Pronouncing Names Student Activity | Facing History & Ourselves
Uniformed students in classroom.

Pronouncing Names

Students examine the importance of pronouncing names correctly through this class activity.


Last Updated:

At a Glance

activity copy


English — US


  • Advisory
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies




One 50-min class period
  • Culture & Identity
  • Equity & Inclusion


About This Activity

In this activity, students reflect on why correctly pronouncing each other’s names is important. They read and discuss a text written by a young person that explores the anxiety she experiences during roll call on the first days of school and the compromises she makes to avoid the stress created by these moments. By the end of the activity, students will understand that learning and pronouncing names correctly creates a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels like they belong.

Preparing to Teach

A Note to Teachers

Some classrooms may appear to be culturally homogenous if students share culturally similar names. Students in these settings may struggle to find value in the activity. However, it’s important to remind students that they may encounter unfamiliar names in a variety of settings outside of the class, and the activity will help them develop empathy and emotional intelligence that can be applied throughout their lives.

While the extension activity is designed to foster inclusion and belonging, the act of sharing names can create opportunities for students to respond inappropriately to unfamiliar names. While conducting this activity, it’s important that you circulate around the room so you can monitor students’ discussions and address any inappropriate comments or reactions. Consider revisiting any notable observations when your class begins to draft its class contract in the days following this activity.

Save this resource for easy access later.

Save resources to create collections for your class or to review later. It's fast, easy, and free!
Have a Workspace already? Log In


Steps for Implementation

Begin by having students reflect on their own names. Project the questions below and ask students to respond to at least three questions in their journals or on separate paper. 

  • What is your preferred name? In other words, how do you like to introduce yourself? 
  • What do members of your family call you? 
  • What do your friends call you? 
  • Has anybody ever said your name incorrectly? 
  • To what extent is it important that others say or pronounce your name correctly?

Group students into pairs or triads for two or three minutes to share one idea they explored in their journals. Let them know that they can choose what to share and what to keep private.

Distribute the reading Is It Kay? so students have their own copies. Then read it with the class. Ask students to reread the text and underline a line that resonates with them, perhaps because it reflects their experiences, provides a new insight, raises a question, or because they’re drawn to the author’s writing style. Ask volunteers to share the line they chose and explain why.

Distribute the handout Is It Kay? Graphic Organizer and read the instructions out loud. Break the class into small groups to discuss the questions on the handout. Remind students to assign roles, and let them know that the summarizer will share a key idea from their discussion with the class. Groups can also submit their handouts at the end of the lesson. 

When the class has reconvened, have the summarizers share one key idea from their discussion. Encourage others to build on this idea in a class discussion.

Extension Activities

Students learn to pronounce each other’s names by participating in the MeUUme 1 name game. 

How the Name Game Works

  • Instruct students to stand in a straight line. There should be room for the line to grow from one end. It might need to round corners in the small space during the activity. 
  • The first student in line (e.g., Bao) turns to the second person (e.g., Amara) and follows the name-exchange process of “Me-You-You-Me” (MeUUMe) as outlined: 
    • Bao says his own name: Bao 
    • Amara says her own name: Amara 
    • Bao says Amara’s name: Amara 
    • Amara says Bao’s name: Bao
  • Bao then moves on to the third person in the line, the fourth, and so on. 
  • After the first person has passed by, the second person starts by addressing the third person, and so on. The first person joins the end of the line, and the game finishes when the last person from the original line has had their turn at introducing themselves to each person in the group.
  • Tell your students that if they forget the order of the introduction, they should think of the name of the game: MeUUMe, or “Me, You, You, Me.” You might want to write “MeUUMe” on the board to help them remember the pattern.


Materials and Downloads

Quick Downloads

Get this activity’s accompanying student materials in PDF and Google Doc format below.

You might also be interested in…

Unlimited Access to Learning. More Added Every Month.

Facing History & Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.

Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif