Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gakusei 学生 + Student Words

In anime set in school it's normal to hear a bunch of words containing sei 生 that mean "student, " be it gakusei, shougakusei, chuugakusei, koukousei, seito, ichinensei, tenkousei, rettousei, danshikousei, joshikousei, and so on. But what's the meaning of these words? And the differences between them?

How to Say Student in Japanese?

There are the ways to say "student" in Japanese:
  • gakusei 学生
  • seito 生徒
  • jidou 児童

Note that, if you look into a dictionary, you might see them translated as "student," "pupil," and "juvenile" respectively. However, when TV and news say "a school student" in Japanese, they might use any of the three words for the "student" part.

There are differences between the words, and I'll explain them below.

学生 vs. 生徒 vs. 児童

Informally, seito and gakusei are basically the same thing. Interchangeable. The word jidou really does mean "juvenile"—it doesn't always mean "student"—so really doesn't make sense to use toward older students.

Formally, on TV and newspapers, the difference between seito and gakusei is that a gakusei is a student enrolled in post-secondary education. That is, a gakusei 学生 is a college or university student, or in a technical course beyond high school. Meanwhile, a seito 生徒 is a middle school or high school student.

Also formally, the difference between seito and jidou is that a jidou is a student enrolled in primary education, not secondary. That is, a jidou 児童 is in elementary school, grade school, or whatever you call it, student. While a seito 生徒 is a middle school or high school student.

Shougakusei 小学生

A "student," jidou 児童, of a shougakkou 小学校. Equivalent to elementary school student in the United States (except for the first grade, which would be kindergarten).

Ages: 6 to 11 (or 7 to 12).

Chuugakusei 中学生

A "student," seito 生徒, of a chuugakkou 中学校. Equivalent to middle school or junior high in the United States (except it has three years and would last until the US high school freshman year too).

Ages: 12 to 14 (or 13 to 15).

Koukousei 高校生

A "student," seito 生徒, of a koukou 高校. Equivalent to high school in the United States (last three years only).

Ages: 15 to 17 (or 16 to 18).

kousensei 高専生

The word kousensei means a gakusei 学生 that attends to a koutou senmon gakkou 高等専門学校, that is, a student of a "technical college," a school that starts as a high school but has a 5 year course instead of 3. Note that, after the first three years, the student isn't considered a koukousei anymore, since he is attending the technical course and not high school curriculum.

Daigakusei 大学生

A "student," gakusei 学生, of a daigaku 大学. Any student of a post-secondary education. University student, college student, etc.

Ages: 17 to 19 (2 year course), or 21 (4 year course), or 23 (medicine course), or 24 (if started school one year later).

Tandaisei 短大生

The word tandaisei means a daigakusei that attends to a tanki daigaku 短期大学, that is, a student of a "short-term college," a college with 2-3 year courses instead of 4.

Ichinensei, Ninensei, Sannensei, ...

The words ichinensei, ninensei, sannensei and so on refer to students of a given school year in a given education level. The ichi, ni, san are the numbers in Japanese, and nen 年 is the word for counting years in Japanese.

For writing, the numbers can be written with kanji (一二三) or Arabic digits (123). Examples:

ichinensei 一年生 (or ichinensei1年生)
Student in the first year of a shougakkou, or a chuugakkou, or a koukou, or a daigaku.

ninensei 二年生 (or ninensei2年生)
Student in the second year of a shougakkou, or a chuugakkou, or a koukou, or a daigaku.

sannensei 三年生 (or sannensei3年生)
Student in the third year of a shougakkou, or a chuugakkou, or a koukou, or a daigaku.

List of --nensei 〇年生

For reference, a full list of nensei 年生 words, together with the ages of students so you can have some idea of what it's supposed to mean if you aren't American.

By the way, how to say years old in Japanese has been covered in another post.

Shougakkou...nensei

shougakkou ichinensei 小学校一年生 (or 小学校1年生)
shougaku ichinensei 小学一年生 (or 小学1年生)
Elementary school first year.
Ages 6 to 7. Same as first grade in the USA.

shougakkou ninensei 小学校二年生 (or 小学校2年生)
shougaku ninensei 小学二年生 (or 小学2年生)
Elementary school second year.
Ages 7 to 8. Same as second grade in the USA.

shougakkou sannensei 小学校三年生 (or 小学校3年生)
shougaku sannensei 小学三年生 (or 小学3年生)
Elementary school third year.
Ages 8 to 9. Same as third grade in the USA.

shougakkou yonnensei 小学校四年生 (or 小学校4年生)
shougaku yonnensei 小学四年生 (or 小学4年生)
Elementary school fourth year.
Ages 9 to 10. Same as fourth grade in the USA.

shougakkou gonensei 小学校五年生 (or 小学校5年生)
shougaku gonensei 小学五年生 (or 小学5年生)
Elementary school fifth year.
Ages 10 to 11. Same as fifth grade in the USA.

shougakkou rokunensei 小学校六年生 (or 小学校6年生)
shougaku rokunensei 小学六年生 (or 小学6年生)
Elementary school sixth year.
Ages 11 to 12. Same as sixth grade in the USA.

