View Full Version : Applying to JET program

November 9th, 2004, 04:34
Hi everyone!

I'm applying for the JET program this year. WOO! I'm really excited.

But I'm worried about the interview.
It says you have to know a lot about your home country and Japan. I don't know that much about Japan, I know even less about my home country. Let's face it, the UK isn't that exciting. :)
I don't even read books. I'm a games programmer by trade you see so I don't have time, I'm not a teacher but my English reading and writing is great. I'm keen to learn teaching skills, I'm great with kids. I just think that I'm going to be really underqualified for the position of teacher and thus not get in due to my lack of knowledge. I play a lot of Japanese computer games and I'm totally fluent in Hiragana/Katakana and about 100 kanji. (More kanji but I don't know how to pronounce) I'm really good at reading and writing Japanese, my speaking and listening is decent too.
But for everything else non Japanese wise I really suck knacker sacks :)
That worries me a lot and in some ways it's putting me off applying at all.

What do you think my chances are?

Thanks :)

November 9th, 2004, 09:01
ENAY, it sounds to me like you have great chances. You're no less qualified than most current JETs, I'd wager. Your post shows that you can demonstrate a keen interest in Japan and Japanese culture and that's probably the most important thing.

I would recommend reading up some basic facts about the UK and Japan, though. There is a test at the interview; I had questions about who the UK's Deputy Prime Minister is and which companies are Japanese, etc. So facts like that would be handy to know.

Every JET I've met is different in terms of experience and qualifications. As long as you can demonstrate your interest and adaptability, you'll be fine. And if you don't get on, there are plenty of other ways to work in Japan, believe me!

Good luck! I'll make you some beans on toast when you get here.

November 9th, 2004, 14:46
Any kind of teaching experience seems ok - mine was computer workshops (teaching people how to re-use them, delve around inside and install linux) and environmental workshops as part of my previous jobs, I guess you have done somthing that counts - just think laterally...

November 9th, 2004, 16:05
I find the UK exciting. Especially around my home area of Leeds. You must be somewhere pretty crap. Derby?

You sound like you have enough to get in.
Many people on JET knew no Japanese, knew hardly anything about Japan, had no teaching experience, and were fresh out of uni.
I think the thing they want to see most is that you are up for it.
Of course having some teaching experience may help. Having knowledge of Japanese I think is of little help in getting the job because the job requires total English speaking- Japanese is seen to be of use only outside school.

I had no Japanese under my belt before I came and only a little bit of tutoring Asian university students in English as my teaching experience.
The questions I got asked in the interview were to do with hypothetical teaching scenarios and general knowledge of Japan.
For example I was asked "How would you deal with a troublesome student?" and "How would you correct a JTE who made a mistake infront of class?"
The teaching ones caught me off guard as the cultural questions were more my forte - Japanese culture was a major part of my thesis.
Check www.japantimes.com and see what is happening in Japan now and at the time of your interview.
One of the questions I was asked was what was happening in Japan then.

Also. Think about how you would describe your culture. It sounds easy but when you get in there it is difficult. I was asked "How would you explain to a student how English culture is different to Scottish culture?"
A very difficult question once you get past the superficial differences like kilts and haggis.

November 10th, 2004, 07:49
Hi. Thanks for your replies. :)

I've been reading through most of the posts on this forum.
And some of your horror stories, well I feel well really scared now.
I'm not sure how I would react if the class was out of control and the partner teacher wasn't helping me. That freaked me out and almost put me off.
I'm still going to apply though. But I don't really know where to go.

I would like to go to a small village as that's kind of my thing and where I live now. A more closer knit type of community.
I like to visit and be in huge towns and cities but I generally don't enjoy the hussle and bussle of everyday life, like say in London.

As long as I have internet access close by or even in my room then I don't really mind where I go, just as long as there are some views.

Can you suggest any cool places in Japan that aren't incredibly busy?
I'm not sure if I would cope too well with a big school. Well not at first anyway. Hmm. I'm well stumped on that one. I guess it's all down to the pupils and how they are.

Do any of you have really far to travel to get to your school or do they try to place you near to the school you're teaching at? I hear some JETs have more than one school to attend too.

Thanks for reading :)

November 10th, 2004, 10:56
Check out this thread (http://www.ithinkimlost.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=1121)

November 11th, 2004, 00:50
There will always be horror stories of all sorts coming from all other on the program, but honestly it shouldn't deter you from applying if you seriously have a strong interest in coming here to teach.

