Translation:I am a fourth grader.
1: ではありません -- I don't like it, I won't stop other people from using it (I'm sure it has it's uses), but I personally forget about it constantly because I never use it. edit: see https://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/12846/negation-with-%E3%81%A7%E3%81%AF%E3%81%82%E3%82%8A%E3%81%BE%E3%81%9B%E3%82%93-vs-%E3%81%98%E3%82%83%E3%81%AA%E3%81%84 2: Perhaps.
After 9th grade, students generally have to take entrance exams to get into high school, though I believe there are some schools that don't require it or some exceptional students may be exempt.
I'm not sure whether or not they can work, but from what I've seen, most students who don't want to go to high school are encouraged to learn a trade or get an apprenticeship.
Also japanese lists things from macro to micro. So you would say 私は大学で日本語を勉強しますWatashi wa daigaku de nihongo o benkyō shimasu - student of japanese 私は東京の大学で日本語を勉強します Watashi wa Tōkyō no daigaku de nihongo o benkyō shimasu Tokyo -student- japanese The reverse of the english word order
I'm not sure why your masters degree qualified Japanese wife has any more credibility when talking about how English speakers interpret the English phrase "fourth grader"... but just to clarify, 四年生 in Japanese can
also refer to a fourth year university/college student, but 小学四年生
only refers to a fourth year primary/elementary school student (i.e "a fourth grader" to Americans).
Can I suggest to Duolingo that they bring in an English option for English translation and not just American English. I'm English and I think I'm missing out on something. I don't know about the American grade system. I'm assuming that if the grade were above elementary school level the first Kanji would change accordingly?
Yes, this is actually how it works in Japan.
Japanese kids enter school at about age 6 and they study for six years. That school is called 小学校 (しょうがっこう), whatever the equivalent is called in your country. The next three years are spent in 中学校 (ちゅうがっこう), and the three after that are in 高校 (こうこう).
Also, if you're talking about the word order, as @Sinfully_Yours mentioned in an earlier comment, Japanese people tend to arrange concepts from macro to micro. So, the larger institution, 小学校 (elementary school), goes first (and is shortened to 小学) followed by the smaller group, 四年生 (fourth year student). Dates and addresses also follow this principle.
If a kanji means small or little on its own then it's highly likely it will retain that meaning in a combined word.
The only way to remember what means what is to invest in some good kanji books, download apps for handy studying both on your computer or on the go on a device. Writing them out also helps with memorisation and retention, and also using the written language in your every day life - ie. write notes to yourself using kana and kanji filling in the blanks with English where you haven't learnt the Japanese yet. Write shopping lists, appointment reminders, study notes for school, write in your journal - get yourself used to writing the language. Also seek out children's picture books, generally they won't have kanji but they'll help with getting used to reading kana.
I suspect that the question was more like, "How do I remember that 'shōgaku' is the Japanese word for primary school?" independently of the writing system.
After all, if you are listening to a Japanese person speaking, you aren't going to stop them mid-sentence and say, "Hang on, can you please draw the kanji for that word you just said?"
Especially if they are speaking on the radio, or on television, or something. That would be even trickier.
I can try to remember that a "shōgaku" is a primary school by remembering that I was in a play when I was at primary school - you could say that I was in a shō - but was not in any plays at any other school.
Sadly, this is unlikely to help you if your personal history is different from mine!
But you could just try remembering the mental image of a show at a primary school, in any case, even if it doesn't relate to your own personal history.
Okay, I'm super confused.
This is probably a case of Duolingo being a bit goofy, where mousing over a letter or character doesn't provide the same information as what's being said, where the sound is different and the definitions displayed aren't quite right...but the sentence structure seems really tangled to me.
I wish I was still on the page, now, so I could mouse over all over the different bits of the sentence...but doing so would produce sounds that hitting the 'read' button wouldn't, and doing so would produce definitions that didn't seem to match what the sentence was saying.
And those oddities seemed to warp the grammar in ways that have been, up to now, unprecedented.
None of this is uncommon; indeed, one might say it's chronic in these lessons. But it makes being introduced to them for the first time rather confusing and frustrating.
It's just not very clear which characters are representing different words/concepts; it'd be nice to have spaces in between 'em the way we do in English--at least at first; in later lessons, have it more like how Japanese is actually written--in order to know whatinheck's going on.
I mean, okay...we can forget about 'です' cuz everybody knows what that means. Easy-peasy.
Now, for the rest: '小学四年生' Up to now, '学生' has meant 'student', but now those two characters are separated by '四年'; the first of those means 'four', obviously, but I haven't a clue what the second means. Duolingo has asked me to identify the sound that makes, but hasn't yet told me its meaning (why they don't do that when you're matching it to a sound is mystifying). If '年' is the 'grader' part, then whatinheck does '小' mean? Or vice versa?
Mousing over these characters gives no clue; words show up, but they don't really tell you which means what, and the sounds they make when you do it do not match the sounds made when the sentence is spoken, as I said.
