Here are some bits of speeches that you can mix and match to make one of your own, if you need a short speech in Japanese in a hurry. They're written in roomaji for three reasons: (1) to make it easier for a beginner to read, (2) to make it easier for me to type, and (3) because I don't know a way of entering it in Japanese script so that everyone will be able to read it. Translations are provided too.
Pronunciation is pretty straightforward. The main things to remember are:
- Japanese is composed entirely of syllable sounds, all ending in a vowel except for the lone letter "n"
- vowel sounds are very similar to Spanish: "u" as in "put", and "o" somewhere between "bought" and "boat" (with a British accent), but shorter
- a double vowel sounds exactly the same as a single one, only twice as long
- a "u" on the end of a word is often "swallowed", e.g. "desu" is usually pronounced more like "dess"
- a double consonant is pronounced as a glottal stop - like when you say "coat-tails" or "backgammon"
- a Japanese "r" is a cross between an "r" and an "l" in English (often with a bit of a "d" thrown in for good measure)
- a Japanese "f" may feel more like blowing than pronouncing a letter! Try to get it somewhere between "f" and "h" in English.
My self-introductory speech (jiko shookai) to the students at my base school
The Japanese has been corrected so there shouldn't be any mistakes in it now. Even if there are, showing your students that you can still communicate successfully even though you make mistakes is no bad thing!
- How do you do. [Standard opening on first meeting someone.]
Watashi wa Lynne Donaldson to mooshimasu, Lynne to yonde kudasai.
- My name is Lynne Donaldson, please call me Lynne. [I gave my name with an English accent; they'll "katakanise" it anyway, but I thought I might as well give them the correct pronunciation to begin with.]
Atarashii "Michael" desu ga, Amerikajin dewa arimasen.
- I'm the new "Michael" [my predecessor at that school], but I'm not American.
Igirisu no Birmingham kara kimashita.
- I come from Birmingham in the UK.
Niju-has'sai desu. Ryooshin wa, Sukotorando kara kimashita, imooto ga san-nin imasu.
- I'm 28 years old. My parents come from Scotland and I have three younger sisters.
Ni-nen mae Nihon ni hajimete kimashita. Ni-shuukan dake deshita ga, Nihon ga suki ni nari, modotte kimashita.
- I came to Japan for the first time two years ago. It was only for two weeks, but I liked Japan, so I came back.
Hikone Nishi kookoo ni korarete ureshii desu.
- I'm happy to be at Hikone Nishi High School.
Korekara ichi-nenkan issho ni eigo no benkyoo ya matsuri nado shimashoo.
- Over the next year let's study English, participate in festivals etc., together.
[I was originally given this sentence translated as "I look forward to..." but the above translation is more literal. You can replace "matsuri" (festivals in general) with "gakkoo gyoji" (school festivals), "ibento" (events), or "supootsu" (sports) if you like.]
Nihongo wa ichi-nenkan benkyoo shimashita, mada heta desu ga, ganbarimasu. Mina-san oshiete kudasai.
- I've studied Japanese for one year; I'm still poor at it but I'll do my best. Everyone please teach me.
[A subsequent improvement: "mada heta desu" is (apparently) a bit casual for a speech like this, and "mada joozu dewa arimasen" would be more polite.]
Soshite anata wa eigo no benkyoo o gambatte kudasai.
- And you, please do your best at studying English.
Tanoshikunaru-koto o nozomimasu.
- I hope we'll have fun.
Itsudemo dokodemo koe o kakete kudasai.
- Please talk to me anytime, anywhere.
Doozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
- Thank you / it's very nice to meet you. [Standard speech ending; the literal translation is something like "please look upon me favourably". This is the most polite version - you can drop the doozo or the onegaishimasu if you like.]
Other potentially useful phrases/sentences
Some of these I've used on other occasions, others I've been given but not (yet) made use of.
Sumimasen, Nihongo ga (mada) hanasemasen (or dekimasen).
- I'm sorry, I can't speak Japanese (yet).
Wakaranai or Wakarimasen.
- I don't understand.
[Particularly useful, along with the above, when someone phones up trying to sell you something. The second form is more polite than the first.]
Eigo ga hanasemasu ka.
- Can you speak English?
Sukoshi Nihongo o hanasemasu ga, amarii wakarimasen (or wakaranai).
- I can speak a little Japanese, but I don't understand much. [I use this one a lot!]
[Country] no [place] kara kimashita, [name] desu.
- I'm [name], from [place] in [country].
[The Japanese usually give the organisation they belong to before they give their own name (surname first) - e.g. "I'm Paul Smith from Mitsubishi" would be "Mitsubishi no Smith Paul desu".]
[Place] wa [country] no kita / minami / higashi / nishi no hoo desu.
- [Place] is in the north / south / east / west of [country].
Shichi-gatsu ni Nihon ni kimashita.
- I came to Japan in July. [For other months, just substitute the month number for "shichi" (7).]
Nihon wa hajimete / nikaime desu.
- This is my first / second time in Japan.
Korekara ichi-nenkan osewa ni narimasu.
- I ask for your kind help and assistance in the coming year.
Watashi no shumi wa [hobby] desu ga, Nihon no [interest] ni kyoomi ga arimasu.
- My hobby is [hobby] and I am also interested in [interest] while here in Japan.
