Episode Transcript
Brent Warner 0:02
The DIESOL podcast developing innovation in English as a second or other language,

Ixchell Reyes 0:07
Episode 79 names and nicknames of English language learners

Brent Warner 0:26
Welcome to DIESOL This is episode 79. We are your hosts. Can you believe it? I’m Brent Warner. There’s sorry. There’s people driving. Right now I

Ixchell Reyes 0:47
apologize. No, he’s going through a second puberty. Yes. That’s called been said 79.

Brent Warner 0:58
Welcome to February.

Ixchell Reyes 1:00
It is February.

Brent Warner 1:01
Yeah. Are you? Is life going good for you?

Ixchell Reyes 1:06
By the time this episode airs, life will be going amazingly for me. Good.

Brent Warner 1:12
Well, that’s, that’s future predictions. We sometimes we do these shows with slightly ahead of recording times. And we’ll make the assumption that that’s all correct. All right. So Ixchell you brought up a topic today that you want to talk about? And I think it’s good, it’s useful to really because these conversations get so tricky, right?

Ixchell Reyes 1:38
Okay, so this topic is dear to me, because it I just have never quite found. There is no black and white answer for it. But it deals with names, names and nicknames of English language nerd learners. And, of course, as dealing with international populations. The first day of class, you’re always struggling to pronounce students names correctly. And students from certain parts of the world may choose nicknames that maybe are not conventional, here or practical. But then, and then, of course, teachers wanting to not mispronounce will call a student by their nickname or maybe if the nickname isn’t, I don’t know, if the teacher doesn’t deem it appropriate, or they’re not comfortable saying it, they’ll want to change it to something. And so it always brought me back to the conversation about my actual legal name. My real name is Michelle, for a long time. And still actually it’s it’s a it’s a Mayan name. It’s got traditional indigenous spelling. And it’s hard for Americans or I’d say, Yeah, Americans or English speaking people to pronounce it. And for a long time, I just went by, okay, they call me Michelle, let them call me, Michelle. Or then I went for Okay, that’s too hard for you. I hate being called Michelle, can you just call me by my middle name, and I went by my middle name for about three years. And it wasn’t until and of course, it was me being very shy, and also not wanting to draw attention to myself, that I allowed it. I just let that happen. And then, of course, as I got older, as I got wiser, as my eyes began to see things differently, I realized how important it is. For us to pronounce the to at least try to pronounce a student’s name, and then understand that when they choose a nickname, it’s really their choice. Okay, well, that’s where I want to start the conversation, but that’s gonna start because your name is Brent easy to pronounce.

Brent Warner 3:49
Well, for for native English learners. Yeah. And, like how you begin at the end? Well, it is hard for a lot of students. Yeah, right. Yeah. And actually, this is kind of an interesting point too. And I have different kinds of feelings. You know, like of course living in Japan for all these years and in Japanese My name is Buddha and toll right? And which is fine. I’m quite used to it. This is kind of like my white guy in the dominant culture kind of approach to that which is like I didn’t care at all about having my name changed or, or you know, Japanese of five to to become BU-REN-TO, even though my you know, the proper pronunciation would be Brent. Most Japanese people would really struggle to pronounce my name properly. And, but to me, that was never ever an issue. But I also know that I’m kind of able to say that as you know, white guy with a lot of other ways and like and my own priorities are, are slightly different. Because of that, I guess, right and so, so to me that, that it took me a long time to step into this conversation because I never felt like it affected me or I was like, well, whatever, like, who cares if people have a different pronunciation. And when I was in Spanish classes as a kid or whatever, like, you know, we took on different nicknames. And that was part of the process of like, the junior high end and high school Spanish classes and in, at least in California, so. So yes, of course, you know, for native English speakers, my name is fairly easy, although, you know, Brent is not the most common name. But But yeah, it’s, uh, I always kind of held back a lot from this conversation, because I didn’t really feel it until recent years, when I started to started looking at and trying to understand what students are going through. I never thought too much about it. So I think it is interesting, and it’s worth worth bringing up.

