Graduate school implements new name pronunciation software for faculty

Aisling Ayers

A new software allows graduate students to upload recordings of their correct name pronunciation onto Canvas to help faculty pronounce their names.
In a recent email to graduate school faculty, the UT Graduate School announced its implementation of NameCoach, a software to aid in the pronunciation of students’ names. If students upload an audio recording of their names from their phones, graduate school dean Mark Smith said faculty members can access the software and click on a student’s name to hear the pronunciation.

Smith said the software also provides each student’s picture along with the pronunciation to aid professors in matching students’ names to their faces. He said the implementation of the software will improve dynamics between students and teachers in the classroom.
“Particularly when you have larger classes, it’s so easy for students to feel isolated,” Smith said. “This is a small step in a positive direction of helping to provide students with a greater sense of belonging.”
After attending numerous graduations, Smith said he began thinking about the challenge of pronouncing students’ names correctly. He said he circulated the idea of a name pronunciation software to faculty, and eventually, he and his staff began exploring commercially available products. 

Smith said the graduate school’s IT technician investigated NameCoach’s success at other schools before UT decided to implement it.

Smith said the software is being expanded and should be available for the entire student body in the spring semester.
“It’s already been loaded into Canvas,” Smith said. “The adoption of additional classes isn’t a software hurdle … (NameCoach) charges by number of (users), so we’re working on the funding.”
Government freshman Riya Kale said she has a name with Indian and Arabic origins, and professors often mispronounce both her first and last name.
“It’s definitely a sign of respect when people learn how to say your name properly,” Kale said. “I used to suck it up and not correct people, but you should have people say your name correctly because your parents named you that for a reason.”
Hana Bredstein, an international relations and global studies freshman, said she was accustomed to people mispronouncing her former name, Khanna, which is the Hebrew pronunciation of Hana. In March, she legally changed her name to Hana to help avoid confusion.
“(NameCoach) would make people feel more comfortable in class to have people say (their name) correctly,” Bredstein said.