Titles and Modes of Address

Students how to address

One thing students often find strange in English is how to address their teacher, or how to show respect in a foreign language. As a teacher, I am happy that students wish to show me respect, but from experience I know that students sometimes lack the knowledge of how to do it. Whether you wish to study English in London or study English online, you will likely want to address your teacher correctly. What follows is how to do it.

Firstly, it’s best not to call your teacher “teacher”. In English we generally don’t address people by their jobs, and it sounds strange (but also occasionally quite sweet) if you do. If you are an adult, it is normal in the English-speaking world to address your teacher by their first name. For this reason, teachers will often not say their surname when they introduce themselves.

In British schools, pupils usually address their teacher as “sir” or “miss” depending on their gender, although it is possible this has changed since I was at school. One thing we generally do not do in English is use Mr (for example) with someone’s first name. If you are using someone’s title, you should use their surname. So, if you wish to address someone called Iain Jones in a very formal way, you would call him Mr Jones, not Mr Iain.=

In the English-speaking world, men generally use the title Mr, unless they are a doctor or aristocrat. Women may use Mrs (if they are married) or Miss (if they are unmarried), but many women choose to have Ms as their title, because it does not say whether the person is married or not and is thus equal to Mr.

In general, though, people will usually be quite forgiving if you make a mistake with these things, as long as you are being otherwise polite. “Please”, “Thank you”, “Sorry”, and “Excuse me” are indeed magic words!

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