Classroom Expressions

The expressions in this lesson are specific to the school environment, and can safely be skipped if you are an adult learner studying on your own.

Recommended background:

Starting and Ending Class

When starting class in a Japanese classroom (up through high school), every student stands up and bows to show respect to the teacher. When the bell rings, a predesignated student will lead the process with the following instructions.

  Kana Romaji Meaning
1. きりつ Kiritsu  Stand up
2. きをつけ Ki o tsuke Attention
3. れい Rei Bow
4. ちゃくせき Chakuseki Sit down

Note: some of the vowels in these expressions are devoiced – can you figure out which ones?

The teacher will generally bow too, and then begin class. When the bell rings to end class, the ritual repeats.

Note that there is some variance – ki o tsuke or chakuseki might be omitted, and in some areas the phrases themselves may be different.

Also, if you are taking a college Japanese course, you may never encounter these expressions at all. Why? Because they aren't used in college in Japan either – there's less of a perceived need for imposing order in a college classroom.

Commands

You'll learn how to make commands out of any verb later on, but for now here are a few you should know.

Kana Romaji Meaning
くりかえしてください。 Kurikaeshite kudasai. Please repeat (after me).
きを つけてください。 Ki o tsukete kudasai. Please pay attention (to something).
しずかに してください。 Shizuka ni shite kudasai. Please be quiet.
しゅくだいを だしてください。 Shukudai o dashite kudasai. Please turn in your homework.
たってください。 Tatte kudasai. Please stand up.
すわってください。 Suwatte kudasai. Please sit down.

In case you're wondering where these phrases come from:

  • kurikaesu means to repeat
  • ki o tsukeru is an idomatic expression meaning "to pay attention"
  • shizuka ni suru means "to make something quiet" (yourself in this case)
  • dasu means "to put/take out"

Don't concern yourself with the conjugation pattern right now, but you should be aware that a verb ending with "te" can be used as a command (among other things), and the "kudasai" afterwords means something like "do for me" and makes the command polite.

Other Expressions

Here are a few common requests that you might make as a student.

Kana Romaji Meaning
トイレに いっても いいですか。 Toire ni itte mo ii desu ka? Can I go to the bathroom?
みずを のんでも いいですか。 Mizu o nonde mo ii desu ka? Can I drink water? (= go get a drink)
はい、 いいです。 Hai, ii desu. Yes, that's fine.
いいえ、 だめです。 Iie, dame desu. No, that's not OK.

Here, the adjective ii means "good" or "OK", and dame means "no good". The te mo (or de mo) part literally means "even if I…" and ii desu ka means "is it alright?". So a request in Japanese is always of the form "Is it alright if I…".

Finally, here's one expression that you will hopefully hear a lot.

Kana Romaji Meaning
よくできました。 Yoku dekimashita. Good job (lit. "you could do it well")

What Next?

Names and Introductions

Greetings and Other Expressions

The Structure of a Japanese Sentence


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