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Will the JET Program Get the Axe?

F*cked Gaijin links to an entry by Jim Gannon on about how the JET Program has been put on the chopping block by the DJP jjigyo shiwake government waste panel.

As an exercise in teaching English, I think it can be said that JET is an abject failure. Japan has one of the lowest TOEIC scores in Asia and 23 years of JET have done nothing to improve it. As Gannon notes, the budget panel sees JET as a teaching program, not a cultural exchange project, hence its recommendations to essentially do do away with it [PDF in Japanese].

If you're a JET Alumni, you of course don't want to see the program go, but Gannon also notes that intellectuals and policy leaders are trying to convince Japan rethink its position. More importantly, Gannon writes, "For its part, the US State Department also seems to be taking the position that the JET Program makes valuable contributions to the long-term underpinnings of US-Japan relations and cutting it will be harmful."

Even if you believe the JET Program to be wasted effort in teaching English, this is where the real value in JET exists: the goodwill that Japan has bought over the years is invaluable. Teaching and cultural exchange aside, the JET Program has succeeded in creating a corps of "ambassadors" that are interested in and like Japan, and these people tend to want to continue to stay connected to Japan in some way after JET.

I know a few ex-JETS who have gone on to work at embassies in Japan, and I wonder what the ratio of people who go on to work in some Japan-related government or NPO capacity really is. If JET does get the axe, then Japan doesn't just lose a teaching program, but a valuable diplomatic tool as the State Department suggests.


Japan's consistently low TOEIC scores aren't the product of failure of the JET Program. The fault lies with the public education system and how English is "taught". An abject failure of epic proportions. Too many high hopes were placed on JET when in reality it was just lipstick on a pig.

RIP Jet program, you achieved nothing of any lasting educational benefit but were probably responsible more than anything else for boosting overseas visitors to Japan (parents and friends) and exporting goodwill towards a very odd, messed-up little country across the world.

Oh, and when are the Japanese government going to stop kidding themselves that a high TOEIC score has any relevance whatsoever?

All they really have to do to raise standards is to test for listening and speaking. Starting in Junior High. It's not the nicest, best, or most student friendly way, but in Japan that's really it. Then you'll have everyone taking it much more seriously and in due course some expertise will finally emerge out of the morass.

Why don't they want to test for listening and speaking? Too bloody expensive. Don't want our otherwise high achieving types to bomb just cos of some shitty English test.

I don't think JET is dead yet. The panel only recommends what is to be cut. It doesn't make the final decision. For example, the previous panel recommended cutting funding for elementary school English texts and grumbled a lot about the need to teach English at the elementary level at all. In the end Monkasho rallied supporters of the elementary school English textbook and pretty much saved it.

Why don't they want to test for listening and speaking? Too bloody expensive. Don't want our otherwise high achieving types to bomb just cos of some shitty English test.

There is actually a TOEIC Speaking and Writing Test but no one seems to have heard of it. The main TOEIC itself is just a joke, and it says a lot about the standard of English teaching here that it's held up as THE most important test of English ability alongside Eiken, which is just as bad.

I do not understand any attemp to make the JET scheme worthwhile by saying that it has created goodwill or a corps of "ambassadors" for Japan. Surely, if the government wanted to do that it could put more money into public relations or even the tourism industry. The nature of the program - giving people money for very little work or responsibility while treating them like international VIPs - simply reinforces stereotypes of how "precious" gaijin are (to the Japanese) and how obsequious the Japanese are (to those on the scheme). As someone who pays tax in Japan, and thus in some way unwillingly funds this useless waste of money, I look forward to its eventual demise.

Yes there are those who came, had a good time, are cherishing the memories and spreading the warm fuzzy feeling. But it's hard to believe it will be enough to counter the huge number of others who came to Japan, got screwed over by NOVA, GEOS, AEON, yes JET too and countless other small fly-by-night employers and left with sour grapes.

The government of Japan should turn JET into an ambassador program to put 21 or 22 year old blond-haired blue-eyed gaijin in every community in Japan. Then create little events for them to meet and entertain the housewives, the kids and so on and social events where they can meet others of the opposite sex so everyone can gossip over their little budding romances. This is what people want so give it to them!

As far as education goes, that's a whole different ballgame. How about instead of teaching EVERYBODY English we just teach those who want it. About 90 percent of the populace don't need it and about 70 percent don't want it enough to study for it so just teach the 10 to 30 percent who want and or need it! What an innovative concept. Isn't that pretty much how it's done everywere else? Then the teachers will be freed up to teach quality lessons to those who care. Wow! Maybe even schools could start offering Korean, Chinese, Spanish, French and Latin. Horrors! Freedom! Diversity! Innovation! It'll never happen.

The costs per hour of instruction by JETS has to be higher than any other in Japan. There are no shortages of teachers or people to work at embassies in Japan. The JET program is a total waste.

To dump so many resources into a program in the hope of creating some warm and fuzzy feelings about Japan in the minds of some people is a pretty silly justification for the program.

"The JET program is a total waste"

I wouldn't say that. Look how many people have been able to come over to Japan and boast about how much money / holidays they are getting compared to all the pissing Eikaiwa teachers. Look at how many people have had their ego's so massively over-inflated by being on the JET program.

Look what happens to most of those poor fuckers after they get home. That's got to be worth a few bucks.

Seriously though a lot of the money Japan spends on foriegners is wasted money: because its kind of forced expenditure in the first place. Japan send the SDF to Iraq for several years, because Bush pushed them into it, and then they sat around there doing nothing until it was politically safe to leave. Huge money spent on a big nothing. That's what happens when you twist people's arms.

The JET program was the governmental & teaching equivalent of burning 10,000 yen notes to warm your open campsite situated on the norther tip Hokkaido in the middle of January. It could only take Japanese bureaucrats this long to figure it out.

As far as I am concerned anything that encourages septics to come to the country is well worth abolishing!!!


I teach on average 12 lessons a week, that works out to about 6250yen a lesson, but if you think that is a waste of money what about half qualified JTEs who bumble their way through a shitty cirriculum and who are sometimes bearly literate themsleves. JET is kidding itslef if it thinks it will make a difference in english ability of Japanese students when the system, method and JTEs on their own do not work minus the Gaijin. But prehaps JETS are the Karmic balance to Ekaiwa teachers. From my personal experince JET or Private ALT gigs are way better than slogging it out in an Ekaiwa. After doing both I can see why many hold a lot of resentment toward JETS. I mean those cats pretty much have a free ride, get paid well, dont work weekends, put up with less shit, health insurance and to top it off even still get their return airfare. If I still worked in ekaiwa and saw a Jet wondering down the sidewalk toward me it would take some level of self control not to kneecap that smug little sob.

