Once upon a time, one of us had a job teaching sugar-charged Mexican kids English. “Maestro” was the charming term they used (as in, “Maestro, Pedro won’t stop hitting me!”).
Slovenians have their own difficulties with “teacher” or “professor,” so please read these tips carefully.
1) Teacher vs. professor: In English, only university teachers are ever called professor. For generic situations “teacher” is a better expression to use. If you’re not sure, ask your instructor.
2) In e-mails, both “Dear professor X” and “Dear prof. X” are wrong. Do not abbreviate, but do capitalize “Professor” in e-mails.
In other words, capitalize “Professor,” just as you would capitalize “Mr.” or “Dr.” (for more on this, see Tip #73 at http://www2.arnes.si/~bjason/101%20Tips%20-%20BLAKE.pdf).
3) Realize, please, that “Mr. Jason” or “prof. Uroš” verges on the barbaric. At the university level this gaffe is inexcusable.
4) According to the Chicago Manual of Style, abbreviated titles before a full name are more common than only before only a last name (e.g. “Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand” vs. “Senator Gillibrand”). “[W]here space is tight,” the abbreviation “Prof.” “may precede a full name.” E-mails do not qualify as cramped writing quarters.
(At the risk of harping, in the last ten e-mails one of us received, only a single student managed to get the salutation right. This is a little matter that matters a great deal – if you botch the “Dear” in a scholarship or job application, rejection is almost guaranteed.)
Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir