Remembering Student Names

Remembering Student Names is important in building up a good relationship with your students. If you know their names and use them it makes you more approachable.

Over time you will remember their names, but it’s important to try and get them off pat as soon as you can.

With a new class who don’t know each other, it also helps bond the students if they learn and remember each others names.

However, the problem is that often names are somewhat abstract and it’s difficult to associate the name with faces. Here are a few tips on remembering.


Before getting into the class, read through the list of names and see if any stand out. You may see that there are 3 Kostas in the class, or someone with the same name as your great-aunt or someone with a really strange name.

This sets up expectation and when you go into class you’ll be on the lookout for names that stand out. You’ll be surprised to see that Hercules is a weedy boy; that Pedro shares a name with, but looks nothing like, your uncle; that Moe does in fact look like the Simpson’s character and so on.

Use the Names

Try and use your students’ names from the start. When you address a single student, put in their name (of course asking them if you don’t remember) and use it!

Word Association

Get the class sitting in a circle and write up on the board‏‎ the template:

My name is — and I like —.

Explain that they need to fill in the blanks with their name and an activity or item which begins with the same sound. For example:

My name is Pedro and I like Pepsi.
My name is Sal and I like swimming.
My name is Xavier and I like zebras.

The next person in the circle has to introduce the previous person and also themselves, e.g.

His name is Xavier and he likes zebras; my name is Ran and I like running.

It’s often easier to remember a picture than a name, so you will see Xavier and think of zebras and use the initial sound to jog your memory.

A similar idea is to have your students work either individually or in pairs to come up with a great adjective‏‎ to give themselves. They can use dictionaries‏‎ for help here.

Thus you may well end up with a class including:

Awesome Adriana
Brainy Babul
Clever Corin

and so on.

Fame Association

Similar to the last idea, have the students associate themselves with someone (real or fictional) with the same name.

My name is Catherine, just like Catherine the Great.
My name is Gabriela, just like Gabriela on Desperate Housewives.


Get students to write name tags which they can either wear or have on card on their desks. Again, always use the name when talking to that student.

Seating Plans

If your students always sit in the same seats, then make a simple seating plan and write the names of the students in each position. Have this on your desk and use it!

(Remember though, moving students on the first day is always a good idea.)

Take the Register

At the beginning of every class, take a register to make sure everyone is there and to give yourself a quick reminder of who is who. Don’t just read the names out though, also remember to look at try and remember something about the student you are calling.

Forgotten Names

And if you forget your students’ names several lessons into the term and you are embarrassed to ask them there and then?

  1. Pretend it’s a quick spelling lesson and ask the student to spell their name while you (or another student) writes it on the board.
  2. Play Correct the Teacher‏‎ where the class must correct whatever you say: make a few simple errors including getting the name grossly wrong.

Useful Links

Student Names in English – when to (not) use English names for your students

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Posted in How To Teach English.

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