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What do you call your teachers?

Guest LaurieM

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Guest LaurieM

The title says it all. :flowers: How do you address your teachers? Do you call them Sir, Madam, Miss, or Mr? Do you call them by their first name or by a nickname? (Or by another name, perhaps?)

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I use a first name for teachers whom I have a rapport with. There are certain teachers that I find intimidating and might use Mr./Mrs if I could work up the nerve to talk to them.

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Interesting question! I think this will definitely reflect the cultural differences of people from different parts of the world. To me, it would be unthinkable to address ANYONE with Mrs/Ms/Mrs/Mr. We always use a persons first name. (Even kindergarten kids use the teachers first name)

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Where I go, the adults address teachers by first name but the under-18s are expected to use Ms/Miss/Mr LastName.


Here's the awkward bit: how the under-18s address the adult students. I am fine with first name, but some of the parents of the under-18s (my classmates, in some cases) expect their children to call me Ms. Koshka. Either is OK with me, but it seems like it might be awkward for the kids when one is calling me Kitty and the other is calling me Ms. Koshka. Oh well, that's for their parents to sort out....

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Happens this is a question very topical for me right now...:D


Normally, the question does not really apply here, due to the normal modern usage Finnish language. Calling anyone by the literal translation Mr/Ms in Finnish is very formal indeed, and only used in certain not-very-common situations. Addressing a teacher like that would sound funny at best; in some situations such "over-formality" could even be seen as offensive. Adults usually address teachers by first name, children as "opettaja" ("teacher") or by first name, as is the teacher's preference. (*)


I found, though, that when I write of teachers in English, e.g. in my log, it is very hard for me to talk about them by the first name alone, and I usually go for Ms/Mr FirstName for teachers I know, and Ms/Mr LastName for new teachers, there.


But now I have a teacher who teachers in English, and I have no clue how to address him in class! My instinct is for Mr Lange (his last name), as he is a teacher, older than me, and someone I don't (yet) know very well, but I'm afraid that in Finland that will sound too formal even when speaking English... :unsure:


:) (*) For those more interested in linguistic nuances: it is not typical for Finnish people to repeat the other person's name in conversation as much as the English speaking do, though, so this question specifically does not come up as often as you'd think. In class held in Finnish, for example, it is perfectly polite to say "Excuse me?" or "Could I ask..." to begin a question, without addressing the teacher as such.


However, there is a "formal you" pronoun and verb form in Finnish, to be used when addressing people formally. It is not customary to use it either when talking to your regular teacher, but there are exceptions - when talking to a professor much older than yourself or very esteemed, it could be expected, as would be addressing him/her as "professor So-and-so" (still not Mr/Ms, though).


I try to err on the safe side and tend to use the formal talk when talking to teachers I don't yet know for the first time, e.g. if I need to ask something from a new teacher in the beginning of the class, but usually they invite me immediately to use the informal (and then, of course, I cannot insist on continuing with the formal, that would be impolite). When using the formal, if I needed a name and the teacher didn't have a title such as professor that I could use, I would use the teacher's full name to address him/her rather than Mr/Ms: "Victoria Leigh? Could I ask You about about the class..."


The above is based on my experience in adult ballet classes, in regular school, and at the University - I do not know about ballet schools for children, really, other than the kids in the dressroom always talk of the teachers by first name.

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In graduate school, I had to address my professors Mr. Jones as they addressed you as well. Some teachers are always Mr. some are by fisrt name.



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I address my teachers by first name, since that is how they have introduced themselves to me. This includes our AD, who teaches one of the adult classes.

In graduate school, I've found that it varies from department to department. In the geosciences, it's strictly first name, but in physics, it is Prof. X or Y.

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I usually hedge around the issue by not using any names. I use "excuse me" instead of using their name.


Here, if the teacher takes classes for very young children, they are usually known as "Miss/Mr First Name", although some use "Miss/Mr Surname". Generally the students who have had the teacher since they were young use "Miss/Mr first name", but I feel stupid addressing an adult as "Miss Jody"!!!


In many high schools here the students still use "Sir" or "Miss" to address their teachers, and sometimes when I was teaching I'd get called "Sir" if their regular teacher was a male!



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In ballet class here in Belgium, it has always been the teacher's first name. When I lived in the US, I had to address my teacher with Miss Suzuko. Ballet class in America seemed much more formal than here in Belgium.

In college, it really depends on the professor. Some want to be called Mr or Mrs, while others I can just call by their first name. In high school it's Mr and Mrs, in elementary school, we use the male or female form of teacher. For my piano teacher, I called her Miss in elementary school, and started using Mrs somewhere in Junior High.

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Guest beckster

I call my teacher by her first name and have done that for all my ballet teachers as an adult. My current teacher says that children call her Miss firstname and that is fairly standard in the UK, especially for younger ballet teachers. I don't know about male teachers though.

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I pretty much never use first names in conversation, unless hailing someone as they're about to walk into traffic or something, and if I did I'd use the first name. Everybody where I come from (northeast US) uses first names among adults, regardless of differences in rank - if they address by name at all, which is much rarer than you'd think from watching TV dialogue where the audience has to be reminded who's who all the time - and first-naming is demonstrably the rule here as well. I've never been in a ballet class (adult) in either place where the teacher wanted formal address. I think having to use it would turn me off, the same way it turns me off when my students use it with me (oh yes, I have gotten the full range from Hey You to Dear Mistress in e-mails from students).

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Guest beckster

Oh yes, I hate it when I get e-mails that start, "Dear Dr. Beckster Lastname". I actually had one the other day from a student who I don't even know, that started like that (they even spelled out the Doctor bit) which then went on to be incredibly presumptious and rude. I don't think it matters how people address you, if their manner is appropriate to the situation.

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