Langley, British Columbia—They will be teaching in classrooms similar to the Lower Mainland classrooms they were taught in, with one exception—the classrooms are on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Ten Trinity Western University students have been selected by the Japanese government and Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme officials to enter the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme. They are among only 450 Canadian graduates accepted into the program this year. The students, who went through a rigorous and competitive screening process, will teach English in Japan for a full year—a position that will earn each participant over $50,000.
Organized by the Japanese government, the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme involves students from 37 countries around the world, making it one of the largest cultural exchange programs in Japan. Graduates who are accepted into the program go to Japan to serve in local government organizations or in junior and senior high schools.
“It’s a good opportunity to go overseas and experience another culture,” says Tyler Dodds, recent TWU graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
Dodds is the only JET student who will serve in Yuto, Japan, a town of 14,000, south of Tokyo. As an assistant language teacher, he will teach English with three Japanese teachers in a junior high class. He has taken a six-week Japanese class offered by the JET Programme to prepare. “I only know a minor amount of Japanese and I’m hoping to pick the rest up in the first few months that I’m there,” says Dodds. “There will be a lot of hand signals for the first while.”
While Dodds is excited about the opportunity to work overseas, he is also ready to face what challenges lie ahead. “It will be hard to communicate at first because of the language barrier,” he says. “The diversity of education and wide variety of subjects and people that I’ve been exposed to at Trinity Western will help me adjust.”
The rigorous screening process indicates that JET Programme officials are confident in Dodds’ ability and the abilities of the nine other Trinity Western students to adjust as well. Each candidate must submit an initial application including recommendations from professors, medical assessments, an essay, and responses to a variety of questions. A panel of judges, including a Japanese government official and authorities from the JET Programme, then interview those who are short-listed.
“They’re really given the gears in that interview,” says Phil Goertzen, director of Trinity Western University’s Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program. “It’s more than just apply and hope. They’re quite careful about who they take.”
According to Ellie Nakano, assistant to the Japanese consul in cultural affairs, entry into the program is determined by a variety of factors. “We try to have people who are interested in teaching and working with children,” says Nakano. “Also, we look for people who are adjustable to new cultures and have open minds.”
The number of Trinity Western students participating in the program has grown from one to ten since the Japanese consul first made a JET Programme presentation at Trinity Western three years ago. While Trinity Western students accepted into this year’s program hold degrees ranging from education to communications, most have completed Trinity Western’s TESL program as well. “TWU students are leaving a reputation that demonstrates that they are well-prepared,” says Goertzen. “The professors who teach students in Trinity Western’s TESL program are primarily people who have taught oversees. That works well because many students in the TESL program are interested in working overseas.”
The ten TWU students will begin their new positions in Japan at the end of this month.
Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling 2,763 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.
Last Updated: 2012-08-21