Sorekara origami / shuuji / kendo / sumo ga suki desu kara, shite mitai desu.
- Also, as I like origami / calligraphy / kendo (Japanese fencing) / sumo, I'd like to try it.
Koremade watashi wa (ni)kagetsu Nihon ni imashita, taihen tanoshikatta desu.
- So far I've been in Japan for (two) months and it's been very enjoyable. [Replace "ni" with the appropriate number of months. "Koremade" may also be replaced with "ima made".]
Mina-san atatakaku mukaete kudasatte kansha shite imasu.
- Thank you all for making me feel so welcome.
Watashi no nihongo wa dandan joozu ni natte imasu shikashi, yukkuri desu.
- My Japanese is improving gradually, but it's slow.
Moshi watashi no Nihon no manaa ga yokunakattara yurushite kudasai.
- Please excuse me if my Japanese manners are not good.
My speech to the Superintendent of the Shiga Prefecture Board of Education at the mid-year reporting meeting, February 2000
A bit of a farce really; all 53 of the 1st year ALTs had to give speeches, but of course nobody could say anything negative - that's not the Japanese way. What's more, all the 2nd and 3rd year ALTs had to go along just to listen! I think my speech was one of the most painful for the audience to listen to, not because the Japanese was bad but because I had a cold and was very hoarse at the time. Anyway, here's my blurb...
- Good afternoon everyone. [Mina-sama is a politer version of mina-san (everyone).]
Mazu, saisho ni, shitsurei desu ga, kaze o hikimashita.
- First of all, please excuse me, I have a cold. [Referring to how bad my voice sounded.]
Watashi wa Donaldson Lynne de, Hikone Nishi kookoo to Hachiman koogyoo kookoo no ALT desu.
- I'm Lynne Donaldson, the ALT for Hikone Nishi High School and Hachiman Technical High School.
Igirisu no Baamingamu kara kimashita.
- I come from Birmingham in the UK.
Sen kyuuhyaku kyuujuu nana-nen ni, Nihon ni hajimete kimashita. Ni-shuu-kan dake deshita ga, Nihon wa miryokuteki da to omoimashita kara, moo ichido modotte kitai to omoimashita.
- I came to Japan for the first time in 1997. It was only for two weeks, but I found Japan fascinating, so I wanted to come back.
JET no mooshikomisho de, Shiga o rikuesuto shimashita. Dakara, kono ken ni korete ureshii desu.
- On the JET application form I requested Shiga, so I'm very happy to be in this prefecture.
Koremade Nihon no seikatsu wa totemo omoshirokute, tanoshikatta desu. Watashi wa Nihon de takusan no koto o manabimashita. Shiga-ken no hito-bito mo, watashi o tooshite, Igirisu no koto o manande hoshii to omoimasu.
- So far, life in Japan has been very interesting and enjoyable. I've learned a lot of things about Japan, and I hope that through me the people of Shiga have been able to learn something about the UK.
Nihongo wa mada heta na no de, benkyoo shitai to omoimasu. Sukoshizutsu joozu ni nattara, koko de no seikatsu wa sara ni yoku naru to omoimasu.
- My Japanese is still poor, but I'm studying hard. As my skill gradually improves, I expect that life here will get even better.
Tsugi no ichi-nen-kan-han o tanoshimini shite imasu.
- I'm looking forward to the next year and a half.
Watashi no hanashi o gaman shite kurete arigatoo gozaimasu.
- Thank you for your endurance of my speech [another reference to how bad I sounded. It got a laugh, too - apparently even the VIPs at the front smiled!].
Doozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
- Thank you very much.
My farewell speech to the staff at my first year's visit school (Hachiman Technical HS)
Mina-san ohayoo gozaimasu.
- Good morning everyone.
Ima made watashi wa ichi-nen-kan Nihon ni ite, Hachikoo de oshiete imashita, taihen tanoshikatta desu.
- So far I've been in Japan, and teaching at Hachikoo [this school's nickname], for a year, and it's been very enjoyable.
Mina-san atataku mukaete kudasatte kansha shite imasu.
- I'm grateful to you all for welcoming me so warmly.
Hachikoo o sarukoto ni nari, zannen desu.
- It's a shame that I have to leave Hachikoo.
Hachikoo no seito wa hotondo isshookenmei deshita node, oshierukoto ga tanoshikatta desu.
- Most of Hachikoo's students have tried their best [I wanted to say "have a good attitude" but this was the closest I could get], so it's been fun teaching them.
Kono aida ni takusan naraimashita, seito wa watashi no jugyoo o tanoshinde, tabun sukoshi wa ete kureta to omoimasu.
- Over the last year I've learned a lot, and I hope that the students have enjoyed my lessons and maybe even learned a little.
Moo ichi-nen-kan Nihon ni imasu node, tokidoki Hachikoo ni hoomon surukoto ga dekiru to omoimasu.
- I'm going to be in Japan for another year, so I hope to be able to visit Hachikoo now and then.
Rainen no natsu Igirisu ni kaerimasu. Taizai o shite kudasai!
- In summer of next year I will return to the UK. Please come and stay!
Doomo arigatoo gozaimashita.
- Thank you very much.
Thanks to Kinose-sensei at Hachiman Technical High School for correcting my Japanese!
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