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Time for a Change

Sometimes even the best teacher can make mistakes on their schedule. GaijinPot presents a guide to politely changing the date of a student’s class.

By 2 min read

One of the most important skills for English teachers to master is balancing their schedules. When I used to work as a freelance teacher, I remember some days where I would travel from Osaka to Hyogo and back again in one day. Obviously with walking to the school, travelling on trains and trying to make such everyone gets a class on their preferred day, it is easy to make mistakes and create a schedule that is virtually impossible to do.

In these situations, you sometimes have to reschedule a student’s class. However, changing the date of a student’s class can be tricky. After all, you want them to carry on taking your class! So what should you do in this tricky situation?

Usually the first thing that you do is state your reason. As a general rule, I prefer to keep things as ambiguous as possible, so I use 都合(つごう)(わる)い. This phrase means that something is inconvenient in terms of time, scheduling etc. without specifically stating what the problem is. Therefore a suitable sentence would be 都合が悪くなってしまいました (Things have become inconvenient for me).

Notice the ~て しまいました ending to this sentence. This is the polite form of しまう which is often used at the end of sentences to indicate that the result of something is regrettable or disappointing. Therefore the usage of しまいました in this sentence is a way to show the teacher’s regret at the way the situation has unfolded.

The next thing to write should be the date. Japanese has a lot of words for the date something happens on, but in this situation the most useful word is 日程(にってい). For the purposes of changing classes, this can be paired with 変更(へんこう) (To change/ modify) to indicate a change of plans. Again you will probably want to add a sign of your regret such as すみませんが (I’m sorry but), making this sentence: すみませんが日程変更お願いします.

After that, いかが should be used to suggest a different date. いかが is one of the most useful words that you will learn as it is used to suggest something in a polite or indirect way. So, if you wanted to change the date to January 15th, for example, you would say 1月15日はいかがでしょうか? (How about the 15th of January?).

Of course with this being Japan, the land of politeness, you may want to add a polite ending to your message. After all, you have inconvenienced your student. Japanese people will often add something like 勝手言(かってい)いますが、ご検討宜(けんとうよろ)しくおねがいします (I’m sorry for asking, thank you for your consideration).

Did you get all that? Here is the whole message: 1月11日のクラスですが、都合が悪くなってしまいましたので、すみませんが日程変更お願いします。1月15日はいかがでしょうか?勝手言いますが、ご検討宜しくおねがいします。

Hopefully you’ll never have to use it though…

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