Completing your application? Just don’t know what do say on that Statement of Purpose Essay? Check out the advice and some of the samples below and good luck!
Apologies but some of the links to JET SoP’s no longer work with the demise of the Big Daikon site. If you have links to good JET essays please contact us.
JET Personal Statement of Purpose (SoP) Advice
The Statement of Purpose is the part of the application which likely plays a huge part in any success. Take your time crafting the best Personal Statement you can. Your SoP should elaborate on the strengths you’ve brought up in your application, and should refer to the traits JET is looking for. Provide brief anecdotes about experiences you’ve listed in the application. Show some personality, give the interviewers a reason to remember you. Also, have other people look over your SoP. This is a professional-calibre essay, not something for an intro English class.
Special note for UK JET applicants: The essays for Americans (Statement of Purpose) and the British (Personal Statement) are relatively similar, so the following samples are of use. Also, there’s no definitive ‘correct way’ to write a JET Personal Statement. Just as long as you’ve answered clearly the three questions required on the UK JET application it should be fine. You can answer the three questions distinctly or, if you prefer, write it in one essay. However for ease of reading it’s suggested you break it into sections. Just don’t muddle them up into an ill-defined personal statement without letting your personality shine through. An outline from JET-UK for the personal statement is here.
The Top Ten DO NOTS:
1. Detailed discussion of mental or physical health issues.
2. Serious grammar, zero punctuation and/or spelling mistakes.
3. Not answering the question and/or very very very long sentences that never actually reach a point. Don’t waffle on about one unimportant point and drag it out to be a paragraph, then talk about lots of other really good points and skimp on the details.
4. Criticising anyone or anything.
5. Writing too much or too little.
6. Talking about what you want, instead of what you can do. Whatever you say in your statement, it should link back to why you’d make a good candidate.
7. Giving examples, especially long winded ones. Tell them succintly how this experience/qualification/expertise/interest relates to what JET is looking for.
8. The mention of anime, manga, or video games. Some people debate this notion. If you simply MUST mention them, then see Points 7 and 9
9. Simplistic interests. If you have a personal interest in an aspect of Japanese culture, mention it, but tread cautiously. For example, it’s fine to enjoy ikebana or karate, but don’t spend the majority of your essay talking about it.
10.Make sweeping statements about Japan/Japanese which may be insulting and/or patronising
The personal statement should be between 800 and 1000 words long, word processed, font size 12 and double spaced on A4 paper. As long as your statement fulfils the above criteria, it will be acceptable (disregard the maximum page limit on the application form)*. Further to Point 2, it should be devoid of spelling and grammar errors. It should flow well. It should sound good when you read it. You do not want to be remembered as the candidate who couldn’t tell the difference between “its” and “it’s”. Remember, you’re applying to teach English to Japanese students. It won’t reflect well on you if you don’t have adequate command of the English language yourself. Have other people review and edit your essay, preferably trained professionals (like English or Journalism professors). If you don’t have professionals, use who you can find. Just make sure that you have this essay as polished as you can make it before you submit.
* This information was provided to me by a JET representative several years ago. However the following email was sent to me in November 2012 by the JET Program Coordinator in Miami. It is provided FYI.
“A JET applicant messaged me to tell me that this webpage is telling applicants to disregard the Statement of Purpose’s strict 2 page requirement as stated on the JET Program USA website and instead abide by a 800-1000 word guideline instead. After reviewing it myself, I see that this is indeed the case. Please do not advocate that applicants should break any of the parameters that have been set by the JET Program. The two-page limit is absolute; anything beyond that will be ignored by the reviewers. Given how many applications we receive, it is important that all applicants follow the rules and do not try to take an unfair advantage over their peers. Doing so may actually hurt their chances. I appreciate that you have built a webpage to try to encourage JET applicants, but please do not try to undermine the guidelines that they need to follow. If the official websites say that something is required, then it is required.”
