500 English Sentences
Scott sat looking out the window, watching a group of boys playing baseball in the
school yard. Poor kids, he thought, they are the real losers in all of this. He looked down
at a copy of 500 English Sentences and the endorsement letter on his desk. He glanced
at the clock and realized that he had to have an answer for Mr. Honda within the hour.
He was feeling very frustrated and stressed from the events of the past 10 days. He
decided that he would go to the karate school after work, something that always made
him feel better. He sighed as he thought about what he had to do next
Scott was 26 years old and had been living in Japan for 18 months. ...view middle of the document...
I thought it would be enlightening
to experience Japanese culture and learn more about their ways of thinking. My goal
was to one day go over to Japan and train in a Japanese karate dojo (school) and learn from
a real karate sensei. My biggest problem was to figure out how to go about doing this.
I knew that I didn’t have the luxury of just moving to Japan to study karate, and since
I didn’t speak the language I figured that my chances of working for a company in Japan
were about nil.
In the fall of his senior year, Scott saw a poster for the Japan Exchange and
Teaching (JET) Program at school that advertised teaching jobs in Japan. He had heard
of other students going over to Japan to teach English but had never given any serious
thought to a career in teaching, even if only for a short time. To work as an assistant .
English teacher on the JET program, applicants had to have a bachelor’s degree and an
interest in Japan. Knowledge of Japanese language or a degree in education were not
listed as requirements. This was what Scott had been hoping for: an opportunity to go
over to Japan to continue his karate under a Japanese instructor as well as a chance to
put his English degree to good use. He wrote the address in his notebook and sent for an
application that very night.
The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program
Before the JET Program
The origins of the JET program can be traced back to 1982. In that year, the Japanese
Ministry of Education (Monbusho) initiated a project known as the Monbusho English
Fellows (MEF) Program, which hired Americans to work at the local boards of education
in order to assist Japanese English teaching consultants who acted as advisers to the
Japanese teachers of English in the public schools. The task of the MEFs was to oversee
the junior and senior high school English teachers and to assist them with their training.
In 1983, the British English Teachers Scheme (BETS) was inaugurated by the Ministry
of Education. However, from the outset the British teachers were stationed at schools,
and the goals of the program did not only concern English instruction but also sought to
increase mutual understanding and improve friendly relations between the peoples of
Japan and Britain. While there were some differences between the two programs, both
shared a common goal: inviting native English speakers to Japan to assist in improving
foreign language instruction.
The Birth of the JET Program
The realization that Japan must open itself more fully to contact with international society
began to foster an awareness of the importance of promoting internationalization
and international exchange at the local level. This brought about not only expanded
English instruction, but also a rapid increase in exchange programs. Taking these new
circumstances into account, the Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs in 1985 released a
paper titled “Plans for International Exchange Projects” as part of its...