What is surprising is that it took Japan 23 years to getting around to realizing that the JET program (or "program - me", as I 've seen it spelled) , has a strange justification and a lot of vested cheerleaders.

I am sure that the JETs do some good, but at what cost? And what are the CIRs for?

At least somebody is asking these questions.

I am surprised that the unionists aren't up in arms about JET, because it basically legitimizes the model of "x number of years, and you're out! By the way, we will hardly take you seriously except as a cultural rarity in the meantime!"

The JETs get more money, and essentially this is quintessential Japanese bribe money. Plus, it sets up that rivalry with the non-JETs so the Japanese who are into that bickering thing can sit back and enjoy.

I applaud Renho, but I think she is going to lose to the Stateside Pacific Elite in Washington who want this for their kids. They are already wailing and tearing garments over how this will ruin (yes, RUIN!) Japan-America relations! They bring out the China card threat (that if Japan doesn't cultivate relations with Americans, China will gain influence instead).

Even though, surprisingly, the way ordinary Americans get treated in Japan never merits the China card . . .

There is no way on God's green earth that JET will get the axe.

It was never designed to improve English teaching in schools, so the failure there is irrelevant.

It is interesting to speculate on whether or not it has actually achieved its aims of 'internationalizing' Japan and promoting a positive image of the country abroad... personally, I don't see how it could have, given the numbers involved (still only a few thousand participants (most barely out of college) and typically less than an hour or so a week of contact per JHS class).

But at the end of the day even that is irrelevant - the main point is that both the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs are very visibly committed to this and complete cancellation would be seen as a big backward step.

Numbers and perks will probably decline, but I bet the scheme is still going in broadly similar form in another 23 years.

"bearly"??? Illiterate?

"If I still worked in ekaiwa and saw a Jet wondering down the sidewalk toward me it would take some level of self control not to kneecap that smug little sob."

That's so true. Reminds me of when I worked for my first private Eikaiwa. It was a shit hole - split shifts, arse hole of a boss who used to spend all of his time intimidating the Japanese and foreign staff in the building.

Then in the evenings the JET students used to stroll in to teach the evening classes (which was supposed to be illegal)

There were happy go lucky. Just strolled in, without a care in the world. Totally relaxed. Boasting about their 300,000 a month, excellent working conditions etc. I just wanted to murder them to be honest. If they were just regular chaps then no problem but it's obvious they knew they got such a sweet deal compared to us Eikaiwa muppets. They certainly let us know about it believe me. Like I said, ego's the size of Australia. It's a shame because it ruins it for the decent ones out there.

"From my personal experince JET or Private ALT gigs are way better than slogging it out in an Ekaiwa"

During my first year in Japan I would have said that JET was the best deal. But now I'm not so sure. Yes the money is better, but more often than not they have to work out in the middle of no-where. Not sure being an "assistant language teacher" really appeals to me anyway. I don't know how much satisfaction I can get out of doing that.

After that hell hole first year I got lucky and was given the chance to run my own school 3 years ago. I've had an amazing experience - developing the school, watching the kids grow up and so forth. The salary is a little less than being on the JET program/programme but the school is only a short walk from the station. Great location. Good hours (early afternoon to early evening). I'd take this over JET any day.

I think many JETs would agree that the program has many troubles, but we're all just as hesitant to admit them in public because, as many have pointed out, it is a pretty sweet deal and I feel many of us are simply afraid to rock our own boat. However, I do think it's unfortunate that a lot of us JETs are quick to be all Brave New World and chant about how happy we are to be Alphas despite us not really all that different from your typical Eikaiwa worker. It's also a shame that many JETs see this time as just a year-long vacation and not some way to make an impact, however small, in their community. I'm not going to say that I'm some super-human ALT, but I like to think that when mothers see me in the supermarket and greet me and kids remember a grammar point I taught them off-hand a month ago, I can't help but think that I'm doing some small bit of good.

That said, I think I'm in line with many JETs that if the program goes, it will be more of a help to the economy than a hinderance. What I think would be good is to just bring qualified educators and who speak a smattering of Japanese because that goes a much longer way to enforce the goals of the program than just plucking a random lineup of people.

The JET Program: Helping nerds get laid since 1987! ;)

The whole point of JET is to provide a measurable benefit to Japanese society - and if the best that can be said about the program is that it "fosters goodwill", it is time to cut it. Take that 30man per month and divert it to scholarships for studying Education at foreign universities.

That's an interesting point: you think we should bring qualified educators and who speak a smattering of Japanese.

Really in ESL education, there is no other way than the all English way. There are too many nationalities to do anything else. Personally, however, I believe there are big advantages to use of the mother tongue in the monolingual group, provided that it is done in the right manner. That is, targeted and limited mother tongue usage to elliminate confusion. Many people think that using your brain and figuring things out is the way to go. I don't in the early stages. Confused kids means demotivated, anxious and finally bored and tuned out kids. Therefore use of the mother tongue to elliminate confusion and maximise understanding is a fine thing. However, the bulk of the class should be in English: 80 percent plus.

Therefore, the ideal would be to bring out qualified educators who are also fluent in Japanese. That's how to get the top results in my opinion. Of course that will not happen, however, except in the case of elite private schools. That is what these institutions are in fact doing now. That is why private places are beginning to make real progress, whereas state schools are not.

If bringing out qualified people who are fluent in Japanese is not an option for the state, then the best option would be to send a lot more Japanese teachers overseas to improve their English levels and to get professional training. That would be a better way to spend the money than to waste it on either Jets or on ALTs in my opinion. Raise the abilities of the main teachers and toss out the unskilled foriegn extras for anything more than very occasional cultural experience type events

When I graduated from college, way back in the mid 90's, I went to a party and was talking with my fellow graduates about how to pay off our college loans quickly and easily and the answer that everyone was talking about was going to Japan to teach English. One could get a job making about $25,000-$30,000 (equivalent) when most people were lucky to get a job making $18,000 stateside. Plus you could make $50-$60 an hour (equivalent) from a side job. In the states at the time one would be lucky to get a part-time job making $5-$6 dollars per hour. I met a former Eikaiwa teacher at the party who had just come back from a year in Japan and had paid off $7,000 in student loans and had $10,000 in the bank, plus had traveled all over Asia. All from his 3 million Yen per year Eikaiwa job and his 7,500 Yen per hour private lessons.

However, times have changed. Starting salaries for recent university graduates in the US average around $35,000 which is about what a JET makes given the recent strong Yen. And side jobs in Japan no longer pay 5,000 to 6,000 yen per hour, but 2,000 to 3,000 (sometimes even less). It's not unheard of to get be able to get a part-time job in the states making $15-$20 per hour. (The local Costco where I live pays $18 per hour.)