With deep affinities for both Japanese culture as well as teaching, I feel that a position teaching in Japan would be an ideal opportunity to excel professionally as well as personally. Always interested in this post-graduate path, I decided during the summer of 2007 to take a trip to Japan to determine if Japan would be a proper fit. I opted to travel for five weeks to allot for the novelty of being in a foreign country to wear off to allow me to see Japan in a pragmatic, everyday way. In addition I traveled unguided to see if I could traverse the country alone with only my Japanese ability. By the end of five weeks I had determined that my independence had proven sufficient and that Japan would be an excellent fit for me.
Having a long-standing interest in traditional Japanese culture, I also have completed coursework in addition to my engineering work; this coursework is inclusive of Japanese language, theater, literature/poetry, and geisha. I also have a great interest in Japanese gardens and as such I have volunteered at a local garden for two years, elaborating to guests various aspects of traditional garden design. The garden also has a teahouse, and I often led guests on tours of the teahouse explaining the hallowed art form of tea ceremony. I hope to parlay my cultural interests and accomplishments into an advanced degree in Japanese studies in the future, and I feel that relevant work experience in Japan teaching English would be an excellent complement to my success and growth.
Interested in pursuing this career path, I also felt it would be prudent to gain teaching experience. Normally a graduate student position, I and select few other undergraduates were offered positions teaching general chemistry labs via personal recommendation to the head T/A from chemistry faculty. I taught two semesters and found that based on the growth and development I witnessed in my students, I really enjoyed teaching; often I was more excited to teach general chemistry lab than work in my own lab. Based on the letters of commendation I received both semesters from the head teaching assistant it seems my students also thoroughly enjoyed having me as an instructor. My teaching philosophy was simple-facilitate an environment in which every student feels welcome and comfortable. I believe that only when a student is comfortable will they ask questions, and only when they ask questions will they really learn things they otherwise may not. Therefore by making the students comfortable, they were more prone to ask me questions not only about the experiment or chemical concepts at hand, but also about other areas of chemistry they were curious about.
I find that teaching in Japan would not only be an excellent avenue for me to improve and refine my teaching techniques, but would also facilitate further opportunity to pursue cultural interests; I would aspire to improve my Japanese ability through additional coursework when not teaching, and possibly pursue additional cultural interests or perhaps volunteer work. I think that with teaching experience and having traveled independently in Japan I am well prepared to embark on a challenging new career doing what I love-teaching students in a country where technology, rich culture, and deep tradition coexist peacefully. Thank you very much for your consideration.
I would truly love to participate in the JET Program as an assistant language teacher. I am fascinated with Japan, its culture and most importantly its people and teaching English in Japan would be an honor and a privilege. The experiences that I would attain from the JET program will be enriching, rewarding and support my in-depth ongoing understanding of Japan and its culture. My future career prospects could only benefit from the JET program and further expand my life experiences and personal growth. I have already been to Japan twice, once for an intensive Japanese study program at Kyoto Sangyo University, and for an entire year studying abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo. Both experiences were extremely enriching, eye opening, and changed my life, as I was able to experience a culture that is totally different from that of my own. As life in the Japanese countryside is radically varied from that of the cities, I would like to experience that aspect of Japanese life and culture firsthand. I have already had the privilege of living in both major cities, Kyoto and Tokyo, but living in the countryside would broaden and deepen my understanding of Japan and expand my overall knowledge. By teaching English in Japan to middle and high school students, I believe that I will gain a deeper insight and a broader view of the world, and Japan in particular.
As my heritage is half Caucasian and half Hispanic, I am aware of the importance of learning a second or even third language. Growing up, I did not learn Spanish, and only spoke English. I believe that this is what makes the JET program important; by placing a native language speaker into a classroom setting, the student can be encouraged to learn the language and become proficient in it. Because of my heritage, I will be driven to teach English, share my experiences and to express the ways in which the United States is multicultural and how different ethnicities can join together as one people. Because of my own experiences, it drove me to help people with learning English whenever possible. While in college, I assisted international students in increasing their English proficiency, and in Japan I volunteered to assist in language instruction at an elementary school for over three months.
