January 28, 2009

Getting to Japan

Japan - the home of sumo, sushi and Assistant Language Teachers from the world over.

If you're interested in exploring Japan, there are about a thousand and one ways you can get there. One of the easiest and most cost effective is to work as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT). There is no shortage of ALT positions available in Japan, or companies willing to hire genki foreigners to teach them.

If this sounds good to you, there are several of links posted below to various companies and helpful sites that will help you get on your way.

I chose to apply through the JET program - also known as the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (http://www.jetprogramme.org/). The JET Program takes applicants primarily from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom (but I've also seen participants from various parts of Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa).

The only main requirements to get into the program are that you're from an English speaking country (English is your native language) and you have a post-secondary degree from an accepted College or University (or will have acquired one by the time you depart). The program itself is highly competitive. At any one time there are approx 4500 JETs employed in Japan (this includes new applicants and previous applicants who have decided to re-contract for another year). Just to give you some perspective - this past year there were 4500 applicants within the United States alone and less than half of those were offered an interview.

Right. (That was this genki canuck's reaction too...)

If you make it through the interview and are accepted into the program, you're offered a 1 year contract to work as an ALT, usually in a rural area, for 3.6 million yen a year. This is more than enough money for you to live comfortably and have savings (depending on how good you are with your money). The added bonus of the free flight to Japan and home, courtesty of JET, means that JET is one of the better options, financially speaking, for prospective ALTs.

I thought I'd give you guys a chance to follow my own journey through the JET application process. If I'm not successful I've got several other options I'm willing to try, and I hope you will too!

Some Helpful Links:
I Think I'm Lost (http://www.ithinkimlost.com)
Big Daikon (www.bigdaikon.com)
Dave's ESL Cafe (http://www.eslcafe.com/)
Gaijin Pot (http://www.gaijinpot.com/)

Non-Jet Options:
Westgate Corporation (http://www.westgate.co.jp/)
Winbe English School (http://www.tact-net.jp/winbe/english/)
Amity (http://www.amityteachers.com/)
ECC Foreign Language Institute (http://recruiting.ecc.co.jp/)
AEON (http://www.aeonet.com/)

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