My Point: one of the reasons why both JET and Eikaiwa are ineffective was (is) because the teachers were not teachers. They didn't consider themselves to be teachers; they didn't go to Japan to teach. It was always about making money. Of course they were (are) some exceptions, but generally speaking...

The JET program and Eikaiwa for decades have been a way for recent college graduates in America (and other English speaking countries) to make some fast cash, pay down their debt (much of which is loaned to them by the government), and get some experience on their resume. Of course the American government doesn't want to see this program end because it has directly (loan repayment) and indirectly (reduced employment among recent college grads) benefited from it.

This is a fair point. However, if the Japanese government used the same money to send it's teachers overseas in greater numbers, then they would still be benefitting the American (other) economies at least.

Even at the best of times the benefit to recent grads was purely moenetary. In most cases, their real careers were going backwards for them while they were paying off their loans and when they came back they had some catching up to do.

From what I've heard, one of the main obstacles to canning both the Jet program and all ALT programs, which many beaurocrats would dearly love to do, is in fact the Japanese teacher lobby. These guys are more or less insisting that they need their JETS and thier ALTs and wouldn't be able to survive without them.

This is nonsense of course. However, if they didn't have dogsbodies to make their flashcards for them and organise fun and games for them, they would certainly be working harder and be a lot more tired than they already are. However, if you offered them a choice between the opportunity for educational travel in their jobs and having the JETs and the ALTs, I think they might start to change their minds on that one.

It has to be one of the worst endorsements for learning a foreign language to have Japanese teachers relying too much on the "native speaker". What does this say about the ability to learn a language? That you have to be native, in the end, to get good at it?

What a complete and utter waste of time this program was! This complete farce of a money-wasting program should have died a well-deserved death 10 years ago.
In spite of its good intentions, it has achieved nothing, not for the host institutions, or for the JETs that (if I'm completely honest) seemed to enroll on the program because they had nothing to do after graduation.
The JET experience is a far cry from what one is told at the interview or what one reads in the literature.
For example, as a former CIR, I walked into work everyday to an empty desk. The boss would always shrug his shoulders and say 'shiranai' every time I asked him what we're doing today. The BoE had no computers, no internet, and no resources to even carry-out what very little volunteer (ie. unofficial) work I could dream-up just to keep myself occupied. In other words, I had no job description.
And all the time, there is a vast pool of talented & experienced individuals waiting to contribute knowledge and skills to host institutions that do not give a dam.
On a much broader scale, the rest of Japan is no different.

"And all the time, there is a vast pool of talented & experienced individuals"

I always hear complaints about JET foreign staff being incompetent and inexperienced and how easy they have it.

Sounds like whining to me and maybe a bit of jealousy. If anyone would be dumb enough to take a contract with an eikawa and sign it then they deserve to be in their mess.

Also, the complaint that JET teachers are western white Anglo-Saxon types that dominate english teaching, money hungry, looking to only get laid, etc..etc.. More whining. The employees picked and their country of origin have more to do with Japan's love of stereotypes and their inverted culture. But to be sure the foreign employees are exploited used as human billboards for classes.

As for the JET program itself the government of Japan wastes billions of construction projects, pork barrel projects, and loads of other crap. Thats why the debt to GDP is 200%. The JET program at least exposes Japanese people to foreign culture, which given Japan's extreme invertedness, and ramped racism could only help the situation.

I agree, that jealous stuff said about the Jetsby eikaiwa employees is not to be taken as any more than it obviously is. Also, in its early stages I think that the JET program probably did have general cultural benefits in opening up Japan to other cultures. However, the period of big returns on that investment has long since passed. There are few further 'cultural enlightenment' gains to be made by the huge amounts spent on JET at this time, and some of the negatives of the whole project now start to look more significant than what supposed positive benefits remain.

The fact that huge monies have been wasted in other areas is beside the point. This is one area where the deficit can be cut without great deprivation to the general populace. One of the main reasons that the Japanese government recently sufferred a resounding electoral setback is because it wanted to raise sales tax without having done much yet about cutting waste of the kind that the JET program undoubtedly is.

If the JET program goes, then fuck teaching English in Japan. It's not worth the hassle of the horrible working conditions and lousy pay.

Let the summer vacation kiddies go there, work, live in Japan and welch on the contract when they find out their getting screwed.

Japan can become illiterate in English and seal itself off even more from the outside world until another black ship rolls into Yokohama harbor or another atomic bomb is dropped.

As is obvious from most of the comments thus far, few if any of the commenters actually know what the JET program is and how it works (or at least how it worked back in 97-99).
1) JET is an English teaching program in name only
For starters, there are various types of JETs. Granted, 65-70% are ALTs, but the rest are CIRs (internat'l relations folks) and SEAs (sports folks). I can remember being at an elementary school for a meet-and-greet with the locals. Two other JETs were there, one of which was Chinese and spoke only Chinese and Japanese. As another example, my girlfriend was a Japanese-speaking Russian CIR in Yamagata - her job was to facilitate trade between Russia and Japan (no English teaching there...).

2) JET is an "internationalization" program
JET is a gov't sponsored chance for the Japanese in Deliverance country to encounter a foreigner close-up without spending a small fortune. JETs aren't assigned to Tokyo or Osaka, they're almost always placed in the most rural, most backwater areas of Japan (I was in Fukushima, which Basho himself labeled みちのく[roughly 'east bumblef*ck']). Let us assume the gov't did not subsidize these JETs - would young foreigners/ALTs, of their own accord, forgo the bright lights of Tokyo or Osaka for life among the rice paddies in the likes of Tochigi, Gifu, or Akita prefectures? And would small municipalities hours away from the big cities, even by shinkansen, be able to afford to pay an ALT's salary without financial help?

3) JET is far from being the gov't's worst boondoggle
For the sake of argument, let us assume the JET program is a complete waste of money. Even so, it's not that much waste given the size of the program - there were only 4,600 participants in 2008, and they were spread all over the country. Commenters here complain as if JETs were everywhere. I'd wager that in its day GEOS had more people in two or three major Japanese cities than then JET program did in the entire country. And yet no one is belittling the GEOS folks.

4) JET is not a waste
As mentioned in 2), JET provides a framework for "internationalization" that's not limited to a specific language or set of countries. Given the rise of China, the J-gov't could easily switch from English ALTs to Chinese ALTs and increase the existing number of Chinese CIRs.
Japan also has to consider its future. Although Japan would love for robots to solve all their problems, the fact is that the country's vastly aged society needs to be cared for, and there aren't enough locals to do the job. So "internationalization" is going to be the buzzword of the future since 1) the elderly population is highly concentrated in more rural parts of Japan and 2) nurses from the Philippines, Indonesia, or wherever will be needed in those parts to care for the population. Think of JET as clearing a small path in understanding.

