As a Japan English Teacher you can be sent anywhere in the country from northern Hokkaido to even a small island off of the coast. Moving there can be stressful, but preparation helps immensely. Photo courtesy: Pixabay
With a little less than two months before I depart from my home to travel to a new one in Japan, so I can’t help but reflect on how I got to this point. The journey to becoming a member of the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) has been a long and hard. There were times of excited anticipation, of nervous apprehension, and of crushing disappointment. I spent hundreds of hours studying and working to prepare for the opportunity to change my life and then many hundreds more after I failed. One year after my first try I was accepted and now am ready to teach in a new culture.
By sharing my experiences as an ALT applicant, I hope to provide a guide to those who are interested in teaching English with JET. While I cannot promise that just by reading these articles that you will be joining me as a JET, it would be wonderful in one year from now, should you be accepted, that I played some small part in helping you achieve your dream.
We will start first with some of the W5H of this journey.
So what is this JET Programme?
The JET Programme is a teaching exchange program where you as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) or as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) go to Japan and assist a Board of Education (BOE) in various ways.
I applied as an ALT and it is the path that most JET applicants take. You will be expected as an ALT to support the Japanese Teacher of English (JTE) in teaching English to Elementary, Junior High or High School students. There are many other duties, responsibilities and opportunities that you will have, but you will have to discover those for yourself.
So why JET? For me, I have always had a fascination with my Japanese heritage and have travelled extensively in the country. It is also my goal to become a teacher when I return from my time in Japan and gaining teaching experience in an international environment is very valuable. There are a number of different programs out there, some of which promise and deliver an easier path to teaching in Japan. Unlike many of the others, the Government of Japan sponsors and administers the programme and this provides you with a greater degree of support and protection. There are many opportunities for extracurricular activities such as joining clubs and travelling. It all depends on you.
So where will you be? Well that’s tough to say. You can seemingly randomly be sent anywhere in the country from southern Kyushu, to northern Hokkaido, and even perhaps to a small island off the coast.
Moving to a new and foreign environment can be stressful. You prepare for this by doing research and having an idea of where you in Japan you would like to be. While there is a small chance you will be in an urban environment like Tokyo, don’t count on it. Besides, you might actually find you will enjoy a more authentic Japanese cultural experience somewhere smaller. I got posted to a small port city on the Sea of Japan coast and I couldn’t be happier.
So when should you apply and when will you go?
The application process usually ends by late November but you should get started working on it long before. When you go depends on if you are accepted and a number of other factors, but usually by August of the next year.
How do you apply? Most of the application is done through the JET Programme’s website. You can find almost all the essential info about the programme on the site.
I hope have so far been able to provide you with a little insight into the JET Programme. In the next article I will delve into “who” in JET.