Waiting for Your School

At this moment, all of us ALTs are at different stages. Some have received their school’s info, have been contacted by that school, and are making apartment arrangements. Others are still anxiously awaiting placement. People seem to be freaking out over the fact that some participants have more information than others. However, it’s important to keep in mind that participants are employed not directly by the government, but by independent boards of educations and schools across the country. Each one operates differently, has different rules, and different timelines.

Personally, I have my school’s name (which I won’t reveal here) and location (Tokyo), and I have been contacted by a representative of the school. But, the only reason that my school contacted me so early was because I signified that I’m bringing a dependent with me. They simply wanted to know when my dependent will be arriving, and if they will need to arrange a visa (which is necessary if the person plans to stay longer than the ninety day tourist visa allows). After they got their info, they basically said “See you in a few weeks” and ended correspondence. Therefore, they would not have contacted me so early if I did not have a dependent and I’d still be waiting weeks to receive contact like all of the other ALTs.

Essentially, don’t freak out if your information doesn’t match up to your neighbor’s.

Relax and enjoy the ride~.

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What is the JET Program?

JET stands for “Japan Exchange and Teaching”. This program is run by the Japanese government. The purpose of the program is essentially to foster international understanding and improve English education in Japanese schools by providing Japanese students studying English native English speakers to replicate and learn from.

This is reportedly a highly competitive program. There are several different positions that a person can apply for when applying to be a part of the JET Program: CIR, SEA, and ALT. The most common employee is the ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). All you need to qualify is to be a native or near-native English speaker and a four year degree (any kind at all) from a university-because most foreigners aren’t permitted to work in Japan without one. Around 6,000 people apply each year, of those approximately 2,000 people receive an interview, and less than half of that 2,000 receive positions in as assistant English teachers in Japan. Typically participants are single and fresh out of university, but this is not always the case. There are alternatives to the JET Program in Japan, but none of them appear to pay as well or be as stable as JET.

According to the magical internet, each application that comes in supposedly gets assigned a certain amount of points, and then those who receive enough points get interviews. The interviews are held in Japanese consulates in different countries. In the interview, people are given more points. Then, the consulate puts the applications in order by level of points and sends them to Tokyo. By that time, boards of education from across Japan have sent their ALT vacancies, as well as their preferences-male, female, single, etc.-to Tokyo. Tokyo then tries to match up potential JETs with schools.

After a whole lot of waiting, ALTs find out where they’ll be living and what education levels they’ll be working with. JETs are hired by and work for their Board of Education rather than the government itself. Sometimes an ALT will work with one school and sometimes they work with many schools in the same BOE system. ALTs, as assistants, work with JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English) using team-teaching techniques. ALTs might be heavily active in lessons, or they might be under used. It all depends on the different situation, and no one can predict what kind of situation a JET will encounter before they enter their contract.

For more information, go to http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/JET/