The Name Game: a New Country Means a New Identity

BestEnglishName

Have you wondered why some international students keep their official names, and why others choose an English name?

Many international students I spoke with said their main reason for adopting an English name is because many fellow students cannot understand their original names.

But it’s not just for American students – international students say their fellow foreign students also have trouble pronounce their name correctly.

“Using an English name is easier for my foreign friends,” said Jian “Philip” Sun, a student at Georgetown University.

His classmate, Han-Ping “Michael” Huang added that having an English name is easier for American friends to remember and spell exact name.

If you decide to go by an English name, then how do you choose one? Some students pick an English name that is very similar in pronunciation to their original name. Other students use their middle name or last name.

“I use my middle name for my English name in the U.S because people cannot pronounce my first name, “said Gyrithe “Katherin” Christiansen, a student at Northern Virginia Community College.

Some students selected an English name randomly when they were young, and have stuck with their choice.

“When I was young, my kindergarten English teacher gave my English name,” said Sun. “I think it is unique and I keep using this name.”

And there are even some students who choose their name because based on their favorite celebrity.

“I choose my name, Michael, because I like Michael Jordan,” said Huang.

According to several websites, here are 10 of the most popular English names for international students:

Male Names Female Names
James Mary
Jason Jennifer
Jay Sophia
Michael Emily
David Julie
Kevin Jenny
Joseph Annie
Thomas Alice
Daniel Jasmine
Brian Samantha


Jeonghyun Kim is a VOA intern for the English web desk. She is from South Korea, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism at Georgetown University

Jeonghyun Kim

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