Furthermore, while I was abroad at Sophia University, I joined a travel circle for the explicit reason of making new Japanese friends, knowing that they would go on trips to places that I had no knowledge of, ranging from the five lakes of Mt. Fuji, to the hot spring town of Ikaho. I traveled to Nagano and was entranced by the beauty of the prefecture and it quickly became my favorite place in all of Japan. Two places that I will never forget were the towns of Kisofukushima and Narai in the mountain passes of Nagano. I was struck by the history in Narai, seeing houses that have existed in the town since the 1600’s contrasting with the beautiful mountains of the area. The immense natural beauty of Lake Suwa awed me in its glory, and experiencing the history of Matsumoto Castle was an outstanding experience. It is my dream to return to Nagano and teach English there. One of my goals is to increase internationalization in both Japan and the United States, and by partaking in the JET program I believe that I can help achieve this by living and teaching in Japan, and upon returning to America with my new found knowledge, depth and understanding. Another major goal that I would like to attain would be to go to law school and specialize in international corporate law to help bridge the gap between the United States and Japan. The experiences and exposure that I would gain from participating and teaching would make me stand out from my peers in law school, assist with my professional career and broaden me as a person. I know that I am determined enough to make a difference and help change the world through helping people via teaching.
In conclusion, I would love to participate in the Jet program as I have a strong interest in Japan and its culture. I feel driven to teaching English, helping people, increasing internationalization throughout the countryside of Japan and I believe that this experience would both benefit my future students and me beyond measure. I would be forever grateful if I was chosen for this wonderful opportunity.
I first heard of the JET Program when I was in high school from fellow students who knew I was interested in Japanese culture. Between my father’s martial arts school in our home when I was a child, my exposure to Japanese music and entertainment, and my recent interest in Japanese novels, I can not remember a time in my life when I was not exploring some aspect of Japan. As I learned more about JET, I realized how participation in this program would also aide in my future career choice of becoming a teacher. I have always held a desire to teach, and I believed then, as I do now, that JET will provide not only a unique opportunity to experience Japanese culture and language firsthand, but also a chance to guide students on their difficult yet rewarding experience of learning a new language and culture. This fusion of my two passions into one program solidified my interest in JET and I knew that I would have to prepare myself to be able to give as much to the program as I would receive. From then on, I have taken every opportunity to involve myself in teaching activities and to experience as much of the Japanese culture as I can.
My high school senior year was a special one as I was granted the honor of becoming a language exchange partner for my school’s four Japanese exchange students. Not only did they teach me about student life in Japan and some basic Japanese phrases, but through my task of explaining English colloquialisms to them, my awareness of word-choice heightened and I began to realize what the phrase “living language” really means. Through my experience with them, I believe we all learned more about English than a textbook could have ever taught us.
During my senior year, I was also enrolled in the Childcare Occupations class offered on campus through a county program. This program taught me basic teaching techniques, activities, and troubleshooting as well as providing hands-on experience as an aide in a preschool daycare and a second-grade classroom. I will never forget the second-grader, Ryan, who was at risk of being held back due to his frustrations in reading. Upon realizing Ryan was struggling due to a lack of specialized attention, I obtained permission from the teacher to focus on him. Together, Ryan and I worked together to overcome his difficulties and build confidence in his strengths. By the end of the year, Ryan’s reading ability had reached that of his classmates and I discovered how much of an impact a teacher can make in the life of a child.