Ixchell Reyes 5:57
And I think about it all the time. Because yes, my my experience my own experience, but it was mostly because what now 10 years ago, almost eight years ago, I had a student who wanted she female student wanted to be called by a male name. And the student dressed with what we would classify as male gendered clothing. And had a short hairstyle so could be could maybe be male or female at first glance. And so I made sure that the student understood, okay, is this a nickname you want to be called? I will, I will learn your actual legal name, because that’s how your paperwork is going to be filled out. But of course, if you want to be called your that nickname, we’ll call you that. Student reassured me Yes, that’s the name. Meanwhile, a colleague of mine, in a in a lounge conversation, refused to call her by that nickname. And I don’t think it was ill intended. I think my colleague wanted to make sure that the student wants leaving our you know, the comfort of the English language courses and going into a class where maybe the population would not be used to international populations, they may give the student a hard time. But I just thought at that time, I remember arguing back and saying, No, I’m going to call the student what the student wants me to call as long as they’re comfortable with it. And if that that’s a nickname that I find unconventional. As long as it’s not a curse word, then I that’s a different conversation. And so again, with Chinese populations, or you know, other Thai populations, you might get nicknames like diamond or ice. I had a student named ice. I had a Merlin, I had a Heisenberg I had an Audi. I had a Lexus. And yeah, like I said, you want to be called Lexus. I will call you Alexa. But I’m going to learn your real name and my gorilla edition. Say that your legal name. And, and I want to try Oh, and I’d be better at pronouncing it because I know what it’s like to have a teacher say, oh my gosh, how do you pronounce that name? And then revert to my last name? Or say, Michelle? Michelle? Michelle? No, it’s not Michelle. And then thinking that I’m playing a joke on them. Someone thought my name was spelled wrong. And then as they said, Oh, your name is so chill. No, no, no, just because it has an X in it. Doesn’t mean it’s so chill. And that was like the only exposure they had had to Mayan names, Mayan and Aztec names. And, of course, it puts the burden on the person who owns the name to explain it, but I now have shifted to well, I’m good. If they’re trying if they’re giving it a try. Even it’s just that’s good enough for me. And so again, then I think of our students. Yeah, we should as teachers, we should be trying our best to show them that we’re also we’re also not perfect that other languages and just like we asked them to pronounce things over and over again, we should also make an effort and of course there’s a whole conversation of names and the culture that they’re in and the dominant population and

Brent Warner 9:33
yeah, so I think that this is interesting and it’s it’s very tricky, right? Because you get let’s take your student and just to to protect the innocent in this conversation. I will say that I don’t know what the if she identified as still as a female but let’s just say her name was Richard Wright or she had chosen her name. Let’s just say Richard, which is You know, a man’s name,

Ixchell Reyes 10:04
right? This is again, like see how difficult it is for us to approach it. But how?

Brent Warner 10:09
Even trying to describe it right? Like, right? Am I getting all these other things? Right? But yes, so let’s say her name is Richard right? And she’s chosen this name. That’s really part of where the question comes in at, right? Because we’re gonna say, Well, do you want to use a, an English or an American, whatever nickname, right? Or would it be better for you if people went back and spent the time and the effort to try to figure out how to pronounce your real name properly? Right? The first thing that comes to mind you, as you mentioned, was Chinese students because it’s, it’s hard a lot of times for people who haven’t studied Chinese and even for me, I have studied Chinese, it’s still hard, because because of the intonation, right, so like, in Chinese names have different intonations, words have different intonations. And so we’ve talked about this a little bit before, but like the mom, mom, mom, mom, you know, and it’s like, well, those are all mom to me, right? But to that person, if I say the wrong intonation, when I’m saying their name, then it could potentially be a offensive name. Or it could potentially be you know, like, just because of the the fine ways that Chinese people can hear the tone of their language and understand it right to them, they would never make the mistake. But to me, who doesn’t hear any sound separately between those two? I might really struggle with it. Right? Right. And so, so also, they might choose to have an English nickname for that reason, right? Because they’re like, Well, I don’t want you to say something that would mean like, you know, I don’t know, my name means, you know, dog, whatever

Ixchell Reyes 11:52
it is. Yeah. Well, so of course, you know, on the first day of class, I asked my students to tell me the correct pronunciation so that I am able to recognize it. And then also their nickname, so that I learned the whole thing, or at least become familiar with it. Just because you’re going all of the paperwork you’re going to be filling out for that student needs to match, right? You don’t want to make a mistake. But oftentimes, I would say, hey, but I know I studied Mandarin, and I can pronounce your name that one’s fairly easy for me to pronounce. And they’d say, Oh, but I had this nickname from the time I was little in China or Taiwan, because they had been studying English for so long. And that was a nickname. So that had become part of their identity. So who am I to now say no, but because I can pronounce it now I want to use this name. And again, they’re, you know, going out

Brent Warner 12:40
colonizer telling them, they can’t use their new name that they have already identified. It’s like, it’s so again, like,

Ixchell Reyes 12:48
Yeah, this is so it’s such a complex issue. But we deal with this every time we have a brand new class and of mix students. I often had students from the from Arab backgrounds, or Arab speaking nations that their name is Majid. But it’s hard to hear that the sound at the end Majid so people say magic, and eventually they change their name to magic, just call me magic. And they were totally okay with it. But again, I don’t know. I feel like sometimes the there may be with with, with exceptions, people who get lazy and just decide no, I’m just gonna call your magic. It’s easier for me. And I think there’s I don’t know, there’s just so many ways this could go What about, for example, I know I mentioned another episodes I worked at, at a reservation where the students names where they’re given names, like little feather, or butterfly, or Hawk, or I think I think there was a little thunder Deerhoof in it, not necessarily where I worked. But those are the native names. And students would get bullied or made fun of because of those names. Not understanding that these are of indigenous background. And so again, what do you do? What’s an important you don’t, you’re not going to now change the name or give him a different name? Because that’s what happened. We’re repeating history all over again.