So parsing this is really difficult; I'm not learning anything from it because the information given doesn't make any sense.
小学四年生 (しょうがくよねんせい) is one word. It's pretty straight forward, you can pretty much translate it directly in the order that the kanji are in. 小 (しょう) small, 学 (がく) you'll probably be familiar with it from 学校 (がっこう) - school, on its own its core meaning is 'learning', 四 (し or よん) as you say means the number 4, 年 (ねん/とし) means year, you might have already seen this in 来年 (らいねん) - next year etc, and 生 (せい) means life and as you've mentioned you've already seen it used in 学生 (がくせい) meaning student - here it is pronounced せい and it means student. So altogether, literally, it means small school 4 year student or in other words a primary/elementary school 4th year or year 4 student or 4th grader.
Personally, I'm a book person - I like to read and write out kanji to learn it but I've also downloaded a kanji app to my phone (that I haven't actually used yet). Sounds like a good kanji book might be a good investment for you.
Kanji is generally learnt in a numbered list and 四 will be one of the very first that you learn. 小、学 and 年 will also be among the first. I can't remember where 生 is on the list but I don't think it's too far from the start.
It's fascinating learning and if all the intricacies like stroke order and radicals interest you then you'll soon find that not only do you have multiple ways of looking new/unfamiliar kanji up but you may well be able to guess the meaning of a word/kanji you don't know because you recognise a radical that makes up part of the kanji. Good luck to you. I'm sure others on here can recommend plenty of excellent kanji apps that can make up for Duo's lack of explanation - oft where kanji is involved.
I just wish Duolingo wouldn't throw this stuff at you with exactly zero context. As I said, they'll give you a lesson with the sounds these kanji make, but without telling you the meaning. And mousing over 'em doesn't tell you squat, either, because it's usually way out of context.
I mean, I actually have not yet seen that '年' means 'year'; that hasn't come up at all. And I definitely haven't seen '来年' yet.
They usually give you hints on these--you click that lightbulb thingy on the lesson and there'll be a chart or something--but sometimes that info is curiously absent.
Consider Duo a handy supplement to your independent study of Japanese. Maybe investigate other apps that are more comprehensive or at least consistent? I'm sure people on here will have plenty of recommendations. Or at least use duo in conjunction with something else. When I was trying to get used to reading Japanese I sought out children's books - they are usually all in kana and you can just get yourself used to reading the different characters. Friends have also sent lots of children's books over the years which have been good reading practise for me. I used to read them to my boys when they were little. They loved them.
I do both. I wouldn't choose one over the other. I think they are both as important as each other and that the study of each only accentuates and strengthens the study of the other. It seems to you that I am focusing on reading and kanji but that is merely because that is what you have said you can't understand - it's not a matter of grammar at all. It's about how familiarity with their writing systems and how they work can help us better understand and learn the language as a whole. It's not about reading/writing is better than spoken or vice versa - it's about how learning can be enhanced through a study and understanding of the whole language.
Anyway, in answer to some of your more specific queries/problems - you can't rely on duo. This seems particularly apt for the Japanese lessons. The duo system seems to be problematic where homonyms are involved. It just can't handle it. The Duo system seems to get very easily confused. Also, duo frequently uses the incorrect reading for kanji causing more confusion - this is why you keep seeing or hearing different pronunciations to what the voice is speaking because the duo system either tells you a different reading to the one that's being used when you click on individual characters OR it confuses words and sometimes parts of words with like sounding words. One excellent example of this was where duo confused the suffix -たち with the start of the verb たちます (to stand). When people would click on the verb in the sentence duo told them that it was a suffix that made nouns plural. The solution - either rely on other users comments for explanations or resort to independent study.
I'm not sure how you think grammar is being warped?
As for the other issues I think they're all connected to Duo's errors that I've already mentioned - the duo system is really confused by Japanese homonyms and it consequently provides incorrect and often contradictory information. Also, it can't seem to handle kanji, the different readings and when they're used hence, again, it gives us incorrect and contradictory information. Duo also confuses same sounding words with unrelated parts of speech - result - more confusion.
Conclusion - don't rely on Duolingo as your sole source for learning Japanese : )
Um no. 4th grader is the same as Year 4/4th year, but as far as I know, "grader" is reserved for elementary school students. (Americans, correct me if I'm wrong; as an Australian, it's not unheard of to use grader for high school students, but our high school students would be, for example, 10th graders.)
Another person has said that a child ordinarily starts the fourth year of a Japanese primary school at the age of nine, so that would correspond to Year 5 in the UK system, if that helps. But you haven't actually said what country you are from. That would help us to explain it to you.
Well, sort of. If you break down the kanji literally, you get "small learning four year life". It would actually be better to think of it as an abbreviation of
Ignoring the のs for now, we have:
- 小学校【しょうがっこう】= "small learning school" = "elementary/primary school"
- 四年目【よねんめ】= "four year eye (but also, "ordinal suffix")" = "fourth year"
- 生徒【せいと】= "life junior" = "student" (which kind of makes sense, when you consider that 先生 is "ahead life", or someone who has lived before you and has knowledge to pass down)
If we now string it back together with the のs, reading backwards, you can kind of think of them as "of", so we get "student of the fourth year of elementary school". So, as you can see, you stop using 小 as soon as you graduate from elementary school.