The strengths I have honed in preparation for my future career as an elementary school teacher have also provided me with the attributes of an ideal candidate for the Assistant Language Teacher position. Through my education in anthropology and the multi-cultural makeup of Southern California, I have obtained tools which aid me in accepting and understanding unique attributes of cultures, languages, and individuals. My various experiences in leadership roles have instilled in me the importance of utilizing patience, self-control, hard work, tact, punctuality, flexibility, enthusiasm, and an energetic disposition in all that I set out to do. I believe that through these and other life experiences, I will be able to bring a strong work ethic, a readiness to share experiences and knowledge, and a determination to do my best even in the toughest of struggles. JET can provide me with many unique experiences which I can utilize as a teacher in the future as well as to inspire my friends, family, and future students to broaden their cultural horizons. In exchange, I believe I can bring a strong and creative personality that is willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill my duties as a teacher, neighbor, cultural ambassador, and friend. As I recognize the benefits of the JET program, I also recognize the responsibilities it entails and I have trust in my dedication to them and the program as a whole. I will strive to do my best in all that I do, open myself to new experiences and methods, and above all treasure the rewarding experience of helping others.
Each day I drive past 1,000 paper cranes, each representing a hope for peace and forgiveness. Part of the Sadako Peace Park, the cranes memorialize a young victim of the Hiroshima bombing, though for me they represent something universal—the need for global cooperation and understanding in contemporary society. These values of internationalization and communication—and their grassroots implementation in Japan—lead me to apply to the JET Program. With my passion for cultural exchange, experiences traveling and working in diverse settings, and intense desire to foster educational equality and global literacy, I feel JET provides the ideal circumstances through which I can help communities form international friendships and understanding through a shared language. My work with JET will be the adventure of a lifetime.
I firmly believe in the power of culture. It gives us roots and inspires new generations as they learn from and adapt the rich and varied traditions of the past. Japan is a land where the old and new peacefully coexist, where ancient tradition thrives alongside the cutting-edge. Because of this, I am passionate about learning as much as possible about Japanese culture, a topic I admittedly know little of, but eagerly look forward to discovering through experiential learning in Japan. I am particularly interested in learning about traditional forms of theatre, music, and cuisine, and hope to do so through first-hand participation within my community.
As an ambassador of American culture, I look forward to sharing with the Japanese my unique heritage. An avid scholar of traditional American music and regional folklore, I can’t wait to impart this historically lush aspect of my culture with my Japanese students and community. Through activities in which our respective traditions can be shared, such as holiday celebrations and cultural clubs, I hope to use my ALT position to help dispel myths about America and Japan, revealing that we are far more similar than it may superficially seem.
My studies in Paris during the infamous 2005 riots taught me that I am a resilient and resourceful woman, who adapts quickly and happily to other cultures, despite language barriers, stress, and cultural differences. Traveling in Europe showed me just how much I love cooperating and connecting with people from other cultures, something I eagerly look forward to doing in Japan. On a domestic level, I’ve been blessed with a lifestyle that provides constant interaction with people from diverse walks of life. My work in a large research library connects me to a wide variety of people as I help patrons locate the information they need. Working with ESL students as I facilitate English conversation has given me a real respect for the students’ perseverance as they study English. Tutoring has given me patience with students unfamiliar with the rules of English composition, grammar, and nuance. My most rewarding days come when I am finally able to communicate a nebulous concept to a student using examples from her own personal culture; watching her face light up with comprehension is a true delight. I can honestly say that my time spent teaching is the highlight of each week.
As a future librarian, the purpose of my work will be to spread, encourage, and protect literacy within my community. My experiences with the JET program will give me greater insight into how people of other cultures learn and seek out information, an invaluable gift for any public servant. Passionate about providing people with equal opportunities for education and access to information, I believe wholeheartedly that only the educated are free. Teaching English to the Japanese will unlock communication barriers, helping spread linguistic liberty in communities that would not ordinarily have access to such communicative freedom. My experiences with Japanese culture will provide me with new ways of interacting with people—both personally and professionally—that hopefully will influence the way my community and nation view and interact with outside institutions, a first step toward the peace this world needs..
