Common Japanese Words and Phrases Used in Classroom

The language used in a classroom setting will differ depending on whether you are a student or teacher, and whether you are talking to other students or teachers. To sort this all out, let’s first go over the basics. What do I call my teacher? How do I ask questions during the class? How do I reply during the roll call? By going through the common vocabulary and phrases first, you will be able to then modify and arrange them to communicate smoothly with your peers and teachers.

Whether you’re studying in a Japanese language school as a foreign student, taking Japanese group lessons online or in-person, or teaching in a Japanese school, we will help nail down key Japanese vocabulary and phrases for the classroom. 

Japanese (romaji)KanjiEnglish
gakuseki bangou学籍番号student number
seito生徒student (junior high to high school)
zagaku座学classroom learning
kougishitsu講義室lecture hall
kyouin教員teacher, instructor
junkyouju准教授associate professor

Before we go into the common Japanese phrases used in a class, let’s take a look at what class and classroom are in Japanese. You may be familiar with jugyou (授業), kyoushitsu (教室), sensei (先生), and gakusei (学生), the general terms for the lesson, classroom, teacher, and student in Japanese, but other terms may be used depending on the circumstance.

Jugyou (授業) is an umbrella term for the lesson and refers to any format of the lesson where students learn from teachers. It is commonly used in high school and below, as well as language schools, but can be used for any lesson in an educational institution. Kougi (講義), which is the term for a lecture in Japanese, is a specific type of jugyou where teachers talk in front of a group of students at their desks. It is commonly used in universities or other tertiary educational institutions, This can also be referred to as zagaku (座学), which basically means education received while sitting at a desk.

Kyoushitsu (教室) is the general term for classrooms and is the most common one used in any setting. However, those in universities or other tertiary education may also hear the term kougishitsu (講義室), meaning lecture hall.

Sensei (先生) is the most common way to refer to any teacher of any kind, in schools, other academic institutions, and even extracurricular activities. Until high school, the terms kyouin (教員) and kyoushi (教師), which both mean teacher, are commonly used to refer to a teaching position or title. On the other hand, teachers in universities will have different titles depending on their rank, such as koushi (講師), junkyouju (准教授), and kyouju (教授), which mean lecturer, associate professor, and professor respectively. In all cases, sensei (先生) is still the most common and appropriate way to refer to educators, but knowing the different classifications will come in handy especially if you are a university student or are teaching in Japan.

Students are generally referred to as one of the following: gakusei (学生) or seito (生徒). In legal terms, the former is used for students receiving higher education such as in universities or vocational schools, whereas the latter is used for junior high to high school students. The two are used interchangeably in daily conversation, however, there is a tendency to use gakusei (学生) when talking about students generally, and seito (生徒) when talking about students of a specific institution or under a specific teacher.

Japanese Expressions for Greeting in a Class 

Japanese (romaji)KanjiEnglish
ohayou gozaimasuおはようございますGood morning
konnichiwaこんにちはGood afternoon
konbanwaこんばんはGood evening
yoroshikuonegaiitashimasuよろしくお願いします“Treat me well today”
arigatou gozaimashitaありがとうございましたThank you
goseichou arigatougozaimashitaご清聴ありがとうございましたThank you for your attention
otsukare sama deshitaお疲れ様でしたThank you for your hard work

As with all other interactions, classes start and end with greetings. Students may greet each other formally in keigo (敬語) or informally in tameguchi (タメ口), but interactions between students and teachers are almost always in keigo (敬語).

At the start of the class, the sensei (先生) usually greets students using the greeting appropriate for the time of the day, with either ohayougozaimasu (おはようございます): good morning, konnichiwa (こんにちは): hello, or konbanwa (こんばんは): good evening. Some may even follow this with yoroshikuonegaishimasu (よろしくお願いします), which is loosely translated to ‘please treat me favorably’ in English. Check out our guide on basic Japanese greetings and phrases.

The class usually ends with arigatougozaimashita (ありがとうございました) to thank the students, and sometimes with otsukare sama deshita (お疲れ様でした) to acknowledge the students’ hard work during the class. Some teachers may also use goseichou arigatougozaimashita (ご清聴ありがとうございました), which takes a step further to thank students for listening quietly. This phrase is often used after presentations by students as well.

Japanese Phrases in Classroom for Taking Attendance

Japanese (romaji)KanjiEnglish
tenko点呼roll call
kounin kesseki公認欠席excused absence
mudan kesseki無断欠席unexcused absence

Attendance is shusseki (出席) in Japanese, with its kanji meaning to be in your seat. Therefore the Japanese for absence is kesseki (欠席), to be absent from your seat. Depending on the school, teachers may take attendance through roll calls, paper slips, or online.