That's what's great about getting involved with a foreigner. You can't take it personally. What's really terrific is that when we act in ways which might objectively...seem assholish, or incredibly annoying, they don't get upset at all. They just assum

All of the above does little to persuade me away from the opinion that the greatest 'internationalisation' gains to be gained from JET have already been had.

Agreed in the main

Although the presence of foriegners in country areas is and will remain less than in rural areas, they are no longer the mysterious rarity of yore. Even in country areas, people are already well used to having foriegners around and this trend will continue. JETS are not especially needed there. If there is any need for this kind of cultural experience thing , then the large number of foriegn residents already in the country should be more than adequate to service it on an occasional basis as required.

Size is not important. If the money is a waste, then it is a waste. Yes, as a matter of fact, I am belittling the GEOS folks. They are worse, and it is good they are no longer around.

The idea of bringing in a lot of Philipinos etc to look after the aged is one of the daftest ideas one can imagine: one of the most important areas of care to the aged is in helping them to maintain their cognitive powers. Not only will the impororted workers experience alienation, so will the supposed beneficiaries of their care, Japan's old, be alienated from their own culture. It's a truly ignorant idea and already a proven failure as the trial group were unable to upgrade their Japanese sufficiently quickly to pass examinations. Whoever thought up that should not be working in public policy. Japanese people should accept responsibility for looking after their own.

What is the relationship of JET to all this? I'm not sure, but it can hardly be a good or useful one.

If they were serious about English teaching they would require all the JETs to have serious English teaching training and maybe even some experience! Most of the JETs have never had a job before (straight from school). Sure this would drastically reduce the numbers, but thats OK, you would only have serious teachers who know what they are doing!
Otherwise, as stated many times, its basically a feel good international relations thing (which is OK but its not the main purpose)

"into a world of slumber, the dull march on"

directed to a Jgov. that expects everyone but themselves to solve all of their self imposed problems for them.

March on you fuckers.

The JET program is a blessing, compared with the evil nature of Eikaiwa.

Compare JET, with Sahashi and Nova, for example. You simply can’t compare.

My favorite Sahashi moment, during his golden years, and before the nature of his grand plan and criminality became public, was when, while being interviewed and massaged with accolades, he joked with the reporters, “next thing you know, they will want be to be President of a Bank”.

If you look closely at his body language in that interview, it was actually an invitation to the public, to slot him in.

The guy actually hoped someone would back him, to reside over the Presidency of a Bank, so he thought he would just, you know, throw it out there.

If he had succeeded, well, you can only imagine what would have happened. The JET program would have probably folded already, because the Japanese government would have had to spend the funds allocated to it, compensating the customers of Monkey Business Bank, and dedicating resources to finding out what happened to all of the money.

Don’t hang shit on the JET program in other words. It is about the only show in town, where teachers don’t get screwed over, one way, or another.

The contradiction between JET and EIKAIWA makes clear the Japanese government does need to regulate EIKAIWA, since the tax payers yen, spent on JET, is done so in order to by and large promote Japan. Unfotunately, the benefit gained is lost, by thousands of Eikaiwa workers, year in year out, returning home, thinking Japan is a weird country full of con-merchants.

It seems the main reason for the complaining is "The Jet program is not working because the Japanese kids are not speaking English better"

well, if that was the only issue, why do they hire JETs who have no teaching experience or qualifications for teaching English?

Its this means a huge drop in numbers, so be it!

Its not rocket science, if you hire a music graduate with straight from school (no experience) and an English graduate, with 1 years experince, its not shock to anyone if the English teacher out does the music graduate!

wake up

Sorry but JET is a joke and needs to go.

Japan needs to hire foreign teachers directly ( not use Haken /dispatch companies ) but ones that are actually trained/educated to teach English.

The soft diplomacy the JET hopes to get is washed 90 percent away by the limits on teaching ( jet is usually 3 years ), and the low pay and poor work conditions that Dispatch companies and Eikawas have.

They want to practice good education and good soft diplomacy, then do away with the par time/short time working limits and offer real jobs to people with at least some experience and some education that is at least slightly relate-able to teaching




Even if they hired quality teachers, most of them would only be used as human tape recorders the majority of the time anyway.

agreed, I should add that they should actually give those teachers real teaching responsibilities and roles too

Maybe sometime in the next 1000 years

I made 360,000 yen a month at Nova and they contributed to my shakai hoken. I'd say that salary blew away the JET salary to the tune of about 700,000/year.

I'd say having back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back lessons was a little tough, but the free time I have now in a high school is mind numbing as well, plus, now I have to banter with Japanese co-workers instead of foreigners from around the world. 'Nuff said.

The JET SALARY IS 360,000 plus apartment , plus no work a month or two with sick days off ect ect.

It certainly didn't create the perceived problems with 'English education' and 'EFL' in Japan. I think those ALTs in Tokyo and other larger cities might do better after the program than those who end up in the backside of nowhere Japan, despite the higher living costs. The program did create a 'foreign element' in many parts of Japan where before it was limited to Chinese and Brazilians (although it's the latter two who really create 'internationalization' in Japan).

I used to take home 456000 YEN per month with Nova. I climbed the ropes. Yes, I miss those days. Nova was fantastic. Best damn job ever.

I used to take home 456000 YEN per month with Nova. I climbed the ropes. Yes, I miss those days. Nova was fantastic. Best damn job ever.

Bloody hell. How did you manage to wrangle THAT much money out of them?

The JET Programme (official site: ) is a teaching and cultural exchange program in Japan that brings over 4400 people from overseas (for a detailed breakdown of the stats, see: ). It then places most of them as 'assistant language teachers' (ALTs) in middle schools and high schools all across the country. While there are a small number of people from countries where English is a foreign language (officially 36 countries participate), and there are posts for 'coordinators for international relations' (CIRs), who specialize in things like translation, the vast majority of JET Programme participants are natives of an anglophone country, young adults, recent graduates from university, and they will team teach as ALTs.

There has been a lot of discussion online and in newspapers recently about the purposes and usefulness of the JET Programme because the program is quite likely to be either drastically cut or eliminated altogether. In terms of money spent and personnel employed, JET is already past its earlier peaks anyway.

It should be noted that discussions like this one here at ELT in Japan are usually held because the rationale for the program is being questioned--indeed, its reason for being has always been questioned, since the program's inception 25 years ago, back in the bubble 80s. However, these sorts of discussions have no effect on whether or not the program is increased, maintained, curtailed or eliminated. Rather such disucssions are more like: Who do you think will win the World Cup next time? We are spectators who must speculate.

