A campaign initiated by the National Association for Bilingual Education and the Santa Clara County Office of Education says a teacher who mispronounces a student’s name is causing a negative emotional state that can lead to poor academic success.

The campaign, titled “My Name, My Identity: A Declaration of Self,” says on its website, “Did you know that mispronouncing a student’s name negates the identity of the student? This can lead to anxiety and resentment which, in turn, can hinder academic progress.”

Rita Kohli, an assistant professor of education at the University of California at Riverside, told NEA Today – the publication of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union – that overlooking the mispronunciation of a student’s name is a “microaggression” that can sabotage the learning process.

“Names have incredible significance to families, with so much thought, meaning and culture woven into them,” Kohli says. “When the child enters school and teachers – consciously or not – mispronounce, disregard or change the name, they are in a sense disregarding the family and culture of the students as well.”

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