Learning conversational English is an important part of the fluency journey.
But, the way you speak to a friend in a coffee shop is very different than the way you speak with a teacher in a classroom. There are different etiquette rules to consider. Plus, there are some school-related vocabulary words that you might not hear anywhere else.
It might seem overwhelming at first, but do not worry. We are here to help.
In this post, we are going to look at a few examples of conversations between teachers and students. We will discuss the ways to address teachers and some essential vocabulary words you need to know. Soon, you will feel comfortable carrying on a conversation in a classroom setting.
Talking to Teachers 101
In general, the relationship between a student and a teacher is formal. When addressing a teacher, students need to be respectful and polite by using titles similar to what you would use in the workplace, as outlined in this video from the FluentU YouTube channel:
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It is important to know the teacher’s title so you know the correct way to address them. On the first day of class, most teachers will introduce themselves and write their name on the board. At this point, you will know how to address the teacher. However, if you are ever in doubt, it is best to address the teacher formally by calling them Mr./Mrs./Miss. + Last Name.
Some teachers prefer to be addressed as Professor + Last Name or Dr. + Last Name if this title applies.
Besides understanding how to address the teacher, students also need to learn the rules for talking in their classroom. Different teachers use different rules, but you might have to raise a hand before speaking, wait until class ends to hold a conversation or send an email if you have a question.
Once you know these classroom rules and the appropriate way to address your teacher, you will be ready to actually hold a conversation with them.
Why Learn About Conversations Between Teachers and Students
Understanding classroom conversations is an important step for any English learner.
- Enhance your basic English conversational skills. Even if you are not in a classroom setting, learning how to have a formal conversation is important. The skills used in conversations between teachers and students also apply to other conversations, like those you might have with a doctor or another professional.
- Build your English vocabulary. Most of the conversations between teachers and students include school-related vocabulary. As you watch the videos below, write down any new words you learn. Then, look up the words in a dictionary (Merriam-Webster is a great option and what we used for defining the terms below). Expanding your English vocabulary is an essential part of the fluency process.
- You can ask a teacher a question. If you are in a classroom setting, understanding how to have these conversations is key to your learning process. Once you know how to ask a teacher a question in English, you can get more out of your lessons. Do not worry if you are not comfortable right away, this is a learning process. Practice these English conversational skills and keep learning new vocabulary. Soon, you will feel prepared to have a conversation in a classroom.
Classroom Chats: Your Guide to Conversations Between Teachers and Students
Now that you understand the basics, let’s look at some example conversations between teachers and students.
Take some time to watch each of these five videos. You will hear conversations and learn new vocabulary. After each video, we will take a deeper look at the conversations together.
You can watch all these videos on YouTube, but to help you learn the conversations and vocabulary easier, click on the headings to watch them on FluentU.
FluentU adds subtitles and transcripts to each video, making it easy to find out the definition of any word as you’re watching. Plus, you can test yourself on any word or phrase by adding it to your vocabulary deck as a flashcard. Every video comes with a quiz, too, so you can be sure that you learned every word in the conversation.
Try FluentU with a free trial to get the most out of the videos below!
This video is the perfect place for new English learners to start. You will hear a few phrases that teachers often say to students. Write down any words that are new to you and practice repeating each phrase after you hear it in the video.
A few key vocabulary words and phrases from this video are:
- repeat — say again
- open your books — a phrase encouraging someone to take out a book and turn to a specific page
- listen — pay attention to sound
Let’s look at a sample conversation using some of the phrases from the video:
This example shows how a teacher could talk to students about the lesson for the day. The vocabulary words in this video are great building blocks for more complex conversations that are often heard in classrooms.
Here is a sample dialogue that uses the vocabulary words from the video:
Teacher: “Come in students, sit down.”
Student: “What are we learning today?”
Teacher: “Today we are learning about apples. Please, open your books and read page 3.”
Teacher: “Now, listen to me say ‘apple’ and repeat after me.”
Teacher: “Now write the word ‘apple’ on your paper.”
Teacher: “Very good. You may now go out and play.”
