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In the education field, I notice some people use the word "head teacher" in place of "班主任".

However, I am unsure if this is quite accurate. Upon searching, I notice "head teacher" in English is another term for "principal", which means "校长". While "班主任" can be translate as "homeroom teacher".


My understanding:

Head Teacher / Principal / Headmaster = 校长

Homeroom Teacher = 班主任


My assumption is that mistranslating "班主任" as head teacher is probably a matter of convention. (是一个约定俗称。)

Please correct me if my assumptions are wrong.

3 Answers 3

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I definitely agree that 班主任, at least in context of the high school level, is more closely tied to "homeroom teacher" than "head teacher". Aside from the teaching aspects, 班主任 is also responsible for monitoring self-study sessions, lunchtime nap breaks, negotiating with parents, and taking care to make sure students are in a healthy mental state. These duties are definitely more in line with what a homeroom teacher might perform.

I am inclined to believe that the translation of "head teacher" is misleading in the sense that the word "head" is used to indicating an authority over other teachers. But, this "authority" is only over other teachers in matters regarding their respective students and not authority over the other teachers which the translation might incorrectly imply.

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    在我看到你的回复时我的确想到。中文中的「主任」的确可以翻译成「head」。如:headmaster。 所以根据中文的逻辑有的人会把head teacher翻译成「班主任」是可以理解的。但因为两者语言的来源差异,他们指的不一定是同一个事物。 毕竟英语中已经把「head teacher」定义为「principal」。这可能是因为principal也是我学校的主任。不过呢,也是因为这个,我认为「班主任」不该翻译成「head」而是翻译为「homeroom teacher」
    – Monokuma
    Feb 21 at 21:36
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"班主任"是负责一个班级的老师,也是是一个班的老大,所以“班主任”可以翻译成:"the head-teacher of the class"。但这个词条太长了,所以我们把它缩写成"head teacher". The more conventional name for "班主任" is -

  • Class teacher (UK)

  • Homeroom teacher (US)

Note that, 校长 - College President; schoolmaster or headmaster.

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  • 这样一说 「head of the class」的确像是在形容一名班主任!不过我在搜查之后,我认为在英语中的「head teacher」因为已经是校长(principal)的别名了,可能不太准。不过我还是接受这个解释!
    – Monokuma
    Feb 21 at 21:31
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    Beware the difference between the UK and the US. Some argue that UK imported the word "principal" from the US to replace the headmaster.
    – r13
    Feb 21 at 23:03
  • Interesting! Thank you
    – Monokuma
    Feb 22 at 17:25
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班主任: 班级 主任: class director

教师: teacher:

班主任是指学校中全面负责一个班级学生的思想、学习、健康和生活等各方面工作的教师。

Bānzhǔrèn refers to a teacher who is responsible for a class of students, how they think (make sure it is along party lines!) and study, their health and life etcetera. It is the job of the Bānzhǔrèn to be responsible for each aspect whilst a student is in the class.

A job with a lot of responsibility!

A student may have many different teachers. A student will only have 1 班主任. If that student has a problem, or is a problem, the 班主任 is the person to go to, at least in the first instance.

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  • Very informative!
    – Monokuma
    Feb 22 at 17:26

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