Learning Japanese: What I Learned From Eight-Year-Olds

March 9th, 2010By Category: Teaching in Japan

I teach eight-year-old Japanese kids English. Or at least I attempt to. Most of the time, I am learning something from them instead of vice-versa. They are my little Japanese teachers and I’ve picked up a lot of language skills from them. Although I might sound like an eight-year-old when I speak Japanese, I think they have taught me a lot of useful words. When I first came to Japan, I had no idea what these words meant but hear them so often in my day to day world (in and out of the classroom) that now I finally know what they actually mean. Thanks little ones.

Are!: I hear this one all the time and it’s quite fun to say. It means (in polite terms), what the hell?/ What?/ Oh my God!

Abune: taken from abunai, I hear the teenagers in Osaka say this quite often. It means “that was close.”

Bijin: If you hear this one, consider yourself blessed (or not). It means beautiful woman. And no, the kids didn’t teach me this one.

Chodai: give it to me or do this for me. Not really polite to say if you are an adult but for an eight-year-old, this is acceptable.

Doshita: what happened?/what’s wrong?

Go kurosama deshita: sorry for doing something that inconveniences you. Definitely not a child phrase but hear it often at restaurants.

He?: I always thought this was eh but is actually he which just means what?

Hora!/kora!: Hey! You might here this when a child is being scolded by their parents. If you want to get someone’s attention and yell at them, this is a good way to do it.

II Yo: Yes, of course, no problem, it’s okay, etc.

Iya: it means no way. I hear this often whenever I reach for the flashcards.

Kimochi warui: gross or disgusting!

Kimoi: it makes me feel sick (when looking at something gross or disgusting).

Maa: translates as well….

Maji: are you serious? Comes from majide.

Muzui: short of muzukashi…slang for difficult.

Omoroi: short for omoshiroi, interesting.

Pin pon: ding ding, you’re right! I feel like I’m on a game show when I say this.

Sasuga: you did a good job.

Shoganai yo: it is what it is, it can’t be helped.

Soka: really?/ I see.

Suge: comes from sugoi, meaning great.

Urusai: noisy or shut up!

Yabai: I’m in trouble or I blew it/oh, crap.


Author of this article

Jamie Rockers

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  • Maji says:

    omg… That is hilarious. My names is Amaji, but more like jzee like french sounding and people call me Maji still with the french sound. I’m in Japan right now on an Exchange and i swore about 5 times at school people were calling me. I know why now! hahaha! I’m in Osaka too. I don’t know much japanese and i’m trying my best to learn. I don’t know what to do and it’s a big i guess culture shock to sit and not understand even half what people are saying. If you know a way to learn japanese from being in japan please tell me. I need help! 

  • Anooshty says:

    I wonder whether it is possible to teach English (soon i will have a teaching degree), despite of the fact that the English language isn’t my native one…

  • Sampurdey-shop says:

    Oh how often have I heard that word “Are!” – I had even started using it myself. All I can say is that I am so glad that it’s the polite form 🙂 Thanks for the insight into the other words – some words you just dont learn from the CD’s ne! 🙂

  • grome says:

    no it isnt.

  • マイケル says:

    I’ve been learning Japanese for the last year, and it’s so interesting to see the slang of the words I’ve already learned. I didn’t even know they existed, they’ve only taught us casual and formal Japanese. This was quite insightful.

  • Yenstuff says:

    yeah, you can. well, you’re teaching english. you dont really need to be that good in japanese to get a job as an english teacher.

  • Yenstuff says:

    i know right! i wanted to live there too. i thinkin of getting of a degree in teaching now :))

  • Basketcase says:

    mccrystal fired army navy airforce marines obama talk lie resigned quit idiot general big mouth shut


  • bowiechristianson says:

    Can I come to Japan and teach? even though, I do not have a teaching degree? I always wanted to live in Japan..

  • Jay says:

    So you can teach English in Japan with little knowledge of Japanese? I didn't know that…wonder if I could do that.

  • fallenange says:

    hi to all my friends!!! Friend from Greece


    This is my site. Please visit friends of wonderfull Japan!!!

  • mono_locco says:

    hahaha nice collection of words ^^ I hear these words everyday at the schools I teach 😛

  • david says:

    this is quite osaka ben !


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