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Simple Classroom Language

It is important to start using Japanese right from the start to demonstrate clearly that language is for communication so that students accept the use of Japanese in class as normal.

This section covers the following:

  1. Greetings and introductions from the first day
  2. Taking roll call
  3. Conducting the lesson in Japanese
  4. Suggested activities

1. Greetings and introductions from the first day

おはようございます、ジョーンズです。Call me せんせい。
Good morning, I’m Ms. Jones. Call me Sensei.

Good morning, Ms. Jones.

Students understand that in Japanese teachers can be called ジョーンズせんせい or せんせい, without the name. Students compare with English ‘Miss’, ‘Sir’.

Additional expressions

  • こんにちは Good afternoon / hello
  • みなさん everyone

2. Taking roll call

Is Anne here today?


Is Tom here today?


Students notice and reflect on aspects of language use such as 〜くん、〜さん and to compare with English and other languages.

3. Conducting the lesson in Japanese

There are different ways to start the Japanese class. Which expressions would suit your class?

Starting The Lesson

Let’s start!


Are you ready?

Students identify Japanese words that have been borrowed from English, and how the pronunciation can change when used in Japanese

Additional expressions

  • 日本語のレッスンをはじめましょう。 Let’s start the Japanese lesson

Ending The Lesson

Let’s finish.

See you tomorrow!

Good bye

Students understand non- verbal communication such as the use of gestures (eg bowing)
ましょう can be used to give instructions in a gentle manner

Additional expressions

  • また らいしゅう See you next week
  • かたづけましょう Please tidy up

Lost for words?

How would you say ‘have a great weekend’ in Japanese?

Japanese didn’t use this expression in the past but it has recently been adopted from English.

Giving feedback and praise, both spoken and written can be done in Japanese from the earliest stages, and makes classroom communication meaningful and natural.


Very good!

〜ですね is often used to give feedback in a caring manner

Additional expressions

  • すごいですね  incredible
  • がんばりましょう  keep trying
  • じょうずですね  good
  • やめましょう!  Stop!
  • すばらしいですね!  great, terrific
  • だいじょうぶ  you’ll be fine
  • だめですね!  Don’t do that!
  • よくできました  well done

Lost for words?

What would you say to a student who didn’t do well in a test despite making an effort?


Classroom Instructions

Demonstration techniques make the following common expressions comprehensible to students. Flash cards are a useful resource when teachers are introducing and/or clarifying meaning of instructions Click on the picture to download PDF flashcards.


Stand up

Mono Colour


Sit down

Mono Colour


Raise your hand

Mono Colour


Put down your hand

Mono Colour



Mono Colour



Mono Colour



Mono Colour



Mono Colour



Mono Colour


Be quiet

Mono Colour



Mono Colour

4. Suggested activities

The following activities can be used to introduce and reinforce classroom instructions.

1. Flash cards

Bus game

Students form two or more teams and sit in rows as if on a bus. (They can also stand in rows.) The first student from each row takes turns to compete. The teacher shows a card and the first student to get up and answer scores. The teams move forward, with the first student going to the back and the next student moving up.

Soccer game

There are two teams, the standing team and the seated team, and their aim is to get to their goal. Starting from the center line the teacher flashes a card, and the two contestants, one seated one standing, compete to say the word. The teacher moves towards the goal depending on which of the two contestants says the word list.

Ningen sugoroku

Place flashcards on the floor next to one another. Students throw the dice and move accordingly to the appropriate card, saying the word. Alternatively they can make a phrase or sentence with the word.

2. Card games


Students are asked to form groups of 4-5 to play the card game “snap”/かるた. Each group is given a set of picture cards and asked to spread them out face up in front of the group, so that they can all see all of the cards. One student in each group is then asked to call out a classroom instruction, which is represented on one of the cards. The other students are challenged to see who can grab the picture card which corresponds to the instruction that has been called out. The caller should then confirm whether or not the player has grabbed the right card. If they have they move on to the next instruction,if they have not they replace the card and repeat the call-out. When the group have worked their way through all of the picture cards, the player who has the most cards is the winner.


Groups of students shuffle a set of cards containing pictures and words, and lay them face down separately in rows. They then take turns to turn two cards over to see if they match up. The student who turns over a matched pair takes the two cards and has another turn. The winner is the student who collects the most cards when all cards have been matched.

Match the cards

Groups of students are given a set of cards containing both pictures and words and when the teacher says, 「よーい、はじめ!」 students quickly match the pictures to the appropriate words. The group to finish first wins.

What's missing

A series of flashcards is shown to the students or placed on the blackboard ledge. Students in turn are asked to close their eyes or are blindfolded while the teacher takes one or two away. Students must identify the missing cards.

Bingo (For Advanced Learners who can read/write hiragana)

Display the flashcards at the front of the classroom. Each student is given a blank bingo card. Ask students to select some of the pictures and make up their own bingo card by writing the matching words in Hiragana in the boxes. Eg, たって、みて、きいて etc. The teacher then calls out a classroom instruction eg, たって/たってください, Students then mark their bingo card if the words appear on their card. The winner is the first student who can mark off all of the pictures or words in a row or column.

3. Get physical!

Physical response to cues

The teacher gives instructions or cues for the students to follow. Alternatively, the students can be asked to take turns to give instructions for the rest of the class to follow.


The teacher teaches students a dance giving instructions in Japanese. Eg.ichi,ni, san, shi, たって、すわって、みてetc. This is a great way to introduce and reinforce understanding of the instructions in Japanese especially for younger learners. The teacher may choose to introduce additional verbs for more advanced learners. Eg. あるいて walk, はしって run, スキップして skip, とんで jump, まわって spin, みぎ right, ひだりleft.

Simon says

This is a Japanese variation of Simon Says. The teacher explains the rules and calls out the instructions to the students, who have been told to only follow instructions prefaced with the word ‘みなさん’, e.g. みなさん、たってください. Players are eliminated from the game when they follow an instruction that is not immediately preceded with the words みなさん, or when they fail to follow an instruction which does include ‘みなさん’ . The winner is the last student remaining after all of the others have been eliminated.

4. Songs for greetings and instructions

Greetings Song (to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’)

  • おはよう、おはよう, Good morning, good morning
  • こんにちは、こんにちは, Hello, hello
  • さようなら、さようなら, Goodbye, goodbye
  • またあした、またあした, See you tomorrow, see you tomorrow

Instruction Song(to the tune of ‘Pick a Bale of Cotton’)

  • どうぞ はいって ドアをしめて, Please come in,close the door
  • たって、すわって、きいてください, Stand up, sit down, please listen
  • しずかにして、こくばんをみて, Be quiet, look at the board
  • ノートにかいて、おぼえてください, Write in your exercise book
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