View Full Version : Choosing 2nd reference

September 28th, 2015, 05:30
This year, I have two possible (best) options for one of my references,

#1: I'm taking Japanese as a special student (it's the only class I'm taking), so I can ask my Japanese professor.

#2: Supervisor from a volunteer program I did years ago - he gave me a glowing reference at the time, and has indicated that he would be willing to update it

I feel like asking my professor would be better, but she can't say anything wrt my teaching ability.

I also (sort of) have the option of asking a future employer (I'm currently looking for part time work tutoring or other jobs working/volunteering with children). Should I hold out for that instead?


September 28th, 2015, 10:30
Just do who knows you best and who you're most comfortable with. I had just started taking a Japanese class last year before I applied and chose not to use my professor as a reference because I'd only known her for like 2 months at the time. Probably wouldn't hold out for the future employer since you don't even know them/haven't worked with them yet and the application is due in less than 2 months now, right?

September 28th, 2015, 12:04
Go with the reference that you think will best up your game.
While a Japanese professor sounds impressive, can they say enough about you that will make JET interested?
In the end I chose two professors, but I knew them/worked with them for years and knew they'd give me a good letter.

Don't hold out for the future employer. There are never any guarantees that the people you will come to work with will feel comfortable writing a letter for you, and if they did, it has a high potential of being rather generic.

Eye of Tengri
October 2nd, 2015, 04:31
Hi, I'm also trying to figure out the same thing.

This is the third time I'm applying, after getting waitlisted my second time 4 years ago. Since then, I joined Peace Corps and taught English for three years in Mongolia. (As a matter of fact, my Peace Corps invitation came on the SAME day as my last JET interview.) It was team-teaching, just like what ALTs do, so I figure my chances are much better with this experience.

I think the Peace Corps country director would be a great reference, especially because I had good relationship with the administration, and I've already contacted her. As for the others...

I could ask my old Japanese professor at university. She is (was) familiar with my Japanese studies, and is used to JET recommendation letters. In fact, she wrote me recommendations the first two times. She's also still at the same university. On the other hand, I haven't been in her class in 6 years, and I haven't been in contact since I went to Mongolia. I've already drafted a letter to her in Japanese, and am having some friends correct it.

Also, I studied calligraphy with the Naniwa Calligraphy Association for 6 months when I was in Japan 7 years ago. I'm still in contact with one of my calligraphy teachers, and I met her when I visited Japan again 2 years ago. I doubt she's ever written a recommendation like this and I would have to figure out how to explain the process in Japanese, since she doesn't know English.

Alternatively, 4 years ago before I went to Mongolia, I volunteered at a local school, and I worked especially with one 3rd-grade teacher, whose class I would read a book to once a week. I haven't talked to her much but did hear from her recently, around Labor Day.

Unfortunately, I don't have much in the way of references that are (1) recent, (2) familiar with my teaching experience and/or interest in Japan, and (3) professional (not just friends).

I would appreciate your advice.

(As an aside, has someone already translated the recommender instructions into Japanese?)

October 2nd, 2015, 11:32
Why would you need Japanese specific references? If they're not beaming and relatively recent there's not much value to them. The country director is a good choice, but ideally the teachers you taught with there would be much better.

Eye of Tengri
October 2nd, 2015, 12:05
Why would you need Japanese specific references? If they're not beaming and relatively recent there's not much value to them. The country director is a good choice, but ideally the teachers you taught with there would be much better.

Thank you. Now, if I could get a reference from one of the teachers, would it look bad if there were grammatical mistakes in the English-language letter? They are native Mongolian speakers, and after all I'm not going to be proof-reading it. (Possibly no one would be able to proof-read it, since I was not replaced at my site.)

October 2nd, 2015, 13:09
It will look bad, but if the context is understood to be non-native teachers in nowhere Mongolia I'm sure they will be forgiven.

Ideally you want a well rounded reference which speaks to your character and abilities. Other than that have fun.