Completing your JET Programme application? Just don’t know what do say on that JET Programme 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.”
There are three broad reasons why I would like to participate in the JET program which also encompass my career goals. The first consideration is that all of my university studies were structured around internationalist issues with the aim of eventually working overseas, more specifically within the Pacific Rim area. My studies in California were also undertaken with this goal in mind, along with my travels throughout the Pacific. I would particularly like to teach and have applied to undertake a graduate diploma in Education with TESOL as a my major. However I consider the JET program offers a much better window of opportunity in this regard…
I grew up in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. My family and I immigrated there 14 years ago when I was 6 years old. Growing up on the islands, the oriental culture fostered a deep impression on me. Be it Japanese, Chinese, Korean or even Filipino, we had them all. Everything from lion dances and cultural festivals to mochi pounding and kim-chee contests I have participated in and enjoyed immensely. But it was only after my first trip to Tokyo that I found myself actively seeking to know more about this particular country. Since then, local subtitled TV shows like “Soko Ga Shiritai” and “Next Stop Discovery” gradually found their way to my week nights; books related to Zen Buddhism and Go began to pile onto my bookshelves and into my thoughts. And after three years of Japanese in high school, I came to understand that it was this Asian mentality and the Japanese lifestyle which I became deeply attracted to.
Throughout college I continued taking more Japanese courses. I know that one day when I do travel to back Japan again it will help enhance both my experience and understanding. Attaining a certain degree of fluency is one of my goals and many reasons of wanting to go there.
One of the most prominent attributes that attracted me to the JET Program was the opportunity to be situated within a typical Japanese schooling environment. As an ALT, I know I can relate to many issues the students may be going through, not only because I am of an Asian descent but also because I know quite well the ups and downs of acquiring a new language. Having been brought up in a bi-lingual environment I am keen on the finer nuances of Eastern and Western ideology and philosophy. In this regard, I believe I can bring many personal qualities to the JET Program as a whole. Modesty, humility, and conservatism are intrinsic values of any oriental society and values that I grew up with. Of course, I also share the values of individuality and freedom which are so clearly engraved within the Western mindset. My years spent studying here in Chicago have broadened my perspective of America outside of Hawaii, and I want to translate the broad culture of this country to the people of Japan. In this respect, I know I am able to contribute to the main goals of the JET Program while being fully adaptable to local customs and cultural norms.
Currently, I am involved with a community development group tutoring high school students. Dedicating four to five hours a week to these kids who were my age a few years ago has been a great experience. Whether it was guiding them through complex subject matters or assisting them with simple homework problems, it has help me fortify many aspects of my abilities to teach and mentor. Often, when they do confront me with frustrations or difficulties, I found myself only more eager and persistent each time to help them find their resolve. Being able to interact with them on such a personal level has made this something I always looked forward to and really enjoyed. However, this alone has not been an unfamiliar experience for me. Tutoring my 9 year old sister throughout elementary school was mostly my responsibility as both of my parents lacked the necessary English abilities to help her. I love kids, and from experience I know a lot of patience is involved, but patience is also something I have in abundance. Additionally, many of my business related experiences have helped me develop a high level of professionalism and strong interpersonal relationship skills. I hope to call upon these experiences in situations where cultural sensitivity and diplomacy are held in high regards.
With the current Sino-Japanese relationship advancing by leaps and bounds, if selected as a participant, I wish to use the opportunity not only to bridge culture gaps between Japan and America, but also represent bits and pieces of my Chinese heritage.
I am confident of my qualifications and their relevance to the JET Program. I wish to use the experience I gain from Japan to follow in the footsteps of my father and pursue a career in the travel industry back home. If I am presented with this opportunity, it will truly be in my greatest honor and pride to give it my 110% effort.
From a very young age my family was constantly on the move. By the time I finished university I had lived in Cyprus, the U.A.E and several parts of Australia, and had travelled extensively through Asia, Europe and Africa. Coupled with my father being British and my mother Australian, when I am asked where I am from I hardly know the answer myself, as each of the places I have lived in is special to me. I consider myself an international citizen, but I am deeply patriotic to both the UK and Australia. My unconventional childhood has instilled in me a wanderlust and a desire for the unknown and foreign that I doubt I shall ever be able to satiate. I imagine myself travelling around the world for the rest of my life, taking my experiences with me from each country to the next.