Brent Warner 14:28
Yeah, so it’s kind of a it’s a, it’s a bit of a vicious cycle here because it’s like, you can’t win one way you can’t win the other. So I mean, how do we approach it? Yeah. So, so how, and that’s, that’s my question for you is like, what do you say to your students when you’re coming in so that they feel like, like, they have, you know, like you want to? I don’t know, for me, I feel like I want to present to them like, Hey, I think your name is important too. Right. And, and I think your real name, not your nickname your given name is important to that being said, many people reject to their given name for all sorts of other reasons, right? And so, so it’s kind of like you bring up this conversation, this overall conversation to tell people the value of their names. And then you clarify that before you relieve and get them to tell you what their name is. Is that is that your approach?

Ixchell Reyes 15:24
Well, I first of all, I, the way that I approach it is, luckily, luckily, or unluckily or maybe previously, I’m luckily for me, my name is difficult. In fact, they cannot pronounce it when they see it on the board. So I say look up my name. Hi. Where do you think it’s from? So I start that way, of course, that Because oftentimes, they are familiar with American names or American spellings with the with the most common names, but they’ll know right away, they’ll start guessing I’ll get random countries that they tell me or random languages. And then I, I say, Well, my name is from this place. And this was my experience growing up in America. And I do tell them, I tell them my experience, and I think that’s something that just that now I can use as a tool. But then I have them listen to different perspectives on names. And also being that America is very, an individualistic. I guess our values are very individualistic. Your name like when we look at plagiarism, when we look at giving credit for things, a name is something that belongs to you, right? And it represents you what you’re having, so that it becomes kind of a bigger conversation of this is why teachers tell you why do you call me teacher I’m gonna call you student. And so I talk about them about that, why why teachers don’t want to be called teacher here were in their country to call a teacher by their name is offensive. Right is. And so I, I open up the conversation with that perspective. And then I usually and I shared this with you, Brent, there’s depending on the on the population of my students, the background, of my students, ethnic background of my students. I might, for example, with our Chinese students, because they faced a lot of the people that have to read their names or say their names face difficulty with them. I shared this podcast episode from NPR, I think it’s called so long, Cinderella. And it’s an interesting piece on students in China who chose unconventional nicknames that could then present give them problems when actually being in the workplace. So for example, a student had chosen the name seven, but then in the in the podcast, he talked about making an appointment to meet with seven at 11 would be problematic, right?

Brent Warner 17:51
Right. Right guest using right. And by the way, that example is not much better now because of Stranger Things. Sorry, were the girls.

Ixchell Reyes 17:59
Yes, girls, actually.

Ixchell Reyes 18:03
It’s still kind of I’m now

Ixchell Reyes 18:05
curious if if there was a rise in the popularity of choosing 11 as a name for our Chinese students who haven’t had Chinese students in a while. So I’m thinking if they were fans of the show, which oftentimes they choose celebrities or items or sounds that they favor, that would become problematic. And so you’ve got to, I think, be sensitive about it be be, what’s the word? Be careful about how you’re bringing it up.

Brent Warner 18:37
Well, and that’s the trick too, right? is like, if students are choosing these English nicknames for themselves, right, they might not be fully aware of the. And again, I know, we’ve got people listening from all over, but like the cultural implications of their chosen English name, right. So you know, if they chose, I mean, this is a, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before, but just gonna go with the most the most extreme example, right, but like, let’s say someone shows the name Hitler. And they’re like, Well, okay. You might understand that and you’re gonna be potentially provocative, but you might not really know what all the history behind that name and it’s too, I’m sorry, that’s too terrible of an example. But like, you know, like they might have, they might choose some name. That’s like,

Ixchell Reyes 19:33
I had I had a bling, bling diamond. Okay, there we go. She wanted bling, bling diamond. And I told her Do you know what bling bling means or where it comes from? And so we had a conversation, and I said, Okay, I can i I’ll call you, I’ll call you buildinglink diamond. But about a week later, of being on campus and being around students, and she dropped the bling bling. Hmm. She just became diamond. And that’s it again, I guess in that case, and she asked me not to call her bling, bling diamond, she wanted me to call her diamond. And I didn’t want to ask like, why did you change? I just kind of assumed that that’s what happened, that she’d probably met someone who was surprised and, you know, talk to her about it, or maybe, hopefully not laughed, but I can just imagine how those conversations may have gone. But if the student made the choice and that decision and understands how it can negatively or positively impact them, then I think that that’s a fair. You’ve, you’ve explored enough. Yeah. I also I think if we go back to the student who had chosen a male name, I think what I remember thinking, my colleague said, Well, I don’t want other people to make fun of her. And I just thought, oh, wait a minute. What if this is the only chance where this individual can express their gender and has been able to actually fully integrate into that? Like character? I don’t know what what to call it even a role or gender role, and I don’t want to take away that freedom that they can express here. Less likely to be persecuted, I’d imagine and maybe where they were from, I don’t want to be that one who does it? Right, if that’s what they’re expressing. And it could be, again, this conversation is just important to have an important to just think about, I don’t think that I’m always going to be wondering, what should have been the right approach? What could I have done? What will I do in the future?

