Some notes from the Last Group Discussion (school)

Hey everyone!  Last week’s topic was on school, and I wanted to post some notes and tips based on that lesson today!



Part of speech: adjective

Definition: having a high/good reputation

Synonyms: reputable, esteemed

Example sentence: The Nobel prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in the world.

Japanese: 名声のある

Parents often push their children to get into universities by sending them to cram schools or hiring private tutors.  There are many universities in Japan, but parents often push children to get into prestigious universities, like Doushisha or the University of Tokyo or Keio University.  They believe that getting into a prestigious university will ensure that they can get good jobs in the future.

Every country has its prestigious universities.  In the States, we have Yale and Harvard and Dartmouth (among others).  In England they have Oxford and Cambridge.


Part of Speech: Adjective

Definition: Lacking in strictness

Synonyms: slack, negligent, lazy

Example Sentence: The security in this place is so lax, anybody can get in easily.

Japanese: 厳しくない、手ぬるい

Every school has its own unique culture and rules.  Some schools are really strict; you have to dress a certain way, you can’t bring certain things in class, you have to be quiet at all times, etc.  Other schools are quite lax: you can wear anything you want, you can bring food, drinks or cell phones into class, you can talk and make noise.

It’s interesting that what is considered strict in one country might be considered lax in another.  For example, it seems that Japanese students are used to wearing uniforms, so that doesn’t seem like a strict rule to them.  However, in the States, we are used to dressing however we want, so being forced to wear uniforms seems really strict to us!


Part of Speech: noun

Definition: a memorial book published once a year, usually in high schools and usually at the end of the year, that has information on what happened that year.

Example Sentence: Sometimes I like to look through my old yearbooks and remember my days in high school.

Japanese: 卒業アルバム

I learned an interesting difference between a yearbook and a “sotsugyou arubamu” in Japanese: yearbooks are published every year and available to all students, but sotsugyou arubamus are only given to students who graduate.  Also, a yearbook has pictures of ALL the students in the school, as well as all the sports teams, school activities, after school clubs and school events.

School Terminology: grades and years

I’ve noticed an interesting pattern among my students.  They will make expressions like this:

“My daughter is 1st year/grade junior high school.”

“When I was high school 2nd year/grade…”

These expressions are understandable, but they sound strange to native speakers.  We express our education level differently:

Native English
My daughter is 2nd year high school
My daughter is in 11th grade
When I was junior high school 1st grade
When I was in 7th grade

Wait a minute… aren’t the numbers totally different??  What happened here?

Think about it… how many years are there in elementary?  Six.  Junior high school?  Three.  High school?  Three.

So if a student enters junior high school, which year of school (including elementary school) is that?  It’s seven years.  So that’s why we say 7th grade instead of 1st.

The expression “Junior high school 1st grade” is simply a direct translation of the Japanese (中学1年生), but that’s not how we express it in English.

So next time you talk about school, try using “1st-12th grade”!


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