Question has been rewritten to fit purpose of Academia board

*Country name has been replaced with "Country A", which I should have done from the beginning.

*For anonymity, I will use "John Smith" to refer to myself.

For the past few years, I have noticed that students from Country "A" tend to address me with only my last name or full name without using any titles or honorifics when sending me emails, although they call me "sensei" in person. (It’s a Japanese university.)

The practice of starting an email to someone with "Dear Smith" or "Dear John Smith" with no honorifics (Mr./Ms. etc.) would be considered disrespectful in their language, and Japanese as well, so I am not sure where they picked up this habit, but they need to know that it is also not acceptable email etiquette in English either. These are law school students, and it would not reflect well if they were to send emails addressed in such a fashion to, say, a contact person at a major corporation who is working with us to organize a career seminar/symposium, or a client should they become lawyers in the future.

Now, it is not my job to teach students about proper English email-writing etiquette. However, the Japanese Ministry of Education has taken an interest in our program, and we already have a few alumni working in government positions related to international education and diplomatic affairs, so I'd really like to avoid getting a phone call from MEXT, or god forbid Country A's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and getting chewed out for hours for not training students in proper email etiquette ahead of time since they won't care who's in charge of what.

The problem here is that the professor in charge of the entire program simply doesn't care. He actively avoids doing anything if he can avoid it and relegates everything to me, which means he is often not available for phone calls and doesn't respond to emails. So I can't depend on him for any solutions, meaning I must make a decision as to how to handle this situation. I have thought of a few options:

  1. Mass email to only students from Country A

  2. Mass email to all students

  3. Consult with the Academic Writing Center and arrange for a 1~2 hour seminar on proper business communication etiquette open to all students (I can't have it just for my students since the funding would have to come from the general education department) and tell all my students to attend, which would be a huge hassle and requires bickering and negotiating with several departments.

What do you think is the best solution?

  • 3
    This is an issue of language and culture, not of academia.
    – Nij
    Mar 22 '17 at 3:07
  • 3
    I don't see any harm in telling your students to address you the way you want them to address, regardless of whether it is an acceptable culture in Korea.
    – user69180
    Mar 22 '17 at 3:25
  • 1
    @Hosea: I think the concern here is for the students. As I read it, OP is concerned on educating the students how to properly address someone in e-mails.
    – justhalf
    Mar 22 '17 at 5:31
  • 1
    What's wrong with Dear John Smith?
    – gerrit
    Mar 22 '17 at 11:47
  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question as off-topic because the central question (has this become acceptable in Korea?) does not appear to be related to academia at all. Your question may be on-topic on Korean Language as this problem may be rooted in the Korean language or English Language Learners as this problem may be rooted in the way Koreans learn English. Before you ask on either site, please be sure to make clear what you already know and what you wish to know from the experts on that site.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Mar 22 '17 at 11:54

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