Brent Warner 21:39
Oh, well, so. So this makes me think of one of the areas that I kind of would struggle with this a little bit. And I am not the appropriate person to bring this up again, but it’s like, sometimes students will choose names that might be so like, let’s just say, you know, a student from Asia somewhere, right? And they’re into hip hop culture. And maybe they choose a name that kind of comes out of, you know, black cultural identities, right. But they don’t have any association with that for themselves. It’s really hard, even though it’s saying there are beginning a beginning level language learner, right? Well, I can’t really talk to them about what cultural appropriation means. They’re not really going to understand all these things. And in their culture, it’s like, you know, maybe none of those things are issues, but in America, that’s a big time conversation, right? And so, that gets real tricky. And then for me, for me, like, Okay, I’m gonna be, again, white guy, teacher coming in telling an Asian person that they can’t choose this name, because it’s for black people, you know, it’s like, oh, my gosh, like, it’s just I. I get stuck in those situations, right? Where it’s like, well, what am I? What is my role? All of this? And how do I appropriately guide someone through it? And can I even appropriately guide them through it like this? It gets, it starts to get really complicated, which is, you know, they’re good for conversations. But But like, like I was saying, many of our students are not linguistically equipped to even understand the depths of the conversation. All right,

Ixchell Reyes 23:21
and we’re talking about nicknames. But what about legal names? I had a student from, I want to say, oh, my gosh, I want to say Thailand or Vietnam. And I’m gonna be wrong. I don’t remember exactly. But his name was four P O, por pronounced for. So who were we to change it? Because he would say I’m poor. And I remember these conversations, and he or he knew the meaning of the word, he didn’t want a nickname. Oh, he didn’t use a nickname, I’m going to assume that he didn’t want one. And I would just call them that poor and that then once we had the conversation, we just continued as normal. And then we just got used to that’s his name. And in our frame of of mind change, because now we knew what we’re referring to another name in another in another language. So also along the same lines, I had a student named pear and her twin sister Apple, from Thailand, legal names apple and pear and then of course, I read about the background of why why in other cultures, they tend to go with English words as a link legal names. And again, I may think it’s weird, because but that’s who am I to tell them to change it? Or to try not to say like, do you see how difficult it is even for me to talk about it? And then I know we mentioned before, but then you have celebrities who named their kids, north or Blue Ivy, or st right? So I guess it shows you the power that some people have over choosing, you know, choosing, quote unquote, unconventional name.

Brent Warner 25:09
Well, and that’s its own whole separate conversation is like, if you’re an incredibly powerful celebrity, and you choose this kind of unusual name for your child, I don’t remember. It was Elon Musk’s kid has that. Oh,

Ixchell Reyes 25:25
goodness, I don’t care what the past password name.

Brent Warner 25:29
Yeah. So like, if you’re in a position where you can name your child with those names, right? Like just Howard. It’s total power, but like, and then it’s like, well, I also don’t want to tell students coming in like, you don’t have that power. Right, right. Like you don’t have the power to choose something for yourself.

Ixchell Reyes 25:50
Right? Because then you’re taking away that power that they do have. It’s

Brent Warner 25:53
like, it gets like, I think, from what you’re saying, and from what I’ve gleaned out of my own experience, trying to talk with students about these things is like, to me, I think the best thing is to try to briefly, but clearly make sure they understand the implications of their names, and then tell them that they do have the freedom of choice. And most importantly, I want the students to understand that I will respect their given name, all right, because I think a lot of students probably are still choosing, just because they feel like they’re trying to make it easier on an American or whatever it is, right? And say, like, Oh, it’s just too hard for you. So you can’t do it. It’s like, well, like you mentioned before, I’m trying to do these things, right? Like, I want to be able to do these things. And and me getting your name right helps, helps me to, to open my worldview and to be a little bit more, whatever, right. And so instead of putting the impetus of the hardness of it on the student, you can say, Well, hey, I can take some of that burden a little bit and try to work through it. I might not get the tone perfectly of your name. Are you okay with that? Are you not okay, right, like, and then. And then that that can still at the end of the day could still be their choice? Right? Right.

Ixchell Reyes 27:20
Oh, it hurts my brain to talk about these things. But again, I think I’ve brought this up so many times before. Part of it. I also tell students when they come when we have this conversation about names, when we open up the conversation is your name is part of your identity. Let’s talk about what who gave you that name? How did it come about? Because some students are gonna talk about how they’re, it’s a family name, right? It’s a tribe from there, from way, you know, generations back that they can trace all the way up to you know, different generations, some will say, Oh, it’s because our, my parents own this. And they’ve done this all their life there. And so they gave me the name fish. And that’s, you know, the character is what it symbolizes. And then and then there might be sound like, my parents just chose it because they liked the sound. And that’s just as valid Right? And, and some students will tell you, Well, I don’t like my name, or I don’t like the spelling, or I want to change it. And that’s just again, that conversation just having that conversation gives so much power to them. To number one it Do you feel like you represent your name, some do, some don’t. Some say I want to change my name. Some say I’m very proud of my name. And then you get all of these students from different cultures sharing that and then understanding that in America, or keep saying America and United States. First names are important. Okay, why last names are important, okay, why? And then we start talking about what that means when you see your name, what do you think about and so on. So I think at the end of the discussion, whether students go with the nickname that they chose, or they go with no nickname, or they prefer that you pronounce that you Americanized the pronunciation, that was their choice, right? That was their choice.

