stands for “Japan Exchange and Teaching Program”.
It is a program in which college graduates can teach in Japanese
public or private schools for one to three years. JETs are recruited
by CLAIR (Council of Local Authorities for International Relations)
and MONBUSHO (the Ministry of Education in Japan) primarily teach
linguistic pronunciation and bring cultural awareness of the West
to young Japanese students. Japan is such a homogenous society
that the average Japanese citizen has no contact with people from
foreign countries. Starting in junior high school, students are
required to study English and it is an important component of
the curriculum and high school, college, and university entrance
JET Program is all about “team teaching”. In “team
teaching”, the JET teaches with an accredited Japanese
teacher and usually acts as his or her assistant, hence the
associate term “ALT” or Assistant Language Teacher.
Together they plan and execute English lessons as well as
teach them about the cultural idiosyncrasies of the JET’s
home country. The JET is sometimes the first foreigner the
students have ever had contact with!
become a JET you must have (or will have at the time of appointment)
a degree from an accredited four-year university. You do not
have to have a teaching credential or even speak any Japanese.
There is an application that must be sent into CLAIR the December
before you would like to start on the JET Program and an interview
in February or March. If you are accepted into the JET Program
you are notified in April. There is an orientation in May or
June and then your appointment begins at the end of July.
are divided into two main classifications: city or prefecture.
This generally denotes the level of students you will teach. Each
city or town’s board of education oversees the teaching
of the junior high schools and the prefectural government handles
the senior high schools. During my stay in Japan, I taught at
junior high schools and so was overseen by the city’s board
As a JET you may teach at anywhere from one to fifteen schools,
depending on how many schools and JETs are in your area, and on
what the city or region needs. In Wakayma City where I was placed,
there were eighteen junior high schools and five JETs so each
ALT was assigned to three or four schools. I knew one ALT who
was placed as a “one-shot”, meaning he was rotated
between 15 schools. There are not too many “one-shot”
situations now, all to the better for the ALTs and the students.
JET Program has its problems. The Japanese school system has
its problems. There are not enough JETs to go around. Some
JETs are overworked while some are given no work to do at
all. Some JETs give the program a bad name among the Japanese
and some situations of the placements of JETs give the JET
Program a bad name among prospective JETs. There needs to
be some cleaning done at both ends and those means should
be put into action soon.
many schools, to be a JET is to be an instant celebrity!
Students will beg to get your autograph or shake your hand.
People on the street or the train will want to start up
conversations with you. An ego boost in the extreme, it
is exhilerating and exasperating by turns. The trick is
to take it all in stride and you'll learn to love it.
the most part, being a JET is a fantastic experience and
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to do something
a little different. There are very few opportunities out
there that allow you to travel, get to know so many local
people, and do something as worthwhile as teaching.If you
are qualified and are thinking about applying for the program,
stop thinking. Just apply. It’ll be one of the best
things you’ve ever done in your life if you work the
system and get the most of your experience while you’re