Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How should I call them

There is one thing very untraditional in Aelig's school (or nursery school in general), that every kid is to call their teachers by name.

I kid you not, Aelig actually calls her teachers by the first name, not last name.
So, she doesn't do like me calling my teachers Mrs Lim, Sir, Cikgu Arun , Puan Kamsiah, Chen Lao Shi...

I felt so odd to not address a teacher in a formal way. When she says "goodbye Regine" to her teacher, my first reaction was that she was so impolite that I needed to correct her, but I was told later that the school teaches them to do it this way.

I don't know why they are doing this. I heard that the rule changed about 10 years ago.

It creates a problem for us parents, as I don't know what are the last names of these teachers, and I simply do not feel at ease to call them by their first name. So I asked hubby how he addresses the teacher everyday when he sends Aelig to school. "I don't address her", was his reply. Basically, If you do not know how to address a person, simply say "Bonjour" and continue with the conversation.

Ok, I feel impolite to avoid addressing someone when talking, but gradually I get used to it. Now when I'm at the school, I just say "Bonjour" then get on with my questions.

I'm not sure Malaysia would change the habit/rule anytime soon. I couldn't imagine myself calling my teachers by their first name. It would be a real revolution.


  1. I call them by first name (ok for me it's simple I don't use "vous" in french ^^). What I don't like it's when they call me "Mr X" or "enora's dad". Once during a schol trip, a kid called me Mr X for kidding and I responded "no Mr X is my father I am sylvain" the teacher heard me and apologied for calling me Mr all the day and now she use my firstname

  2. Actually this rule only applies in kindergarten/maternelle.

    Once they go to primary school (at 6) they address the school teachers as Mr X or Mrs X using their last name.
    They also call their own teacher "Maitre" or "Maitresse" during the class, but I'm not sure if they tutoie or vouvoie them.

    Actually in our maternelle the children call their own teacher Maitre/Maitresse and their ATSEM (teaching assistant) by her first name and they tutoie both of them.
    They call the teachers from the other classes by their first name so we have "elle est dans la classe de Stéphanie" or "regarde Maitresse, j'ai fini mon dessin".

  3. here even in primary school the keep calling their teacher by their firstname. And the few time I heard them calling her they used tutoiement.