What’s in a name?

So I’m settling into this whole “teaching” thing, to some extent. This past weekend I filled in the broadstrokes of my curriculum for the semester—we’ll be doing four main units, with themes like “values differences” and “critical thinking,” with each unit comprised of a handful of lessons that I hope will challenge the students to think in new ways, etc etc etc.

English names have often been delightful. I think some of them got together and decided to go with themes. I have one class with four types of flower (Rose, Iris, etc). I have another class with a student named Flower, and one called Ocean. In another class there’s a Cherry (there’s another Cherry in a separate class) and a Lemon (only one of those). I have a boy called Dorothea (yes, he knows it’s a girl’s name). In one class I have boys named Jay-Z and T-Pain—the former of these looks like a cool kid with some swagga’, but the latter definitely does not. In another class I’ve got a Prince—unclear if this is the performance artist or just, you know, a royal. I have two boys named Nemo, and two Winnies—that’s named after Winnie the Pooh, not The Wonder Years. I have names that sound vaguely like English names, but really aren’t—like Doria, Saner, Dolin, Messilin, or Pinella. Oh, and there’s Snowgy, which I’ve heard her pronounce like “Snooki.” I need to investigate the origins of that name.

I have maybe only a handful of names that I would typically expect to see if I walked into a sophomore language class full of Americans—I think I maybe have only one Katie out of over 200 students, a couple of Rebeccas/Beckys/Beccas and about three Jennys. Perhaps one Nick but no Johns or Davids or Matthews. The names I have the most of are Sophia and Shirley. I got to name two students today: one was a Korean exchange student who I helped encourage into Jenny, the name of a former American friend. One wanted to keep her Chinese name, Yun, so I encouraged her into Eunice (we’re spelling it Yunice.) Good times.

Even doing the same class seven times in a row, it surprises me sometimes what turns out to be issues for some classes that wasn’t for others, or the like. The students have an ongoing assignment to watch an English movie or TV show every week and write in a journal what they thought of it. I went over how to do this assignment for a good 10 minutes last week. This week one student read her thoughts from her journal—she had watched a delightful Chinese movie produced by CCTV. “Was it in English?” I asked. “What?” she replied, confused. Oh, I forgot it had to be in English. Zhende ma? Really?

I think it is my goal to get one aspect of my life really comfortably under control each week. This week I’m figuring out how to get exercise in (some combination of mediocre campus gyms and my newly beefed-up collection of downloaded fitness dvds will suffice). Next week I hope to get my language tutoring situation under control. Maybe the week after that I will finally get around to mopping my floors with bleach, like I keep meaning to do. Or post pictures.


One thought on “What’s in a name?

  1. “In one class I have boys named Jay-Z and T-Pain—the former of these looks like a cool kid with some swagga’, but the latter definitely does not.”

    This perfectly explains my expectations for Hov and T-Pain and any student that would choose either as his namesake. Well done, Chinese students.

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