Not all ALTs can work in Tokyo and Osaka - increase your chances of being selected by being more creative with your locations!
Not all ALTs can work in Tokyo and Osaka – increase your chances of being selected by being more creative with your locations!


Established in 1987, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program) is a Japanese government initiative dedicated to placing university graduates, regardless of their field, in Japanese kindergartens, elementary, junior high, and high schools. Successful applicants take up positions as either Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) or Sports Exchange Advisors (SEAs). The aim of the JET Program is to promote internationalisation at the local level through exceptional foreign ambassadors. There are approximately 350 Australian JETs currently in Japan, which is very small compared to over 2500 American JETs. JET participants can nominate their favourite prefectures, but remember, not all ALTs can work in Tokyo and Osaka! The more open and creative you are with your choices, the greater your chances are of being selected.

Of all JETs, 90% are ALTs, and serve as classroom assistants for anywhere between one to four years. ALTs are involved with classroom team-teaching with Japanese Teachers of English (JTEs), help prepare lessons and materials, and are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities with students, such as sports or music. After some experience, other English language schools can approach highly skilled JETs for more permanent positions in Japan.

Aside from ALT and SEA positions, applicants with strong written and spoken Japanese, holding a minimum of a N2 certificate in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), can be placed as a Coordinator of International Relations (CIR) in a nominated local government office. Generally speaking, selection of CIRs is based on Japanese language ability and personality. As less than 10% of all JET participants are CIR positions, they are becoming more and more competitive, with some countries selecting less than 20 people every year. CIRs may be responsible for welcoming international visitors, translating documents from Japanese into English, producing pamphlets in Japanese or English, and teaching English to government employees.

Over the coming months, we will be talking to past and current JETs about their experiences as ALTs in Japan!

Applications for the 2016 JET Program are currently open, please visit the Embassy of Japan in Australia’s website. Applications close in November.

For more information on the application process, eligibility criteria and other useful information, please see the official JET Program website.

Additional information and hints from past participants, especially surrounding crafting a perfect ‘JET Statement of Purpose’, can be found on the Tofugu website.


For more information, read Leah Bramhill’s epic JET experience.

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Sarah Strugnell

Alongside working as the Student Experience Coordinator at Monash Abroad, Sarah is completing her honours in Japanese Studies. Sarah has been on exchange to New Zealand, Malaysia and Japan, is currently studying Japanese language and culture at the University of Tsukuba, and holds the Monash Yoshida Scholarship for academic achievement in Japanese.

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