Brent Warner 29:10
So I like this a lot. This gives some interesting different potentials. I want to throw in one other part because you and I, for the most part, when we have our students come in, usually, they’ve already kind of chosen something or, or at least they, they, they might want to change it or whatever else it is, but most of the time because they’re adults, they’ve kind of already made that choice, right. But I know a lot of people listening might be like junior high school teachers or or you know, like elementary teachers and kind of, this is one of the things that happens, especially if you’re maybe an EFL teacher, right? And you’re like, Okay, let’s come into the class and now we’re going to be learning English and now we’re gonna choose our English names, right? Like that might be part of that conversation. And so, I want to talk to us briefly about this concept and it for me, this came out of this article that you would share it also was a Should teachers assign target language names? And that’s an education world, we’ll put the link up. It’s, it’s, it’s like 10 years old, but it’s super relevant still, which I thought was really their name. Yeah. And they get into like, the pros and cons of like, you know, should we be giving the students these names? Or should we not? And so I guess I kind of want to get your thoughts on, like, if a student comes in and hasn’t ever considered it, but maybe they’re going they know, hey, like, I’m gonna get an English name, right? Like, because for children, that can be role playing, and that can be fun to write, like to go, Okay, this is going to be and even, you know, psychologically, like, that’s going to get them into their headspace of being like, oh, you know, now It’s English time because I’m using my name. You know, Michael, instead of, you know, my real name or whatever else it is, right. And so there could be a psychological aspects to switching your name as well. Right? So, and again, you know, just more just throwing more fuel on the fire of like, all the ways that they’re this is like, good and bad, and, and problematic and supportive all at the same time. Right. So what would you suggest? Or what are your thoughts on like, new students coming in that maybe have never really thought about a, an English name?

Ixchell Reyes 31:23
So you mean when you’re teaching EF like, if you were an EFL teacher,

Brent Warner 31:27
yeah. So like,

Ixchell Reyes 31:29
that where the conversation takes, ultimately takes me is I, I don’t feel comfortable with students. Again, this is where I if I were the teacher, I wouldn’t feel comfortable because it needs me to okay. But if if the target language is Spanish, and you provide a range of different Spanish names, it’s also going to highlight different generations of name usage. So for example, I, in English, we have the name, Karen. Right. Karen now means the what when I say Karen, oh, she’s a Karen, what does that mean? Brent, in our in today’s society?

Brent Warner 32:08
Can I speak to your manager? Yes.

Ixchell Reyes 32:11
I want to talk titled Yes. So my sister, my sister has a Karen, her Karen comes out in Spanish. And her Karen is Conchita. And Conchita isn’t an I would say, regional and it’s sort of like a I would qualify it as an old fashioned name. But that also shows now my bias because I’m used to like, oh, that’s like an old lady name. An old like, annoying lady name. And so it depends, you would have to be really careful to to, to choose names. I don’t know I just again, it would be from the region or what generation and it’s like a student choosing Florence. Yeah, yeah. So like, could be now cool or old? Yeah. Right. So versus flow. Right? If Hello, Florence. So I don’t know. But then what if we switch now say for Japanese, I was studying Japanese. And I would have thought it was so cool to have a name and Japanese characters. Because I’m but it shows you the that languages have ascribed. perceived value sort of, does that mean I don’t know if I’m expressing that correctly. Or, and I’ve asked my students if I were if I had an Arabic name, what Arabic name would you give me? And they’ve never given me a name. They’ll always say no, “e-shell”. It’s easy to pronounce “e-shell” “e-shell”, they’ll say “e-shll” “e-shll”. And I said, but I really want to be called Maha. No, no, no, you don’t look like a Maha. It’s like, well, what does a Maha look like? And so again, it takes me back to that. So for me personally, I would simply say go with your name, you know, what if your name is difficult to pronounce for Spanish speakers? It’s fine. Get, you know, get a shortened version of it. But you make that choice, you make that choice? Again, we’re in an English speaking country. So the gosh, I can’t it’s so hard for me to talk about this. Because that there’s a fine line between or the fine line of crossing over into taking away the power from somebody is just it’s so fine. But then we switch to another language like French, for example. So I don’t know. I personally was never given a Japanese name or asked to they just simply call me by my last name and my first name, so I was put as en or Isha Busan. And I was like, Oh, my name is gonna be pronounced wrong anyway, because it’s for now it’s transliterated, so Right, right. Okay, I can live with that. That’s easier for them. The Japanese have no problem with my name.

Brent Warner 34:54
Yeah, so I’m thinking, again from this article. The Uh, the person who wrote this, who I think her name was Rebecca Stathakis. At the end, she kind of said, hey, you know, the way that she finally made a solution for her Spanish class was, she created a list of names, like a long list of names and and like she didn’t want the students choosing. I think according to the article, she didn’t want them choosing names like oh law, or you know, like something that has like a weirder kind of name. So she said, hey, it does have to be a real name. But the students can kind of choose from the list, I think if I were going to step into a class like that students really wanted to, first I would encourage them, Hey, it’s okay. Use your real name. Like, I think that’s, that’s that conversation would probably come first. But then if they still wanted to have an English name, I think what I would do is maybe something similar, which is, hey, here’s a list of, you know, 100, popular, common names these days, right

Ixchell Reyes 35:58
for that, yeah. Because they could be looking up a list of 100 popular names in the, in the 80s.

