Japanese for English Teachers

I've been living in Japan teaching English for a little over a year now, and I thought I could help some of you out with what I've learned. When I came here, all I had really done was read the first few chapters of a handful of books on basic Japanese and listen to several CDs of the Pimsleur all-audio system (which I highly recommend). I'd had some exposure, but I really couldn't speak Japanese.

Within a week of my arrival, with no teaching experience and almost no knowledge of Japanese, I was flying solo in my classes, teaching up to five children or adults at once. I'll just be blunt. It was terrifying. My first few months (the adjustment period) would've gone much more smoothly if I'd known these simple, useful bits of Japanese. (Well, I knew a few of them already, but anyway...)

I'll start off with some phrases for dealing with kids in the classroom. If you're planning on teaching kids in Japan, these are a must. And feel free to experiment with mixing and matching the different parts of these phrases!

  • Nihon-go ga sukoshi wakaru. = I know a little Japanese.
  • Nihon-go (日本語) = [the] Japanese [language]
  • sukoshi (少し) = a little / a few
  • wakaru (分かる) = [to] be clear / [to] be known
  • Zen-zen wakara-nai. = I don't understand at all.
  • zen-zen (だけ) = totally / [not] at all
  • Ei-go dake. = English only. / Just English.
  • Ei-go (英語) = [the] English [language]
  • dake (だけ) = only / just
  • Mo ikkai. = One more time.
  • ikkai (一回) = one time / once
  • Mo chotto dekiru. = You can do a little better.
  • chotto (鳥渡) = a little / somewhat
  • dekiru (出来る) = [to] be able
  • Sou deki-nai. = You can't do it that way.
  • sou (そう) = [in] that way / like that
  • Kou shio. = Let's do it this way.
  • kou (こう) = [in] this way / like this
  • Chanto shite. = Do it right.
  • Chanto shi-nasai. = Do it right!
  • chanto (ちゃんと) = properly / correctly / right
  • Nan[i o] shi-tai? = What do you want to do?
  • nani (何) / nan = what
  • Suwatte. = Sit down.
  • Suwatte kudasai. = Please have a seat.
  • suwaru (座る) = [to] sit
  • kudasai (下さい) = please (as a request)
  • Minna kiite. = Everybody listen.
  • minna (皆) / mina = everybody / everyone
  • kiku (聞く) = [to] hear / [to] listen / [to] ask
  • Koko mite. = Look here.
  • koko (此処) = here
  • miru (見る) = [to] see / [to] look / [to] watch
  • Kore o kaite. = Write this.
  • kore (此れ) = this
  • kaku (書く) = [to] draw / [to] write
  • Yonde. = Read.
  • yomu (読む) = [to] read
  • Yute. = Say it.
  • iu (言う) / yuu = [to] say
  • Kurikaeshite. = Repeat.
  • kurikaesu (繰り返す) = [to] repeat / [to] do [something] again
  • Ei-go [o] shabete. = Use English.
  • Nihon-go [o] shabe-naide. = Don't use Japanese.
  • shaberu (読る) = [to] talk
  • Sawara-naide. = Don't touch.
  • Sawaru-na. = Don't touch!
  • sawaru (触る) = [to] touch
  • Fuzake-naide. = Don't mess around.
  • Fuzake-sugi. = You're messing around too much.
  • fuzakeru (不山戯る) = [to] mess around / [to] play
  • Ookii koe de. = In a loud voice.
  • ookii (大きい) = big, large
  • koe (声) = voice
  • Katta ka? = Did you win?
  • katsu (勝つ) = [to] win
  • Maketa! = I lost!
  • makeru (負ける) = [to] lose

I'd like to add a lot more of this sort of thing, but I just don't have the time right now. Of course, if you make a donation, I'll make some time!

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