Phil|Accent Trainer
Professional Teacher
In your country, what do you call your teachers?
My preference is usually to comment on language, rather than culture, but this question may pertain to both, and seems truly relevant to English learners here. It appears that different cultures have their own practices when it comes to titles and politeness.

Personally, I like my students to call me by my first name. The way I see it, a teacher is recognized by his or her teaching, not by a title. 

So, here’s the question, “What do you call your teachers in your country?
May 11, 2018 7:02 PM
Comments · 118

And yes, it's all different when it comes to other languages. Personally, when communicating in English, I find it easier to call people from other countries by their first name, without any titles. I guess that's because that's how it works between adults in Russia, too - well, outside the academic world. Your first name + respectful "вы" is enough to stay polite, usually (I wouldn't call it a preferable option though). 

What brings us to the T-V distinction (again!). Poor native English speakers, deprived of the pleasure of asking "Emmm... So... If it's OK with you... Can we switch to "ты"?", switching to "вы" or "ты" without asking (it can even be romantic sometimes!) and saying "I don't remember having a Bruderschaft drink with you, why do you call me "ты"?" if you're annoyed with someone's over-familiarity. So many priceless moments of social awkwardness. Of course you need many different titles in English if you don't want to miss all this fun.

May 11, 2018

I would say we usually don't use any special terms for addressing teachers in Russian. At least, I've never heard them used, and I certainly have never said "teacher"/"professor"/"doctor"/whatever when addressing a person in Russian myself. It would sound strange to me, even though people do have these titles. Still, it's perfectly fine to use these words when you're introducing someone, for example.

In most Russian schools and universities, students are supposed to address their teachers "вы" [vɨ] (which is the V-pronoun in Russian; the T-pronoun is "ты" [tɨ]) and to call them by both their first name and patronymic. So, let's say, there is a teacher called Irina. Her father's name is Ivan. Actually, that's all we need to know, we would call her Irina Ivanovna. I addressed teachers this way from kindergarten to university.

Sounds too formal to you? Well, if it's of any consolation, we usually pronounce full names in a rather quick manner, so it's usually not [ɪˈrɪnɑ ɪˈvanovnɑ] - it sounds more like [ɪˈrɪnɨˈvannɑ]. "Miss" sounds much more formal to me, by the way. 

Can there be exceptions? Probably. I can imagine a person addressing a much younger teacher by his or her given name only. Some people might get offended by this but I suppose it's a question of attitude. Some wouldn't blink an eye. 

May 11, 2018
In Poland we call our teachers Mr/Mrs, calling teacher by name would be considered really rude. If teacher is close with students and prefer friendly relationship with them some will add his/her name to Mr/Mrs. For some reasons in highschool (at least in mine) we call them professors. And at university by title.
May 11, 2018
@ BMD Maybe to distinguish themselves from other people who have the same christian name. And why shouldn’t they do it anyway? Everybody has the right to choose any name he wants on Italki and to disclose what he wants or not.
May 11, 2018

Interesting question, Phil! I have worked in a variety of British secondary schools ( 11-18 year olds) for over 30 years and although things are certainly less formal than when I started my career, first names have always been a no-no. However, my niece teaches younger pupils in a 'progressive' London primary school ( 6-10 year olds) and they call their teachers by their first name. This also happens in some secondary schools, I believe.

Sometimes I have been addressed as 'Sir', which thankfully is dying out now ( Reply: 'I've not been knighted yet, you know!). Female teachers are traditionally addressed as 'Miss' I am known either as 'Mr Pulford' or affectionately as 'Mr.P', which I really like, as it combines friendliness, a certain degree of professional distance and ( dare I say it), respect.


May 11, 2018
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Phil|Accent Trainer
Language Skills
Catalan, Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
Learning Language
Chinese (Cantonese), Hebrew