Alumni Spotlight: Julianne Medrano


Julianne Medrano is from Chicago, USA and is currently working as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) with the JET program in Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan. She enjoys karaoke, trying new foods, and mountain climbing.

Highlights: I still have a while before my contract ends, but I have many highlights already. One of my highlights at work was when I was able to see the positive effect the reward system I implemented had on my students. It felt really good that I was able to make my students being active in class and being excited to learn English.

Outside of work, one of my highlights is definitely when I was invited to join an enkai, or office party, at a karaoke bar with the other teachers. When I first started working at that school, many of the teachers were too shy to talk to me and I only ever talked to the English teachers. But now the other teachers like me enough to invite me to parties and I was so happy to be asked to spend time with them outside of work and just have fun. Especially at karaoke, my favorite pastime of all time!

Morning: I have three schools I teach at every week, so my mornings can vary a bit. But typically I wake up around 7 and I have time to watch the news, eat breakfast and get ready before I leave my house, which is usually around 8 o’clock. I always ride my bicycle to school; my base school is less than 20 minutes away from my house by bike. The morning meeting starts at 8:25 at my base school, then there is homeroom and first period starts at 8:45. During homeroom I make sure I have all the necessary handouts and materials for class and I usually like to go to the classroom early so I can be there to greet the students when they enter.

Afternoon: I have about four classes to teach every day, sometimes they are one after another but sometimes I have a period free between classes where I can prepare lesson plans at my desk in the teacher’s room. I teach with a Japanese teacher in every class, though I am usually the one in charge of leading the classes and the Japanese teachers are my support. At my base school there are about 18 students in each class. I often eat lunch in the school cafeteria and if I’m lucky I might have a small conversation in English with one or two eager students. After school I have English club where I’m in charge of coming up with fun English activities for the members to enjoy.

Evening: Once a week I have Japanese class with many other foreigners living in my city, both JETs and non-JETs. Once a week I also volunteer to teach English at a community center in my neighborhood after school. Other days I’m free to stay at school to join club activities or work on lesson plans. Occasionally, I visit the bouldering gym in my neighborhood to work on my rock climbing skills. Otherwise, I go home and watch TV or go out to eat at a local restaurant. On Friday nights and weekends of course it’s possible to hang out with other JETs living near me.