TEACH ENGLISH IN JAPAN
The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET)
The JET program has one main mission: to have participants regardless of their position, interact with their local communities and promote internationalization at the local level. A total of 57 countries participate in the JET program every year.
For many, JET is an empowering and transformative life experience. Participants, no matter their background are able to form connections that neither distance nor time apart can ever erode. Though the jump is a big one, it is surely worthwhile!
There are three JET programme positions available to applicants, they include:
These participants are placed mainly in public schools or local boards of education. 90% of JET applicants are ALTs. ALTs assist with classes taught by Japanese Teachers of English/Language (JTEs/JTLs).
Note: Participants from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are only able to apply for this position.
CIRs must have a functional command of the Japanese language. They assist with local government offices in international exchange activities at the local level.
SEAs work for local governments, coaching and promoting internationalization through the universal language of sports. SEAs are sports professionals whose role is to assist with sports training and the planning of sports-related projects.
It has been approximately 3 months since I packed my bags and left behind the life I was used to. I was headed for the other side of the world, the land of the rising sun, Japan, to work as an ALT, something I had not envisioned as apart of my future endeavours. Even though I studied a bit of the language before I left, and was aware of certain aspects of the culture, there has been some undeniable challenges especially concerning the language barrier. Yet still, I must say I’m glad I chose to participate in the JET Programme. I would not trade this experience for anything.
The level of personal growth and independence, the feeling of fulfilment gained from being a teacher and even impacting the lives of the rest of the community as a foreigner has been a great accomplishment for me at this stage of my life.
Considering how things have been so far, I honestly feel that the organizers carefully assessed my application when deciding on my placement. In the application stages, I was assured that I’ll be taken care of and I truly see how that has played out in these 3 months. I felt at home immediately as the Japanese have been so welcoming. From settling into getting started on the job, the support has been there all the way. Japan is certainly the place to be for such a life-changing experience.
JET has done a wonderful job of introducing students to various cultures and the English language. It is indeed a great step for Japan’s development while enabling its citizens to communicate with the wider society while appreciating the different cultural exchanges. It’s nothing short of a privilege to be a part of such an impact.
Who says teaching English isn’t fun, especially, in Japan!? I have been blessed with a wonderful opportunity to teach high school students on one of Okinawa’s remote islands called Miyakojima. Pretty much, I’m the only Jamaican on this island and mi like it! ☺ There’s never a dull moment among my students and if there is, it doesn’t last for long, because there is always something to smile or laugh about. In fact, I love to laugh, it keeps me healthy. I try to be very animated and dramatic in my classes so as to get the attention of my students and thankfully it has been working. YAAAAY!
Now, I can’t deny that I do laugh at times when my students ask me the simplest questions funnily. My bad, but I’m getting the hang of it. When I laugh students tend to laugh too however, I decipher what they are trying to say and teach them the correct way to say it.
I have two sets of students – quiet and lively. Naturally, I love the lively ones. They are willing to engage me in conversations and participate in the classes. I absolutely love that! Nonetheless, I have to engage the quiet students too and by doing so I make a lot of “joyful” noise as I try to pull teeth.
Anyhow, I’ve managed to pull a few and most times I’m confronted with the most interesting question, “Do you have a boyfriend?” LOL…maybe, I should have allowed them to stay with their teeth! Immediately, I transform to “Danielle Bolto” and it’s the fastest I run and scream in the class! Lol…AAAAHHHHHH! To make it even interesting, I ask them “what do you think?” The answer is most times “kaiwaii” but I emphasize, “ENGLISH PLEASE!” Then the responses change to “you’re cute!” Aaaaaaaawwwweeee…thank you! But, in James Bond style my answer is always “a secret!” I appreciate the fact some students are excited to learn English and that makes me happy.
On a separate note, I’ve been gaining much experience as I walk around my tiny island day after day surrounded by crystal clear blue and white sand beaches. It’s a pleasure when the locals spot me and make casual conversations. There is this sweet elderly lady, who could be my grandmother, who’s always happy to see me and I’m as equally happy to see her. She begins to talk to me in Japanese and all I can do is nod and smile. Whew! It’s a joy to see her and even though I have no clue what she’s saying sometimes I hope my ‘nod and smile’ speaks volumes. 🙂 Oh dear! But, yeaaaa, she’s one of my motivations to learn Japanese as I settle comfortably in my new hometown. Aaaah…ganbarimasu yo! 🙂
Danielle (Teaching with a joyful noise)
Important Questions to Ask Yourself
Moving to another country, especially one as far in Asia is a major life event. Are you really ready for that adventure? How exactly can you contribute to your skills? Interviewers ask this question to find out if you have what it takes to thrive and excel in new environments!
How does this align with your personal and professional goals? For many JET participants, teaching is not their main profession. Interviewers are curious as to why so many people want to make this change. Are you looking for something different? Considering a possible career change? You could even think of Japan as just the right place to further hone your skills as a professional and JET is your foot in.