Musa asks a very interesting question:
I am from Turkey. In our culture, we do not call our teacher with his or her name, because it is considered as disrespectful and rude. We use a specific respectful title for our teachers before we would like to talk with them.
I came to California for four months. I have been working with professors and attending ESL classes. In ESL class, everybody calls the teacher by her first name. Normally,I don't want to use my professors' and my ESL teacher's first names when I am speaking with them. Are there any polite expressions for teachers/professors in English language/culture?
You bring back memories! When I returned to the US as a schoolboy after four years in Mexico, I said "sir" and "ma'am" to my teachers. They were delighted by my good manners—but my classmates didn't like it at all!
Then, when I started teaching in 1967, my department head told me: "You will call your students Mr. Jones and Miss Smith, and they will call you Mr. Kilian."
Well, I did and they did. But next year, when I moved to a new college, I told my students to call me by my first name, and I would do the same with them. This is very common practice in North America.
However, I have known many students from Europe and Asia who are very uncomfortable when they are asked to call their teacher by the teacher’s first name. I have some Asian pen pals who call me “Mr. K” or “Uncle” or "Grandpa" because they don’t want to use my first name.
Many foreign students are happy to say, “Teacher,” or “Professor.” But that sounds a little unusual in North America.
In general, it is a good idea to address people as they wish: If a teacher wants you to call her "Ms. Smith," then you respect her wishes. If she wants you to call her "Jenny" or "Bobbie," then you should call her that. Maybe it sounds disrespectful to you...but she is showing you respect, by inviting you to speak with her as a friend and equal.
Still, it is not easy to change our habits, even when we are trying to learn about a different culture. I suggest you explain to your teacher that you would feel more comfortable calling her “Ms. Smith,” or “Dr. Smith.” She will certainly understand.