Defenders of the program have often argued that, even if the JET Programme is relatively low impact in terms of teaching and language learning, its main goal is something called 'cross- cultural exchange' (or often 'cross-cultural understanding'). One problem with this notion is that it is difficult to pin down just what that is or how to quantify it (even roughly quantify it). Since the program only employs people by the few thousand and scatters them thinly across the country, that really doesn't seem to be much of a population for cross-cultural exchange compared to the large numbers of Chinese, for example, who have come to Japan to work or attend school. Another problem with the idea is that it supports the prejudice that for Japan cross-cultural exchange consists of maintaining good relations with anglophone countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. A last weakness in the cultural defense of the program could be stated thus: Isn't the whole idea of foreign language education based, at least in part, on the rationale of furthering cultural understanding? So wouldn't the needs of cross-cultural exchange be met equally or better by emphasizing foreign language teaching and learning?

I predict that the ongoing economic, monetary and fiscal crises that Japan has will lead to the JET Programme being abolished or cut to a size that most will forget the program exists. However, I would like to hope that the program could be revised or transformed so that something worthwhile could be scraped up from the ashes.

Japan as a country needs a foreign policy independent of the hegemon, the United States. Perhaps a step towards that would be to achieve some sort of real mutual understanding with the rest of Asia (including Russia). This could also be expanded to include non-anglophone countries all around the world, but perhaps most significantly Latin America and Africa. However, the economic and cultural significance of developed and developing Europe (outside of the UK) would justify as much a focus as the US or the UK or othe developed English-speaking countries get now in Japan in terms of 'international relations' and cross-cultural exchange.

With that in mind, the JET Programme could be revised to something along these lines: It should become a true EXCHANGE program of EFL and foreign language teachers, from the primary to the university level. For example, language teachers from China, S. Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Italy, Russia, etc. come to Japan for one year. Japanese EFL and foreign language teachers go abroad and work in schools in such countries for one year.

All this is not to say that the current JET Programme (or its antecedents) have been failures. It is not really for me to judge such a matter. I am only offering here an idea that might help make exchange a venture with a deeper educational impact.

If the JET program has failed, it seems most likely just another aspect of Japan's inability to reform and improve foreign language education at all levels of education. If the ALTs comprise a 'token foreign element' at public and private schools in Japan, the same thing could be said for the foreign nationals teaching EFL at the thousands of universities and colleges in Japan. So if Japan, its education system, and its government can not come to a collective understanding of what they need in terms of foreign language education, THAT--as has been made clear to me numerous times--is a matter for Japan and the Japanese.

The Center Exam has an English listening section. The problem is universities or programs or departments simply waiving the scores in order to get their quotas. In other words, changing entrance exams doesn't necessarily change the way English is taught. What if universities required a minimum TOEIC score--like 400--to get into their institutions? Simple. They would fail to get their quotas of students and then waive the requirement.

TOEIC is a business English test. Why would academic institutions want to rely on that? TOEFL would be the more obvious choice. You are right that it would be waived, however - and quite rightly, unless people were attempting a major in which English ability was truly needed.

Why on earth penalise your brightest and best for a crappy language education system that fails to get results? Are you going to stop your future American scientists, engineers etc from pursuing their talent because they couldn't do well in High School Spanish? Language studies are optional in the vast majority of western institutions. They should be in Japan as well.

TOEIC is not a business English test. It is a test of English as an international language.

TOEFL wouldn't even register a valid score for the majority of test takers.

Most people can't 'major in English' because such a major rarely exists. They can't even 'minor' in it.

I didn't say TOEIC would be the ideal test--and given its slant towards adult business and travel English, perhaps that is expecting too many schema to be filled by the test taker.

I don't disagree with you about English. But I get sick of hearing how Japan needs English etc. etc.
They sure don't act like they need English, the vast majority of them.

What majors would require 'English'? I'm sure in Japan they would say things like 'engineering' for sure, as all those future scientists and engineers need to communicate in it. Cutting off who needs English and doesn't is a slippery slope.

To which crappy system were you referring? Japan, which does fairly well on international comparisons or the US's which doesn't. As for university engineers, the US's strength is its ability to 'import' many international students in such topics, who then stay on and vote Republican.

At the end of the day, Japan has now dropped to , will never be "above" the U.S. liked it has always strove for, and is in serious economic and politic decline....Hence the sudden rise in nationalistic rhetoric.

What about the collapse of the US and all that 'national security' rhetoric out of the US? It looks even more pathetic than watching Japan, the US's satellite.

TOEIC does indeed stand for Test of English for International Comminication. However, the test developer states that TOEIC was developed because

'Since English is one of the most commonly used languages for international commerce, employers saw the need to have a common measure of the language skills of their employees and prospective employees'.

To put it simply, this test was requested by and produced for the business community. To all intents and purposes it is a Business English test.

I agree, more or less, about TOEFL. However, it still makes more sense than TOEIC because it has world recognition as an academic English test. TOEIC has virutually no recognition outside of Japan, whose business community originally requested the test and some acceptance in Korea.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say that most people can't major in English. Actually, you can major in English as far as I am aware.

It's nice that you don't disagree with my main point however. Japanese and other people should develop better translation programs to reduce the need for language skills in business.

Out of the top 200 uni's in the world Japan has 5 in that top 200, Tokyo comes in at 52. the next one comes in at 76 ( Kyoto ) and the others come in the way above 150

anyone that has worked in a Uni here knows that EVERYONE passes, the hard part is getting into the UNI but once you do its basically a free pass to graduation

1. Actually TOEFL and TOEIC are converging. TOEFL has become more 'practical' and 'TOEIC' has got a bit more difficult and thoroughgoing in its tasks. For the most part, they were developed and vetted by ETS. I suspect that the people in Japan had a minimum of input on TOEIC and basically took fees and kickbacks to market the thing. I have wondered if perhaps EIKEN/STEP offers more if used as an admissions or placement test, but it is a criteria-referenced exam, so its reliability will most likely come in lower than norm-referenced ones like TOEFL and TOIEC. TOEFL is really designed to test people who want to get into academic programs that are conducted in English, usually in the US, Canada, and I've heard some institutions in Australia accept it.

2. TOEIC might work better than TOEFL simply, as I alluded to earlier, because it starts to test at a lower proficiency level, so is more likely to register a valid score for the majority of test takers. You can equate a TOEIC and TOEFL score fairly easily, but the simply fact is, the TOEIC scale starts much lower, and the TOEFL scale finishes quite a bit higher (although not as much as it used to).

3. Most people who think 'English' is a major in Japan are really thinking of 'English education', a teacher training program. It is only open to a few (I often wonder for those who have low English). It tends to be scattered over 'practical English courses' (taught by 'native speakers'), linguistics (taught by Japanese who know mostly 'formal linguistics'), and 'eigo kyouiku' people, who basically train students on how to get certified and get a teaching job (while the job market basically only accepts a small percentage of them anyway). It is not really an EFL major. It is an 'English pedgagogy' major, and in dire need of reform nationwide.

