JET alumni: Advocates for Japan | The Japan Times
I don't know how effective the JET program is in its mission to increase English proficiency here in Japan. Seriously. I'm not about to knock the JET program. I'm just telling you I haven't looked at any figures on its effectiveness. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must believe in it, since he's planning to expand the program.
Good idea? Bad idea? My gut feeling is-- and I'm writing this as an English teacher in Japan with an admitted bias-- it's a very good idea. Let others debate with stats and quotes. On a day-to-day basis, the teachers I work with and I knock ourselves out to put lessons across and get kids speaking and understanding English. It's in my nature to hope for and expect similar situations at other schools where these JETs will work. Most importantly, I'm simply in favor of people in all countries learning (or trying to learn, even in a half-assed way) second, third or even fourth languages. Language learning in general is a positive thing. If nothing else, it teaches you to appreciate how lucky you are to have natural abilities in your native language. And I advocate to any young person interested in doing so to give Japan a try for a year.
Check these guys out in the link above. It's fun reading about people who came over, had a ball, then went back, did a few things only to return to Japan in another capacity. The people in this Japan Times article about JET alumni are success stories, and that's fun, too.
I think Japan is a fine place to live. I came over with a big conversation school chain that shall remain nameless, but I flirted with the JET program. The reason I didn't apply to be a JET is simple-- I missed the deadline and I didn't want to wait another year for the next one. I found a faster way. Within six months I had a working visa and a job in Japan and I've been here on and off ever since. My experiences here have been overwhelmingly positive. Maybe I've lived a charmed existence.
At the very least, it can't hurt to look into the JET program and decide for yourself if it's something to do.