Small Town Charm

Benefits: 5
Support: 5
Fun: 4
Facilities: 4
Safety: 5

I was on the JET program for 3 years. Most JET positions are ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) positions and you are placed in either Middle Schools or High Schools. (There are also a few placements that are Elementary school only. They are not as common but probably increasing since Japan made English education mandatory from 5th grade, rather than 7th grade.)

I knew JETs is such a variety of situations. I knew people who lived in towns of 400 and knew the 30 kids they taught extremely well, spending their weekends at the students' basketball games and being invited to their teachers houses for dinner. I knew other JETs who worked in big cities and had hundreds of students. They couldn't know the name of each student. Some students they would only see once every 6 weeks. That's only a few times a semester.

While the national support system is strong, the local support can vary. Many JETs find themselves in places where almost no one speaks English. They may have to co-teach with someone who speaks no English (this should only happen in Elementary school, where the homeroom teacher co-teaches with the JET rather than a Japanese teacher of English). My friends described pantomiming with their teachers during lesson planning and being frustrated with being unable to get their point across. If you know Japanese before you go over, you will be able to communicate better and you may have a smoother transition.

Social life varies a lot. But in every prefecture there are JET groups planning events throughout the year and even if you live in a rural area, you have opportunities to socialize if you choose.

Lastly, the image of a typical JET is someone just out of college but I knew many people who came to Japan in different circumstances. Some had been out of school and working for a while. Some were married. I know that some people bring their kids. Anyone who is a citizen of an English speaking country and has a bachelors degree is eligible, so don't think you have to be a fresh faced college grad.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed