Friday, September 03, 2010|
ESL Teacher Blog: 'Teacher, What Page?' - Addressing a Teacher in Class
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:52 PM
- In our adult ESL classes here in Toronto our students call us (the instructors) by our first name or more rarely Mrs./Mr. + last name. I ask my students to call me Olga. Throughout the course I write my name on the board a few times and use it in sample sentences or made-up stories when I explain new words or structures, and yet some students persistently call me ‘teacher’ or Mrs. Olga.
- True, we say ‘driver, can you please open the door?’, but ‘teacher, I have a question’ sounds impersonal. Similarly, we don’t say 'excuse me, cashier, or bank teller' - we read a name tag or ask for a name. Addressing each person by his/her name before starting a conversation is an important life skill and worth an effort to emphasize in class.
- Mrs. Olga sounds quite amusing too - this probably comes from different perceptions of distance between a student or a teacher. Just ‘Olga’ sounds disrespectful for students with higher levels of power distance and they feel better if they use Mrs.
- It’s hard to make students ‘unlearn’ addressing their instructor as ‘teacher’. But I find the following activity can be a memorable way to keep the importance of addressing people in the right way in mind:
- Read the list of terms (1-15) below. Match the term to the correct group of people (A-E) that you could address using this term.
- A-casual friend or acquaintance
B-superior i.e. boss, teacher, customer etc.
D-girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse
bro - C
old man/woman __
first name (i.e. Lucy) __