Chuugakkou...nensei

chuugakkou ichinensei 中学校一年生 (or 中学校1年生)
chuugaku ichinensei 中学一年生 (or 中学1年生)
Middle school first year.
Ages 12 to 13. Same as seventh grade in the USA; first year of middle school or junior high.

chuugakkou ninensei 中学校二年生 (or 中学校2年生)
chuugaku ninensei 中学二年生 (or 中学2年生)
Middle school second year.
Ages 13 to 14. Same the eighth grade in the USA; second year of middle school or junior high.

chuugakkou sannensei 中学校三年生 (or 中学校3年生)
chuugaku sannensei 中学三年生 (or 中学3年生)
Middle school third year.
Ages 14 to 15. Same as the ninth grade in the USA; high school freshman or first year.

Koukou...nensei

koukou ichinensei 高校一年生 (or 高校1年生)
koutou gakkou ichinensei 高等学校一年生 (or 高等学校1年生)
High school first year.
Ages 15 to 16. Same as tenth grade in the USA; high school sophomore or second year.

koukou ninensei 高校二年生 (or 高校2年生)
koutou gakkou ninensei 高等学校二年生 (or 高等学校2年生)
Middle school second year.
Ages 16 to 17. Same the eleventh grade in the USA; high school junior or third year..

koukou sannensei 高校三年生 (or 高校3年生)
koutou gakkou sannensei 高等学校三年生 (or 高等学校3年生)
Middle school third year.
Ages 17 to 18. Same as the twelfth grade in the USA; high school senior or fourth year.

Daigaku....nensei

daigaku ichinensei 大学一年生 (大学1年生)
College first year. University first year.
Ages 18 and 19.

daigaku ninensei 大学二年生 (大学2年生)
College first year. University first year.
Ages 19 and 20.

daigaku sannensei 大学三年生 (大学3年生)
College first year. University first year.
Ages 20 and 21.

daigaku yonnensei 大学四年生 (大学4年生)
College first year. University first year.
Ages 21 and 22.

daigaku gonensei 大学五年生 (大学5年生)
College first year. University first year.
Ages 22 and 23.

daigaku rokunensei 大学六年生 (大学6年生)
College first year. University first year.
Ages 23 and 24.

Joshikousei 女子高生

The word joshikousei 女子高生 is an abbreviation of joshi koukousei 女子高校生, that is, a "girl," joshi 女子, "high school student," koukousei 高校生. So joshikousei means "high school girl."

Since koukou is an abbreviation of koutou gakkou, the word joshi koutou gakkou sei 女子高等学校制 is synonymous with joshikousei.

On the internet, in Japanese forums, the word joshikousei 女子高生 is sometimes written as JK. That's a slang, so might see it in manga.

A joshikousei is not necessarily from an "all-girls high school," joshikoukou 女子高校. She just needs to be a high school student. She can be from a coed school too.

To say simply "school girl" in Japanese, say "girl student." Like this: joshi seito 女子生徒 or joshi gakusei 女子学生.

Danshikousei 男子高生

A danshikousei is the male counterpart of joshikousei. So danshikousei means "high school boy."

Unlike joshikousei, the word danshikousei isn't as common. It also has the synonyms danshi koukousei 男子高校生 and danshi koutou gakkousei 男子高等学校生. In particular, a certain anime has this world in the title:
  • danshi koukousei no nichijou 男子高校生の日常
    Daily lives of high school boys. (also known as nichibros)

To say simply "school boy" in Japanese, say "student boy." Like this: danshi seito 男子生徒 or danshi gakusei 男子学生.

Yuutousei 優等生

A yuutousei 優等生 is a "student," gakusei 学生, who has "academic excellence," yuutou 優等. In other words: yuutousei means "honor student" or simply "excellent student."

Rettousei 劣等生

A rettousei 劣等性 is a "student," gakusei 学生, who has "academic inferiority," rettou 劣等. In other words: rettousei means "student with poor grades" or something like that.

Tenkousei 転校生

A tenkousei 転校生 is a "student," gakusei 学生 who "has changed schools," tenkou shita 転校した. In other words: tenkousei means "transfer student."

Ryuugakusei 留学生

A ryuugakusei 留学生 is a "student," gakusei 学生, who is "studying abroad (in another country)," ryuugaku suru 留学する. In other words: ryuugakusei means "exchange student."

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