Translation:Elementary school students
I live in America and when i was in school grades 1-3 were primary and 4-6 were elementary. But my friends five years younger than me called grades 1-6 elementary and never heard primary used by anyone but me. So I think it's partially a regional thing and partially a generational thing.
If you click/press on 小学生, it shows the in-context meaning of 小学生たち--"students".
I think Duolingo has been doing a good job showing contextual translations if you know where to look. Many of the other duolingo translations show stand alone and contextual translations of the same term depending on where you click. Read carefully!
I've read that it isn't really a plural but is more like the phrase "and company".
So if you are talking about a group consisting of X, Y, and Z , you can refer to the group as X-tachi (as long as there is enough context to make it clear what you mean), meaning "X and company", and it doesn't necessarily mean "more than one X".
Hopefully someone will correct me if I have got this wrong.
You kind of just have to memorize it. I don't know why you learned it as nama in the first place; Duo has only used it in contexts where it is pronounced sei.
There is a set of rules, regarding on'yomi and kun'yomi, that describes how to choose which reading to use, but that only gets you so far since many kanji have multiple on'yomi or multiple kun'yomi. There are also a large number of exceptions to these rules. So you could spend your time memorizing all the common readings of kanji, the different rules for when to use which, the exceptions to those rules and their readings, but I would suggest simply memorizing the vocabulary, and learning the readings as you go.
I was aware of what "we" were talking about, I simply wanted to cite another example of where the audio is mismatched in some cases.
The confusion arises when you're looking at 中国 and I think there was a "matching" exercise where the cards had 「中」 and 「ちゅう」... same problem.
Oh I see! My apologies; I didn't make that connection and my first assumption was that you had mixed up nama and naka.
But you're quite right; 中 (なか/ちゅう) is a kanji that causes quite a bit of confusion, and I wonder why the course developers chose to introduce it this way. Perhaps it was on purpose, to introduce beginners to the idea that kanji can have different pronunciation, but I personally feel it was too early and not particularly well done.
"Nama" isn't pronounced as "sei". It's just that the words "nama" and "sei" - as well as the suffix "-sei" that appears in the word "gakusei", for example - happen to all be written using the same character.
It's a bit like how the English words "entrance" (a way in) and "entrance" (to put into a trance) happen to be written using the same of string of characters, despite being different words with different origins.
Remember that language is speech. Writing systems are just tools for representing language on paper. And they don't always represent it in a very straightforward manner.
You need to memorise two separate facts: firstly, the fact that the word for "student" in Japanese is "gakusei", and then secondly, the fact that "gakusei" is written in kanji as 学生.
I've really been enjoying the Japanese course so far, but now suddenly it seems to be divulging into a mess of random, unexplained Kanjis that have me more often just guess the meaning instead of analytically deduce it, let alone giving me any type of handle on actually speaking it. This really needs more structure - if nothing else at least a comprehensive list of vocabulary introduced in every unit, featuring kanji with hiragana and, ideally audio of the pronunciation would be a good start.
There 'should' (sometimes it doesn't appear for me but reloading usually fixes this) be a magnifying glass button on each topic before you start the lesson. This will take you to a page which explains what the lesson will be teaching in more or less 'standard' textbook form.
The duo course appears to be concerned primarily with vocabulary at this stage, with an emphasis on listening (production is mostly of the 'type what you heard in japanese' which doesn't necessarily require full comprehension (or speaking) and 'translate isolated sentences to/from english' which doesn't necessarily require you understanding how to speak.)
The courses might benefit from furigana, but furigana is also a crutch for many second language learners, and can/would hinder kanji acquisition.
In New Zealand, this group/age of schoolchildren are known as 'primary school students'. I had to look up 'elementary school' to check that the ages were the same.
The language used is very US-centric. In the Pacific region - i.e. NZ, Australia, Sāmoa, Fiji, Cook Islands etc. - we don't use the words in the quizzes to refer to schoolchildren.
We have primary schools, secondary schools (also known as high schools or colleges), and universities (rarely referred to as colleges, unlike in the States).
Almost every kanji has more than one "reading" or pronunciation, and the correct reading depends entirely on the context the character is used in. There are a set of rules/guidelines regarding how to figure out which reading is correct, but they're quite complicated and have a lot of exceptions.
Suffice it to say that, when pronounced on its own, 生 is pronounced なま, but when paired with 学 in 学生, it's pronounced せい. Duolingo's TTS software isn't sophisticated enough to understand the context the kanji is in when you click it, so it pronounces it as if it was on its own.
小学 is specifically elementary school/primary school, the first 6 years of compulsory education
中学 would be middle/junior high school, the next 3 years of compulsory education
高校 is high school, the last 3 years of schooling which is optional (though in Japan over 90% of students attend).
All of these would be considered 'school students'. Though the phrasing "school kids" sounds strange to me, especially without the mention of which school.