It’s your friendly neighbourhood Gaijin here. So, as reluctant as I am to accept that I’m now 25, time moves forward and with that comes new JET Applicants! Welcome to the year long application process that will be a very long and trying wait, but it will be worth it in the end. You have a lot waiting for to share with Japan, but honestly it has so much waiting for you as well if you are accepted. Even if you are unsuccessful at the end, which I apologize for, it is not the end of the world. I have written previously about getting rejected by the programme before, but I honestly believe if you are meant for the JET Programme it wtill happen. Today, I’d like to give you some tips for your applications that will smooth out the writing process.
1. The Basic Submission Questions
The first thing that you have to deal with is all the basic paperwork and application information. Fill this out diligently, some of this information is what the JTEs in Japan and JET adjudicators will see before even meeting you; if there are multiple grammar mistakes or simple spelling errors in your name, that is not a good first impression! You’re applying to be an Assistant English Teacher, you’re grammar and syntax is important even when replying to basic questions.
Also, think carefully when you’re ticking questions. I don’t know all of the reasons that I was accepted my second year applying to the JET Programme. What I do know is that in my first year, I ticked that I didn’t want to drive because not having a car (laziness) would be nice and that would also mean that I have a higher chance of being put in the city. Look at me now, I’m living in the countryside paying 28,000 yen per month to lease a car. I might not have my position if I ticked that tiny no driving box a second year in a row, so just give these questions a good bit of thought.
2. Your Statement of Purpose
Now, we all have variable English levels coming from various educational backgrounds. Some of us are scientists, politicians, writers and musicians – some of us are all of them. Nevertheless, if you ever have any doubt in your English abilities there are multiple sources you can use for help. The most basic method is to ask a friend to take a look at your statement when you’re done. However, if you’re truly lost from the start or want to have a step-by-step guide to the application, have no fear.
It was made a few years ago, but I think it is still very applicable and I used it for writing my SoP (Statement of Purpose) as well. I believe that this guide is globally applicable.
Now after you’re done writing, if you don’t have feel confident about your friend’s editing, there are still resources that you can use. In my university that I paid for in my $8000 tuition there was a fantastic writing centre! These type of places normally get busy around mid-terms due to essays being due, so slot yourself in there ASAP. Have them go through your writing, correct your mistakes and learn from them. These mistakes are your common mistakes and if you can fix them there, your students will not see them later. If you’re out of school, there are JET Programme participants reviewing applications for around $3. One of them is Courtney Coulston, whom has multiple youtube videos, she will help you a lot. She’s very thorough with the information in her youtube videos, so I believe she’ll be thorough for you too.
3. You need to calm down
Writing or studying with a clear head is a necessary tool in order to create strong content in your SoP. My mom always told me I could be as brilliant as I want to be if I didn’t always put myself in a panic – I believe that. Nothing good comes panic and self-doubt. You have to show your reader someone who the students would enjoy having as a teacher through your writing. I have met many kinds of JET participants and we come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some ALTs are more skilled at their job than others, but JET looks for if you have the outline of an ALT. Personally, I thought when coming that a majority of JETs would be extremely extroverted; turns out that’s not the case and I learned a lot from that. Go to a Starbucks, yoga or wherever calms you down and begin writing when you are ready – and if you’re reading this article last minute a day before the deadline, you are ready.
4. “I love Japan!” – WE KNOW!
It is important when writing your SoP that you show your love for Japan. “Why do you have an interest,” or “what do you hope to accomplish in Japan.” NOW STOP. In my opinion, briefly writing about your interest in Japan checks off the box that will show that you will like living there; however, this SoP is not about how much you love Japan. You’re applying for a job and you need show what you have to provide for the students, not what Japan can provide for you. Do not go dive into the dark abyss of inserting JoJo or Konosuba Memes in your professional work application; it may show character, but let’s stay conservative for this one. The same thing goes for the interview, you don’t want your response to the question “Why do you want to go to Japan,” to be, “I love Hatsune Miku.” Decisions people, decisions.
Well, that is all the advice I would give my former self. I hope this helps you in your application and I look forward to hearing about your stories with the JET Programme application. Please don’t be afraid to try your best just because this is an Assistant position, the experience is worth it. I hope you can come to Japan and learn lots about the Culture and its people. Good Luck Everyone and feel free to ask for help here!