Translation:Are you a middle school student?
Most kanji have at least two readings: one of them is a Japanese native reading (kun'yomi), and the other is borrowed and adapted from Chinese (on'yomi).
In this case, "naka" is the kun'yomi of 中, and "chū" is the on'yomi.
Usually the kun'yomi is used when the kanji is by itself, and the on'yomi, when it's part of another word, like in the sentence from the lesson, where we have 中学生 (chūgakusē), or in China's name in Japanese, 中国 (chūgoku).
But don't think too much about that, the most important is focusing on learning the word within the context, rather than worrying about rules or memorizing all the readings of a kanji (especially because there are some that have much more than two).
Indeed, 生 itself has i-, u-, o-, ha-, ki, nama-, na- and mu- just as kun'yomi readings, plus sei, shou and san as on'yomi and an army of nanori readings which show up in people's names. If you try to memorise the readings, as opposed to the words that they appear in, you will never be able to develop a working knowledge of the language.
Our primary school: 4-12 years old High school: 12-16 years old And then you go study
In British schools including former colonies, it would be something like
Nursery + Kindergarten 1 & 2
Primary = 1 - 6 [ 7-12 years old ]
Secondary = 1-5 [13-17 years old] - in Singapore there is an option to do a 4 year secondary education = 'O' levels
2 year junior college Or 3 year pre-university = 'A' levels
then University [ Americans call them College ]
Note this is the typical path. May include any technical school, musical conservatory, arts school, mandatory military service either in lieu or in addition to those stated above
This is actually pretty interesting that grades are different in other countries!
In the U.S, preschool is optional and is before kindergarten.
Otherwise the public school system starts with kindgergarten, then is grades 1-6
Middle school is grades 7-8
High school is 9-12 (freshman, sophmore, junior and senior) most people graduate at age 18
then college (aka university for uk peeps)
Things are different across the US as well. In North Carolina and in Texas the places I went to school it was set up as such: Pre-k optional. Elementary school wad kindergarten to 5th grade. Middle school was 6th-8th grade. High school was 9th-12th grade. And then you had the optional college/universities.
Here is the French system, matching Japanese one:
Primary school ("Enseignement primaire"):
- First cycle (TPS, PS, MS, GS): no match
- Second cycle (CP, CE1, CE2): 小学校
- Third cycle (CM1, CM2): 小学校
Secondary school ("Enseignement secondaire"):
- First cycle - Adaptation (6e): 小学校
- First cycle - Central (5e, 4e): 中学校
- First cycle - Orientation (3e): 中学校
- Second cycle (2nd, 1ere, Terminale): 高校
Here in Brazil, we have:
"Maternal" (nursery): two years, optional
"Children's education", or pre-school/kindergarten: three years (one is optional, the other two are mandatory)
"Fundamental teaching I" (which kinda corresponds to elementary school): 1-5 (previously, 1st grade was called "literacy" and it was part of the "children's education")
"Fundamental teaching II" (which kinda corresponds to middle school/junior high): 6-9
"Middle teaching", which corresponds to high school (yes, that's where our "middle" is, hahaha): 1-3
And college ("faculty" or "higher teaching"... that's where our "high" is xD)
There are many different school systems, even within the English-speaking world, and it may well be that some of them have "secondary school" as the correct term for the equivalent of 中学 -- that is, school year 7-9 (year 10-12 are 高校, "high school", which you missed in your list.) -- but it is not the only term available. In any case, the official translation into English used by the Japanese government is "middle school" (note that 中 literally means "middle") and so that is the one we are taught.
I do agree with you about "pupil", though.
for people going to school before graduating, commonly, the title "student" is used nowadays, however, still officially as indicated by the Oxford dictionary, they are pupils, therefore "pupil" for elementary and middle school is correct, too, and should be accepted.
Source: language teacher and translator.
I think you'd say "a pupil at a middle school" rather than "a middle school pupil".
We're not translating the English word "pupil" into Japanese, here, but giving the English translation for a Japanese sentence.
"Are you a pupil at a middle school?" is how I would translate the Japanese sentence into British English.
In Wales our education system goes: Rising Threes (age 3), Nursery (age 3-4), Reception (age 4-5), Infants (years 1-2) Juniors (years 3-6) or these two can be put together as Primary School (ages 5-11), Comprehensive School (years 7-13, years 12-13 are called Sixth Form, ages 11-18), College (for those not going into Sixth Form, ages 16-18), University (3 year degree, ages 18-21).
In the Dominican Republic preschool is optional (private) and there are various levels with kindergarten being the last one (4-6 years old)
Middle school 1-8, High school 1-4. We don't call it Middle or High school though.
We have: Preschool Primary School Baccalaureate University (no college)
Here in UK/NI in general:
Nursery/Kindergarten - up to 3 or 4 years old
Primary School - 4/5 years old to 11 years old
Secondary School/High School/Grammar School - 11 years old to 18
University/College - 18 years old to 21 years old (3/4/5 years)
(Regional variations exist, of course. Public/Private Schools have their own process)