Greetings all! I don't make many posts here but I have to agree 103.14% with MerkyPie on this one.
I, like many, did NOT go to Japan, did NOT study Japanese, does NOT speak any Japanese...and got an interview.
In all fairness, I do think that having some abroad experience could be useful but that doesn't mean that it's automatic bonus points for JET. How so? Easy. Look at many of those who did not make the interview round who have a PLETHORA of aboard experience in Japan and with the language. They simply did not show how they would use those skills/experience into being an effective ALT or CIR.
As a wise human once said, just because it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, does not mean it's a duck.
Just because you have traveled to the country and experienced it's culture, does not mean you can successfully teach it. Plus, we're not applying to teach Japanese students about Japanese culture, we're going as ambassadors of our home countries.
Ode to a Grasshopper wrote:Not to sound harsh, but maybe that's where reading things carefully comes in - eg. 'may' and 'stronger'. International travel does make your application stronger, simply because it means you've been exposed to more cultures and can presumably teach a little about them. International community experience also makes your application stronger. Both make it even stronger still.
We/you are (usually) applying for an English teaching job after all.
I strongly disagree with this statement. International travel does not automatically make you a teaching god of culture. International travel MAY just simply mean that you'll be able to upgrade to first class on your next flight because your Advantage miles.
Also, you even said it, we are applying for English teaching jobs. So...why would our international travels help us become better English teachers. It's a condescension on those who have not made travels across the globe.
I think it really matters on your passion and the passion you want to put into the JET Program as a cultural ambassador to YOUR home country. Someone who may have traveled and lived in Japan for 2 years and experience their culture may in fact have LESS of a chance of someone who worked in their community, was a tutor, and overcame difficult home obstacles.
As Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada would say..."That's all."
PS: This is no way to seem conclusive and absolutely correct but it's simply my opinion on the topic mentioned.
I think the point many of us are trying to make is that experience abroad can be a plus for some people. For example If you have lower grades or no teaching experience but you have some experience abroad, either in Japan or another country, it could help you out. If you have other skills or experiences that would be good for JET you have just as much chance as someone who has been abroad it's true but that doesn't mean they don't take it into account.
Basically having experience abroad can't be a bad thing
. It's not a guarantee but neither are good grades, language ability, teaching experience or even knowledge/passion for your own country.
If you didn't learn anything or get anything out of your time abroad then sure it won't matter on the application but if you learned things or can use that experience in a positive way of course that's a good thing.
Nothing guarantees anything with JET it's all about the entire package you present and how you present it.
I'm pretty sure that living as a teacher in Japan really helped me get in. That doesn't mean you need it. It just means I think it was one of the things that put me over the top and allowed me to be shortlisted. I have other qualities that helped, sure, but I know for a fact they took it into account. Otherwise why did we spend half of my interview talking about it? They asked me a ton of questions about how I could use my time in Japan/France on the JET programme.
I think my answers to those questions about how I could use my experience
for the benefit of JET contributed to me getting in. If I had had different answers it might not have.
I know lots of people who get in without experience in Japan but they usually (some I can't understand how they got in) have other obvious skills/traits that make them great JETs.
It's about a combination of skills and traits you have that will benefit your CO and the programme.
I guess in conclusion International Experience CAN
be part of a successful JET applicantion.