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Wanting to Teach English in Japan But Jet Programme Application Was Declined

by Lucius


First of all, thank you for the very informative website, I've found a lot of useful information here as I consider going to teach in Japan for a year. There was, however, something that I would like to ask about -- I found a few remarks here and there, but would like to know more about my options as technically a non-native speaker of English.

I am an Estonian. When I was seven, we moved to London for three years and I've been speaking English ever since. I later minored in English language and literature as part of my BA studies and I'm currently heading towards the completion of my MA in Foreign Language Teaching (specializing in teaching English). I am almost over with my courses, but I will not graduate before next year as I've yet to write my thesis. I'm currently teaching English as a Language Assistant in Spain and with my previous teaching experience in Estonia, I will have taught for a total of three years by the time I'm finished here this June.

There was recently, for the first time, an opening offered for one Estonian by the JET Programme. I applied, but did not get called up for an interview. Upon request, I was informed that my application was strong, but they had a couple of candidates who spoke high-level Japanese and that's where I lost out.

How does my situation look like to you? How should I approach finding a teaching position in Japan? Is Kyoto out of the question?

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Mar 30, 2018

by: Anonymous

Hi Lucius,
Thanks for the kind comments. Sorry to hear about the application rejection. Having said this there are a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, The Jet Programme is highly competitive. So the rejection rate is high. This is because they offer a bit more money and pay for your flight over etc. This causes a heavy draw of applicants and considering they recruit from over 40 countries this makes it even more competitive. And there is a general stigma to some extent that surrounds the whole program.

Okay that is what it is. Nothing more or less. Now, considering your considerable teaching experience and high level of education you will be viewed as an attractive candidate by most hiring managers. On top of that your field is in foreign language teaching / Education/TEFL. Icing on the cake to say the least.

You can call this sour grape rationalization if you will but even if you had gotten into The Jet Programme, you would have no say in your placement / location so if you had your heart set on Kyoto you could kiss that goodbye. You more than likely would have been placed in a rural location. No glitz. No nightlife. This may mean nothing to you it may mean something to you.

"How does my situation look to you?" - you asked us.
I think your situation looks great despite being Estonian. Why? Your academic qualifications, experience and obvious mastery of the English language heavily outweighs the other factors.

Kyoto - 1.4 million people and the 7th largest city in Japan.
That's a lot of people and a lot of jobs.

I would target that city in your next round of applications if Kyoto means that much to you. As an ALT which you qualify for, you might again not be able to get positioned there. So I would try a direct hire as an ALT or other direct hire measures by applying directly to employers in Kyoto. With your credentials international schools are something you should look at as well.

If Kyoto isn't such an important factor then ALT work or large eikaiwa like Berlitz etc. would be a good option for you as a starting position.

So keep your chin up. There's lots of work out there for motivated and serious educators like you. Just blast them resumes out there and I think you'll be surprised at what happens.

Hope this helps,


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