English Names for Students  


Did you use a foreign name when studying a foreign language in school? 
When I studied Spanish in school in the USA, we always had Spanish names. And any foreign teacher I have asked in Japan has told me they also had foreign names in their school language classes.  It was fun for me to pick one, and fun for me to use it in class.  But in almost 16 years in Japan, I have only heard of one school that uses English names for their students in class!
Now, as a teacher, I understand that using foreign names for students serves an important psychological function, as well.  Especially for adults, and for students generally, the fear of being seen to make a mistake in from of one’s peers is enough to discourage many students from attempting to speak.  After all, I, Elton, am almost 48 years old, and I don’t make mistakes!  If, however, I am not Elton, but Paco, then there is less concern and anxiety about Paco making a mistake. After all, Paco is a language student, and has a whole list of character differences that are not Elton.
I have suggested using English names in classes to some of my teachers, but to little willing acceptance. Still, it is interesting to me that in other countries, the use seems common and widespread. But if this simple, and fun, technique could remove a simple mental barrier that prevents our students from having the courage to try speaking in a foreign language, isn’t worth a try?

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