41Helpful Classroom Expressions

by Danny K. Howard, EAP Associate Director

A lot of students take our demonstration classes, and they enjoy learning in an “all-English environment.” However, having to speak English to do everything is difficult for some students. Some of them have low levels of English. Therefore, they need some good expressions to ask for help. I have, therefore, written down some helpful expressions for you to use if you come to NIC. If you have problems understanding something in class, please use some of them.

Situation #1 (For hearing information a second time)

It’s OK, if you cannot understand what the teacher says. Teachers at NIC are very happy to repeat anything a second or even third time! We understand that listening is not an easy skill!

"Excuse me. Can you repeat that?”
"Excuse me. Could you say that more slowly?”
"I’m sorry. I didn’t catch that.”

Situation #2 (For telling the teacher that you don't understand something)

Sometimes the directions in the book are confusing. Or sometimes the English is difficult to understand. If this happens, let the teacher know!

"I’m sorry. I don’t understand."
"I’m sorry. Can you explain it again?"
"I’m sorry. What should we do?"
"I’m sorry. I don’t understand the directions (instructions)."

Situation #3 (For checking the meaning of a word)

This is a good way to get a good meaning for a new word. Teachers are always happy to explain a difficult word with an easier one.

"Excuse me. What does this word mean?
"Excuse me. Is there a synonym for this word?"
"Excuse me. Can you use this word in a different sentence?"

Situation #4 (For requesting an additional copy of something)

OK, sometimes the copies don’t make it around the room. Never be afraid to ask for one if this happens. By the way, handout = copy.

"Excuse me. I need another handout."
"Excuse me. "Can you give me a copy?"

Situation #5 (For telling the teacher that you have completed something)

Sometimes finishing early is OK. Sometimes it is not good. Let you teacher decide this. If you finish something, let the teacher know immediately. She will tell you what to do next.

"Excuse me. I am/we are finished. What should we do now?"
"Excuse me. Can I/we do the next assignment?"
"Excuse me. Can I/we move on to the next assignment?"

Situation #6 (For checking where to write answers)

Be sure that you understand what your teacher wants you to do. She might want to collect your answers, so find out if you have to write anything down.

"Excuse me. Should I write my answers down?"
"Excuse me. Where should I write my answers?"

Situation #7 (For checking the pronunciation of a word)

This is the best way to improve your pronunciation of new words. Always ask how a word is pronounced. Don’t depend on katakana for this!

"Excuse me. How do you pronounce this word?"
"Excuse me. Can you pronounce this word for me?"
"Excuse me. Can you check my pronunciation of this word?"

Situation #8 (For checking the time to complete an assignment)

Always make sure you are doing the work at a good pace. Try not to work too fast or too slow.

"Excuse me. How much time should we spend on this?"
"Excuse me. How much time do we have left?"
"Excuse me. Can I/we have more time to finish this?"

Situation #9 (For checking the answers that you have done)

Don’t wait until the assignment is finished; check some of your answers as you do them. This will build your confidence.

"Excuse me. Can you check the grammar in my sentence?"
"Excuse me. Can you check my answer?"

Situation #10 (For getting to know your teacher’s opinion about something)

Your teachers have interesting opinions, too. Get to know your teachers better by asking them to share their opinions about questions.

"Excuse me. What is your opinion of this question?"
"Excuse me. What do you think about this question?"

These are some good expressions for you to know if you take classes at NIC. Most teachers at NIC have taught for many years in the U.S. and Japan. We know that sometimes students are afraid to ask questions because they don’t know what to ask. So please try some of these expressions in class. In fact, print this and bring it to the next demo class that you go to. Good luck!