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The word 生徒(せいと) means "pupil", but what exactly is/was a 生徒 in Japanese culture? And how is a 生徒 different from a 学生? And in what context would you use the word?

marked as duplicate by naruto, macraf, Community Jun 22 '17 at 5:45

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According to my Japanese dictionary, 広辞林, the two words are defined as follows:

  • 生徒 -- refers to a student receiving an education from a fixed location such as in middle or high school or from under a tutor etc.   

    中高等大学校または家塾その他、一定の場所で教育を受ける人。

  • 学生 -- refers to a someone who attends classes, but in particular someone who studies at university.

    学業をおさめるもの。特に、大学に学ぶ者。大学生。

From this it seems that 学生 is the more general term covering a wider range of students including those in the category of 生徒. As @naruto pointed out in the comments, 学生 isn't quite as general as those definitions might leave one to think (now I'm a bit disappointed in my dictionary). Apparently, 生徒 is the more appropriate terms for a student taking a culinary class, or swimming lessons, or studying martial arts, and I would therefor imagine a number of other things.

  • ありがとうございます! bows like a gaijin – Tirous Jun 22 '17 at 2:03
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    学生 is not necessarily more generic because one can only use 生徒 in 料理教室の生徒 or スイミングスクールの生徒. – naruto Jun 22 '17 at 2:37
  • So... 生徒 is used for students in an education system that isn't part of the standardised education system and isn't something like martial arts where a different word is used? Is that it, more or less? – Tirous Jun 22 '17 at 2:59
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    You can safely use 生徒 for schools of martial arts. – naruto Jun 22 '17 at 3:31
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    Yes, where there's a 先生, there's a 生徒 :-) – naruto Jun 22 '17 at 17:37
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I would say that 学生 strongly infer that it is a pupil in a school, while 生徒 is simply a "pupil", someone who learns from someone.

There are many terms for students depending on the situation(school, martial arts, beginner, expert, etc), but pupil really feels like it fits for them all.

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In the Japanese school system, it depends on whether you go to elementary school, junior/high school, or university.

Kindergarten or daycare - 園児
Elementary school - 児童
Junior high or high school - 生徒
University - 学生

Source:

https://www.nhk.or.jp/bunken/summary/kotoba/gimon/143.html

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