For teachers, deciding whether to use Japanese in the classroom is always a tricky decision. After all, many teachers want to immerse their students entirely in English and ensure their students hear nothing but English for the duration of the class. Of course, there are occasions where teachers will be expected to use Japanese in the classroom to help communicate more effectively or where the learners are too young to be effectively immersed in English.
For these situations, here’s 5 useful pieces of classroom Japanese.
Presence or absence
One of the situations where Japanese can be useful is when talking about absence or attendance in class. At some schools it can be an essential part of the job to record attendance and even make reports about it. For people working in these types of schools, being present at school is 出席 and being absent is 欠席.
まず出席をとります ー I’ll be taking attendance first
学生全員が出席しました ー Every student is in attendance today
彼女は学校を欠席しました ー She is absent from school
生徒は病気のため欠席しました ー That student is absent due to an illness
彼は欠席しがちだね ー He is apt to be absent
Getting them to shut up
In Japanese, there are many ways to tell someone to be quiet. Interestingly, the Japanese word that is closest to the English word ‘shut up’ (黙る) isn’t used so frequently in class. Most teachers I spoke to reported that they felt it was a little too direct and cold.
Instead when the students are misbehaving, Japanese educators are more likely to speak more indirectly. The meaning of ‘shut up’ is usually conveyed by calling the students ‘noisy’ (煩いい). For a more direct meaning 静かにしなさい (Do be calm) is used instead.
The しなさい in 静かにしなさい is a Japanese word used to tell someone to do something. ~なさい is a useful contrast to the ~て-form that most learners learn early on. Using the ~なさい-form puts you on a higher level than the person you are speaking to. This makes it especially useful for the classroom as it enforces the teacher-student roles.
はっきり言いなさい ー Speak clearly
一緒に言ってください ー Please speak along with me
よく聞いてください ー Please listen carefully
繰り返してください ー Please repeat after me
本を開けてください ー Please open your books
Of course, there are many different kinds of lessons and sometimes it may not be appropriate to remind someone that you have senior status to them in the class. In private lessons with businessmen/ ladies, it may be better to use the ~て-form to give a friendlier vibe to the conversation.
もう一度言ってください ー Please say that one more time
もっと大きい声で言ってください ー Please say that in a louder voice
ちゃんと約束時間を守りなさいよ ー Please keep to the planned meeting time
後ろに渡してください ー Please pass these to the back of the class
While making some of these ～て and ～なさい-forms can be tricky, making the opposite form is a lot simpler. These easiest way to make a strong order not to do something is by simply adding ～な on the end of verbs, so for example くる becomes くるな.
The only problem with the ～な-form is that this form can seem harsh even at the best of times. Women will usually try to avoid using it as much as possible. As a result, the ~ないで-form is often more useful in classes as it is less direct and bossy. One exception to this is when issuing commands to a room full of students, in which case the な-form is often used so you can make the order stand out.
隣の人と話さないでください ー Don’t speak to the people near you
隣を言わないで ー Don’t tell lies
もし私が遅れても、待たないでください ー Even if I am late, please don’t wait for me
悪口を言うな ー Don’t speak ill of others
To complicate matters, in the slangy speech of some young, rough Japanese students, な can be used as a contraction of なさい. For these students, 食べるな and 食べな have the opposite meaning! Careful listening and the situation it is said will ensure that you don’t make any mistakes.
とおりに is attached to words to means that someone should copy the speaker. This is especially useful during writing classes for younger students or for older students when you say something that listeners should do.
As you get more confident at using Japanese in the classroom, you will want to mix this form with other forms you learned earlier. So for example, you may put the order form together with とおりに to make a direct order such as in 言ったとおりにしなさい (Do as I told you!) or 説明したとおりにしてください (Do it as I explained it to you).