Thursday, May 28, 2015

Want to Value Your Chinese Students? Say Their Names Right

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 28th, 2015


If there was any question about one of the most dominant issues in international education, consider this: Several hundred people packed a ballroom here to mangle Chinese vowels.
The session on Chinese students’ names was a hot item at the annual conference of Nafsa: Association of International Educators, which runs through Friday. No wonder — one in every three international students on American campuses today is from China, and their numbers continue to surge.
What’s not necessarily growing is American educators’ ability to pronounce Chinese names. In fact, when Jennifer Vos, the panel’s organizer, surveyed Chinese students at Fordham University, where she is an international-student adviser, she found that 75 percent of them had adopted English names. But almost all said they would have preferred to use their given names, if only non-Chinese speakers were able to pronounce them.

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