Sunday, February 21, 2010

Korean student names

Our kids typically choose English names, I guess to make it easier for us foreign teachers. Most of the names are fairly straight-forward - in fact, if I never hear the name Sally and/or Brian again, it'll be too soon. It reminds me of how there were five boys out of 35 students in my class back in N. Ireland named Andrew. Anyway, there are also quite a few Jennies and Kevins but we also have some more unusual "names". I don't find them bad, mostly just amusing.

It's also quite amusing how often kids want to "change" their names. Just recently, in my class in which the kids are the youngest, one of my girls, an adorable little girl named Angela, tells me, "teacher, my name is Sellasia." Well, alright. She's smart enough and typically smart so I said OK. Another kid then wanted to change his name from Joy to Leo. This seemed alright so I agreed to it. However, then one of my boys, a very smart little boy named Harry, says, "teacher, I want to change my name to "?". I could sense that this discussion was taking a turn for chaos but I like the kids to be happy, they seem to learn better. So I told Harry, "TODAY you can be '?' Tomorrow, you are back to being 'Harry'. Tomorrow I am not calling you '?' or '.' or 'Lion' or 'Pencil' or anything else of the sort." He seemed amenable to that but one of his buddies, Jerry, in the meantime, says, "Teacher, can I be'!'?" I commit to the same deal with him, emphasizing that this is a one-time only offer. So for the next hour or so, I was asking questions of '?' and '!' The kids didn't even think it was funny after a while. I thought it was funny and had to stifle my laughs a few times as I thought about how 20 years of education had prepared me to address little kids as '?' and '!' Sellasia has remained Sellasia and is still adorable and Leo remains Leo.

I have met some kids with very unusual names. Some I think stem from the interests of their parents, some, perhaps, from knowing too much Konglish and not enough English, and some, well, I guess when you're devising not legal names, you can call yourself what you want. Anyway, how strange is "Hoony" when there are people out there called Peaches Geldof and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence? So, here are the top ten (in no particular order) goofiest names of kids I have.

10. One
9. Cabin-wondering if his parents wanted to go with Kevin but just were a little unclear on the spelling. Either way, it's a nice change from conventional names and he's very funny
8. McQueen-he did make some very entertaining movies
7. Puppy (also goes by Pink and Green Puppy, depending on what color his Crocs are that day). He also barks on occasion which adds a nice touch to his name. However we've tried to discourage him from using the prefix pink in order that he is not badgered too much when he gets to secondary school.
6. Jazz - I got nothin'
5. Edison - unusual, and inspired
4. Lion - I'm guessing this was his choice
3. Hoony - really, this one, unless his parents have an unusually strong love of honey, I have no idea about this one.
2. Serim - she's a sweet girl and this sounds like it could be a name, but it isn't.
1. Zeus - no pressure on this guy

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