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What do teachers call students in Japan? 2007/11/20 14:48
Here in the USA, my Japanese teachers call me by my last name & -san, & it feels so distant & formal(especially from one of my teachers who's only 6 or 7 years older).

Do teachers in Japan call their students like that? Or do they use -kun? Or what...?

by Aki  

... 2007/11/20 15:47
I found that both were common, it really depends on the teacher and their relationship with the students.

Overall though I thing the familiar -kun, or -chan were more common with the younger students and -san more common from high school through college.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

teachers- students 2007/11/20 17:59
a very interesting question. I was born in Europe and from the age of about 10 on teachers would always call us by our family name only. We like it as it made us feel
grown up. o course we would always call them Sir or Madam. We would also call the other kids by their family name.
In Europe adults, when asked their name, ALWAYS give their family name, and only that name, if they do not know the person. At work people will call one another by their family name, especially in front of customers: "Mr. Brown, would you mind showing the lady ..." or will even use a title: a waiter will say to a regular customer " a coffee Professor Brown?"
At home your parents usually call you by a nickname. If they call you by your first name then you are in a spot of trouble. When you are in your teens and your mom or dad call you: "Mr. ..." then you really are in trouble.
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

high school 2007/11/20 19:34
I work in a high school, and we're supposed call girls last name-san and boys last name-kun (sometimes this does change with students I've gotten close to). I think it's the same for junior high school, while elementary kids get -chan because they're so young.
by Kate rate this post as useful

Humm 2007/11/21 02:01

I study in New York at the Japan Society. We were taught to use honorifics when and where required. I call the teachers by their surname + Sensei. However, upon completion of a major class level, in an informal setting my sensei asked me to call her by her first name, since we were no longer teacher and student. I still call her sensei.

The Sensei in turn was required to call us by either our surname or first name + san. Most of us are adults. If the student is obviously young, then the Sensei may call them chan or kun.

by Tenshi rate this post as useful

respectively 2007/11/21 02:32
In Japan, the teachers call their students by last name and san.
In the elementary schools with younger students in early grades, sometimes boys are addressed with kun instead of san and girls are always called with their last name and san from first grade and up. Sometimes, full name is used to teach students get used to their names in ealier grades so everyone learn each others names.
I don't think it sounds distant how they call their students. Addressing the students with dignity and respect, the students learn respectable manners.
Infact I get somewhat annoyed when someone who is a stranger to me or younger than me calls me by my first name in the USA. This manner I think is improper.
by cc rate this post as useful

that's how it goes in Japan 2007/11/21 14:44
Aki, in Japan school teachers are "supposed to" call their students "(family name)-san", BECAUSE that's how every person calls each other in Japan.

In Japan, the only people you call by first names or nicknames are small chilren, your close friends and your younger family. Even for close friends, we use a lot of "(family name) -san". It's just a "standard" way of calling people.

And since teachers are supposed to teach their students to behave like a proper society member, the minute they finish preschool, they are called by their last names plus the -san.

"-kun" is how you call "boys". You can use it to call boys up to college students, but you don't usually use this term to address male adults.

In reality however, a lot of older people call younger males by -kun, a lot of mannish teachers just call their students by family name without the -san or -kun, and a lot of teachers who prefer to creat a friendly tone call their students by their nicknames.

Often in English language classes, students are called by their first names probably because that's how it goes in English speaking countries. Bottom line is that students need to be taught about how they should behave in that culture along with how they should speak/read/write the language.

You can't come to Japan speaking Japanese and then suddenly calling everyone in first name basis, moreover without putting a -san at the end.
by Uco rate this post as useful

... 2007/11/22 16:11
----------a lot of mannish teachers just call their students by family name without the -san or -kun, -----------

I don't mean to create an issue here but..
I personally never heard any male teachers in Japan calling their students (male students I assume that's you meant) by their last name only (without san.)
Japanese consider that to be bully or rude or very unclassy when a teacher does that. It just sounds mean to me.
My relatives however said, back in old days some of the teachers (coaches) who taught sports sometimes called the male students by family name without san. They say it's bully and repulsive.
by cc rate this post as useful

just posting a fact 2007/11/22 19:35
Cc, I respect your experiences. And I'd just like to tell people that a lot of teachers at the school in Yokohama my son just graduated last March called students by their family names without the -san/kun. I myself am a female, but I was often called that way from a lot of males at school and offices, just a year or two older than me.

It's a sort of a "rough" way of calling people, but not really bully depending on the context. I guess you can say it's almost like a nickname. It can happen when there is a common understanding between the caller and the callee. So although the teachers would call my son without the -kun, they will put a -kun on his name when they are talking to me about him.

It's no different than calling people "Hey, Smith!"
by Uco rate this post as useful

Correction 2007/11/22 19:36
Incorrect: I was often called that way from a lot of males

Correct: I was often called that way from a lot of males and females
by Uco rate this post as useful

Thanks for answering everyone! 2007/11/23 08:22
I was just wondering how the relationship between teachers and students are, like if teachers ever move to calling a student by his/her first name +honorific?

My (Japanese) friend said that among friends, it would seem strange if they called each other by their lastnames +honorific, so she calls me by my nickname & I call her Onee-san.

by Aki rate this post as useful

... 2007/11/23 10:21
Aki, considering your last question, I wonder if my post as of Nov 21 answers that. Btw, to me "onee-san" is a lot uncommon compared to "last name + san", but that's just from my experience of living in 3 different cities in Japan in the 45 years of my life as a Japanese.
by Uco rate this post as useful

to Aki 2007/11/23 11:29
That's interesting your friend wants you to call her onee-san, I have never heard that either! I've been called onee-san by strangers (usually young guys looking for a light or something), but never by a friend.

My Japanese friends call me by my name or nickname, which is how I call them. We do have one friend we call her name-obaachan sometimes- but that's just because she acts like an old mother hen lol.
by Kate rate this post as useful

reply 2007/11/23 16:28
Uco & Kate: I didn't know that calling someone "onee-san" was that uncommon. Uco, yep, your last post answered my question well. Just wondering, which 3 cities did you used to live in? Maybe it depends where someone's from. My friend's from the Osaka area.

CC, I know what this thread is about; I'm the one who started it. I just wanted to add a little extra info.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who answered my question about teachers!
by Aki rate this post as useful

reply 2007/11/24 18:30
"Just wondering, which 3 cities did you used to live in?"

I've lived in 2 parts of Tokyo (Meguro Ward and Musashino City), Aichi Prefecture where I went to a school in Nagoya City, Yokohama City, and I've also went to school in Pasadena which is in the U.S. I hope you get more input from people of various backgrounds :)
by Uco rate this post as useful

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