Schüler = ?
The translation of the word Schüler seems to be a problem for English speaking people. The basic meaning is: someone learning on an organised basis. And it is not a learning by practising like being an apprentice of a baker. So schüler translates to: pupil or student. But beware: The English word student translates into Schüler and Student. The first category is going to Grundschule bis Gymnasium. The second category are university students or students from the high vocational schools: f.i. Musikhochschule. In the Bible we encounter "Die Schüler Jesu" also known as disciples or apostles. In English there is nearly the same word: scholar. Meaning not somebody who is learning (like a student), but studying to know everything about some scientific subject. The point of this story is: Doing the German part of Duolingo I encountered several times a phrase like "Er ist Buddhas Schüler" translated into "he is a scholar of Buddha". Every time I reacted with growing exasperation to the fact, that the phrase as such should not be "he is a scholar of Buddha". Having finished German I wonder if this error is still rampant.
As you already mentioned: "In English there is nearly the same word: scholar. Meaning not somebody who is learning (like a student), but studying to know everything about some scientific subject." In German it's pretty much the same, for example "ein Schüler der Kochkunst". And I think in that case there is no difference, because I'd say, that "die Schüler Buddhas" aren't taught by Buddha himself, but endeavor to learn everything about him. I just can't think of any word that would fit better.. Maybe follower would work also, but followers don't necessarily have to study something..
@thomas_w: As an ex-DaF teacher I would say that Schuler also do not necessarily study. Frivolity apart: Even if scholar is to be considered an adequate translation for Schüler in this phrase, I object very strongly to the fact that a context/translation is given to people learning a new language. The Duolingo vocabulary stops at around 2000 words. I am quite certain, that Schüler/scholar don't belong to the statistical first 5000 German words. So, why have your students learn that rare a meaning?
If the word has occurred before is not the point here. Before it would have been wrong also. The possible meaning scholar is something one should learn having entered the corpus of word 5.000 - 10.000 not the mere 2000 Duolingo offers. (It might even be rarer) Forgive me if I feel strongly about this. There are more instances of words where a rare translation is used. I remember a picture of drains (Abflüsse) which got a really weird translation I don't remember. Here it was obvious the translation was wrong because the pictures were unambiguous. It gave me the impression that there were two groups at work. One group sees the phrase and conjures up a translation. The other group finds pictures without knowing the translation given. People grading those translations should either provide the context when a rare meaning is in order or use their heads and pick more used meanings. And it will be clear that i would insist they use their heads because rare meanings do not belong to the first 2000 words of a language.