NILS Fukuoka Times

Today's Phrase

Japanese Customs #3: Manners of Speech


Many students begin studying Japanese in their home countries before enrolling in NILS. If you like Anime, you might have learned some phrases spoken by your favorite characters. Some of you might have used regular Japanese language textbooks. Here at NILS, we teach “masu-desu” (everyday polite) form of speech. It does not mean the language spoken in graphic novels is wrong, but it is not appropriate in all situations. Even though you might have just arrived in Japan, you are still expected to speak like an adult, aware of social queues. Many NILS graduates go on to college or vocational schools in Japan, and they almost always require prospective students to have an interview. In such situations, you are expected to speak at least the “everyday polite” form of Japanese.

I experienced something unique when a student already very proficient in Japanese enrolled at NILS. This particular student probably loved Japanese historical dramas. I was impressed with his knowledge and ability to use historical phrases (no longer used in modern Japan), but it was not appropriate, and I had to tell him so right away.

I believe speaking with the correct level of politeness is universally expected.


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