A Compendium of Basic Lessons for Reading, Writing, and Speaking Japanese

By Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch

The goal of learning any foreign language is being able to read, write and speak in that language. To do so, students need to learn about verbs and sentence structures. These lessons and instructional articles on Japanese can help teachers get their students talking!

今日は日本語を話しますか。(Hello, Do You Speak Japanese?)

The Word Japanese is a popular language — about 122 million people in the world speak it, according to Ethnologue, so your students may be excited about learning it. Many people may see Japanese as a difficult language, as it is made up of three different alphabets: ひらがな (hiragana), カタカナ (katakana) and 漢字 (kanji). But the formation of verbs and sentences in Japanese are not too complicated and students can get a hang of them in no time.

Teachers can use different activities to reinforce these basic grammar skills so students can begin reading, writing and speaking in Japanese with ease. Students can also find instructions here on how to conjugate certain verbs and examples of how to use a Japanese sentence structure, which can help when studying at home or preparing for a test. These Bright Hub Education articles on teaching Japanese verbs and sentence structure can introduce students to a new language and culture.

Past and Present Verb Conjugation

Like any other language, Japanese has verb conjugations to indicate present actions and past actions. How a verb is conjugated depends on whether is it a る (ru) verb, う (u) verb or irregular verb — the three types of Japanese verbs. The conjugation can also change if the student is using long form (the more formal version) or short form (the less formal version) of a verb. These lesson plans and instructional articles go over how to conjugate these verbs, and also include activities to help teach them to students.

How Do I Say…?

As students learn more Japanese, they will need more complex verb tenses to say what they want. Maybe they want to ask permission or make a request — perfect time to introduce the て (te) form! Or maybe they want to say “I want to." These Bright Hub Education articles introduce other types of verb and how they are used.

Making a Sentence

While learning how to conjugate verbs is a large part of learning a foreign language, it is not very useful practically unless students know how to make a sentence with these verbs. Never fear, as Bright Hub has articles on basic sentence structures and the components needed to make a sentence in Japanese, such as particles. Students can also learn other Japanese grammar points to make their sentences even more descriptive, such as adjectives.

Putting It All Together

Now that students understand how to form sentences and conjugate their verbs, it is time for some practical uses! Students can practice their speaking skills by having conversations or acting out skits in class. Don’t forget to teach some everyday greetings! Writing letters to other members in class or pen pals in Japan can help students work on their writing skills. Different listening lessons can help students develop their language skills. These Bright Hub Education articles have instructions and ideas that teachers can use in the classroom.

How’s Your Japanese?

Learning the different verbs and sentence structures is essential in any Japanese class. Students will find that they are now speaking in a new language with their classmates and possibly have new friends halfway around the world. As students feel more comfortable with their conversation and writing skills, sending letters or having class Skype conversations with a Japanese classroom will not only help further develop their Japanese language abilities, but allow for cultural exchange between two countries. Students may have trouble with certain verb conjugations or sentence structures, so regular evaluations will help teachers identify these problem areas and do extra review. Is there a verb or sentence structure in Japanese that your students have had trouble with? Or is there an activity you have found particularly helpful when teaching Japanese verbs and sentence structure? Leave a comment below and let us know!