If you are looking for a smallish town kind of feel but with access to the big cities and such, I suggest checking out the area around Okayama. There's plenty of historical sites and interesting bits about this prefecture while also offering access to Shikoku, Hiroshima, Kobe and the rest of Kansai. Very convenient.

As for internet access, NTT (the national phone company) has reasonable DSL plans for around $40 USD and about the same via Yahoo!BB which is offered in most parts of the country except for maybe the truly super inaka.

Some JETs, as you might have read on the board, have a whole host of schools to attend while others have more manageable schedules. For example, I teach at one JHS on Monday and Tuesday and another the other days of the week. Fairly simple. It all really depends on what the people in charge of you want you do and such. Transporation time varies though I know a few people in the city who commute an hour max via bus to work.

Hope this helps. :D

Chris, in Okayama. Go Okayama!

November 11th, 2004, 01:52
Thanks for the replies. I've been doing lots of reading today.

Infact I have been reading for probably about 5 or 6 hours today on this forum, non stop reading on as many topics as I can find.

I'm just more worried more about being unable to cope if something bad should happen to me. It sounds like many of you go through a lot of shit that doesn't even include the teaching. On one thread, that poor guy who had cockroaches in his room for a month and no phone when he arrived.
I'm no stranger to having to struggle, but before I always had the opportunity to just go home and whilst I never did that, the opportunity was always there.

I've just been reading a huge post about the KET interview and what sort of questions you may be asked. And quite frankly KOWAI! :)

November 11th, 2004, 09:12
Hey there ENAY. Good luck with your app! I kind of felt the same about the UK, it was pretty boring for me -- part of the reason I left!

Anyway, take the horror stories with a pinch of salt, cause the happy stories dont often get posted. For example, I'm having the time of my life, but starting a topic like "I'm so happy today" doesnt really fit my personality...

Basically, if you can adapt, and cope with any culture shock etc, you should be fine. As for the schools, well there will always be a few really bad schools, and its just bad luck if you end up there. From what I've read, it seems to be that Senior HS are worse, with students either starting fights, or staring blankly.

I teach at JHS and Elementary schools. I love my JHS, the teachers and students are great, and even though I don't like little kids, Elementary is kind of fun too.

My apartment was crap when I moved in, which is never nice, but once you've cleaned up, and sorted the bug problems (if nothing else, they die off towards the end of Autumn) its no big deal really.

Oh, and you sound like internet is important, well, this is the land of high speed broadband.. 30Mbs? or maybe 50Mbs would suit you better...

Best of luck,


November 11th, 2004, 09:47
Well, I teach at a Senior High School and my students are great! No fights, a lot of them participate, etc. But, of course, they're not all like that.

Most people I know are enjoying themselves on JET, so don't pay too much attention to the bad stories.

November 11th, 2004, 09:48
hey, ENAY, don't worry, I honestly wonder how the hell I got on the JET Programme and I am having a wonderful time. sure there are moments where it's crap, but mostly it is a brilliant experience, you have to remember ESID. people say this phrase is over used but it is the truth. and you sound like you're doing the right things before the interview. I spent months trawling every thing I could about JET on the Net, it makes you prepared and if you have an open mind and don't get swayed by the hellish stories then you'll be fine.

November 11th, 2004, 11:30
I agree with Shotokai.- Dont worry.

I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you get here.
All the problems are minor really, a couple of cockroaches maybe, or the ball ache of setting up direct debit stuff (supervisor will help). After a month or so you will be set and its all gravy from then on.

November 11th, 2004, 15:16
Totally agree... try not to worry too much, just have confidence in yourself and what you are offering to bring to the programme... i.e. you and your life experiences!

You can do all the research and prep in the world but if you're not totally calm and at ease it will shine through at the interview :(

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying don't prepare, just don't lose sight of the reasons why you're applying. Think of all the positives about you, your experiences and things you can offer. Then do something that is hard for 99% of people... shout about it and really mean it!

You'll be fine. Look upon the interview as a class - you're there to teach the panel about you and why you're going to be a great ALT.

The questions vary for most people, though if it helps these are a few of the things I was asked...

Name a Japanese fashion designer
Name 3 traditional Japanese cultural hobbies
What do you think of the state of the Japanese economy?
Name 3 things invented by the British
Who would you consider to be a role model/ambassador for Britain
Who is the British Head of state?
Is Britain a democracy?
Explain the differences between Scottish, Irish, Welsh & English culture.
We want to know what kind of things do you plan to do with your class, give us the basic structure of a lesson.