A roll call, called tenko (点呼) in Japanese, but typically, the teacher will usually proceed in the following way:

Shusseki o torimasu. A-san.
I will be taking roll call (attendance). A-san.

If Person A is present, they would simply respond by saying yes with hai (はい). This will repeat until everyone is called. If you will be absent, it’s best to notify the teacher or staff by email beforehand for it to be an excused absence or kounin kesseki (公認欠席). Unexcused absences, or mudan kesseki (無断欠席), are commonly frowned upon and may even lead to consequences. Here is an example of how to notify your absence through email.

EMAIL for absence not attending class in japanese

kenmei : honjitsu no (jugyoumei) o kesseki shimasu (namae)
Subject : I will be absent from today’s (class name) (name)

〇〇 teacher

osewa ni natte orimasu.
*Loosely translated to Thank you for your assistance.

(namae to gakuseki bangou) to moushimasu.
I am (name and student number)

kinou kara netsu ga aru node, honjitsu no (jugyoumei) wa kesseki sasete itadakitai to omoimasu.
I’ve had a fever since yesterday, so I would like to be absent from today’s class.

honjitsu no kadai o gojitsu torini ukagattemo yoroshiideshouka.
May I pick up my assignment for today’s class at a later date?

yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
*Loosely translated to thank you in advance.

(namae to gakuseki bangou)
(name and student number)

Interestingly, there is a term for faking someone’s attendance in Japanese, called daihen (代返). It comes from わりに事する (kawarini henji suru), meaning to respond in place of someone else during roll call. This is strongly prohibited in all schools, so be careful not to do this!

Japanese Phrases in Classroom: Listening to Instructions

Apart from sitting and listening to your teacher’s jugyou (授業), you may have other tasks to complete such as answering questions or solving a quiz, reading something for the class, or having class discussions. In these cases, you will most likely hear the command for the task in a Verb ~て + ください (verb ~te + kudasai) form.

For example:

kotaete kudasai
Please answer.

kaitoushite kudasai.
Please answer. (Used in written form)

hanashiatte kudasai.
Please discuss.

yonde kudasai. 
Please read.

Te o agete.
Please raise your hand.

Your teacher usually instructs the last example in the class. If you want to say or ask anything, we should avoid disrupting the flow of the lesson. Raising your hand allows the teacher to decide if it’s the best time to address your concern in the class at the moment.

Take a look at this blog post to learn other ways kudasai (ください) is used, and this blog post for how to conjugate verbs into the ~te (~て) form.

How to Ask Questions in a Class in Japanese

Some teachers prefer students to ask questions during class, but others may prefer for students to ask all their questions at the end of the lesson. If you have a question during class, raise your hand and ask your question! Teachers may also ask:

kokomade nanika shitsumon wa arimasuka?
Are there any questions so far?

Outside of class, students can find the opportunity to talk to the teacher in the time between classes called jugyou no aima (授業の合間), or during office hours, or ofisu awaa (オフィスアワー). When you go up to the teacher, here are some examples of how you can start the conversation:

〇〇sensei, ima ojikan yoroshii deshouka?
Teacher 〇〇, may I have a moment?

honjitsu no jugyou ni tsuite shitsumon ga arimasu.
I have a question about today’s class.

Japanese Phrases in Classroom: Homework and Assignments in Japanese

Although many may dread the idea of homework, it’s a must-know when learning Japanese in the classroom. Assignments including homework are called kadai (課題), which can also mean ‘issue that needs to be solved’. The word to use for homework specifically is shukudai (宿題), with its kanji referring literally to work that is completed at home.

Teachers will also provide students with information about submission or teishutsu (提出), including the due date, which is kigen (期限) or shimekiri (締め切り). 

Let’s put all the vocabulary together in some example sentences:

shukudai o dashimasu.
I will be giving out homework.

kore ni tsuite no repooto o raishuu madeno kadai ni shimasu.
The assignment until next week will be a report about this topic.

chanto kigen made ni owarasete teishutsu shite kudasai.
Make sure to finish and submit it before the due date.

kono kadai no shimekiri wa raishuu no kayoubi desu.
The due date for this assignment is next Tuesday.


Whether you are taking a Japanese class or you want to teach at a Japanese local school and/or study with native students, knowing Japanese classroom phrases and vocabulary ahead will make your school life easier. On top of the basic terminology of lesson, classroom, teacher, and student, learning other common phrases will allow you to understand and communicate better with the rest of the class. Feel free to refer back to this guide for a free email sample for being absent from class, or vocabulary needed to remind your classmates about the due date of your assignment!

If you would like to learn more about the Japanese language, why not join a Japanese class at Coto Academy? We offer online and in-person courses, with a variety of free lessons designed to help you improve your Japanese speaking skill. 

Head to our contact page for a free level check and consultation!

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