Kondo, sensei-ga kawaru-no. (The teacher will be changed soon.)

Situation 1: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba talk about a nursery school.

妻: こんど、保育園の先生が代わるのよ。じゅんが、やっとまゆみ先生になついたのに。

夫: じゅんは、むずかしい子だからなあ。でも、何とかなるよ、きっと。

Tsuma: Kondo, hoikuen-no sensei-ga kawaru-noyo. Jun-ga, yatto Mayumi-sensei-ni natsuita-noni.

Otto: Jun-wa, muzukashii ko-dakara-nā. Demo, nantoka naru-yo, kitto.

Wife: Jun’s nursery school teacher Mayumi will be changed soon, even though he only just got used to her!

Husband: Jun is a nervous baby, I’m afraid. But, we’ll manage, somehow.

Today, we will introduce various ways of using the noun 先生 (せんせい), which means teacher, as in 鈴木(すずき)さんのお父 (とう)さんは、小学校(しょうがっこう)の先生(せんせい)でした (Ms. Suzuki’s father was a teacher at an elementary school). If a speaker wishes to express that they or a family member are a teacher, the word 教師(きょうし) should be used instead, as in 父(ちち)は小学校の教師でした (My father was a teacher at an elementary school). 先生 is also used as an honorific title for a teacher. To say that Mr. /Ms. Suzuki is or was a teacher, use the title 鈴木(すずき)先生(せんせい) rather than 鈴木さん or 鈴木さま.

先生 is used to refer to a teacher at a school, university, kindergarten or someone teaching private lessons, etc. When meeting a person who belongs to university, it is most natural to call them ~先生. The title 先生 is usually attached to a person’s family name, but, in a kindergarten or nursery school, sometimes it is attached to the first name as the wife does in Situation 1. The teachers usually call each other 先生 in the workplace as you see in the Bonus Dialogue.

Situation 2: Housewives are talking about children’s safety.

山崎: 以前から、学校の前の大通りに歩道橋をつけてほしいって言っているのに、区は全然動いてくれないのよ。

大久保: それなら、議員先生にお願いするしかないわね。

Yamazaki: Izen-kara, gakkō-no mae-no ōdōri-ni hodōkyō-wo tsukete-hoshī-tte itte-iru-noni, ku-wa zenzen ugoite-kurenai-noyo.

Okubo: Sore-nara, gīn-sensei-ni o-negai-shru-shika nai-wane.

Yamazaki: We’ve been requesting a pedestrian bridge be built in front of the school, but the officials of our ward will not allow it.

Okubo: We should go to ask an assemblyman, shouldn’t we?

Other than a teacher, some of the jobs that are titled with 先生 include: medical doctor, assembly member, lawyer, novelist and artist.

Bonus Dialogue: At a farewell party for Mr. Kobayashi.

田中: 小林(こばやし)先生(せんせい)、ご定年(ていねん)おめでとうございます。

小林: ああ、田中(たなか)先生、ありがとう。おかげさまで、問題(もんだい)もなく、勤(つと)め上(あ)げることができました。

校長: 小林先生、こちらは来年度(らいねんど)から勤めてもらう辻(つじ)先生です。小林先生の大学(だいがく)の後輩(こうはい)にあたります。

辻: 辻です。小林先生とは入(い)れ違(ちが)いになってしまい、残念(ざんねん)です。大学時代(じだい)は田部(たべ)先生のゼミでした。

小林: そうですか。田部先生は、私とは大学の同期(どうき)ですよ。

校長: 小林先生、もう一人ご紹介(しょうかい)したい先生がいます。

ボンド ボンドです。はじめまして。

小林: ボンド先生、頑張ってくださいね。[ひとりごと]うちの学校(がっこう)にも、とうとうネイティブの英語(えいご)の先生が入るようになったんだなあ…。外国人(がいこくじん)の先生や若(わか)い辻先生が入(はい)り、この学校も新(あたら)しい時代(じだい)が始(はじ)まるのか…。

Tanaka: Mr. Kobayashi, congratulations on your retirement.

Kobayashi: Oh, thank you, Mr. Tanaka. Owing to (my team), I could finish all my work without any mistakes.

Principal: Mr. Kobayashi, this is Mr. Tsuji who will be working in this school from the next term. He graduated from the same university that you did.

Tsuji: How do you do, I’m Tsuji. I am very sorry that you are leaving as I’m entering this school. When I was a university student, I took professor Tabe’s classes.

Kobayashi: Oh, really? professor Tabe was a classmate of mine in university.

Principal: Mr. Kobayashi, here’s another teacher I’d like to introduce you to.

Bond: How do you do, I’m Bond.

Kobayashi: Please work hard, Mr. Bond. [To himself] At last, we have a native English teacher! A foreign teacher and a young teacher are entering this school and a new age will begin.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.