More honesty about the JET Programme appears in the comments at the Japan Times.

Particularly, Ryan Moulton’s letter, which is the top one.

For several years now, I have advocated reform of the program—which modest position even attracted its share of trolls, not wanting any discussion at all.

I am convinced that, on balance, the program does more harm than good. It’s plausible, though, with more of a teaching focus (and less revolving door), Japan could bring it around to be something useful for the early 21st century.

Right now, it’s too many young people stuck at internet keyboards all day, and then wheeled out to be the exotic gaijin for the kids for an hour or two . . .

3 Replies to “More honesty about the JET Programme appears in the comments at the Japan Times.”

  1. I was on JET from 2001-04. The complaints and suggested remedies now are exactly – exactly – the same as they were then, only this time there’s a little less money to go around.

    It’s so, so very easy for me to slip into rant mode on this, so I’ll limit myself to the observation that if those issues haven’t been addressed in the decade which has past since my glory days, they’re unlikely to be remedied any time soon. Much as I wish it were otherwise.

    1. I appreciate your comment. It seems to me that, after JETs initial success in the late 1980s, the program never received the review it should have had. As a result, it just keeps on as the slow rot deepens.

      1. As a current JET, I think you make a reasonable point about reforming the JET program, but haven’t taken into account the way the program has been shifting on its own over the last several years.

        Given the state of the American economy (not all participants are American, of course, but the majority are) competition to get into JET has increased a great deal. Practically, this means that a large number of the incoming JETs either a) speak Japanese proficiently or b) have classroom teaching experience (or both). There are of course some people who come to play around for a few years without any intention of learning much about Japanese language or culture…but no more than any other English-teaching program/company (and at least anecdotally, far fewer).

        With the mandated expansion of English into Elementary 5th and 6th grades, the role of many JETs has also changed. In Elementary schools, JETs often function as main teachers (rather than ALTs) because homeroom teachers speak little English. At least in my prefecture, JET program placements are gradually moving toward elementary schools and away from high schools, which I think is a very positive trend. (Not that it’s a bad thing to have ALTs in high school, but high school English teachers generally tend to have at least reasonably proficient language skills). Would it be better to have teachers with training in education and classroom experience teaching these kids? Sure. Are many of those teachers proficient in Japanese and willing to move out to the inaka? I doubt it.

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