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Japan’s JET English Teaching Program: Your Questions Answered

JET is a highly competitive government-run English teaching program. JET offers three positions with a range of benefits, including a good salary, insurance, and ongoing training.

In this article titled we will guide you through the eligibility requirements, application process, and opportunities associated with this program to help you make an informed decision about whether the JET Program is right for you.

Key Takeaways

  • The JET Program is a government-run cultural and English language exchange program in Japan with three positions: ALT, CIR, and SEA.
  • Eligibility requirements include being a US citizen with a bachelor’s degree, physically and mentally healthy with a clean criminal record, and having an interest in Japanese culture.
  • The most popular position is ALT, which aims to raise the national English language level and offers a competitive salary, flight reimbursement, insurance, and ongoing training.
  • Participants should respect Japanese culture, prepare for the future after the program, and consider other opportunities for teaching English in Japan or abroad. Resources such as Go Overseas and The After JET Conference can provide more information and support.

Comparison of ALT, CIR, and SEA Roles in the JET Program

The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program offers three different roles for participants interested in contributing to Japanese communities:

  • Assistant Language Teacher (ALT),
  • Coordinator for International Relations (CIR),
  • and Sports Exchange Advisor (SEA).

The ALT role predominantly supports English language teaching in Japanese schools. As ALTs, participants partner with Japanese Teachers of English/Language (JTEs/JTLs) at different educational levels, from elementary to senior high school. Their duties extend beyond classroom teaching, involving them in the creation of teaching resources and participation in extracurricular activities like English clubs or sports teams.

In contrast, the CIR role has a broader community-oriented focus. CIRs support local government offices with international exchange activities at a grassroots level. Their tasks can be quite diverse, ranging from translation/interpretation services for government officials to organizing international exchange events and teaching English in local schools or community classes.

The SEA role blends cultural exchange with a sports-oriented approach. SEAs contribute to local governments by providing coaching and using sports as a universal language to promote internationalization. They help plan sports-related projects and provide hands-on sports training.

Eligibility Requirements

If you’re interested in applying for the JET Program, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements. First and foremost, you must be a US citizen with a bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, you must have a clean criminal record and demonstrate a genuine interest in Japanese culture. While a bachelor’s degree is required for teaching, having a TEFL/TESOL certification may be beneficial in terms of being a more competitive applicant.

ALT applicants may alternatively hold a certification to teach at primary/elementary or secondary schools.

CIRs, in addition to the degree requirement, must have a functional command of the Japanese language.

For SEAs, requirements include having coaching qualifications and experience in one or more designated sports (baseball/softball, basketball, football/soccer, judo, rugby union/league/sevens) and functional Japanese language skills.

It’s important to note that being physically and mentally healthy is also a requirement for the JET Program. This is because the program can sometimes require demanding work, such as standing for long periods of time or working in a high-pressure environment.

Application Process

When applying to the JET Program, it’s important to keep in mind that applications open in September and close in November. In-person interviews are held in January/February and supplemental documents may be required.

To prepare for the interview, research Japanese culture and the program itself. Dress professionally and be ready to answer questions about your teaching experience, interest in Japan, and ability to adapt to a new environment. Practicing teaching or tutoring in advance may also be beneficial to show your readiness for the ALT position.

In terms of required documents, the application process typically calls for a completed application form, a statement of purpose, official transcripts, and proof of degree completion. Some positions may require additional documents, such as a Japanese language proficiency test score or a medical certificate.

It’s important to carefully read and follow the instructions provided by the JET Program on their website and in the application materials. Make sure to submit all required documents by the deadline to increase your chances of being accepted into the program.

Benefits and Opportunities

You can take advantage of the competitive salary, flight reimbursement, and ongoing training provided by the JET Program during your time as an ALT, CIR, or SEA in Japan. The JET Program offers a salary of ¥3,360,000 ($24,532) per year, which is a competitive rate for English teaching positions. Additionally, the program offers benefits such as flight reimbursement, health and accident insurance, pension, and employment insurance.

The JET Program also provides free online Japanese lessons to help participants learn Japanese (although you don’t need to) and better integrate with the local community.

Furthermore, ongoing training is offered throughout the program to help participants improve their teaching skills and deepen their understanding of Japanese culture.

Additionally, the After JET Conference provides post-program transition support for participants as they navigate their next steps after completing the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can non-US citizens apply for the JET Program?

Non-US citizens are not eligible to apply for the JET Program. The eligibility criteria require applicants to be US citizens with a bachelor’s degree, physically and mentally healthy, and have a clean criminal record. The application process involves submitting required documents and attending in-person interviews.

What is the age limit for participants in the JET Program?

The age limit for JET Program participants is 40 years old. Eligibility requirements include being a US citizen with a bachelor’s degree, clean criminal record, interest in Japanese culture, and good health. TEFL/TESOL certificate may be beneficial.

Are participants required to have teaching experience?

No, teaching experience is not required for the JET Program. However, a bachelor’s degree is necessary for the teaching position – if you don’t have a degree other options are available for teaching in Japan. The eligibility criteria also include US citizenship, clean criminal record, good health, and an interest in Japanese culture.

Can participants choose their placement location in Japan?

While participants can indicate their placement preferences, location availability varies – teaching positions in Okinawa are very competitive. The JET Program prioritizes the needs of each community, and participants should respect their placement. Embrace the adventure of living in a new place!

What is the typical daily schedule for an ALT in the JET Program?

As an ALT in the JET Program, your daily activities may include lesson planning, teaching English classes, and participating in school events. Work-life balance is important, with evenings and weekends typically free.