AEE 277: 3 Strategies to Remember Someone’s Name in English with Alan Headbloom

friendsHow can you remember other people’s names?

Today, learn three tactics to remember names in English, and why it’s important to do so!


A name is a person’s most basic possession and part of their identity.  It’s the sweetest sound to their ears.  For this reason, Alan believes it’s important to get a person’s name right, and to show an interest in it.  But it’s not always easy to do that, especially with names you are unfamiliar with.


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Here are Alan’s tips for remembering new names:

  • If a name is unfamiliar, ask them to repeat it.  This helps you learn their name and also shows a respectful commitment to learning it.  Simply say, “Your name is a little difficult for me, but I’d really like to get it right. Could you say it again?”
  • Ask for their business card.  This works best in a business context, though students may also have business cards.  Reading the name might make it easier to remember.
  • Make up a mnemonic, or memory aid.  Think of what the unfamiliar name sounds like in your native language and use that to help you remember.  This is a way to bridge your language and English.


Alan suggests you also learn common names in the English-speaking world, and that you try asking others if their names have any special meanings or significances.


How do you deal with learning new names?

Share your experiences in the comments section below!


Alan Headbloom is an intercultural trainer, a professional English teacher and a talk show host. He frequently appears as a speaker on topics such as cultural diversity and workplace inclusion. He lives in Michigan, USA where he and his wife produce the show Feel Like You Belong, a show about immigrants creating a new life in the United States.

Visit Alan’s Website: Feel Like You Belong and Alan Headbloom- Cross Cultural Communication


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  • Three ways to remember other people’s names by Alan :
    1/ Ask people to repeat unfamiliar or difficult names by saying ” Your name is a little difficult for me , but I’d really like to get it right . Could you say it again / repeat it ? ” in a respectful way .
    2/ Ask for their business cards and practice reading the names yourself .
    3/ Create a memory device to associate the name sounds with your native language . Connect your first
    language to English through meaningful concept .

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH!This episode really help me out of the trouble of remembering people’s names. I remembered meeting a senior student on a conference whose name is SO unfamiliar to me. And when I asked him to repeat, he just repeated it and asked us to call him Mat.Now I’m better at remembering names but it can be real painic for me at times. You won’t like to call their name wrong,anyway. Thanks again.

  • @mollie_tai:disqus Great summary thanks!

  • @disqus_gKENSuafov:disqus Yes don’t worry, you are not alone. A lot of people struggle with this topic. I am glad the episode helped you!

  • Attila Cheng

    AEE downloaded more than 8 million times ! 🙂 Anyway I have serious problem memorize name – not only in English – even in my native language. These tips are useful and applicable in your native language as well.

  • @attilacheng:disqus Thanks for your message! Yes, we have hit 8 million and soon it will be 10 million! I have the same problem of memorizing names. I hope these tips help you!