Here, however, we have an interesting 'washback' effect that most don't discuss: how school board and school hiring practices turn such university programs into lunatic idiocy.

Actually it's not that hard to get into most universities--just hard to get into the top 100 or so. And even then, there is very little comparison between the top 20 and the rest of them. The top 20 rake in huge amounts of money on application and exam fees alone because they get so many applicants, so many more than they could possibly accept.

One of my blogs has articles on QS and THES rankings and Todai is placed in the top 30 of both, although this is real slippage compared to the time when Todai challenged the top 10. Kyodai is an anomaly because I'm used to seeing it in the top 30 but the new, revised THES rankings puts it at 57.

To what rankings are you referring? I'd be interested in knowing for my blog. I will run an article on the one from the university in China this year too. It seems to be an averaging of all rankings, so a league table of league tables, if you will.

Looking at the report I think the idea is to cut the fat out of CLAIR, stacked as it is with bureaucrats who have no where to go. I think the cost of overseas operations must be a sticking point. The report seems to indicate that they wonder if they can't make major changes to the program to bring the costs down. And all along many people thought that the salaries to ALTs were the major expense!

Draconian cuts are going to spread all across the national government. National universities are going to see their bloc grants hacked year after year.

>>As far as education goes, that's a whole different ballgame. How about instead of teaching EVERYBODY English we just teach those who want it. About 90 percent of the populace don't need it and about 70 percent don't want it enough to study for it so just teach the 10 to 30 percent who want and or need it!<<

That would put most 'English teachers' in the country out of a job. Since that means unemploying so many Japanese English teachers, it will never happen.

The comment about the 'abolition of ALTs' seems to be an isolated comment, although it might be significant in that it was included. The report's conclusions well conclude about the JET Programme the following (which seems kind of vague to me). I would expect the program to continue to decline with the local authorities to continue to decline, etc.:

海外事務所の必要性に関しては十分な理解が得られていない、JET プログラム

I would agree that ETS has worked over the last few years to upgrade the quality of its tests, mainly in response to the emergence of competing tests such as the British IELTS. Although ETS is now in the strange position of having a number of different vesions of the TOEFL test. This seems to be more about catering to their market than about test validity.

However, to suggest that TOEIC and TOEFL are therefore converging is strange indeed. They are completely different tests: one for the academic setting and the other for the business setting. Niether is particularly suitable as a measure of the abilities of the typical Japanese university entrant. Eiken would indeed be better, but it is also not very suitable. Really, I don't see the necessity for any test at all, except in the case of people who are majoring in English or have a component of their course that includes overseas studies, such as Gadai students.

>>However, to suggest that TOEIC and TOEFL are therefore converging is strange indeed. They are completely different tests: one for the academic setting and the other for the business setting.<<

All you have to do is look at the structure of the tests and the types of tasks, and you see converging similarities. Sorry to have to disagree with you, but to suggest otherwise is strange.

>>Really, I don't see the necessity for any test at all, except in the case of people who are majoring in English or have a component of their course that includes overseas studies, such as Gadai students.<<

We have been over this before: 1. there are not a lot of language majors, minors or concentrations in Japan at the university level, 2. most departments, if asked, will specify that English is something their students need and so will require it (as does the Ministry of Education), 3. I said use the test more for placement than for entrance, since this is the big breakdown issue in teaching EFL classes in Japan. For example, I really don't want to be teaching 'English composition' to students who have the minimum score on the TOEIC. They need to be spending their time on learning more English before wasting my time with their efforts at 'composition'.

If you were making the claim that there is a move towards convergence in question style and level between the two tests, that would be fine. You could argue that. However, it would appear that you view these things as being far more important than test content. I don't.

People with a good level of general English ability but who are insufficiently familiar with the vocabulary and norms of the favoured contexts (business in the first case and academic in the second) will score much less well than people of similar ability who have been exposed to them. Both tests are context specific for a reason: they do not aim to test people's general abilities, but rather their abilities as they relate to specific contexts.

There are no two ways around it, I'm afraid, your suggestion of using TOEIC was and is absolutely daft. It's just unfortunate that there are so many lazy administrators out there that misuse tests in exactly the ways that you seem to think are OK.

The problem is the ESL instructors, teachers, etc. misunderstand the true goal of the TOEIC. This has a lot to with most English teachers and administrators coming from liberal arts backgrounds. They really do not know any better. Not many business professionals, especially those with English teaching experience, venture into the crazy ESL world...However, talk to a real business professional (sorry English teachers who happen to teach "business" English and TOEIC), and they will tell you the test is just too simple and not broad or specific enough. The students who it is geared to (at least originally) are those seeking office assistant and other similar jobs, not marketing strategists, financial analysts, organizational designers, etc. These are NOT business professionals, but those working in a business environment. Therefore, the TOEIC is NOT a business English test as much as it is a test for business environments.

It's fair to say that the TOEIC test is ideally suited to indicating general English skills in the business environment, and that is mostly what the test is used for when it is being used correctly. For example it can be used as an indicator with entry level staff in such organisations as trading companies. Such staff would then be expected to learn the more context specific language required by their company on the job - if that was actually needed, which it often isn't. Whether such staff continued to work as junior administration professionals or got promoted into more challenging roles remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether these people will need to, or are able to develop their English ability in manner that matches their employee level. The same kinds of things could be said of the TOEFL test, which is also an entry level indicator, and will not say much about the ability of the candidate as it specically applies to their chosen field. Nor does it need to as they will hopefully be able develop such ability as they study in that field.

I'm not sure, however, where you get the idea that most ESL teachers are unaware of this. I would expect that most people with any kind of an education ought to be. Whether, the TOEIC test should or should not be described a business english test, or whether the TOEFL test should not be described as an academic English test because they are focused on the entry level is a matter of semantics more than anything else.

The real problems occur when admistrators in businesses and educational institutions misuse these tests. because they want to use something cheap and off the shelf rather than pay for something that would be more relevant. This subjects entry applicants to uneccesary stress, whilst supplying information that is of limited value.

>>f you were making the claim that there is a move towards convergence in question style and level between the two tests, that would be fine. You could argue that. However, it would appear that you view these things as being far more important than test content. I don't.<<

Content too. Ask people at ETS how they worked to make the TOEFL more 'practical'. This was at the demand of so many at university programs in the US who said students lacked practical English skills for everyday life and TOEFL was often not showing this. So yes, in terms of content, TOEFL has been influenced by TOEIC.

