It’s finally come to that part of your application, the dreaded Statement of Purpose essay. If you’ve been worrying about this, it’s completely understandable. The Statement of Purpose (SoP) essay carries A LOT of weight in your application so it’s very important to write a good one.
I was going to write an in-depth post on how to write your SoP and what you should focus on, but then I remembered the gem I read when I was writing my SoP. So instead I’ll just share that site with you, along with some of my personal tips, and my SoP.
Seriously guys, you need to check this article out! They break down all the questions/prompts JET uses for the SoP and give you advice on how to answer each question/prompt.
Next, my tips:
- Don’t worry if anime/manga is how you became interested in Japan.
I know that there are sites that tell you it is a huge no-no to mention those taboo words. Mentioning anime or manga in your SoP will flag you as an otaku/weeaboo/weird, socially awkward loser and your application will instantly be thrown into the fire.
Despite all the warnings I read, I couldn’t help myself, I mentioned it in my SoP. Why would I do that you ask? Because it is honestly how I became interested in Japan. Anime is a HUGE franchise. It’s infiltrated every country and won over millions (billions?) of fans. That being said, JET really can’t be that surprised when some of its applicants came to know about Japan through anime. Or at least that was my reasoning.
Whether or not you choose to mention anime/manga in your SoP is ultimately up to you. I just want you to know that it is possible to mention it in your SoP and still make it into the JET program. My only advice on that matter is, do not spend forever talking about it. Mention it and move on.
- It’s okay to have taught in another country before.
My situation is a little different from the majority of people who are/have applied to the JET Program because I’ve already lived and taught abroad in South Korea. I knew teaching aboard could both hurt and help my essay. My biggest hurtle was proving that I wanted to teach in Japan, specifically, not any other country, especially after I had just spent a year teaching in another country. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find any advice from expats looking to teach in Japan. That’s why I want to share my experience.
I found that the best way to use your past teaching aboard experience to help your essay is to talk about all your newly acquired abilities and how they will benefit JET. The way I wanted to represent myself was as a person who has classroom management skills, a plethora of teaching methods and materials, and experience with teaching non-English speaking, unmotivated children. I wanted to tell them, “Throw your worst at me, I can take it.” I wanted them to see that I was up for the challenge and that I could handle it. My experience teaching aboard was the best way to back up all my talk.
Not to mention that having previously lived aboard served as a great way to show that I can actually handle living aboard. I wanted them to see that with me they didn’t have to worry about whether or not I could handle the culture shock, the homesickness, the struggles of living in a country where you don’t speak the language. I had already been through the trials and passed (it also helps to have a good reference letter from a former co-teacher to back you up).
For whatever reason, you taught in another country before, now you want to teach in Japan. Make sure you have a good reason for wanting to teach there or they might think that you’ll be happy with any country and overlook you.
- Don’t freak out about your SoP!
As someone who only had two days to write her SoP (courtesy of my not realizing the deadline was fast approaching), let me tell you, you don’t need two months to write your essay. You don’t need to look over it everyday, over-analyzing every sentence. You don’t need to send it to 10 people to proofread, edit, and give you their opinions over it, only to lead you to begin doubting yourself and your essay and rewriting the whole thing. And you’re at it again, over-analyzing, self doubting, and rewriting.
Yes, your SoP is important, and yes, it’s completely understandable that you want to write the best essay possible. But if I can write one in two days and get accepted, you can relax. That’s all I want you to know. ^_^
Lastly, here it is: My Statement of Purpose!
When I first learned about the possibility of teaching English aboard, I knew I had found my ideal job. A job that combined two of my favorite pastimes: traveling and English. The opportunity to both teach and learn at the same time is an extraordinary thing. My time as a Guest English Teacher in South Korea solidified not only my desire to teach English aboard, but also my confidence in my ability to become a successful ALT for the JET Program.
My interest in Japan started many years ago when I discovered anime as a pre-teen. I became intrigued by a culture that was so different from what I was used to. I couldn’t help but start researching more about Japan so I could learn what the country and its citizens were really like. I found the Japanese language to be both visually and phonetically pleasing which led me to taking a Japanese language course at my university. I learned about the JET Program during my Elementary Japanese I class, when an ALT came to talk about her experience living and working in Japan through the JET Program. By sharing her story she sparked my interest in teaching English in Japan.
The reason I chose to teach in South Korea before teaching in Japan was because I wished to gain valuable experience that I could use as an ALT for the JET Program. During my time in Korea I learned fun and engaging approaches to providing English education through the use of games, role-play, and group activities. Working with three different co-teachers gave me the opportunity to experience the many different ways a native English speaker can be used in the classroom, as well as how to adapt to different teaching styles. From keeping the attention of non-English speaking kindergartners to motivating bored sixth graders to enticing the participation of an entire auditorium full of children, I have acquired a variety of methods to captivate my students. Handling last minute requests, providing impromptu activities when a lesson has run short, and teaching a class during a school-wide power outage has tested and strengthen my ability to manage unexpected situations.
Throughout my life, I have developed close friendships with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. During my high school years I became actively involved in the Heritage Panel, a multicultural organization that strives to educate and promote cultural awareness and acceptance. Every chance I get to travel overseas allows me to experience what that country has to offer to the world. I find Japan to be a captivating country that has managed to maintain its history, customs, and traditions while also being one of the most advanced countries in the world. Teaching in Japan would give me the opportunity to immerse myself in such a rich and respected culture, as well as to be an ambassador to my students and my community. I will not only be given the chance to teach others what I know, but also to learn from the people around me and gain amazing experiences I can share back home.
Becoming an Assistant Language Teacher for the JET Program would be an honor that I would gladly accept and give my utmost to. If accepted into the program I would strive to promote the English language in fun, new, and interesting ways. My goal is to use English as a gateway for my students to explore the rest of the world.