The questions themselves are not very hard. I believe the panel are more interested in the way in which you convey your answer. Think about the language you use, your body language, and the speed & volume of your voice. If you do not know the ins and outs of the British electorial system the panel won't mind, but how you communicate this fact is of importance.

I was very nervous before my interview as my preparation was poor at best (this is the girl that wrote her entire final dissertation and built the piece of software two days before the deadline!)

My friend gave me some very sage advice... be yourself, speak clearly, and above all have belief in your own ability.

I'm now here in Japan living my dream. If I can do it...

November 11th, 2004, 16:14
Thanks everyone for your views. I really appreciate it. Well I'm definitely going to apply and see how far I get. It can't hurt really.

I think my biggest concern is that I haven't read a novel in over 10 years. That's a big gaping hole in my past that I cannot fill and I can't lie about it.

I guess I find it kinda boring that when I'm reading through someone elses work I feel as if I could be doing something really productive myself.

But I can't really say that at the interview though. ;)

The only stuff I read is ganes/comics/internet/manuals. Well basically anything but books.

Well then. Looks like I have a lot of general questions to search but Jet Application, here I come. :D

November 11th, 2004, 16:30
While I love to read, I don't think that not reading books is going to go against you.

The thing to remember about the interview is that most of the difficult, curveball questions don't have a black or white answer - they are just there so the interviewers can see how you react under pressure. If you do get to the interview stage, just remember this one thing:


Moving to Japan can be a stressful thing. Because of this, the interviewers want to see if you can handle what is thrown at you in the interview, as it is the only way they have of seeing if you will freak out after a couple of months of culture-shock. As long as you show them you can tread water, you'll be fine.


November 11th, 2004, 16:31
There's nothing wrong with the kind of things your reading...

internet = the most up to date informative (non-censored) way of reading about/discussing current affairs, both domestically and internationally

manuals = simple instructions for getting jobs done/understanding a task(?) You'll be producing plenty of manual-type worksheets once you get here and start teaching

Comics? Isn't manga the number one selling literature in Japan? They love the stuff. You don't stop reading comics (I mean manga) when you stop being a child, the stuff is embedded in society.

You're doing just fine by the sounds of it! :D

Nobody expects you to be reading a library of books every year in order to teach English in Japan... the students won't be so you won't have to either.

The things you're reading are fine, the students are constantly reading the same sort of material so you're in good shape to strike up conversations with them Marvel v Manga hereos etc. (they'll love that one, it'll run and run!!)

November 11th, 2004, 16:36

Check out Haruki Murakami (Murakami Haruki).
A popular and well respected Japanese writer that write both fiction and is also something of a social commentator with works such as "Underground" about the Aum Shinrikyo gas attack in 95.

November 12th, 2004, 08:29
Thanks guys. Well my application is coming along nicely. I still

I was reading one thread where it mentioned that speaking Japanese to the students was considered being a step backwards and that you should only use English.
I was hoping to be able to talk to the Students in Japanese if they got stuck or weren't listening etc. It seems odd to me that some jets don't use their Jap language skills. If you've got the skills then you should use it. For example I'd have never have been able to learn Japanese from my tutor if she didn't explain things to me in English as well.

Thanks mate, I will look up Haruki Murakami when I have a minute. Got to create some sort of culture knowledge in my head :)

November 12th, 2004, 08:54
One of the guys here has a very high level of Japanese (i.e. fluent) and he never speaks to his students in Japanese, because it disrupts the lesson if he does. "wow, he spoke Japanese... say something else... can you say this... do you understand this..." etc. The students get very excitable!

On the flip side, one of the girls that passed level 1 JLPT used to use Japanese all the time. But it got to the point that the students would switch off during English sentences because they knew the Japanese translation was coming.

I might occaisionally say one or two words in Japanese to get a point across, but it does cause quite a commotion.

At the end of the day, we teach English oral communication, we're here to be a live action English demo. We should use English and leave any Japanese clarification to the JTE (which should also really be minimal in an ideal world!)

November 12th, 2004, 20:33
It really depends on the level of the class to the amount of Japanese spoken.. if I were teaching high school, I'd bee using only English.. however in Elementary, if I ONLY spoke English none would understand how the games work, so I use about half and half, but the English will be louder and slower than the Japanese..

