In English we can express in several ways the idea of foreigners learning English, or teaching themselves something.

My title isn't totally clear so I'm looking for the name of the topic, not what you call a person who's doing it.

For instance, here are some of the common ways to express it in English:

General, but on your own:

  • Self study
  • Teach yourself

Specifically language learning, with our without a teacher:

  • English for non-native speakers
  • English as a second language
  • ESL

What is the equivalent topic called in Japanese?

For instance, what might be on the sign for the section in a bookshop in Japan with Japanese textbooks for English speakers?

  • Do you mean JSL or 日本語教育? Or you want to express it in different ways?
    – Yang Muye
    Mar 25, 2014 at 12:25
  • I haven't heard "JSL" before actually. If there is a single standard or usual way, that's what I want. If, like in English, there's more than one way then I suppose a longer answer might be warranted. I'll start with 日本語教育 as you suggest though. Mar 25, 2014 at 12:28
  • 日本語教育(kyo iku) Japanese teaching, 教育者(kyo iku sha)/教師(kyo shi) teacher. I suggest 日本語学習(gaku shu) Japanese learning.
    – user4688
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:10
  • 1
    独学(doku gaku) self study without a teacher. There is no equivalent of ESL, but forcibly put, it may be 外国人(gai koku jin)のための日本語入門(nyuu mon).
    – user4688
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:13
  • 2
    I think 日本語教育(Japanese Language Education) is a very common term that refers to the field of study. It's generally the same as 第二言語としての日本語教育 or JSL教育 for short. JSL is translated as 第二言語としての日本語, but it's unnecessarily verbose, because 日本人のための日本語 is classified under 国語学 rather than 日本語学. If you are searching academic papers or books, you may want to try 日本語語学, 日本語研究, 日本語教育 or JSL. If you are searching non-academic materials, you may also want to try (外国人のための/向けの)日本語学習. Amazon puts Japanese textbooks under 語学/日本語教育/外国人向け日本語学習.
    – Yang Muye
    Mar 25, 2014 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


If you're looking at a book store you'll probably find those kinds of books in the 語学{ごがく} section. You'll generally find JLPT test prep or other English-language materials for learning Japanese there (at least in my experience), as well as a variety of other foreign language learning materials.


I think the name will vary and in smaller book shops where sales of foreign books let alone Japanese text books are rare you may not find anything.

By chance today I noticed in Kinokuniya, one of the largest book shops in Tokyo, that the Japanese text book section was next to the foreign books and magazine section and split into:

日本語教育 and "Learning Japanese".

The more difficult books seemed to be in the 日本語教育 section.

Books on 国語 are normally near the foreign books, in between you will probably find sections on Japanese text books, how to teach Japanese (in Japanese), "About Japan"/Japanese Culture, Japanese readers and learning other languages (eg Chinese).

As I said, I think the name varies but if you don't want to ask for 日本語の教科書 (中古=2nd hand) then I would start by looking for foreign books or 国語 sections.

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