I remember a discussion from someone at ETS a few years back about how the challenge was to make the TOEFL more practical and the literacy tasks on TOEIC more rigorous. And how the two tests had converged somewhat. Also, there is enough convergence to assign with some surety a comparable TOEFL score once you have a TOEIC score. The issue is to remember that the TOEIC starts lower in measuring proficiency, so its lowest scores would be invalid for yielding a TOEFL score.

I'm not sure why we are having this argument. Do you teach these exams to your students? You might learn something if you compared and contrasted the two exams.

Insofar as the ETS claims both tests are VALID and RELIABLE tests of English proficiency, it really doesn't matter what the ultimate goal of the TOEIC and TOEFL are--that's more a matter of ETS' marketing. TOEFL has been repeatedly criticized for not being practical enough, and TOEIC for not being rigorous enough. If you look at the most frequent words of English and the sub-technical core vocabulary used on the exams, they are not that different except TOEFL covers more topic areas.

As for English proficiency, what difference does it make if you have for academia or for business/company settings. When you get right down to it, you use it to communicate in everyday life.

Some seem to be confusing topic specialities and English proficiency. I admit the distinction is not always clear cut when you get into content teaching (in EFL) and English for specific purposes, like EAP or EST. But there is still a distinction to be made.

The problem for many companies using the TOEIC is that they have far too many employees at ALL levels, right on up to those specialists, who can not communicate effectively in English.

I know both of these tests very well and have taught them many times. However, it is not something that I relish because preparing people for these tests does little to improve their English, particularly in the circumstances that they are low level candidates.

Today's campus conversations in the TOEFL test are indeed more authentic than the older ones. However, they are still, I'm afraid campus conversations and in order to understand them you need to know something of the language that applies to the norms of campus life. Conversely an office conversation about a late consignment is best understood by someone who has familiarity with the norms of office communication. Why on earth would you want to use a test with skews of that nature as either and entrance or a placement test for who have mostly been studying materials at a more general level and will only have this type of knowledge if they have been dong some special study for the sole purpose of improving their university entrance chances? Seems crazy to me. Write your own test, if you must, and base it on the abilities that you want to see.

I can understand why you ask me why we are having this conversation. The answer is I have seen these tests missapplied and badly so on many occasions now and it really gets my goat. I have occasionally asked people why they do it, and they will say something like, well we don't want to waste money on our own test. All we want is to know who can get the top scores (or something like that). That is, it's perfectly fine to dick hundreds of people around doing a test that is completely inappropriate to their situation just to find out who gets the top scores. That kind of attitude really brasses me off, it's incredibly lazy and thoughtless.

Basically I'm tired of having to teach English composition to students who have absolutely no English at all, or 'advanced conversation' to students who can not understand what the TOEIC would identify as not able to understand simple communication. It's tiring. Without some sort of diagnostics and placement in Japan, EFL can not really progress. Note, please note, that I have come out against using TOEIC as an entrance exam for English mostly because I know that universities and departments and programs would just waive it anyway in order to get their quotas. I do favor requiring it in order to get some idea who the basic English learners are and to separate them from the high beginners, intermediates, and occasional advanced level students.

Testing is really the issue here--for entrance, diagnostics, and placement--and achievement and even graduation (such as, should it be required that students attain to certain level of English). I have to teach hundreds of students every semester. It would be a Sisyphean task to plan, run and evaluate their courses--and also run placement tests for them--which would be ignored anyway, since they would have no power of authority to place students in the right classes for their level. Also, you seem to forget the issue of norming the tests so they serve the purpose you want them to serve. Yes, I do a lot of practical evaluation of students and have even written a piece about how to write practical English tests for university students at mostly a beginning to high beginning level. But these have use for placement because I have no power over placement.

>>But these have use for placement because I have no power over placement.>>

That would be : these have NO use for placement....

And I go back to the observation I made earlier: >>Insofar as the ETS claims both tests are VALID and RELIABLE tests of English proficiency, it really doesn't matter what the ultimate goal of the TOEIC and TOEFL are--that's more a matter of ETS' marketing.<<

That is why they could be used more practically for entrance (knowing full well that most institutions would simply lower the required score until they waived any valid score because so many of their students couldn't even get the valid minimal score) and placement. That is not to say that they are perfect measures of proficiency, but neither is translating sentences from an essay about the genius of Shakespeare or Charles Dickens.

>>Today's campus conversations in the TOEFL test are indeed more authentic than the older ones. However, they are still, I'm afraid campus conversations and in order to understand them you need to know something of the language that applies to the norms of campus life.<<

I watched campus comedies before I was even pubescent (the clean ones of the 1940s and 1950s) and could understand the campus conversations in the movie. That is the beauty of language--you can use most of it for most situations in order to communicate. The bias in ETS' TOEFL is that it is American campus life, but since this is about getting entrance to mostly American institutions, that is predictable.

Perhaps we ought to go back and look more closely at the listening test on the Center Exam--but then we would also have to discuss how many institutions or departments don't require anything but 'a score' on it--and then lament that their students have such low English!

Yes, I see. I would not favour the TOEIC. Placement tests are best produced by individual departments, so that they can be directly related to the curriculum that will be taught. Use of standardised tests is slack from a pedogogical perspective. However, if it was necessary to use a standardised test then ideally it would be one in which most of the reading/listening content was restricted to national curriculum materials and those with abilities outside of that could shine on any writing and/or speaking test that was applied.

In theory, those who have mastered the national curriculum would be high intermediate to advanced level students. In practice, the majority have not mastered it and are elementary to low intermediate. Therefore, the national curriculum materials are adequate to determine placement for the vast majority of students without imposing contexts with which the vast majority will be unfamiliar.

>>Yes, I see. I would not favour the TOEIC. Placement tests are best produced by individual departments, so that they can be directly related to the curriculum that will be taught.<<

What would my department produce? Sentence-level translation tasks on Dickens & Hawthorne, Noam Chomsky and S. Krashen. Localizing to departments will just add to the ineffectiveness and across-institution chaos that already plagues EFL in Japan.

I say require a hard score from some test or other to get a rough idea--knowing full well that they will lower required scores or waive until quotas are met. Better that than some arbitrary measure like: we let her in because she is pleasant and pretty and will make a nice teacher.

I didn't address the specific issue of placement in most of my last post.

Some science departments at my university did impose their 'own' placement test on their students. Actually, they used some ESL proficiency tool not normed on EFL populations. That is because they know absolutely nothing about English, EFL or testing.

I like the idea of writing up a real normed, standardized exam using the national curriculum/courses of study, knowing full well that it would get used for entrance and not placement (once entranced) and that required scores would be lowered or waived until all entrance quotas were met.

I was former JET and I've seen many instances of Irish JETs, non-JET Aussies and non-JET foreigners coming to Japan to get laid. And it's a real problem as most of these girls go through serious depression. They're in their early 20s and are cast aside after they're been fucked and it's a real problem as most Japanese girls would have a hard time getting married after that, if you know anything about the culture that is.

