To all new short-listed JET’s out there, breathe a sigh of relief. The long-awaited announcement of where you will be headed to in Japan come July/August is finally here!
That’s right, it’s placement time!
If I remember correctly, the placement list for South Africans came out around the third week of May last year. Though looking at the online forums it seems that quite a few embassies around the world already started as early as last week. But I believe the majority of announcements start happening from around now – the second week in May. Exciting stuff!
So, you get your placement, and now what?
Well, the information you are given about your placement is a good indication whether you will be teaching at elementary/junior high schools, or at senior high schools.
If your placement gives you the name of a city (normally ending in a -shi), along with the prefecture (ending in -ken), then you will most likely be a city/municipal ALT. This puts you in the elementary/junior high school group.
On the other hand, if your placement only gives you the prefecture (so for example, Hiroshima-ken), and there is no city mentioned, then you will be hired as a prefectural ALT by the prefecture’s Board of Education (BOE) and will most likely be teaching at senior high schools. If this is the case, then you might have to wait a bit longer to hear where exactly you will be placed in terms of a city/town.
You will eventually receive a letter from your supervisor who will be at your base school. This contact from your supervisor can happen any time – but from what I have read it could be any time from June through to July.
For a more detailed explanation about the city and prefectural ALT’s, then click on over to a recent post I did explaining the similarities and differences of the two positions.
Okay, so what’s next?
Now that you have got your prefecture it is time to really get excited! Even if the prefecture wasn’t one of your top 3 preferences, do not dismay. Just the mere thought of moving to Japan is exciting enough, and then you have the added bonus of exploring your new town/city, as well as anywhere else you would like to go as the transport here is absolutely amazing and getting around Japan is incredibly easy.
And don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Sometimes you might come across articles (or even a predecessor) that might make your placement seem not-so-great compared to other placements. I wouldn’t take any of that to heart, what matters is how you shape your own experiences, your approach to various situations, and having the right sort of outlook. And what also helps is coming to Japan with a positive and open mind. This, in my view, is the best way to get the most fun and rewarding experiences from your time here. 🙂
I would suggest that if you are on Facebook, then join your prefecture’s group page, along with the AJET block group as well. On top of that, if you know your specific city then see if there is a group page for that as well – might make finding your predecessor a lot quicker.
That is what I did. I was a prefectural ALT, so all I knew for 6 weeks was that I was going to Hiroshima prefecture, and nothing more. I had to wait until the first week of July to finally receive an e-mail from my supervisor and only then did I find out what city I was going to be living in. I had also heard on the forums that sometimes it takes a while for supervisors to tell you who your predecessor is and provide contact details. I wasn’t going to sit back and let that happen…
As soon as I knew my city, I jumped onto its Facebook group and posted a query about my base school and if anyone knew who my predecessor would be, and within 1 hour I had made contact with her and thus started the millions of e-mails and skype sessions for the next 3 weeks before departure. It was great fun 🙂
So, you might be lucky in finding out who your predecessor is long before your new supervisor decides to pass on their contact details. I know some BOE’s are quite strict on when such information should be given, but it wouldn’t hurt to try and do some ‘predecessor-hunting’ research, right?
With the information you have you can start researching your new city/prefecture, and perhaps make contact with your predecessor sooner rather than later. Funnily enough I looked back to my past blog posts and found one that I wrote before I knew which city I was going to. Quite amusing to read it now. Click here if you’re interested to see my thoughts this time one year ago.
And regarding your predecessor, I will be writing up a post shortly on what sort of questions you could ask them before arriving in Japan. Just some ideas based off my experiences and what I have found while researching forums and blogs.
In the meantime, I hope all of you with your placements now are very happy and are looking forward to the adventure that is Japan. 🙂
Official Onomichi Cat Count: 50! (woohoo!)