When our teachers first start teaching in Cambodia, one of their greatest challenges is learning up to 60 students names before things get awkward! To make it even more difficult, our Khmer students names are not always easy to pronounce, with unfamiliar sounds and stresses.
Lets think about some ways to make this process easier, and faster!
Read over your student roll before class, practice speaking their names. Khmer names are often unfamiliar, so practice pronouncing your students names before class. Many sounds like “th”, “ph” are written differently in Khmer, so its helpful to try them out first.
Ask your students their names! Want to know something? Just ask! For the first week or so its perfectly acceptable to ask your students their name, and have them point it out on the roll. Get to class early and ask each student as they arrive, repeat it a few times to help your memory along, and get the pronunciation right. At the start of the semester, its no trouble to simply ask students their names!
Annotate your roll. As you ask students their names, make a quick note on the roll to remind you who is who. Maybe they wear fashionable glasses, affect a particular style, or they remind you of someone you know. Maybe you can associate their name with something familiar. Jot down a quick note about each student next to their names on the roll.
Address them by names as often as you can. “Repetition! Repetition! Repetition!” Isnt that what we tell our students? The same applies to learning their names. Call the roll aloud every class, address them individually when asking questions and when putting them in groups. Take any and all opportunities to address students by name, it will help you remember, and everyone loves hearing their own name!
Take photos to review later. A fun activity for your first day is to ask students to write their names on the board, and a fun fact about themselves. Then take a photo of them alongside their name, to use as a memory prompt later. You can mix this with other activities, like having partners introduce each other, or other whiteboard based introduction activities. Having photos with students names is a great reference to jog your memory and learn student names.