My fascination with Japan in particular started in university when I became friends with Japanese exchange students at my college. I was intrigued by the Japanese psyche and culture which I perceived as unique among any I had previously encountered. I began reading about Japan, joined the university’s Japanese Students Society with my friends, eventually took a Japanese language elective (which unfortunately I had to withdraw from due to conflicts with my core subjects), and found a Japanese language partner. During this time I learned of the JET Programme from my Japanese professor, but missed the application dates for the year I graduated. Undeterred I sought and was offered a job in Japan with LiveDoor. I accepted the offer but unfortunately the project was cancelled. Now, after working in the UK for a year and in France since October 2005, I cannot wait any longer to go to Japan and decided to apply for an ALT position.
I believe that you cannot gain a true understanding of a culture and it’s people without immersing yourself in it, and that is what I plan to do in Japan. As a JET participant I would commit myself to becoming fluent in Japanese, learning the culture’s customs and traditions and making as many friends as possible with my students, fellow teachers, and the locals in my placement area. I make it a personal goal in any country I visit to leave good first impressions and to promote a favourable image of my country. This will apply especially in Japan where I will strive to ‘penetrate the bubble’ of Japanese society and dissolve any misconceptions of foreigners I may encounter. As an ALT in the JET Programme I will be perfectly positioned to achieve these goals, especially as I will be able to inform so many young Japanese about the UK, the British people and western culture in general.
At the international school I attended in the U.A.E and at university I met many people with varying commands of English. Through much practice I am now adept at adjusting my speech to compensate for limited comprehension or vocabulary, and am very good at listening through accents. I have called on this skill when tutoring groups of Malaysian students and when as a senior collegian I was very proactive in encouraging exchange students to participate in our social events. Although I have no experience of teaching English in a formal setting I have found that an effective technique to encourage a student to learn any skill is to show them its immediate use. An example I would give to my Japanese student would be its effect on their use of the Internet. A basic level of English opens up huge sources of information and makes possible interaction with millions of English speaking Internet users. To encourage this, homework could be set to research subjects from English web-based sources. With my skills and experience with computers I could expand on this by creating a website for my students to maintain journals on in English. This would encourage creative use of the language to describe their own lives for friends and classmates to read. Discussing the journals of different classes and schools would be a working example for students on finding information and communicating on the Internet with English.
Outside the classroom, I plan to be accessible to answer any questions and provide extra help to students. I want to teach them practical conversational English to complement the standard curriculum. Hopefully with the addition of this regular informal interaction students will be more comfortable speaking English with foreigners and each other. In every activity as an ALT my aim will be to motivate students the idea that they are gaining valuable knowledge and encourage them to use me as the invaluable resource for their learning that I would be.
My international experience, proven adaptability to new cultures, passion for learning more about Japan, and desire to be a model ambassador for Britain make me ideal for the JET Programme.
Back in high school, it was required of all students to take a minimum of two years of foreign language in order to graduate. Not being all that interested in taking a European language as did most of the students, I decided mainly on nothing more than a whim to take Japanese instead. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting into, but now six years later, that one little decision seems to have shaped my life in many ways since. Within the class, the teacher did not focus merely on the language. The teacher believed, as I do, that language is inherently tied to the culture of a certain place. To remove it from that context takes out part of the meaning. This eventually led to me and my class to take a trip to Japan in the summer of 2002 as part of the New Perspectives Japan program. While visiting areas such as Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo, I began to develop a real sense of the Japanese language as a subset of the Japanese culture.
This is what interested me at the start. Japan has very strong ties to its cultural background in a way that I had never personally witnessed here in the United States. I decided to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa because I knew that there was a strong Asian influence in Hawaii. Once arrived, though, I was surprised by not only the Asian influence, but by the Hawaiian culture also. My eyes were opened to a people that I did not even know existed beforehand. I became friends with some of the people in the Hawaiian community and learned a lot about yet another cultural background. At the same time, I finally gave in to the idea of a European language and started studying German. Unlike what I had expected, yet again there was a deep sense identity. My interest was peaked, and I now had a good idea of what I wished to study.
