Names Help Shape People’s Lives

January 31, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. avenue (n.) [av-uh-nyoo, -noo] – a means of achieving something or a way to a particular goal
Example: His patience and hard work served as avenues to his great career.

2. gifted (adj.)  [gif-tid]– having a special talent, ability or intelligence
Example: The child is truly gifted, because he can play all kinds of musical instruments.

3. initial (n.) [ih-nish-uhl] – the first letter of a name or a word
Example: The initials of the late US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy are JFK.

4. appealing (adj.)  [uh-pee-ling]  – attractive or pleasing
Example: The restaurant decorations were very appealing and invited more customers than usual.

5. inclined (adj.)  [in-klahynd–having preference or more interest on something
Example: He enjoys watching orchestra performances because he is more inclined to classical music.

Read the text below.

Researchers in the US and UK say that choosing appropriate names for babies has a good effect on their future.

According to a study by David Figlio, a professor at Northwestern University, Illinois, although a name is not an instant avenue to success, a good name can make a child’s life easier.

For instance, the National Bureau of Economic Research learned that some teachers may give different treatment to children with certain letter combinations in their names.  Other children without interesting names may be left unnoticed no matter how gifted they are, which may lead to poor grades during exams.

A research in 2006 also showed that a child’s last name could affect his or her performance in school. Those whose initials are letters at the beginning of the alphabet (such as A and B) are often associated with being at the “top” or “first” in class and get more of their teacher’s attention. These kids are usually seated in front of the classroom where they get to study better. They are also more likely to become professors in universities or Nobel Prize awardees.

Additionally, names can give an idea on what people’s future jobs will be. Figlio says girls with feminine-sounding names are more inclined to take English courses rather than Math and Sciences.

However, choosing a name can still be difficult, which is why many parents look to the Internet for help. One survey says that 64% of respondents consulted Google on whether the baby names they thought of were good or bad.

With over 4 million babies born in the US each year, it is understandable why parents want to give their babies’ appealing names that stand out.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, what do you think are the other advantages and disadvantages of having a unique name?
·         If you had a choice, would you change your name? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you agree that one’s name can really affect one’s future? Why or why not?
·         How do you think a name can affect a person’s character?


January 31, 2012