing!), Tomato is Jonah, and he's still a lively chap. (I used up about 150 of each kind of name.)

In the intro class, I also had the students fill out an index card with their English and Korean names, as well as a few facts about them. I keep these cards filed by class, and whip them out every class to call on the students (I make them read and answer questions... the horror!), which is helping me pair names and faces.

I had a lot of fun choosing my lists of names. I'm still enjoying that Reuben and Levi are in the same class, that there's a class with Jacob, Isaac, and Samson, and that if Clark and Kent took on Alexei and Luther, I'd have Superman battling his arch nemesis. Oh, and there's Royal, who's family name is Wang (King). I love that one.

What's in a name? A Korean child by any other name is yet Korean, but that other name sure does help this teacher have fun and get to know each individual student.

Signing off,
Miss Chatters

PS I'll hopefully get back to the travelogue in my next post...