It is literally impossible to describe with any degree of detail anything at all about the JET Programme and claim that it is somehow representative of more than one specific placement. I personally worked at a low-level high school for a year, then transferred to a junior high school for the following four, with two additional visit schools (both junior high) being added in subsequent years. There is no "normal" on the JET Programme.
The job itself can be very satisfying on a personal level for those who are interested in the nuts and bolts of how English works, especially if you're also interested in teaching, public speaking, or anything similarly related. If you can't explain the difference between "that" and "which," or have difficulty explaining why a given word choice is right or wrong beyond just native speaker's intuition, you may find yourself having difficulty with the job. The JET Programme hires us as "cultural ambassadors," but the schools employ us as English teachers, and it is decidedly beneficial to be prepared to work as one.
I'm hesitant to suggest that conversational Japanese is preferable for getting the most out of the job, my conflict stemming from the suggestion that conversational Japanese isn't simply mandatory outright. Simply being able to understand what the students are saying, or trying to say, makes the job both easier and better by orders of magnitude.
All in all, it's similar to most other teaching jobs: you'll have to deal with bur
良い点rewarding to work with students, fantastic pay compared to similar jobs, the job is what you make of it
悪い点zero advancement potential, difficult classes at times, the job is what you make of it
Daily cultural exchanges and educational environment
Having been on the JET Programme as an Assistant Language Teacher for two years, I have a lot of experience in being creative and flexible in how I teach my students and manage my worklife. Since I teach at various different schools everyday, my work days vary greatly.
A typical day at my junior high school consists of grading various notebooks and worksheets during my free periods. I teach about 3-5 classes, two of which include special education classes. Each class is taught using the team-teaching method with a Japanese Teacher of English. The lessons combine speaking, listening, writing, and reading exercises through textbook and game activities. My job is to make sure English is presented in a fun, effective, and educational way.
At my elementary schools, I am the primary teacher of all English classes. I plan entertaining lessons based on the topics set by the schools. Most of the elementary level English is based mainly around vocabulary, so we focus on pronunciation and word recognition. I teach 2 to 6 classes based on the school.
My relationships with my co-workers also vary, but for the most part it is all very friendly and cordial. Not many people speak English, so I've found a way to communicate with a combination of English and Japanese. It was a struggle at first, but I've made some great friendships through the process.
The hardest part of the job is dealing with the attitude that English is an impossible language to learn. This not only comes fr
It's busy most of the time and the money is so-so, but you teach great kids.
From my experience (and from what I've heard from other JET participants) what you get out of the job is kind of a mixed-bag, different for everyone--but somethings are generally the same. The salary is higher than most other Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) positions that are below the college level in Japan, but it's still not quite enough to live really well here. If you don't have a car you're run ragged and the schedules are incredibly tight. If you do have a car they expect more out of you and it's an incredible drain on your salary. If you get sick the city's Board of Education (which controls you if you are below the high school level) is not understanding. They may berate you for missing work even if you have a legitimate doctor's excuse, and they then may threaten to terminate you.
After performing my duties here for two years I would say your best bet is to go to graduate school for a year in a Master's in Teaching TESOL degree program and then apply to a college level or higher paying high school level position in Japan.
Experiencing life here with the students is really great. If it was a bit more relaxed and if there were more of a set teaching standard for the junior highs I think more people wouldn't mind staying longer. Many ALTs are given too much work, and have too crazy schedules. Yet, at other times of the year these same ALTs have absolutely no work at all, and then are given little to no guidance.
If you are lucky you will get a great supervisor at y
Straight out of university this was my first 'real' job.
In my first month I spent the time (during the summer holidays - I had to come in every day despite this) creating lesson plans even though I had very little idea of what I was doing and knew next to naught what the children's English abilities were.
When classes started up in September however, I quickly grasped that as well as the inner workings of the Japanese workplace. In the two Junior High Schools I worked at, I took on a more assistive role. The Japanese Teacher of English (JTE) would stand at the front of the class explain the grammar etc, then we'd perform a skit for the students. Then I'd introduce the new vocabulary and get them to repeat it. Next we'd begin the exercises where they'd translate texts from Japanese to English and vice versa. I'd help students who didn't understand. When we were checking answers I'd be the one to write the sentences on the chalk board.
At the Elementary schools though, I had much more say. From week 1 I was more or less given the leads and told to do what I want. As there's no set curriculum in Elementary schools I really could do what I want. I utilised Power Point and made funny slide shows with sounds and well-known characters to introduce the grammar in a way that would be easily remembered by the students.
After class I'd go to the teachers room and write up next weeks 4 classes' lesson plans in Japanese and begin making the cards etc that would be used. After whic
良い点Schools were close, playing with the children at breaks
悪い点Long hours (often worked at home after work), Not very technology based
JET is a great way to experience Japan, however they don't really offer any training. Of course we are just assistants, but I was often asked to explain why we do something or give examples in the middle of class and I couldn't always give an answer. I had to use Google a lot to figure out what I was teaching. I was at a low level high school, so their English skills were lacking.
Talking to other ALTs it seems in high school the ALTs often plan their whole lessons, with little to no help from JTEs (Japanese teachers of English). Whereas elementary (and usually Jr. high as well I think) don't do much planning. Maybe a game here or there, but otherwise the JTE does the plans. I liked planning my lessons, but it could be stressful when I didn't understand the grammar. Also, don't expect any feedback from the JTEs. They are nonconfrontational and therefore don't really offer much help. Usually they just nod when you suggest something.
