DEALL graduate students offer East Asian name pronunciation workshops

December 29, 2016

DEALL graduate students offer East Asian name pronunciation workshops


In Autumn 2016, the East Asian Studies Center (EASC) launched a new program to help faculty and staff at The Ohio State University learn to pronounce East Asian names. Students from East Asian countries, particularly China and South Korea, make up a large portion of the international student population at Ohio State, and EASC has heard from numerous faculty and staff that they would like to make these students feel welcome and a part of the community by pronouncing their names as accurately as possible.

To this end, EASC partnered with the Department of Engineering Education’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee to offer a workshop for faculty and instructional staff in that department on “Pronouncing Chinese and Korean Names.” Held on November 14, the workshop was facilitated by Han Gil Kim, a doctoral student in the Department of Teaching and Learning, and Cong Li, a doctoral student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. Kim and Li shared information on names in their countries, discussed proper ways to address people, provided pronunciation tips, gave advice on how to handle East Asian students’ adoption of Western names, and concluded with practice sessions in which the 25 faculty and staff in attendance practiced pronouncing common names from the regions.

Deborah Kuzawa, senior lecturer in the Department of Engineering Education and chair of the department’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, requested the session from EASC and coordinated the event within her department while EASC provided the speakers and worked with them to develop the content. "In the College of Engineering as a whole, there are many international students from China and Korea," said Kuzawa. "During one semester, 50% of the students in my course were from one of these countries. I teach technical communications in Engineering Education, and the course also meets a social diversity GEC, so I felt it was especially important for my department's Diversity and Inclusion Committee to host a workshop. Further, I have read a few recent studies that indicate pronouncing students' names correctly can have a strong positive impact."

On November 30, EASC offered another workshop, “Pronouncing Chinese Names,” for staff members in the Fisher College of Business’ Office of Career Management. Donglin Chai, a doctoral student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, led the session for the 8 staff members in attendance which focused on pronunciation of Chinese surnames and included contextualized exercises for the staff to practice their new skills. Allison Jones, director of career management and corporate relations for the Fisher College of Business, requested the workshop for her staff who work with many Chinese students from Fisher's graduate programs.

"EASC is extremely grateful for the graduate students who have volunteered their time to facilitate these workshops," said Etsuyo Yuasa, director of the East Asian Studies Center and associate professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. "The expertise these graduate students have shared will help university faculty and staff to welcome East Asian students to the university, to their classrooms, and in their offices."

For further information on this program, contact Amy Carey, EASC senior assistant director, at