November 15th, 2004, 08:26
Oh sure, totally agree that it depends on the level of the class as to how much Japanese is spoken.
What I am saying though is that the Japanese should be left to the JTE. The purpose of us being in the classroom is to demonstrate English not Japanese!!!

November 15th, 2004, 18:24
on the other hand, I have been in situations where the suppsoed JLT's command of the English language is so weak it *is* better for me to translate myself or they are unwilling to do so (I've had teachers just stand up the back of the classroom and keep their mouth shut the whole lesson) but then again, the definition of 'team teaching' seems to be different in Elementary..

November 15th, 2004, 18:59
I guess then depending on your Japanese level, the better your skills in Japanese the younger the children that you're going to teach?

November 15th, 2004, 21:09
I guess then depending on your Japanese level, the better your skills in Japanese the younger the children that you're going to teach?

yeah, that was one of the reaons I got asked. (I've also teaching experience under my belt - I graduated with a teaching degree and did substitue teaching while waiting to get into JET)

November 15th, 2004, 21:39
Not sure where I will be placed then. My Japanese is pretty good but my teaching is non existent. I hear that you spend a few weeks in Japan getting trained before you even go anywhere near a school.

I'm hoping to get my application sent off tomorrow. It's crazy that you need to have about 4 copies of everything and waiting for references and transscripts is like growing a long beard. Can't believe it's taken me a month to get everything sorted!

November 16th, 2004, 08:13
Not sure where I will be placed then. My Japanese is pretty good but my teaching is non existent. I hear that you spend a few weeks in Japan getting trained before you even go anywhere near a school.

mate none of us were sure where we would be placed it really is the luck of the draw. I was very lucky in that, I now work at a school with and English course and very genki students, I live in a city, which, while not being as large as tokyo or fukuoka (but close to the latter) has every thing i need. Also I live in Teacher accomadation and so live very close to some other ALT's. I've made some great friends both Japanese and Giajin and to be honest life is good.

Now this isn't true for all, but the experience is what you make it.

as for training, you have 3 days in tokyo and then go to your placement. usually you start right away, unless your school is kind and lets you have the summer off to settle in. then after group B arrives you have a prefectural orientation. there may also be summer schools you're supposed to take part in too.

really the job is great, non taxing and if you don't know Japanese you CAN get by. They assume that you are the person who can cope with this kind of situation when they employ you

November 16th, 2004, 11:14
I wouldn`t think to much about your placement, the whole thing is pretty random from what I know, if you are put on the waiting list then it is completely random, you fill a place as it becomes avaliable. The best way not to get in is to give the impression that you will run at the first sign of trouble or will not go if your placement doesn`t suit you. Key phrases in the interview are "I don`t really mind where I go, as long as I can go" and things to that effect things not to say are "I just want to bum around for a year or so" "Well if I`m not in ~~~~ then I don`t think I would want to go", I wouldn`t worry about teaching experience as nearly no one has it and sometimes it can be considered a bad thing, remember we are Assistant teachers, a qualified teacher might tear their hair out at the little amount of actual teaching we do, it is similar with Japanese language goes, I know in the UK they don`t want the JETS to be brilliant speakers, it kinda kills the point, we are here to speak English to the students and force them to speak English back, not attempt two words in English and then start talking in Japanese.

November 20th, 2004, 03:02
I send my application off today. WOOOOOOOOO!

Now I just have to sit and wait. Any ideas on how long they may take?
Thanks everyone for your advice and support.

November 20th, 2004, 03:04
oops. I didn't realise I wasn't logged or that I could post as a guest. But that was me though :)

November 20th, 2004, 08:29
Grats, Enay! Me too! What a relief, eh!

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D


Oh yeah... I think it was late January early February-ish when people started hearing whether they had an interview. I think.

November 20th, 2004, 08:40
YIKES! THAT long. Ah well. That gives me plenty of time to revise facts about the UK that I definitely don't know about :)

November 21st, 2004, 00:09
Yeah it is a bit of a wait. Sent mine Thursday special delivery and it got there on Friday. Hope they appreciate that it cost me a fiver :D .

Does seem like a long wait - worst thing is I think you don't get a rejection letter. So you just have to sit there until the end of Feb waiting for the letter. Harsh!

November 21st, 2004, 01:10
I got a rejection letter the first time I applied...

November 21st, 2004, 01:13
I got a rejection letter the first time I applied...

Oh, it says on the site that "Candidates who have not received an invitation to interview by late February may assume that their applications were unsuccessful."