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View Full Version : What not to write in your personal statement.



tedcase
February 10th, 2014, 03:02
Sooooo, I got rejected. Maybe the cleverbots at Jet caught wind of my intention to withdraw my application, maybe I got disqualified for not including my TEFL certificate (i lost it), maybe they dont want many repeat ALTs this time round, maybe they don't fancy military people teaching in their pacifist nation.

..Or, maybe my personal statement had something to do with it.

SO i thought i would put it up here for you chaps as an example of a statement that failed to meet the quality line so if it's still floating about by the time the next application period comes about it could be of use to other apps.

As for me, I would love to go back on JET some day, but I'm commited to my current job for at least another 3 years, and may even stay on a bit longer (best pension sceme in the public sector? yes please!)

I'll still miss all the green tea and onsens though.



JET Application Personal Statement.
Dear Sir/Madame.

Thank you for taking the time to read my personal statement. As I am sure you can imagine, I have put a great deal of thought into applying again for the JET programme and my decision to do so was not one I came to lightly.

As a teenager, I took the opportunity to travel to Japan for the first time in 2004 with a friend. I was immediately impressed with the Tokyo Metropolis and the city of Kyoto and this brief tourism based visit compelled me to take a more active interest in Japan. Though my initial impressions were that of a fascinating culture and language, my most lasting impression of Japan from that time were forged by the people I met. I would be reluctant to make bold statements regarding the Japanese people as a whole, as I have never felt such assumptions could ever be entirely accurate or appropriate, but during my brief two week visit, those Japanese people that I did meet left a lasting impression and one which made me determined to return one day, not as a tourist, but as one who could contribute to, and interact with Japan on a professional and personal level.

After returning to the United Kingdom, and enrolling at the University of Liverpool, I had taken a keen interest in Teaching English as a second language and was fortunate to be given the opportunity to travel to the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil where I worked for two months as a Language coach and English teacher in an inner city school. Not only did this provide me with valuable first hand experience of living abroad and working as an English teacher, it also reinforced my determination to pursue English teaching after graduating. This determination to teach English as well as my initial enthusiasm to spend more time in Japan naturally lead me to the JET Programme. At the earliest opportunity, I applied to be a JET ALT and departed for Miyazaki prefecture in 2007.

I had been well aware of the great differences in experiences of people involved with the JET Programme and the expression “Every Situation is Different” proved to be completely accurate. However, I had noticed one consistency that held true with every JET participant I met while in Japan, be they ALT or CIR and regardless of where they were placed. It was always the most enthusiastic and the most flexible and determined people who got the most out of their experiences on JET and they were often the ones that had the best relationships with their colleagues and students. I believe that it was my own attitude and willingness to be as active as possible in my school and in my adopted community that allowed me to be as successful as I was. I had taken every opportunity afforded to me to involve myself at school with the various sports clubs and extra curricular activities. In particular, I discovered a new found fondness for Tennis and Kendo, even finding myself interviewed on local Television promoting my local Kendo Dojo.

One of my favourite things about being an ALT was that while the qualified Japanese teachers of English focused upon written English including grammar and spelling, my own focus, as part of the Oral Communication department, allowed me to include lessons which made use of music, visual aids and games in class which not only complemented the student’s English curriculum, but also improved the students’ enthusiasm for learning English. One of the greatest compliments I received as an ALT during my time in Miyazaki was the significant increase in the number of students attending English club after school, a club which I thoroughly enjoyed working with.

As someone who has participated on JET before, I feel that not only would I be a great asset to any school I am assigned to, I also feel that I would be of great assistance to other JETs either in my prefecture or elsewhere in Japan. Not only do I have my own valuable experiences, which I have learned from, I also have the experiences of colleagues and the many friends I made while living in Japan to draw upon and use to give advice and assistance to any new JETs who may also be successful in their application. In this regard, I feel that not only would I make an excellent addition to any Japanese school as an enthusiastic and experienced assistant language teacher, I would also prove to be an invaluable asset to the JET community as a whole.

I can say with confidence that even if I am not a successful applicant this time around, I will always be a strong advocate of the JET programme. I feel strongly that it is a great asset to the Japanese Education system and I am always happy, as a person who has experienced it first hand, to recommend it to enthusiastic graduates and promote the use of ALTs in Japan.

