Give a Self-Introduction

I studied at a Japanese language school in Tokyo for a 6-month period way back in 2009-2010.

When I arrived at the school, they gave me and the other new students a placement test. I had been studying Japanese on my own quite a bit, so I did pretty well on the test, and they put me in their level 3 class.

There was one major problem with this: I had no experience speaking.

So, I get into my new class, which is full of Korean students, and the teacher tells me to give a 自己紹介 (じこしょうかい).

A what?

自己紹介って何ですか?
じこしょうかい って なん です か?
What's a self-introduction?
Literally: "self-introduction + って + what + です + か?"

The self-intro is a big thing in Japan. They make you do it at work, school, etc. Back when I was writing and managing a blog in Japanese about learning English, "How to give a self-introduction in English" was by far the site's most popular article. The reason it was so popular is that my Japanese readers would know that they would need to give a self-intro at school, work, etc., and they'd frantically start googling what they should say.

Accordingly, there is a relatively good chance that your teacher will ask you to give a 自己紹介 (じこしょうかい // self-introduction) at the beginning of your first lesson. I've had a few teachers ask me to give one during our first lesson. If they know that you're an absolute beginner going into the lesson, they might not put you on the spot like that. But just in case, let's prepare...

I have a set pattern that you can follow when giving a self-intro:

  1. Nice to meet you.
  2. I'm [Name].
  3. I'm [nationality].
  4. I'm [occupation].
  5. Nice to meet you.

So... we say "Nice to meet you" twice?

I'll get to that. First, let's go through these one at a time.


1. Nice to meet you.

You can start off your self-intro with:

初めまして。
はじめまして。
Nice to meet you.
Literally: "nice to meet you."

This literally means something like "We are meeting for the first time."

When speaking English with Japanese people, you'll notice that they often say "Nice to meet you" before you've even exchanged names. I suspect that 初めまして (はじめまして) is to blame for this.

While in English we might say something like, "Hi, I'm Name," then wait to hear the other person's name before saying "Nice to meet you," they dive right in with 初めまして (はじめまして) first in Japanese.


2. I'm [Name].

This is pretty easy: Just put です right after your name, like this:

クリスです。
クリス です。
I'm Chris.
Literally: "Chris + です."

キャシーです。
キャシー です。
I'm Cathy.
Literally: "Cathy + です."

If you don't know how to pronounce it in Japanese, you can just google it. Or ask your teacher to tell you the proper pronunciation — that's their job, after all.


3. I'm [nationality].

To state your nationality, you will most likely need to say "Country-人 です."

-人, a suffix meaning "-person," is pronounced じん. If you've already made your way through the Bunkai Beast Grammar Course, then making phrases like this shouldn't be too difficult for you.

Some examples:

アメリカ人です。
アメリカじん です。
I'm American.
Literally: "American (person) + です."

フランス人です。
フランスじん です。
I'm French.
Literally: "French (person) + です."

ドイツ人です。
ドイツじん です。
I'm German.
Literally: "German (person) + です."


4. I'm [occupation].

Here you can list your job, student status, etc.

Once again, we just need to put the title of what we do/who we are right before です. Here are a couple of examples:

大学生です。
だいがくせい です。
I'm a college student.
Literally: "university student + です."

英語の先生です。
えいご の せんせい です。
I'm an English teacher.
Literally: "English + の + teacher + です."

You may be starting to notice why taking face-to-face lessons is so useful. Maybe you're not a college student or an English teacher. How do you say your job in particular?!

Well, my friend, you can just ask your teacher. I'm sure they'd be glad to let you know. ^_^


5. Nice to meet you.

We've already seen this phrase before:

よろしくおねがいします。
よろしくおねがいします。
Nice to meet you. // Thank you.
Literally: "please treat me well."

Remember how we say よろしくおねがいします at the very beginning of a lesson? It's a bit like thanking the teacher for teaching you a good lesson before they do... or slightly hinting that you'd like them to be nice to you as they teach you the lesson. Or I suppose you could even just think of it as "that thing you say at the beginning of meetings."

It goes at the end of the self-intro because you are telling the person or people listening that you would like to have good relations with them from here on out.

In English, I wasn't sure how to translate all the nuance packed into that, so I just went with "Nice to meet you. // Thank you."

And with that, you've prepared your very own self-intro!

There may be some pieces missing, but your teacher can help you to fill them out. Then someday when you are in Japan and required to give a self-intro at work, school, etc., you won't blow it like I did.


Practice time:

自己紹介って何ですか?
じこしょうかい って なん です か?
What's a self-introduction?
Literally: "self-introduction + って + what + です + か?"

初めまして。
はじめまして。
Nice to meet you.
Literally: "nice to meet you."

クリスです。
クリス です。
I'm Chris.
Literally: "Chris + です."

キャシーです。
キャシー です。
I'm Cathy.
Literally: "Cathy + です."

アメリカ人です。
アメリカじん です。
I'm American.
Literally: "American (person) + です."

フランス人です。
フランスじん です。
I'm French.
Literally: "French (person) + です."

ドイツ人です。
ドイツじん です。
I'm German.
Literally: "German (person) + です."

大学生です。
だいがくせい です。
I'm a college student.
Literally: "university student + です."

英語の先生です。
えいご の せんせい です。
I'm an English teacher.
Literally: "English + の + teacher + です."

よろしくおねがいします。
よろしくおねがいします。
Nice to meet you. // Thank you.
Literally: "please treat me well."




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