The problem is the girls themselves. Some Japanese girls have a problem with guys, or people in general (in their own culture), so they see foreigners as a kind of way out of Japan, some ideal to aspire to that will quash all the issues they have with themselves. When it doesn't work out like that, then yes, I could imagine some of them do get depressed about it.

The young guys that come to Japan and get into that kind of thing are, like any young guys and girls on working holidays, out to have a good time and live it up. With the cultural and language barrier, and the whole trip of being in Japan and "living the dream", I don't think many of them would think about why some of these J-girls are so keen to get laid by foreigners or get a foreign boyfriend.

I was on the programme some years ago and had the worst teaching experience of my life! I was appalled at the standard of teachers upon arrival and the overall attitudes of getting on to the JET programme! I saw people claiming it was the best way to earn money after Uni due to not knowing what else to do; they had heard the hours were not as strict so plenty of time to 'travel'; one of the worst comments was 'the Japanese are so easygoing there won't be a problem with skiving'! I chose to ignore these initial comments, all of which were heard at the Tokyo 3-day orientation!!!!!!!! Went on to my place and happily settled in and met other foreign teachers from other organisations and was lucky enough to meet Japanese friends for life through them. However, when they 1st heard I was with JET they were not impressed and the tales of JETs in that area were not good.
At a meeting later on in the 1st year I got to witness the true 'essence' of JET and it all revolved around partying, feeling superior to their host country and all in all, forgetting why they were really here. And, yes, I did get to witness the disgusting geeky men get lucky due to Japanese women seeing only 'a foreigner'!!Depressing and made me ashamed to be British at times.
I was lucky enough to see the other side of living in Japan and chose not to mix with the JET community, which did not go down well (I was an outcast immediately) but after several encounters throughout the rest of the year I was glad I stayed as distant as I could. The impressive interview panel was completely squashed in my eyes upon meeting some of the people they had allowed on to the programme and yes, I am talking about allowing mentally unstable people to be around children!
So, do I think the JET programme will leave a hole in ELT in Japan?
I think it will be the best thing to happen to Japan in a long time. It has had a good running.. Time to give up the pretence.

that seems to be a problem with the kiddos on the programme, yeah? not the programme itself. After all, YOU got accepted. It's a shame that a lot of people get in by saying the right things "oh I'm TOTES all about culture and learning and stuff etc, etc" in the interview, then sloughing off when they get there. On the other hand, people who go because they have a real passion for what they're doing (or going to do), probably get lost in the mix because, like you, they shied away from this nonsense.

Remember, these are the same people that probably treated their college education the same way as well, majoring in some bullshit thing like "exercise science" or something. You're going to find these people everywhere in life. Yeah, that would suck ass though seeing people not appreciate this opportunity, but basing the demise of JET on bad apple douchebags, and not on the programme itself, seems a bit weak.

The previous poster alluded to it, but I'll say it more directly. If they did a decent job of screening applicants, they'd have much better instructors. That goes not just for jet, but Eikaiwa too. A large percentage of foreign people I've met who work here would NOT LAST FIVE MINUTES IN AN INTERVIEW in most sectors.

I have met people working in all kinds of jobs, good and bad, but the standard of foreign teaching related employee here stinks much harder than any other sector I've worked in. Who is to blame? I place the blame primarily at the hirers. Do we want foreigners here? Of course, but the recruiters are stiffing us.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Haiku award cermony to attend.

That's always been the problem in Japan. There should be a minimum standard. As I have said before, CELTA is a good place to start. Accredited employers should at the very least insist that their teachers hold a CELTA award. That's the starting point. That's the bare minimum. From there, standards can be built on. It's a matter of eliminating the unqualified backpackers, and making way for people who know what they are talking about. Enjoy Japan but CELTA is a very good starting point if you want to further your career back home. It's better for the students and its better for you. That's all I have been trying to say, all along.

Perhaps a teaching degree at Undergrad or Postgrad level, and an attitude that doesn't stink to high heaven.

As I have said before, CELTA is a good place to start.

So all those people with all those different usernames, repeating the same sentence over and over again, were all you all along! Wow, I'd never have guessed. Here was me thinking the letters in the names being the same was just a very weird coincidence.

That's always been the problem in Japan. There should be a minimum standard. As I have said before, CELTA is a good place to start. Accredited employers should at the very least insist that their teachers hold a CELTA award. That's the starting point. That's the bare minimum. From there, standards can be built on. It's a matter of eliminating the unqualified backpackers, and making way for people who know what they are talking about. Enjoy Japan but CELTA is a very good starting point if you want to further your career back home. It's better for the students and its better for you. That's all I have been trying to say, all along.

So you've still got this imaginary Mackorello character on the brain, and are obsessed with various aspects of his thinking that you've created, namely that CELTA is a "good place to start", accredited employers should look for people with CELTAs, so that they can "eliminate backpackers" and "build standards", and then you can "further your career back home".

Do tell us more about Mackorello, I'm intrigued. He's obviously got to you quite severely. Think of it as therapy.

Ho Hum.

Some people ceaselessly think about qualifications.

Some people unremittingly think about what internet posters have on their brains.

But what the Japanese government is persistently thinking about is shutting JET.

Many arguments are put forward as being the probable reason for this.

One reason discussed is that both Eikaiwa and JET have had no measurable impact on English fluency rates in Japan at all.

But the main reason is much simpler than that.

There are many contributing causes, but the most significant behind the desire to close JET is because the Japanese Government is saddled with an enormous debt burden.

It needs to reign in optional spending.

For this reason alone JET is doomed and you had better get used to it.

The problem with the DPJ is that they haven't had a clear, consistent line with regard to their relations with other countries. The Futenma relocation debacle shows how naive they are about it, and viewing JET as a teaching rather than cultural exchange programme only furthers that view.

As this post was written nearly a year ago, my guess will be that they've been forced to have a serious rethink on their position.

It's been awhile since I have posted here, and it's been a long time since I said anything about CELTA. Some six months ago, I said that a CELTA was better than nothing. That was then; this is now. I am now teaching a TESOL course that was apparently conceived in the image of a Cambridge CELTA publication. After reviewing the "bible" of CELTA, I have determined that CELTA textbook lacks substance that would be of any benefit to a serious TESL student. I can only surmise that the same must be said of CELTA itself. I have made only cursory references to the textbook in my course. Rather than subject my students to the sophomoric content that is pervasive in CELTA, I have shared with them, as best I can, what I learned in my TESL Certificate program in graduate school. CELTA may be the start of something, but certainly the beginning of one's journey to competence in TESL/TEFL.

errata: I meant "certainly NOT the beginning...


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