Brent Warner 36:04
So that the timing matters, right. So, so and then. And then I would say, like, what, by the way, like, my suggestion would would be then that you would choose maybe three of these names that might be potential, and then come talk to me, and I will tell you, any implications that I kind of feel are hidden behind this name, right. And so if it’s like, you know, Benedict, for example, they’ll end up saying, well, as Benedictine, it’s like, well, yeah, so there’s Benedict Cumberbatch batch, which is, you know, like, kind of cool. But there’s also Benedict Arnold. Right, which is a traitor, right? So do you understand that, you know, like, maybe only history buffs or older generations, you know, like, I don’t know that younger people know, Benedict Arnold as much right. And, and again, sorry, younger generations, I might be making a false assumption here. But all I’m saying is that, then they could get a couple of implications of the meaning beat from an a teacher who understands more of the culture of that right. And then, and then finally, they could make their choice. Right, does that does that seem like a fair approach to it? Maybe?

Ixchell Reyes 37:09
Yeah, and I think I would even I think, again, leaving the power to the student, I think, one way that you can have that. But you know, this, talking about names would come obviously, at the beginning of a brand new class. And you could use that to have the students give up, you know, when you’re doing your diagnostic speaking sample, have them talk about names, or you could be in a very, you know, you could be walking around listening to them, talk about it in their groups, you could have them then write about it. And you could have questions that you’re asking, I always say, okay, you know, well, how do you how do you write or spell the name in your country? Is that the same as what they’ve given you here, because oftentimes, Arabic names are, the the name might be the same in Arabic, but then when they transcribe it to English, the spelling is different. So I’ve seen multiple spellings of a particular last name. And then of course, what do you do when you have a class of all Arabic speakers? Their first name is I had this is not a fake story, sister, I had six Muhammad’s in one class. I can’t call them Mohammed, one, Mohammed two, and then they all want it to be called Mo. So yeah, I had to learn their last name. So of course, I’m gonna learn their last names. And so I had to make myself flashcards and I had to color code them so that I would remember. And but that showed them that I did care. Yeah. And again, I think in some of the articles that we researched, or that we read before, one of them from any A, the lasting impact of mispronouncing students names. In in the article, they, they talk about how, you know, working with students from international populations, to fully accept that respect the student and this is a quote, you must, at a minimum, know how to pronounce their name. And you the another thing they they talk about is about learning from the mistake of either mispronouncing it or just trying again, it’s okay to make an error, but it’s not okay to, to ignore it and continue making that mistake. And I think that that’s, that’s where I think it hits home. For me, that’s where I like, at least try.

Brent Warner 39:22
So before we wrap up, maybe we could throw out a couple of possibilities on ways two ways for teachers to kind of have some, you know, skin in the game here and make sure that you’re kind of giving the students those opportunities. So, Michelle, I’m not sure if you have a couple of ideas. I was, you know, one resource, at least, that I can share is named Coach, right. Named dash coach.com. Have you been on that site? I think we looked at it.

Ixchell Reyes 39:54
I’ve looked at it, but I’ve never used it. So yesterday, I was trying to figure it out. Yeah.

Brent Warner 40:00
lag and installing it on, you know, a system wide, and then it can kind of integrate into Canvas and different things. But basically named Coach, lets people and there’s a simple little free thing lets you just make a quick recording of your own name. And then you get a page with that. And you can share that out as link. So I we actually it’s pretty cool. The reason this comes up to me is one of our teachers has it in her signature and it right in your signature, it says click here to hear how to pronounce my name, right? And so I like that it’s like, oh, okay, cool, right. So you can click on it, you can hear her pronouncing her own name, right. So for example, you know, a lot of people have names that could be pronounced in different ways. And so so you can get the right pronunciation of their name or the way that they prefer to have their name pronounced. And you could actually have all of your students do this too. And they could just send you a link to it. And you can keep a little file with with the links of all the students names as well. So name dash coach is a pretty good option there. And then it does all these other cool things like you can actually just type in people’s names. And you can hear, you know, if people are already in the system that have that name, then you can hear how they pronounced that even if your student hasn’t necessarily recorded it. So. So that could be one way for students to make a quick reference and make it easy for you to go back instead of saying, Well, I wrote it down, but I don’t really know what I wrote down.

Ixchell Reyes 41:27
You know, that’s, that’s really cool. Because one of the things in the latter few years, what I’ve resorted to is in my email signature, I didn’t know how to make it known. Now, of course, I put my gender, but my pronouns, my gender pronouns, but in the past, I was often called Sir, or Mr. And it just bothered me so much. It’s like, how do you assume? How can you assume? And, of course, now I have the option of fitting the gender pronouns, but I used to put in parentheses e dash shell. And in some cases, I’ll put the phonetic pronunciation of phonetic spelling, not everybody’s going to know the phonetic alphabet, but I have had people in the past now tell me, Oh, I’m so glad you put that in there, because I knew how to pronounce your name from that. And I just thought, oh, so I was actually paying attention and wondering how to pronounce my name. And of course, that also avoids the the inevitable. Comment Oh, um, I don’t want to butcher your name, which actually bothers me a lot. It’s like, how about you say, Can you teach me how to pronounce your name? Can you correct me when I say it wrong? So much that when instead of I don’t want to butcher your name, or I butchered your name, or I’m going to butcher your name? Forgive me if I’m butchering your name. I don’t know why. But you’re basically saying I’m destroying your name. And I take that actually hurts me.

