Monday, March 19, 2012

Common Error: Addressing a Teacher as "Teacher"

Welcome to Mistake Monday! Today's Common Error is very basic but very common, at least in almost all my classes in Costa Rica.

My face wasn't this skeptical until my students started calling me "Teacher Ryan" continuously.
Common Error: Addressing a teacher as "Teacher"
DON’T say this:"Hello Teacher, how are you?"
"Teacher Ryan, could you repeat that?"
(To get my attention): "Teacher! Teacher!"
WHY?I realize that in Costa Rica this is common for some reason, but it still sounds ridiculous to me (and to any teacher from the U.S.A. I talk to about this). Whenever my students call me "Teacher," I respond by calling them "Student" or, if I know their jobs, "Baker," "Engineer," "Airport Cop," "Carpenter," etc. If that sounds strange, then you understand why calling me "Teacher" is strange for me. My name is Ryan, so call me Ryan or, if you absolutely need a title, you can call me "Mr. Sitzman."

Don't confuse a personal title with a job description. Common personal titles include Mr., Mrs., Miss, Doctor, Professor, Principal, President, and a few others. If you call someone by their title, you say Title + Last Name, as in:
-"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is the title of a famous movie."
-"Principal Jefferson gave a teaching award to Miss Holmes, the Math teacher."
-"Dr. Henderson prescribed the old man some medicine for his back pain."

In English, "teacher" is a job description, but not really a title. Think of this: I have a friend named Brad who is a lawyer, but no one calls him "Lawyer Brad." I have another friend named Andrea who cleaned hotel rooms, but no one called her "Housekeeper Andrea." Those are just job names or descriptions, but not titles for people.

Also, as I mentioned last week, you shouldn't address your teacher as "professor" unless she or he has a PhD degree. If that's the case, then you can call them "Professor + (last name)." For example you could call Albert Einstein "Professor Einstein," but not "Professor Albert," and definitely not "Teacher Albert."
INSTEAD, SAY THIS:-"Hello Ryan, how are you?"
-"Hello Mr. Sitzman, how are you?"
-"Ryan, could you repeat that?"
-"Could you repeat that?" (If you're already looking at me, then you don't need to say my name over and over.)
-(To get my attention): "Excuse me, Ryan?"
-(You can also just silently raise your hand... I'll probably see you and help if I can.)

So, that's it for today. If you have questions or comments, please leave a comment or contact me. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!


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