Self Introductions are a big deal in Japan.
The first time you meet someone anywhere, you have to introduce yourself, but usually you are expected to give a slightly more elaborate self introduction to everyone when you start a new job in Japan. Introducing yourself in Japanese can be nerve wracking the first several times, but don’t let it cause any problems. If it’s really too hard, someone you work with can probably help or even translate for you at first.
You’ll be able to do an introduction in Japanese with your eyes closed like it’s nothing after a good month in Japan, maybe less. The self introduction is something you’ll need to put a minute of effort into at first, but then you’ll have it prepared for all the other times you find out last minute you need it. Most of the time, you’ll be introducing yourself in English, if you’re teaching English at least.
Here’s how to prepare an awesome self introduction.
Use technology, but only if you’re confident with it and you know it’s available to you. In some schools, you’ll have a huge TV or ‘smartboard’ you can use with a tablet or laptop to show your photos or even video. Students absolutely love being able to see pictures about where you’re from and are more engaged that way.
Keep the size of your audience in mind. If you make flashcards on A4 (close to 8 1/2 x 11) paper, it might be big enough for a class of 4o students, but maybe hard to see in back of a classroom. Visual aides are great, but small ones only work for very small groups.
Think in terms of what they want to know about you. Name and country are the big ones, and keep it simple by telling students and staff a couple things you like about Japan – or the reason you ended up there.
Make them laugh. It’s appropriate to make jokes, although no guarantees your audience will get them. Pay attention to your audience and if they are being silly (asking weird questions), then turn up the silliness by joking back. Get them to interact with you by asking them to guess where you’re from or what your favorite color is.
Have a ‘super easy version’ memorized in English and in Japanese. You can add to this as you feel more confident and your students have more ability to understand. After introducing yourself (in English) to ten classrooms, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable with what your students can understand. Gesturing and speaking at a reasonable pace helps for lower level students.
Allow questions from students (or coworkers) when you’re done. The point is they want to get to know you. You can get to know them by the questions they ask you. This series of articles is all about questions your students ask you.
Here’s a super easy Japanese profile template:
Hello! (Good morning, etc.) おはようございます / こんにちわ / こんばんは
My name is _________. （わたしは）＿＿＿＿ です / ともうします。
I’m from ___________. ＿＿＿＿＿＿＿＿ からきました。
I like ___________. (food, color, etc.) ＿＿＿＿＿＿＿＿ がすきです。
Thank you. (I’m counting on you.) よろしくおねがいします。
After you fill in your information, you can use it to read and memorize your self introduction.
Good luck and remember to have fun!
Profile templates are available here in English (three levels) so you can use them for teaching English lessons and getting to know your students. Templates can be downloaded and printed out on A4 paper, then folded into an eight page zine (instructions included).