How to pronounce students’ names


Michalea Halikias

Attendance: one of the scariest moments of a student with a difficult name’s life.

My name is Michalea. Mick-uh-lee-uh. Not Michaela, not Michelle, and definitely not Michael. I’m not even going to say my last name, because, well, it’s even harder to pronounce than my first name.

My name is mispronounced so often that sometimes I just stop correcting people. Not because people are dumb, but because my name is made up, so it is hard to remember. Literally made up. My grandpa’s name is Michael, and my parents wanted a girl form of that name. For some reason, “Michaela” didn’t suffice and they just had to rearrange a few letters and confuse everyone.

Michalea Halikias
Some teachers make students write their names on a piece of paper with the pronunciation to put on their desk at the beginning of the year.

If you’re anything like me, one of your biggest fears in life is walking into one of your classes and seeing a substitute teacher. Why, you might ask? Oh, because of one thing: attendance. 

Some of the worst words that could ever come out of someone’s mouth are, “I’m going to take attendance now- sorry if I butcher your name.” I mean, at least you get a warning, but there is no preparation for being humiliated in front of your class.

Worse than being humiliated in front of your class is being humiliated in front of the whole school. I’m talking about the birthday announcements.

It is always interesting to hear how students’ names are being pronounced right at the beginning of fourth period. Or, should I say, how they are not being pronounced. On their birthday of all days.

With that in mind, I’m going to give a few tips on how to pronounce names that look difficult.

First of all, don’t even bother sounding out the syllables. If you take too long, that is an obvious sign that you’re struggling with the name. You can’t let that happen.

Next, just don’t even look at the letters in the middle. As long as you know the first and last letters, you’re fine. Whatever comes out in between will probably be right.

Finally, once you’re done saying the name, make sure you have a confident look on your face. If you get corrected, look confused and try again. If you’re still wrong, just accept that you will probably never get the name right. Refer to them as “you” from now on.

So, when it is your birthday, don’t be ashamed if your name is mispronounced to the whole school. Just accept that how it was said over the announcements is what many people will think your name is.

Thank goodness my birthday is over the summer.