It was pretty last-minute this year (well apart from making the list on my phone months ago!), but I have applied for the JET programme again. This involves going to work in Japan for a year as an assistant language teacher. Almost all of the participants are from English-speaking countries and teach English in schools around Japan, though I believe a few other countries send people to teach their language too. I once read that France sends a grand total of one person per year, talk about competition!
JET differs from a lot of other ALT programmes by being run by the Japanese government, which means that it pays very well, has job security and also actively encourages internationalisation. This last point appealed to me a lot as it means chances to actually engage in Japanese cultural events, and promote British culture. It sounds like many of the other programmes are ‘just a job’. The main problem with the high rate of pay, though, is that many Boards of Education (the groups that run the schools in a given area) choose to use the private companies as they can pay their workers less. For instance Tokyo has no JET teachers at all (well technically some small islands that are “in” Tokyo do, but the mainland metropolitan area does not).
Of course as the programme is run by the government, and the Japanese government at that, there’s paperwork to do. A lot of paperwork! The typical application includes…
Fire up the laser… jet.
– 4 copies of the application form.
– 4 copies of the medical self-assessment. (these two are more commonly sent online these days, so you only need three copies!)
– 4 “release forms” (promising to allow JET to use your personal information for the purpose of allowing you to apply for JET)
– An original degree transcript requested from your university (signed and stamped), plus three copies.
– A statement of physician from your doctor, and three copies
– 4 copies of your degree certificate
– 4 copies of the photo page of your passport
– 4 copies of your personal statement
– 2 references
– A postcard for them to post back to you when they receive your documents.
aaand so on. All of that comes out looking like this:
Mind you I once found a blog about becoming a Japanese citizen and apparently the paperwork you have to collect to do that is several inches thick. That is a bit more drastic than working in a school for a year, though.
Anyway, as I was saying, I applied at the last minute. This led to some ‘entertaining’ times as, after submitting the online application the internet crashed whilst I was downloading the PDF file of the completed application form. I thought no more about it and went to sleep, the next day was Porco Rosso watching time and the day after was Japanese class. in the meantime online applications closed down, and made the PDF inacessible! However I later found that this was only temporary and was able to access and download the file that night. Panic averted, I got all the documents together and posted them by next-day delivery, for the sum of £5.90. At least they were sure of getting there!
Classic work of literature for comparison.
Now I need to wait for the postcard, and then in January / February the letters giving notifications of interviews (or not!) come out. Lets see what happens this time!