Successfully introducing classes of different cultures

name Sophie

When classes from two different countries and cultures connect or collaborate for the first time, it can be very difficult to determine the names and gender of the students involved.

My school had a Chinese language assistant teacher  from Shanghai for 12 months several years ago. She introduced herself as Wang Yi,so we called her Wang but after she had left we realised her first name was actually Yi!!! We had been calling her by her last name.

There will be differences in the order of names. In Australia we state our first names followed by our surnames (or last names). In China, students’ last names (or family names) come first then their first name. Some Indian citizens do not have even have a last name just their first name or name of their father which is carried down through generations.

When classes do connect and collaborate for the first time, it is essential for success that teachers share student details with clear headings for first and last (family) name. Pronunciation of the name using a audio would be useful. Gender should also be shared, as foreign names may not convey whether they are a boy or a girl.

If using webconferencing software such as skype, polycom videoconferencing, ghangouts, zoom etc, signs or printouts showing the name of the student (and pronunciation if possible) could be used as the student comes up to the camera.

What tips and hints do you have? How else do names differ around the world?

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