Tedcase
November 2013.
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Kdes23
February 10th, 2014, 13:33
Going into the SOP. The first thing I picked up on was the giant 78 word sentence

1) "I would be reluctant to make bold statements regarding the Japanese people as a whole, as I have never felt such assumptions could ever be entirely accurate or appropriate, but during my brief two week visit, those Japanese people that I did meet left a lasting impression and one which made me determined to return one day, not as a tourist, but as one who could contribute to, and interact with Japan on a professional and personal level."

2) ...and the other 69 word sentence "One of my favourite things about being an ALT was that while the qualified Japanese teachers of English focused upon written English including grammar and spelling, my own focus, as part of the Oral Communication department, allowed me to include lessons which made use of music, visual aids and games in class which not only complemented the student’s English curriculum, but also improved the students’ enthusiasm for learning English" .

It's for an English teaching job and this could have been that little imperfection in your SOP that made them take someone else. In my opinion, there are just too many comma splices. I think those two sentences could have been chopped up in to 2 or 3 sentences (giving the readers brain a chance to process). Even looking away from those sentences, I feel like some of the other ones in this paper could have served as two sentences rather than one. If truly tempted, even a semi-colon would have sufficed.

That's my two cents worth.

EDIT:

This said, I don't think that the SoP is the reason that you didn't make it. It can be many factors, but I'm going with the idea that they wanted to give others that haven't been on the JET programme a chance.

therealwindycity
February 10th, 2014, 15:47
Hmm ... I don't know; as an SoP I don't think it's badly written. It's always hard to say why a person was disqualified, but IMO I don't think the quality of the SoP was the deciding factor in this case.

Jiggit
February 10th, 2014, 16:32
Nothing particularly wrong with it, not that you can pinpoint and say "this is why you didn't get in". The only thing I can imagine is that you didn't explain well enough your reasons and desires for why you wanted to come back. I guess this doesn't really distinguish you very much - it's kind of general and indirect - and so they might merely have just thought "oh well might as give a newbie a chance". I think if I'd have read in their position I'd have thought "well he did the JET programme already" and unless we had a dearth of candidates just kind of put it aside.

Although grammatically you used the past perfect awkwardly and incorrectly a lot when should have used simple past. That might well have been just as important a factor.

HorseFeathers
February 15th, 2014, 08:07
While I did get an interview, I'm not actually accepted yet- so take what I say with a grain of salt. But I'm a creative writing major so I don't really look at papers in a grammatical fashion. Your purpose is very clearly stated and on a literary standpoint it all says exactly what they asked for. But that's just the thing, it's a little dull. You have to think that the people reviewing these applications read tons of these papers, year after year. They really want something to stand out. Something that makes for an interesting and unique read. This SOP seems fairly generic to me. There's nothing wrong with it other than that it lacks sparkle.

In my SOP I was very formal but I threw in interesting quirks. So that when they read my paper it was like they were reading something I was telling them, rather than just mechanically listing off my merits and strengths.

In Creative Writing Workshops they teach us that you have approximately one paragraph to capture a reader's attention. Sometimes even only a sentence. The opening needs to be flashy. Thanking them for reading it is a nice sentiment but it's not very flashy. And it won't necessarily keep them reading.

And like the others before me said, it might not have been your SOP. It could have been a number of other factors. But if you do decide to try again, jazz up your introduction.

I would quote my intro here but because I'm not actually in JET yet and might reuse it- I'm not quite willing to share it yet. Especially since I could still be rejected. But read some catchy opening lines online. I swear there's a whole science to it.

dstin
February 15th, 2014, 09:52
Who needs sparkle? I think my SOP was probably the weakest part of my application because it focused on answering exactly their questions and telling them why I am good and what I will do for them. However, I know that my Letters of Rec. make me sounds like the most awesome thing since sliced bread, and maybe that's why I got an interview.

As for a too little too late critique, some of the grammar constructions were complicated. They understandable for a native speaker, but most non-native will struggle with what is being said in some cases. Second point, you focused a lot on what you did last time and your previous experience while with the JET program. This is all fine and dandy, but I don't know how you've grown since you were last there or what you would do different/better this time. It sounds like you have already succeeded in one of the goals of the JET program, to make young professionals from foreign countries have good feelings about Japan and promote Japan in their home country.