What’s Your Name?? (Comment tu t’appelles??)

Bonjour! 😉

Now, having lived in France for several months, I have come across many French people (of course). From my students to my colleagues to random people on the street, I have met a good amount of individuals during my time here. So far, that is.

That being said, meeting these people and continuing to introduce myself over and over (“bonjour, je m’appelle…”) can get quite tiring. But, since I’m the only foreigner in my small town, most of the people already know me. If not by name, then by face (again, I’m the only Asian here).

Any case, over the few months that I have been teaching at the collège and lycée, I have come to recognize, even know, most of the pupils in my classes. I teach roughly over 200 students at each school, and so it’s not a surprise that I don’t know everyone’s name. Some of the students in some of the classes have made name tags for themselves, which helps, but it’s still very difficult to remember every single individual.

Coming into this teaching position at the beginning of the school year, I knew right away that I wasn’t going to know everyone’s name- I accepted that. But as long as they knew me (and there’s only one of me, anyway), then all would be fine.

But going back to recognizing and knowing some of my students: at this point in my teaching career in France, I can say that I know some pupils’ names. Usually, it is those who tend to speak up more in class, regularly participate in activities or, unfortunately, are the troublemakers. 😛

On average, I would say that, in a typical group of twelve to fifteen students, I know maybe two or three of the students’ names. Five, if I am lucky. But, I’m slowly getting there! Again, I don’t expect to know everyone’s name, even by the end of the year, but wouldn’t hurt to do so. There are a few who I would like to know the names of (whether just to talk to them or call them out in class for causing trouble), but that’ll take time. We’ll see!

Besides getting to know the pupils’ names, I also have noticed that some share the same name. In other words, there are popular French names for girls and boys; in the case of common names such as Emily or John in the United States, there are names like Manon and Hugo in France.

*side note* This sounds pretty ignorant of me, but before coming to teach in France, I had assumed that many of the French would have hyphenated names like “Marie-Caroline” or “Jean-François.” While I’m heard of the former (usually just shortened to “Marie”), I have never come across someone called “Jean” or “François”- at least, not yet. Perhaps it’s old-fashioned to name your child those names (like, back in the 60’s), but for my French bloggers out there, could you tell me the reason behind this trend? I’m curious!

Here is a *short* list of the top five French names for boys and girls. These are only what I’ve come across in my students; these do not necessarily reflect the rest of the regions in France, and how they choose their names. Let me know if you find this list accurate (or not). 😛

Top Five Names for Boys

1. Maxime (or Maxence)

2. Hugo

3. Quentin (seriously, in one of my classes at the collège, there are three Quentins!)

4. Dorian

5. Théo

Top Five Names for Girls

1. Océane (again, so many! There’s at least one “Océane” in each of my classes)

2. Manon (same as above^)

3. Anaïs

4. Marie

5. Amandine

Now, I consider these names quite “French,” as they would not be common in the United States. Besides these names, there are a ton of students who, surprisingly, have English names (albeit with a French twist in pronunciation). I suppose it’s the trend nowadays to name your child something other than a “typical” French name; I have also heard a plethora of “Melissa,” “Laura,” and “Alice” for girls, while “Kévin,” “Nathan,” and “Tom” for boys.

In any case, a name is a name is a name; it is what identifies us, whether casually or officially, in everyday life. I will continue to learn my pupils’ names as the second term goes on, and perhaps by the end of the year, I will at least know the majority of each in all of my classes. Worth a shot! 🙂

— The Finicky Cynic

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7 thoughts on “What’s Your Name?? (Comment tu t’appelles??)

  1. Hahaha, I never thought you would expect us to be called Marie-Caroline or Jean-François. It is kind of old-fashioned, yes. You can also find Anne-Sophie but compound names are not common in the young generation nowadays. I don’t really know why it was trendy… Maybe because parents chose the names of their fathers for a boy and their mothers for a girl. I really don’t know.
    I thought you would meet more Léa and Emma. In my generation, there are a lot of Marion, Marie, Léa, Maxime and Lucas for example.

    1. Yes, I thought so! Old-fasioned names indeed; it’s similar in English (not in the sense of compound names, but rather in name trends over the years, i.e. some you don’t hear as often as before).

      I do hear a good amount of Léas and Emmas, too. Haven’t heard of any Marions so far…perhaps it’s also a regional thing??

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