Year of Graduation: 2004
Previous Position:I was an English teacher through the JET Program in Japan. Within a year after graduation, I applied for the JET Program which involved teaching the English language in schools in Japan. During my three years in Japan, I traveled to eleven different countries, volunteered at an orphanage in Thailand, and led a Habitat for Humanity volunteer trip to the Philippines.
What was your role in the classroom?
My main role in the classroom was to make the English language exciting and fun to Japanese students; therefore I was often in charge of planning the fun and games of the English classroom. I also helped with communication and festival activities. I worked with the school's teachers and primarily taught elementary students and they were always so excited to come to my class; most of the time, the junior high students were excited as well. Some teachers I worked with had amazing English speaking abilities and we had no problems teaching together. Others had a lower level and had much more traditional ideas of how they wanted to conduct our lesson plan. This was a bit frustrating, but it did teach me to be patient and to try many different things in the classroom until I found something that fit with both of our teaching styles.
Describe your classroom experiences.
Japanese students are pretty well mannered, but you do run into some crazy behaviors as you do anywhere in the world with junior high and elementary kids. These times definitely kept me on my toes (but in my role, I wasn't the one in charge of discipline, which was nice!). The biggest difficulty in teaching was team-teaching with a teacher with whom there were differences of opinions related to teaching ideas/methods. I did, however, work with a variety of teachers, so I was always able to make it through those classes and move on to more enjoyable times in others! After all, the JET Program is all about "internationalizing" and teaching Japanese students about our culture as well!
What is the salary like in the JET program?
I felt that the salary given to us by the JET Program was quite good. I had no problem paying for my bills and living in Japan. With the salary allotted, I was also able to travel all over Japan and to eleven different countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, China, Australia, Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, and Hong Kong) over my 3 years. I probably spent the majority of my money on travel, and I do not regret it one bit. I was also was able to pay off the rest of my student loans (although, I was pretty lucky to not have so many) and to send money home to my savings account in the U.S. The JET Program and the city you work in helps you find cheap, affordable, but comfortable housing.