Unfortunately, summer is over. That means it’s time for students and English teachers to return to the classroom. Heck, teachers working for eikawa (conversation school) may have never even left. Autumn is also considered the next hiring season for schools in Japan, so many teachers meet entirely new classrooms.
Around this time, deciding whether to use Japanese in the classroom is always a tricky decision. Perhaps more so with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic still looming over our shoulders. Teachers want to immerse their students in English, but Japanese comes in handy for new or unruly students.
There are also occasions when teachers might be expected to use Japanese in the classroom to help communicate more effectively or when the learners are too young to be effectively engaged in English.
For these situations, here are some practical Japanese terms and expressions you can use in the classroom.
One situation where speaking Japanese is useful is during roll call. It can be an essential part of the job at some schools to record attendance and even make reports about it. You can try encouraging them to “I’m here,” but in Japan, students will typically answer roll call by saying hai (はい).
|I’ll be taking attendance first.||まず出席をとります||mazu shusseki wo torimasu|
|Is everybody here?||みんないますか||
|Who’s absent today?||今日は誰がお休みですか?||Kyo wa dare ga wo yasumidesu ka?|
|Every student is in attendance today.||学生全員が出席しました||gakusei zenin ga shusseki wo torimashita|
|She is absent from school.||彼女は学校を欠席しました||kanojou ha gakkou wo kesseki shimashita|
|That student is absent due to an illness.||生徒は病気のため欠席しました||seito ha byouki notameni kesseki shimashita|
Classroom order and discipline
In Japanese, there are many ways to tell someone to be quiet. Not surprisingly, the Japanese word closest to the English phrase “shut up” (黙る) shouldn’t be used in class. It sounds rude, too direct and cold.
Instead, when the students are misbehaving, Japanese educators are more likely to speak more indirectly, such as “be quiet,” which is conveyed by calling the students “noisy” (煩いい).
|Please keep quiet.||話をやめなさい||hanashi wo yame nasai|
|Show me your face.||顔を上げなさい||kao wo age nasai|
|Behave yourself.||行儀良くしなさい||gyogi yoku shinasai.|
The shinasai form (-しなさい) is a Japanese word used to tell someone to do something. Likewise, the –nasai form (~なさい) is a useful contrast to the -te form (-て) that most students learn early on.
Using -なさい 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.
|Speak clearly.||はっきり言いなさい||hakkiri iinasai|
|Say it with me.||一緒に言いってください||isshoni ittekudasai|
|Please listen carefully.||よく聞いてください||yoku kiitekudasai|
|Please repeat after me.||繰り返してください||kurikaeshite kudasai|
|Please open your books.||本を開けてください||hon wo aketekudasai|
Of course, not everyone is teaching children. Sometimes it’s inappropriate to remind someone that you have senior status in the class. In private lessons with adults, it may be better to use the ~て form to give a friendlier vibe to the conversation.
|Phrase in English||Kanji Reading||Romaji|
|Please say that one more time.||もう一度言ってください||mou ichido ittekudasai|
|Please say that in a louder voice.||もっと大きい声で言ってください||motto ooki koe de ittekudasai|
|Please keep to the planned meeting time.||ちゃんと約束時間を守りなさいよ||chanto yakusoku jikan wo mamorinasai yo|
|Please pass these to the back of the class.||後ろに渡してください||ushiro ni watashite kudasai|
While -て and -なさい forms can be tricky, making the opposite form is a lot easier. The easiest way to make a firm order not to do something is by simply adding -な on the end of verbs, so for example, くる (kuru) becomes くるな (kuruna).
The only problem with the -な form is that it can seem too harsh. Hence, Japanese women will try to avoid using it entirely. As a result, -ないで (naide) is often more helpful 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 used so you can make the order stand out.
To complicate matters, in the slangy speech of some young, rough Japanese students, な can be used as a contraction of なさい. So for these students, 食べるな and 食べな have the opposite meaning! Thus, be careful of the situation.
|Don’t speak to the people near you.||隣の人と話さないでください||tonari no hito to hanasanaide kudasai|
|Don’t tell lies.||嘘 を言わないで||uso wo iwanaide|
|Even if I am late, please don’t wait for me.||もし私が遅れても、待たないでください||moshi watashi ga okuretemo, matanaide kudasai|
|Don’t speak ill of others.||悪口を言うな||waruguchi wo iuna|
Repeat after me
Toorini (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.
|Do as I told you.||言ったとおりにしなさい||itta tori ni shi nasai|
|Do it as I explained it to you.||説明したとおりにしてください||setsumei shita tori ni shite kudasai|
Do you have any tips or phrases teachers should use in the classroom? Let us know in the comments!