Thumbnail

Jet Programme

About

The Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program is a chance for young university graduates to participate in professional international exchange in Japan. Participants are invited to Japan as representatives of their home countries and play an important role in promoting mutual understanding between nations and promoting local internationalization.

Begun in 1987 with fewer than 1,000 participants, the JET Program has grown tremendously. Today, the program has over 4,700 current participants from 43 countries and some 60,000 alumni around the world.

Founded
1987

Reviews

Default avatar
O
3/5
No, I don't recommend this program

A Working Vacation

I came into JET with a lot of teaching experience. I had worked in schools in the US before coming to Japan, taught English to Japanese college students and majored in English with a focus on Writing. Now, it is a once in a lifetime experience but JET is hiring you to be a cultural ambassador NOT a teacher. You ARE an assistant and there is nothing wrong with that. JET has pluses but most people on here are just romanticizing travel rather than being honest. JET is not hard, anyone could do it.

Pros
  • If used correctly it can propel your career
  • You can live in Japan
  • You can improve language skills
Cons
  • Discrimination (by other JETs)
  • Not challenged in the workplace
  • Isolation
Default avatar
Mandla
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Can't imagine doing anything else at this moment

I am loving my time in Japan through the JET Program. The pay is good, the workload is manageable and there is ample time to explore both Japan and other Asian countries. You get twenty paid leave days every year (double than that offered by other programs). Once accepted into the program, you really have no say as to where you'll be placed. More favored urban areas come with sometimes exorbitant rent, while rural placements (though secluded, sometimes remotely) are less expensive.

Default avatar
Rebecca
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Two Amazing Years

I went on JET with no experience in Japanese and limited experience teaching. I came out having invaluable skills. I learned Japanese, gained public speaking skills, and learned how to put myself out of my comfort zone. My local area was Sumida, Tokyo and while I was in a large city I met many amazing people who became friends while I was there. I was able to learn and share so much with my students and the teachers. I also had the opportunity to travel in and outside of Japan. The program was frustrating at first because everyone kept saying the JET experience is different for everyone and I wanted to know, but after being on the program I see exactly what they meant. You're in different places and communities and schools. Even with the unsureness of it, I highly suggest this program. The benefits and pay raise you get each year are also wonderful.

Default avatar
Erin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Found my Second Home in Hiroshima

JET Programme was the single greatest adventure of my life! I taught in three high schools in Hiroshima for three years. My placement was perfect for me! Not only was the support network great, but my colleagues became a part of my extended family.

I was lucky to live in the suburbs, have my base school in a rural community (the "inaka") and have two visit schools in the big city. This afforded me a chance to experience the different lifestyles Japan has to offer. My base school was small, but I came to know each of my students (plus their families) and integrated into the local community. Their triumphs became my triumphs; their tears, mine. There is nothing better than joining your school and community in cheering your students all the way through their summer baseball tournament and joining them at the Koushien.

The compensation was great, but the memories were better. I HIGHLY recommend the JET Program for anyone looking for a "home away from home" in Japan.

What would you improve about this program?
I truly have nothing to add here. If anything, I would encourage the JET Program to become more selective, because it is such a jewel and I hope that those chosen as representatives to serve as ALTs bring more prestige to it.
Default avatar
Simon
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A Japanese Sandbox

The JET Program is hard to describe or review because the experience that each participant has is uniquely theirs. You can't generalize the program as a whole because you could end up in any prefecture, and in any living situation. Obviously your experience is gonna be vastly different if you're in a small apartment in a lager city than if you were in a giant house all on your own with nothing but rice fields around you for miles and miles.

I was about halfway between those extremes (which is where most people end up, honestly). I was in a well sized government subsidized apartment, in a decent sized city. I was lucky in that I was a half hour train ride from a major city, and 15 minutes from the biggest city in my prefecture. I was also in a prefecture with a large number of JET Program participants, and I was close enough to most of them, and the JET community in my prefecture was vibrant enough that I had a large and close-knit group of friends. In addition to that, thanks to being close to some big cities I found it easy to pursue the hobbies that I was interested in.

My time on JET was excellent for the reasons I already mentioned, but I suppose the point I want to make lies in the title of my review. People's experiences in Japan, and certainly on JET, are what you make of them. JET is challenging, for sure, and living abroad is not for everyone, but if you want to live and teach in Japan, it's a challenge that's well worth the effort. While your opportunities will be limited depending on your living situation, there are so many things to do and ways to spend your time, that JET feels like a big Japanese sandbox, where you can create your own Japanese experience.

What would you improve about this program?
The program has recently cut back on its support network, and while JET communities in individual prefectures are still an excellent resource, the official resources that JET program participants have to draw on have been severely cut back. There is little in the way of mental health support, and the Program's interaction with AJET, the unofficial association of JET participants that attempts to represent them, has also been scaled back.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

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.
Thumbnail

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.