Brent Warner 42:54
Yeah, so we have, there’s a lot of that conversation. And maybe this is a parallel reasoning with the like, I have broken English, right? When when oh,

Ixchell Reyes 43:03
gosh, I used to use that all the time. No, you have learners English, my students will apologize all the time. Excuse me for my poor English. Excuse me for my broken English. Like, first of all, who told you that you are using emerging English? It’s beautiful. It’s perfect the way it is at this stage. It’s going to get better. You have learners English, you are learning. And so I often will

Brent Warner 43:26
publish right? Yeah, sorry. I’m just saying like your forte. I have forming English. I have developing English. Yeah, absolutely. So you can kind of change that. Yeah, I was you and

Ixchell Reyes 43:36
I have proficient English perfect English. Heck, yeah. Y’all wrong?

Brent Warner 43:43
Well, there was a politician out here. She’s Korean descent, Michelle steel, and she straight up in her commercial says, you know, I may have a broken English, but I have this. And I’m like, like, my heart. Yeah. It’s like, it’s like, deep, you know, like, it’s reinforcing that as a way to approach it. Right. And I was like, I mean, politically, I’ve got other issues with but I felt bad like seeing that on the commercial and like, I’m like, you know, that’s not really the best way to present. Or, you know, and again, that’s me telling them how they need to present I guess, but like, right but it is interesting, right? It’s it’s tricky to get this all right. So okay, so so a couple of ways. You can put in the IPA or you could put in just you know, like your dashes with the letter spelling in the right ways. You could use name coach you can use Flipgrid flip

Ixchell Reyes 44:34
Yeah, I used to flip we don’t have flip grid flip.

Brent Warner 44:38
Flip grid such a better name. Come on you guys. I

Ixchell Reyes 44:40
know it was catchy. Two syllables flip. What a

Brent Warner 44:44
bummer. Sorry, sounds like I’m flipping and Cosmos out there listening and she’s like flip is not as good a name as Flipgrid was so but you could do flip, flip flops, or you can do flip. And then you could have students talk through, right. So you could actually set up the assignment and have them really talk through the explanation of their name, what it means what the history is, right? So. So that’s a quick and easy way. Plus, you get to hear it repeated over and over again, through that. So I think that like some of these, you know, video recording and voice recording options, really change things in a way that we didn’t used to be able to do when it was just like, hey, tell me one time in class and write it down on a piece of paper? And then, you know, when I review it, at the end of the week, will I remember, will I not right, and so, so I think that using some of this technology can be can help alleviate this as a problem.

Ixchell Reyes 45:45
Yeah, I wanted to throw in another resource for those teachers who may not know where to start with, and they want to have this conversation, the website, my name, my name, my identity.org has a lesson plan that you can start, it doesn’t have to be high tech, they have other ways that you can start this conversation. And it just, you know, it makes it for a more welcoming environment, a more open to diversity environment. And it’s all of this is just crucial to building positive relations in the classroom and, and having healthy social, psychological and educational outcomes, especially in our diverse United States.

Brent Warner 46:25
Yeah, for sure. So. So there’s a lot to think I mean, this is, today’s conversation is mostly just kind of

Ixchell Reyes 46:33
a surface. I think I could talk about this in just several segments. Well, I like to take all sorts of perspectives on this.

Brent Warner 46:40
Yeah, I mean, there’s so many places where we can go wrong, and all with good intention, right. And so, so this is where it really does get tricky, because your colleague who refuse to use the students, you know, male identifying name or whatever, right, like, that person wasn’t coming out of a place of right hatred, or, you know,

Ixchell Reyes 47:01
like, we’re actually trying to protect, they were coming out of, they wanted to protect, they wanted to make sure that the student wouldn’t be humiliated or, or shamed in public, or they wanted to try to but again, it also shows generational generational gap, my colleague was from an older generation where I feel like no more power to you, you know, that’s your name, you decide you force that person to use it.

Brent Warner 47:29
Yeah, absolutely. So. So I’d be interested to hear from anyone listening,

Ixchell Reyes 47:36
or how you approach a situation, I’m sure that people overseas if you’re listening overseas, and you’ve seen a phenomenon like this, with names particular to a region and nicknames or potential issues, it would be great to have that conversation continue on so that we can all learn.

Brent Warner 47:54
Yeah, so of course, you can leave a note in the in the show notes. So DIESOL.org/79, we would love to hear different approaches, ways that we’re wrong on this, I think there’s lots of ways that we might be wrong in it, like in our attempt to share the conversation, there are definitely ways it’s like, Hey, we’re probably shouldn’t do that. Or maybe this is a better approach to it. Right? So if you have any thoughts or want to share, please, please please feel free and of course out there on the social media as well. We’ll share those at the end of the episode, but there’s just a lot to think about. And so,

Ixchell Reyes 48:31
I have a question for you. Yes. How do you correctly pronounce my name?

