Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reflections on the 2013 school year 4: Learning names

One of the first lessons a politician learns is this: "To recall a voter's name is statesmanship. To forget it is oblivion."
- Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
The same principle extends to students: To recall a student's name is the quickest way to see him smile. To forget it is admit failure as his teacher.

That's only 1/4 exaggeration, actually. The students, like anyone, love to hear their names. They love it even more when I remember them without any prompting. Their excitement's palpable; I get a thrill out of it as well.

Learning Korean students' names, and the difficulties thereof, is a perennial subject for foreign teachers here. I'll remember 2013 as the year I became good at remembering high school students' names. I did it this way:

Have a class roster on hand at all times

I began doing this in the States. Back then, the class list was on a clipboard I carried around the room. Nowadays, the students' names get written in the roster pages inside my teacher's journal. In every class, I'd pick 1-3 students, and make a point to mention their names at various points during the class. Repeating their names, either for asking questions or for keeping their behavior in check, aided my memory immensely.

Use names in conversation / Say hello in the hallways

I've touched on talking to students in the hallway before, but oftentimes a short "Hello So-young" or "Good morning Jae-hyeong!" is just as effective.

Keep at it

Learning anything of importance takes time. Keep at it and try not to be discouraged. Good luck!

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