By: Krystle Crossman
Children can have a hard time in school when they have an uncommon name. The teachers will get up in front of the class to read off the attendance list and stumble over names. Once the name has been mispronounced it will be hard for the teacher and the students to correct it as they have the incorrect pronunciation stuck in their heads even after hearing it said the correct way. Schools are now realizing that mispronouncing a child’s name, whether accidentally or negligently, is a form of micro-aggression that can affect the student’s academic progress.
In 2015 the “My Name, My Identity: A Declaration of Self” campaign was launched. It was started by the National Association for Bilingual Education and the Santa Clara County, California Office of Education. The officials who were part of this campaign stated that when a child’s name was pronounced incorrectly it caused slight anxiety. They can also grow to resent their teachers or whoever is saying their names wrong.
While it may seem like just a name, it is actually a very large part of our identity. Your name displays your heritage. It makes your proud of your family and where you come from. Researchers feel that when someone’s name is mispronounced it is like the person who is saying it wrong is saying that the child’s heritage doesn’t matter. This is especially true if there is no action taken to correct the problem. They may feel like they are not important enough to have their name pronounced correctly and this can give them anxiety. They could develop low self-esteem because their identity is being chipped away little by little.
All over the country there are school districts that are putting policies and procedures into place so that teachers and administrators in the school are sure to pronounce children’s names correctly. If they do not know how to say a name or if they pronounce it the wrong way once they should ask the child how to pronounce it. Jennifer Gonzalez is a former teacher and she states that even if it is not intentional a mispronunciation of the student’s name is a little form of bigotry. She says that what this says to the child is that their heritage and their culture is not important enough and not worth the time to correct the pronunciation.