I’m going to admit something scary: there have been years where I couldn’t learn all the students’ names. I know, that’s WILD. I once had 500+ students that I saw once every two or three weeks, and that was impossible.
To make things easier on myself, I told students up front that it would be tricky for me to learn their names, and that helped our relationship. Using some of these tricks helped too!
One: Name Tents with Rescue Phrases
The Easiest Option
Name tents are basically name tags, but I took it a step further and added rescue phrases to my name tents. This helps me engage students in Spanish immediately because they can use the Week 1 rescue phrases on the back to jump right in and use Spanish.
My name tents also have space for students to draw a picture of something they like, which makes it easy to jump into the next activity (read more below). We can dive right in with Spanish and I can learn names quickly..
How Long to Use Name Tents
We keep the name tents out until they get lost or I learn names. There have been years where I collected them and others when students kept them in their folders. Either option works, it depends on your style.
Two: Card Talk
What are you Talking About?
Basically, using that name tent from above, you engage with students and practice THEIR basic conversation skills while you and the class practice names.
How It Works
You can use a real ball or an imaginary ball, but essentially you ask questions about what students have written on their name tents. It goes something like this:
Student: (panics, looks at rescue phrases) Hola.
Profe: ¿Cómo te llamas?
Student: Me llamo Jorge.
Profe: Encantada, Jorge. Clase, se llama Jorge. Se llama Jorge, ¿sí o no?
*Profe indicates that class should answer, class responds*
*Profe continues circling questions about Jorge’s name and moves on to Jorge’s hobby, drawn on his name tent*
Three: Phone a Friend
Ask the Kids
“Hey, what’s his name?” can easily become: “¿Cómo se llama?” in order to practice names in class. Not only are you encouraging your students to practice the structure, but you’ve got an easy way to quickly recall their name!
Four: Take Notes
Make note of descriptors for your students
I kid you not, that year when I had 500+ kiddos, I started making notes after class of who’s who and how to identify them. I had notes that said: “brown hair, glasses,” “blond hair green eyes,” “asks lots of questions,” “loves languages” etc. It helped me to keep track of the students and learn their names over time.
Five: Practice, Practice, Practice
Got five minutes? Practice Names.
When you get down to the last few minutes of class and you have some extra time, practice students’ names. It’s an easy way to learn names and remember them.
One way you can do this is by asking the students to stand, then sit when you say their name. Another option is doing this quietly as you monitor student work time, saying the names to yourself.
- Get your name tents ready for the first week of school
- Consider rescue phrases for students’ desks
- Go bigger: get the whole back-to-school bundle with name tents, an editable syllabus, a word wall, and more!
- Click the image below to pin this post for later!