I first became aware of the JET Program two years ago when my Japanese teacher issued a call for applicants. I was intrigued, but I was too young to take the position as an ALT. Over time, I grew to love the idea of teaching abroad, and decided to make it my goal after graduation to join the JET Program. In the meantime I still wanted to teach abroad, so I took an unpaid summer job with the Greater Rustenburg Community Foundation in South Africa.
My work in South Africa included helping non-profit organizations become financially sustainable by growing their own food, securing funding from outside sources, and making investments. During my internship, I assisted with hands-on teaching of sustainable and zero-cost building techniques (cob houses) to a tiny township in Groote Marico. Very few people with whom I worked spoke any English
Because of the nature of my work, I learned to communicate without words, to work with an interpreter, and to adjust my body language in order to adapt to various social climates. I am now comfortable connecting with diverse people, whether it be one-on-one or giving presentations and seminars to audiences of varying nationalities. I truly believe these experiences will play a part in helping me be a successful ALT.
Due largely to my experience in South Africa, I have learned that creativity and enthusiasm know no language borders, and are keys in inspiring students to succeed academically. I believe I am a very creative, charismatic, and enthusiastic person, which I believe to be great assets in connecting with and inspiring others.
I have an intense interest in motivating students to achieve academic success. Because of this, I serve as the Director of Academic Affairs of my fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, which has the highest grade point average on campus. I have also experimented with acting, which supplements my teaching ability. I have performed for two years in a critically-acclaimed improvisational play, and I landed a lead role in a feature-length film.
During my freshman and sophomore years I requested to live in the international dormitory of my university. Most of the international students were native English speakers, and were quickly able to adapt to life in America. I noticed, however, that three Japanese students we hosted struggled with their English and remained alienated from the rest of the student body. I asked them about this, and found they did not possess enough confidence in their mastery of English to interact with strangers. I decided to work with them in order to improve their English, as well as to improve my knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture.
This is where my true passion for all things Japanese began. Descriptions of the beauty of Kyoto’s temples, the delicious abundance of exotic foods, and the strong emphasis of wa in Japanese culture instilled in me a sense of wonder and an intense desire to experience Japan first-hand. I am confident that the ALT position will allow me to incorporate my love of teaching with my passion for Japanese culture in a unique way.
Recently, I joined International Appalachian (INTAPP), the student-run organization that connects our campus to the international community. INTAPP is the primary support structure for international students studying at my university, as well as the chief promoter of the Study Abroad program. INTAPP has strengthened my desire to be involved in the international community, and supports my long-term goal to attend Georgetown Law School to study international relations.
I am thoroughly convinced that I embody the characteristics of the ideal JET. My passion for internationalism will carry me to succeed in the JET Program, which will in turn lay the foundation for my career in international law. I look forward to enriching the lives of my Japanese students by exposing them to American culture and the English language.
This Statement of Purpose was written by a successful JET applicant
When I was six-years-old, my mother brought me to a movie theater. After we took our seats, a little girl about my age came in and sat beside me. While I waited for the film to start, she produced a few squares of colored paper and began folding them into animals and flowers.
I watched, enthralled, as she folded shape after shape. Each one was so simple and elegant, so beautiful. I wanted to know more. “What are you doing?” I asked naively.
“Origami,” she told me. Then, smiling, she gave me a piece of paper and taught me how to fold it into a swan.
Japan has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember: from reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes in elementary school to watching Imamura Shohei’s Kuroi Ame in college, from learning to play Go in junior high to joining an Asian culture club at my high school. The aspects of Japanese culture I have been fortunate enough to experience have enriched my life profoundly.
The JET program’s ALT position gives me a chance to introduce Japanese students to another culture in the same way I was introduced to theirs. As an Assistant Language Teacher, I will give my students practical experience with American society and language. Through my efforts, I hope to share with them my relish for learning about the cultures of other nations…