Also JET's resources for learning Japanese aren't great. They have a free course but it was bad. If you're lucky your town may offer lessons, but many placements are rural and there isn't much to do. I had to travel an hour away if I wanted to do anything. Still, it is a beautiful country and the people are very friendly and will try to welcome you. I would practice as much Japanese as you can before you get there, because they speak very little English. I didn't get to travel much or see many festivals because of covid, but this summer the festi
Immersive experience with lots of memories, but every situation is different.
A typical day of work would include going to school and teaching 5-6 classes throughout the day. I got the pleasure of teaching at seven public schools: two elementary schools, a middle school, a special needs school, two kindergartens, and a nursery. When school is not in session (like during Golden Week or summer vacation) I would report to City Hall, instead. Every situation is different, but I found my co-teachers and supervisors happy I was there, wanted to know more about me, and looked forward to working with me more. I learned Japanese to a conversational level. I also learned how to handle classrooms of various age and energy levels. JET has competitor agencies, so it's important to find ways to innovate in the classroom, such as improving how they do warm-ups, or introducing lessons and tech in new and exciting ways. It's important to be busy at all times during the job, but lunch can be enjoyed with the students. My supervisors would let me know if there were things that needed to know or change, but would otherwise let me carry on teaching. Being a foreigner in Japan can make you want to be treated more like a local over time. I would say that was the most difficult thing about the job (and really life in general). Working with the kids, however, made it easy for me to ignite my own creativity and excitement for teaching English as a foreign language because their youthful energy was so infectious. It was one of my favorite things about working in Japan.
Assisting Japanese teachers with English language education to students ages 6-15
Once in a lifetime opportunity to live and work abroad in a beautiful country. I would teach at four different schools, one junior high school and three elementary schools, and taught English classes to all grades. Each day was different from the last, and I never felt completely comfortable with the daily routine (not a negative as it kept me on my toes and active). Elementary school in particular was demanding, as I would write the lesson plans, create games and activities for the students, and often lead the class in that day's lesson. This job gave me an opportunity to connect with the students on a cross-cultural level, and see how education and everyday life is like for the kids in Japan. Time management and self-direction were the most important qualities in making a good ALT. Most days, I was not given any direction from my superiors other than "work on your English classes", so the direction of those classes, as well as extra work after the lesson planning and completion of the classes, was completely self-directed.
良い点Unique experience, energetic and fun work environment, room for creativity in lesson plans, connect with teachers and students cross-culturally, good pay, 20 paid vacation days
悪い点Had to make work for myself, strict curriculum in junior high school meant less creative lessons, no official break time as I would eat with students in their classroom and play with them at recess
A typical day at work started with arriving at the school before 8:10 AM. The faculty meeting was at 8:25 AM. From 8:50 AM until 3:20 PM, classes are in session. I usually have 4-5 50min classes during that time. In the free time when I do not have a lesson, but other lessons are ongoing, I am creating lesson plans for my next classes.
I learned how to create lesson for students. I learned more about English. I learned how to teach students and how to be patient while teaching them. I learned how to organize my plans and assist my students without giving them the answer blatantly. I learned Japanese and Japanese culture.
The management was good. They always assisted me when I had questions.
The workplace was great because the teachers were always very nice and helpful. The teachers do a lot of overtime because that is the workplace culture in Japan, however I was never expected to stay behind.
The hardest part of the job was creating lessons. I had to make them interesting, but also informative.
The most enjoyable part of the job was talking with the students. The students were always very happy to see me and enthusiastic during my lesson whether or not they enjoyed learning English.
良い点Relaxed atmosphere, nice co-workers, enthusiastic students
悪い点Culture shock, hard to communicate, lesson planning is all on you
Incredible opportunity to experience a different culture while being paid
A typical day at work included teaching around four classes. In class you are expected to read vocabulary works and allow students to repeat after you, offer cultural insight when possible, and occasionally create class activities.
The hardest part of the job is having to adapt to culture shock. The Japanese workplace is much different than Western workplaces, as is the government and local businesses. ATMs are not 24/7, getting necessary documents or internet can take up to two months, and unless you are a fluent Japanese speaker, you must adapt to not always knowing what is going on around you.
The most enjoyable part of the job is working with students who want to learn English, particularly if you get to visit an elementary school. Most elementary school children are not shy and will treat you like a celebrity if you are a foreigner. Additionally, living in Japan is a wonderful opportunity to understand a different culture better, learn to have respect for what is different from what you are use to, and to appreciate certain aspects of your own country more (like ATMs open 24/7)
良い点exellent pay, great opportunity to learn about japan through immersion
It is a job that allows tremendous personal growth
A typical day of work starts with a teacher briefing and lesson planning with the Japanese English teacher. We co-teach English classes to junior high school students with the use of a variety of teaching methods, activities and materials to better students' interactive communication skills.
Self-management and communication with Japanese staff are the two important things I have learned from this job. I have developed profound research and analyzing skills when sourcing and creating teaching material and. I also learned to evaluate student learning outcome for future adjustment.
The most challenging yet rewarding part of this job is communicating effectively with my fellow staff. In order to achieve where I am at at the present job, it requires months of observation and years of learning the Japanese language. To be able to execute teaching projects that I proposed was my biggest achievement. Also, having the chance to give workshops and seminar for teacher skills development has given me the opportunity to further my public speaking skill.
良い点Decent salary, great benefits, indispensable living abroad experience