Brent Warner 48:36

Ixchell Reyes 48:37

Brent Warner 48:38
E-shell you said E shell!

Ixchell Reyes 48:41
It’s “ixtzIxtz-shell”

Brent Warner 48:42

Ixchell Reyes 48:43
So pronounce that

Brent Warner 48:44
is that really the right one?

Ixchell Reyes 48:45

Brent Warner 48:46

Ixchell Reyes 48:49
I love you for trying

Brent Warner 48:50
Eeks– icks– x one more time

Ixchell Reyes 48:53
Ixchell, Ixchell it’s yeah, it’s not quite an “xc” see it’s almost like an “xtz”

Ixchell Reyes 48:59

Ixchell Reyes 49:01
“ictz-shell” Yeah, look at you go!

Brent Warner 49:05
We all gotta try, right?

Ixchell Reyes 49:06
Love it

Brent Warner 49:07
Wait a second, you don’t use that pronunciation, right?

Ixchell Reyes 49:10
No, because when I hear Ixtz-shell it’s like “Mom, Why are you getting mad at me? – Oh, you’re not my mom.” (laughter) Only colleagues who are from that area can say it and it’s just like it’s jarring now because like no I’m just so my my personality is “E-shell”. So

Brent Warner 49:27
okay, so when people who do know pronounce it correctly then there’s still another hidden layer behind all of that too that we have to deal oh my gosh! Whoo! All right. (laughter)

Ixchell Reyes 49:44
All right. It is time for our fun finds. This time I have Quest Protein Chips in Chile Limon or chilli lemon or lemon chili.

Brent Warner 49:56
Chili Chili Limon

Ixchell Reyes 49:58
Chilean. I don’t know I wrote it wrong lemon Lily moon to the moon, I don’t know I’m pronouncing in Spanish, my brain just switched to Spanish, but they are Quest Protein Chips. Right as you know, I run a lot. And I recently I have been doing a lot of kickboxing. But you do as you get older, you do have to be more careful about what you’re putting in your body. And I am just a sucker for crisps, crispy things cookies, sweets, and obviously potato chips. And a way to get the to not have all that sodium and all those calories is to eat quest chips, and they have them in many flavors. They’re a little pricey, but they’re, they’re really worth it. Because, again, as you get older, you just have to make sure you’re staying healthy. So you’re playing them at Target.

Brent Warner 50:45
So we’re supposed to be staying healthy as we get older because

Ixchell Reyes 50:49
more protein, more protein, make sure you’re getting your protein.

Brent Warner 50:53
Alright. So mine is the new TV show on HBO called The Last of Us.

Ixchell Reyes 51:04
Based on a video game, yeah.

Brent Warner 51:07
So I played I played both of the video games part one and two. Oh, and this is like people are going kind of crazy for it. Because it’s the first video game. Like it’s the first one where people are like, actually, this is a pretty rad show. Yeah, because usually the shows are crap. Yeah, usually shows and movies based on video games are pretty bad. Every once in a while something okay will come out. But this one people were going like, Oh, this is actually all solid. I’ve only seen the first episode so far. But it was it was legit. And they did good character building. They wrote some really fascinating scenes. There’s a lot you know, it’s like, kind of zombie apocalypse type story a little bit variation on that. So you know, don’t don’t chase me down for isn’t there and I was like, but anyways, it is really interesting. And I only have a temporary HBO Max subscription. I got like a Black Friday deal on it for three months. And so I’m like, I think this is gonna run out before the show is over. So I might have to extend one more month to watch the whole thing. But anyways, if you’re interested, if you like the zombie shows and these kinds of survival and post apocalyptic stuff, The Last of Us might be an interesting choice for you.

Ixchell Reyes 52:25
Right, as always, we’d love to hear from you guys. If you’re giving us a shout out or responding. Be sure to tag us on social media, we are on all the platforms.

Brent Warner 52:35
If you want to support the show, we got a couple of ways to do that on the website. We’re not very good promoters of like finding out people. But you know if you want to you can if our favorite way for you to support the show is to tell other people

Ixchell Reyes 52:49
share it share it. We’re always happy to have new listeners and find out where they’re from.

Brent Warner 52:54
Yeah, for sure. So they’re our show notes for this episode at DIESOL.org/79 that’s the number 79 And of course you can listen to us at voice Edie Canada. We are on Twitter at @DIESOLpod so DIESOLpod and I am @BrentGWarner

Ixchell Reyes 53:14
I’m @Ixy_Pixy and that’s I x y underscore pi x y

Brent Warner 53:21
in Armenian and I apologize for this but I’m gonna do my best. Thank you is shnorhakalut’yun. So shnorhakalut’yun for tuning in to the DIESOL podcast.

Ixchell Reyes 53:37
Thank you for trying

Ixchell & Brent break down students names and nicknames and cover the blurry lines between encouraging them to use their given names, helping them understand their “English name” meanings, and respecting the names that students choose for themselves.


Fun Finds

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