In Japan, after 6 years in "small learning school", you go to middle school (also known in other parts as junior high school). But that would be your first year there, so you become 中学一年生【ちゅうがくいちねんせい】Three years later, you move up to high school, becoming 高校一年生【こうこういちねんせい】and three years later again, assuming you go to college/university, you become 大学一年生【だいがくいちねんせい】If you decide to go on to postgraduate study, you would start as 大学院一年生【だいがくいんいちねんせい】and people stop counting after that. If you start working in a company, you're just 新人【しんじん】"new person", until your company gets some newer intakes.
Partly because each section of school has a separate number system in Japan, because 'that's just how it is'.
While in the US we may say "I am in 8th grade" which would imply that you are in middleschool/junior high, in Japan you would consider that "A second grade middle school student", where the grading system starts from 1 again with each new schooling level.
小学生 is 'elementary' school and is 6 years long (grades 1 - 6, starting from age 6 to 12)
中学生 'middle school' (or junior high) is 3 years long (grades 1 - 3, ages 13 to 15)
高校生 'high school' is 3 years long (grades 1 - 3, ages 16 to 18) - high school is not mandatory but not completing it is very rare in Japan.
With each schooling section the grade counter restarts, so once you hit middle school you are not a 7th grade student, but a 1st grade middle school student.
Someone in their senior/final year of high school would be a 3rd grade high school student, rather than a 12th grade student, etc.
There's a lot of confusion due to the different terms in different schooling systems, so to clarify:
Japanese students go through: 6 years of 小学校, which is akin to Primary School or Elementary School; 3 years of 中学校, which is akin to Lower Secondary or Middle School; and 3 years of 高等学校(高校), which is akin to Upper Secondary or High School.
In Japanese, students are referred to by both their school division and their year, i.e. High School 3rd-year/Year 3/Senior/whatever a system calls it, because just saying your child is in year 3 of school doesn't indicate whether they're in Elementary or High School.
As of right now, there is no "Grade 1-12" system in Japan, and the Japanese Duolingo course won't understand if you type grade 12 for 高校三年生.
There's also kindergarten/nursery(幼稚園), university/college(大学) and others, but these are the more common ones you'll see in this course, and their rough equivalents to your country's school systems.
See the wiki for more in-depth guide: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Japan
Both of your suggested translations should be accepted, but perhaps they hadn't been added to the list of accepted answers yet.
We are talking about a living thing, but いる means "to exist", so the sentence would literally be "a 4th grader exists."
You can think of です as "is/am/are" or an equals sign for the subject and the object. In this case, the subject is omitted, but if we assumed it is "I", by using です you are saying "I = a 4th grader", not simply that one exists.
I think "fourth year of elementary school" should be valid, in fact, more so than "fourth grader" (since the "elementary school" bit is only implicit in that Americanism).
生 does make this phrase always about a person/people. As for "academic year", I think it depends a little on the sentence you want to use it in, but 学年 (がくねん) is probably the best translation.
-生 is a suffix meaning student so "4th year of elementary school" is not sufficient or an acceptable translation. Also です acts as the verb 'to be' here, which could be translated as I am, you are, s/he or it is etc but assuming that the speaker is talking about themselves then this should be translated as "I am". Saying I am a 4th grader still works as a valid translation at least for the US as it is different from saying I am a 4th year student which could arguably refer to any level of education - in the US 4th grader refers to an elementary school level student.
"Shōgakuyonensei" means "a pupil in the fourth year of primary school", and you spell "shōgakuyonensei" as 小学四年生.
You shouldn't use the word "grade" at all, in this context, unless you are American. You can just say that the pupil is in the fourth year of primary school.
Doesn't 年 just mean year? Having to use 'grade' in my translations instead is confusing me as 年 would also be used in something like 'three years ago'. If i used Duolingo without knowing anything beforehand then using 'grade' later on in 'three years ago' would confuse me even more.
Can we have "I am in primary four" (or "I am a primary four" I think some people say) added as an accepted translation.
That's how you would say you were in the fourth year at your first school in Scotland.
These courses have made me learn all the American school-related terminology in English haha which while sort of interesting shouldn't be a requirement for a japanese course.
That's interesting to know that they start school over a year later than in the UK.
But also I know in England the first year of primary school is called Reception, and Years start counting from the second year (and go up to 13 but people call the final year upper sixth and sometimes the one below it is lower sixth). In Scotland, English Year 5 is thus more equivalent to Primary 6. People start P6 at the age of either 9 or 10, depending on whether they started school at age 4 or 5. People start primary five at either 8 or 9. (I'm pretty sure in England when you start school is determined by what age you are in August when school begins, meaning everyone in a Year group starts the year at the same age; while in Scotland it is determined by the year of your birth).