JET Programme

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

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Mandla
9/10

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rebecca
9/10

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Erin
10/10

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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Simon
10/10

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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Debbie
9/10

Out of all the teaching English in Japan programs, I think JET has the best benefits and support system. They pay for your flight from your home country to Tokyo Orientation, your hotel for orientation, and your transportation to your placement. The monthly salary is pretty high - in my first year, I would get 240,000 yen directly deposited in my bank account each month (and this is after paying for Japanese pension and National Health Insurance). With my rural/suburban placement in southern Nara, I only had to pay about 35,000 yen per month for an entire apartment to myself. It was more than enough money for me to eat out almost everyday (I was too lazy to cook most of the time), buy random cute Japanese trinkets I'd see in stores, going out into the city with friends some Saturday nights, and traveling to different neighboring prefectures on the weekends. (One of my friends had an entire HOUSE to himself and didn't have to pay any rent at all! His BoE covered it all. And then there were my northern Nara friends--the ones who live close to/in the main city, and have to pay about 50,000 yen a month for their small studios/apartments)

The work I had was fairly easy--I would plan and teach 13-15 classes a week at three different elementary schools. Since most of the teachers I worked with didn't speak much English, our lesson-planning meetings were conducted mostly in Japanese. (I was really glad I had five years of Japanese background. Knowing the language helps so much in daily survival and interactions.) I believe that JET places people with higher Japanese ability in elementary schools, where students and teachers speak minimal English, and people with lower/no Japanese ability in high schools, where the teachers and students know more English. The kids I taught, grades 1-6, were bright, energetic, curious, and a joy to teach. They constantly asked me if I were Japanese, and why my English is so good. Since I'm Chinese (but have been told I look Japanese or Korean), I didn't fit their image of the "foreigner." Even after a year, some of the students still didn't fully grasp that I'm of Asian descent, but born and raised in America and fluent in English.

One of the best parts of JET for me was being able to travel on the weekends. It would take me a full hour to get to the city than my northern Nara friends because of my rural placement and infrequent train times (only twice an hour). I loved traveling in Japan because the trains were always clean and quiet, and I felt safe even when I was venturing out alone at night. Also, the food (even fast food) is so much healthier here, almost all of my friends here lost weight while living here. (On the other hand, I discovered the amazing variety of unique chip flavors Japan has to offer, and gained some winter fluff while I was here) Since I lived in the "inaka" (countryside), me and my fellow inaka friends in the area would hang out a lot. Our area was called "Yoshino-gun," so JETs living in our area were affectionately dubbed "The Goons." We would have midnight runs to the nearest McDonald's after my evening eikaiwa (adult conversation class) on Thursday nights, drive to each other's villages for spontaneous sleepovers (called "goon spoons"), and participate in alcohol-fueled karaoke sessions with the locals. The best thing about living in the countryside is the small town, community vibe. Anytime I ventured out in my town or to neighboring places, I'd run into some of my students or colleagues. My friends and I became regulars at the local okonomiyaki restaurant.

The hardest part of the program was definitely when teachers and students found out I was leaving, and then all the ensuing goodbye/last lessons and assemblies in my final months there. It was heartbreaking... I've never cried so much in my life. Every class I had taught made me personal handwritten cards, letters, posters, and some students gave me little gifts that they had made for me. They chorused "Thank you and see you again" to me after my final lessons, and ran up to hug me goodbye. We took commemorative photos. Some students cried, which of course made me start crying too. They told me to take care, and wrote in their letters, "We won't forget you, so please don't forget about us."

Whether you stay on JET for one year or five, make sure to cherish every moment of it. My JET coordinator told us before we departed for Japan, "Going to Japan means saying goodbye a lot." You will meet a ton of new people, make new friends, bond with your students and fellow teachers, and most likely have the time of your life while on JET. (of course, every situation is different, but almost everyone I know on the program embraces their unique situation and set of circumstances, makes the best of it, and enjoys their time in Japan) But your time on JET and in Japan is limited, and eventually you'll have to say goodbye. But the unforgettable memories I made while on JET, and the time I spent with the people I met there, will stay with me for a lifetime.

How can this program be improved?
Being more lenient with vacation time. At first, I thought that we as JETs would get winter vacation, spring vacation, and summer vacation off, since the students won't be in school and there are no classes to teach. However, unless we used our paid days off, we were required to go to school and sit at our desks with nothing to do. (One of my friends was lucky and not required to do this. But most of my JET friends and I were stuck at school. We had to save our days off for bigger holidays like Christmas) I wish there were the option for us to have winter/spring/summer vacation days off along with the students, and simply not get paid for those days we aren't at school.
Yes, I recommend this program

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