It’s getting to that time of year when the application process for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme once again opens. I thought I’d do my bit to promote it on here, as this might be something that some of you are interested in, and I am having such a great time here I want to recommend it to as many people as I can!
So what is JET? Every year, a couple of thousand people from various different countries fly to Japan and start work as Assistant Language Teachers in government schools. The sorts of things you might end up doing whilst on JET vary hugely, but could include planning lessons and activities to encourage students to use English, organising cultural events, working at elementary schools, taking part in sports days, running English camps and leading seminars.
Contracts are for one year, and as well as a very generous salary (many people find it easy to save a decent amount and still lead a comfortable lifestyle), you’ll have your return flights paid for as long as you complete your contract. There may also be the opportunity to re-contract for up to five years on the programme.
Japan is a fascinating and often misunderstood place, and by participating on JET you’ll get the opportunity to explore it in far more depth than if you just pass through as a tourist. I’m now in my third year, and so far I’ve visited over 30 of the 47 prefectures here. I’ve climbed mountains, bungee jumped, watched geisha perform, learnt to snowboard, gone to numerous festivals, stayed in a monastery, and made loads of friends not just from Japan but from around the world. I’ve had the time of my life here (and still am!).
You don’t necessarily need to know a lot about Japan or speak the language to be accepted onto JET. I knew next to nothing about Japan before I came! What they’re looking for are people who are open to learning about new cultures, who are adaptable and able to deal with potentially difficult situations, and who are enthusiastic about sharing their own culture. Since this is a travel forum, I assume that most people on here fit at least the first two criteria!
You need to have a degree (in anything) to be eligible to apply. No teaching experience / TEFL qualification is necessary, although it may strengthen your application. Just going by the nationalities of most of the posters on here, JET is open to people from the UK, Ireland, the US, Australia and New Zealand (as well as many other countries I can’t list off the top of my head!).
The application process is quite long and can be painful, with lots of paperwork, so if you think this is something you’d be interested in, start looking into it now. Don’t leave it to the last minute! If you apply now and get accepted, you’ll be heading to Japan next July / August ... so it’s not the quickest way of getting here. But, there are lots of benefits to coming with JET over other (private) companies - a strong support system, better pay, large JET communities (there are currently about 5000 JETs across Japan) etc.
If you’re wondering what to do with your life and you fancy living somewhere different for a year or so, whilst getting paid, this could be just the thing.
The application form for 2013-14 will probably go live in October, and generally closes mid-late November.
Check out the official website for more info: http://www.jetprogramme.org/
Please feel free to ask me any questions! I hope some of you will be interested in applying. :-)
Off-topic, but I am interested in the Japanese opinion of the island dispute with China, as I am currently living in China and the response has been awful.
To be honest, where I am (out in the sticks of northern Japan) I haven’t noticed anything different! I guess this might be because I can’t understand the Japanese news, so for all I know this is the topic that everyone’s talking about at the moment, but in terms of my day to day life and interactions with Japanese teachers and students, no one has mentioned this issue at all. I will try asking some English teachers their opinions and see what they say, but I can imagine them shrugging it off as not massively important. I think up here people just tend to get on with things and the political situation doesn’t necessarily reflect how the average Japanese person (outside of the big cities at least) is feeling.
They currently own the islands so I imagine it hasn’t been as bad over there.
Anyway the JET programme sounds awesome. I kind of wish I had done it a while ago as I love Japan and I have been desperate to go back since my visit 9 years ago!
I just asked one of the teachers here what he thinks about the islands issue, and from what I could gather (he doesn’t speak much English and my Japanese is bad!), he firmly believes the islands legally belong to Japan (what a surprise) and China is just trying to claim as much land as possible for itself ... he also gave the example of Tibet. However, when I asked if he likes China, he said yes. So from this sample of one, it seems that in my little part of Japan at least, anti-China sentiment isn’t particularly strong compared to anti-Japan feelings in China!
Lunny, why not apply for JET? Not too late! It’s not just for recent graduates either; there used to be a maximum age limit of 40 but I’m pretty sure they recently removed that so now anyone from a participating country who has a degree is eligible.
I’m bumping this thread to announce that the UK online application form for the 2013-14 JET Programme is now live, and can be found here:
I would really recommend the JET Programme if you’re looking to spend at least a year living and working abroad, and discovering a fascinating new culture at the same time.
If you’ve got any questions about JET or Japan in general, please fire away and I’ll do my best to answer!
Interesting reading. Thanks! Damn, I wish I’d got a degree, sounds ace.