Japan is one of the world’s top TEFL destinations and a great country for those new to TEFL looking for their first teaching position, and it’s not hard to see why. Japan is full of ancient traditions and culture and offers something for everyone; from outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking to enchanting castles and temples. There is also a great demand for English teachers with good salaries offered and students who are hard working and eager to learn.
The UK JET programme is a great option for first time TEFL-ers, where you can gain experience in the classroom as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), assisting English Teachers in schools across Japan.
JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme) is an official Japanese Government scheme that strives to improve the teaching of foreign languages in schools. Since the scheme was established in 1987, the number of participants has increased greatly, with over 4000 graduates participating every year from around 40 different countries.
What to expect as an ALT?
Participants are contracted to schools or organisations in Japan and contracts last for 1 year, starting from July/August. Contracts can be renewed for up to 4 additional years by mutual consent with the contracting organisation. The typical working hours for an ALT is 35 hours per week, Monday to Friday.
As an ALT your duties will vary and a flexible approach is essential.
Duties can include:
- Team-teach/help with classes taught by Japanese Teachers of English (JTEs)
- Assist with the preparation of teaching materials
- Participate in extra-curricular activities with students
- Visit more than one school in the area to which you are assigned, as you will be employed by a school of Board of Education
Japanese children formally begin studying English in their fifth year of Elementary school, at the age of 10, and continue throughout Junior High School. 95% of 15 year old students go on to Senior High School and most continue to study English for another three years.
You will focus on promoting oral communication in the classroom to improve student’s levels of spoken English.
Where will you teach?
Participants can be placed in cities, towns and villages throughout Japan. Participants can specify a preferred location but this request cannot be guaranteed.
The annual remuneration is approximately 3,360,000 Yen (approx £21,550 GBP) in the first year. This is a sufficient salary to cover all costs/bills including rent, compulsory pension contributions and health/employment insurance for a single person.
- Return flight costs to Japan are provided on completion of contract
- Between 10 and 20 days of paid leave
- Assistance with finding accommodation – the cost of renting varies depending on the participant’s contracting organisation and location in Japan and generally ranges between 30,000 and 70,000 Yen per month (approx £190 – £450 GBP)
- Accident insurance is provided. Participants pay 40,000 Yen per month (approx £255 GBP) towards mandatory health insurance and pension fund
- Full UK Passport
- A Bachelor’s Degree from a recognised University (in any subject)
- There is no upper age limit however those over the age of 39 are asked to contact the programme coordinator at JET to discuss any issues that could arise if they were to be accepted to the programme
- A strong interest and passion to teach in Japan and learn about the country
Applicants are urged to provide plenty of time to apply to the UK JET programme as it can be a lengthy process. Applicants should apply via the online application form which can be accessed via the homepage from October until the closing date (the last Friday of November).
Applicants must supply an application pack, as well as completing the application form, by post, including supporting documents. This must reach the JET Desk (at the Embassy of Japan in London) by the deadline. Incomplete applications without the necessary supporting documents will not proceed to the screening stage.
On passing the screening stage you will be asked to a formal interview in January/February where you will also complete a short English test.
After the interviews, the UK JET programme will make recommendations about applicants to the JET programme coordinators in Tokyo with the final decision being made by programme coordinators. Candidates will then be notified as to whether they have been successful or not during April and May.
A two-day pre-departure orientation will take place in July in London and participants will depart for Japan in July or August.