Right now, I am close to graduating with a B.A. in Speech Communication. I would eventually like to enter graduate school and focus on some aspect of cross-cultural relations, but I thought it might be more prudent to gain some firsthand experience. This, then, is where the JET program comes in. I like being able to reach out across borders and foster a sense in people that they are part of a larger world, much in the same way that had happened to me. I love the idea of internationalization; of giving a sense that while a person can (and indeed should) identify with his/her own culture, there are others. Most important, perhaps, is also that idea that we will always have to interact with people from these other backgrounds. Understanding where they come from can help foster more open communication.
My personal experience in teaching is not very much at this time, but I believe what I do have is relevant. Alongside tutoring high school students at Kalani High, I have recently volunteered with the Hawaii Literacy Program. For the Literacy Program, I have been paired with an adult woman who immigrated from China. Each week we meet for around 90 minutes and work on her reading and writing. It is challenging, as sometimes she but I have learned slowly how to handle teaching. For me, it is important to have clearly outlined beforehand what exactly I wish to cover each week, and try to stick to that. Sometimes (in fact, most times!) we drift into tangents, but having an overall goal really helps things stay organized.
What I like about the tutoring is that we get a chance to share with each other about where we came from in the midst of the teaching. By personalizing the text to both of us, it helps keep things interesting and moving forward. This, then, is why I look forward to being in the JET program. While sharing and discovering other people’s culture I also get to share and discover a bit more of my own..
In a month, I will have completed the coursework for a Bachelors of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Johns Hopkins University. It took me three and a half years to complete, and if I add the time it took me to complete my primary education, I have been in school for nearly seventeen years straight. I need a change of environment, for at least a year or two, before entering a graduate or medical school. With my interest in Japanese language and culture, and my desire to learn how to teach, an Assistant Language Teacher position in JET looks very desirable.
I have been interested in the Japanese language ever since I was a junior in high school. As I started studying the language as a freshman in college, I realized that the Japanese language and culture are intertwined at a level far deeper than that of English and American culture. There are many Japanese idioms and conventions that cannot be mapped directly to anything in English, like honorifics. I understood that I would never be able to truly grasp the Japanese language without a deep understanding of the culture. While I have researched Japanese culture, language, and history, I believe that the best place to learn about Japanese culture and language would be Japan itself.
I also want to know Japanese so I can help Japanese people. I will never forget when a worried father began calling my dorm freshman year looking for his daughter. It was the first month of class, and I had learned just enough Japanese to identify it being spoken. When he first called, I convinced the man that I did not know his daughter, and that I could not speak Japanese. However, he called again, and hysterically accused me of harming his daughter. Not knowing what to do, I hung up. I felt depressed afterwards; I was unable to help a man with what could have been the biggest crisis of his life. If only I had known more Japanese, I could have aided him. I really hope he found his daughter.
I also want to be an ALT for the teaching experience. Currently, my primary experience with teaching children was helping my sister with her homework and SAT preparation. I believe a teaching method similar to Kaplan SAT Verbal and Writing preparation would be beneficial to Japanese students, as it aims to increase their vocabulary, reading comprehension, and understanding of syntax.
I personally learned that a large vocabulary was important last year, while working on a group project where we had to write several reports. One of the members finished his primary education in Turkey. He was a very intelligent person, but whenever he tried to make changes to our reports, the result was unreadable. He lacked the English vocabulary to coherently express his ideas. Eventually, the other members of the group and I eventually had the Turkish member dictate to us his changes to the reports, as his spoken English was passable.
Another style of teaching that I believe would be useful to students is seminars. In seminars, a student or group of students are assigned a topic, which they are to research and later teach the rest of the class. Seminars were an integral part of several courses I have taken in college, and were especially useful when I was studying in a group.
While I gain a lot by being an Assistant Language Teacher, I will also be bringing something to Japan. I am well traveled. I was born in Kenya, and moved to the United States when I was four. I have visited several cities in Europe, including Paris, London and Madrid. I have also visited cities in the Middle East, including Mecca. I have even seen the Taj Mahal and Versailles. I have spent several months visiting family members in Bangladesh, both in Dhaka, and in more rural areas. Therefore, in addition to my experiences the United States, I can describe what I saw in many other countries.