It is important to be polite, especially when you are talking to your teacher. Watch this video for examples of how to have a polite conversation. Many of the phrases in this video also apply to conversations held outside of a school setting.
A few key vocabulary phrases from this video are:
- this is difficult — a phrase that means “this is hard or challenging”
- going to school — a phrase that means someone is on their way to the educational building
- thank you for helping — a phrase expressing gratitude for someone’s assistance
Let’s look at some of the short conversations from the video:
You might hear this short conversation when a student arrives in the classroom. Notice how the student responds in a polite manner.
Teacher: “Please come in.”
Student: “Thank you very much.”
This conversation could happen after a student asks for help with a math problem. Again, the student is polite and thanks the teacher in the conversation.
Student: “Thank you for helping.”
Teacher: “No problem.”
The first day of school can be hard, but this video shows how to handle a conversation between a teacher and a new student. Pay attention to how the teacher talks to the class and how the new student introduces herself.
A few key vocabulary phrases from this video are:
- my name is — a phrase used to introduce yourself
- come in — a phrase inviting someone to enter a space
- sit down — a phrase encouraging someone to rest on a chair
Listen to the conversation in this video. The students greet the teacher and they ask how the teacher is doing. A new student also enters the classroom and meets the rest of the class.
This is another great example of being polite in the classroom.
Students: “Good morning.”
Teacher: “Good morning, everyone”
Students: “How are you?”
Teacher: “Fine thanks, how are you?”
Teacher: “Come in please.”
New Student: “Nice to meet you. My name is Kate.”
Students: “Nice to meet you, too. Sit down, please.”
New Student: “Thank you.”
This video covers some vocabulary words you will hear in a classroom. Repeat the words after you hear them in the video.
A few key vocabulary words from this video are:
- backpack — a bag for carrying items on your back
- colored pencil — art instrument with a colorful wax core
- locker — a compartment that is used for individual storage and can be locked
Let’s look at a sample conversation using some of the phrases from the video: In this scenario, we are going to pretend that the students put all of their backpacks in a pile before going to recess. When it is time to go back inside, the teacher tries to hand out the backpacks to the correct students.
Teacher: “Recess is over. Please pick up your backpack from me and get in line.”
Student: “May I please get my backpack?”
Teacher: “Which one is your backpack?”
Student: “My backpack is red.”
Teacher: “Here you go.”
Student: “Thank you.”
In another scenario, the students are in an art class. The teacher asks them to make a self-portrait.
Teacher: “Today I would like you to use any materials you have to make a self-portrait.”
Student: “I have many colored pencils.”
Teacher: “Colored pencils are perfect.”
Student: “Can I use crayons?”
Teacher: “Crayons are also great for this project.”
This clip from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is not a FluentU video, but you can still learn a lot from it! It is perfect for intermediate and advanced English learners.
In this scene, you will hear Professor McGonagall speak to her class about their lesson and the mysterious chamber of secrets. Be aware that since this is at a school for witches and wizards, some of the phrases are magical spells and are not in English. Focus on the way the students speak to their professor and the advanced vocabulary words used during the clip.
A few key vocabulary words from this video are:
- chamber — a room
- heir — one who inherits from an ancestor
- legend — a myth or story from the past
Let’s look at some of the conversations in this video.
First, notice how Professor McGonagall starts the class. She quiets the room and explains the lesson for the day.
Professor: “Could I have your attention, please. Today we will be transforming animals into water goblets.”
Later in the clip, a student named Hermione Granger raises her hand to ask a question. Notice how Professor McGonagall also addresses the student in a formal manner. This is not always common but it is a sign of mutual respect.
Professor: “Yes Miss Granger.”
Student: “Professor, I was wondering if you could tell us about the chamber of secrets?”
Professor: “Very well.”
English conversations only get better with practice. Write out your own sample conversations or use what you’ve learned to have a conversation in a classroom.
Remember, it is fine to not be perfect right away. Fluency is a journey and you are on your way to learning how to have polite conversations with a teacher in English.
Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based freelance writer. You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.
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