The Statement of Purpose (SoP) essay is an important part of your application when applying for the JET Programme. A solid, well-written essay could easily become your ticket to the interview stage, while an overly worded, vague essay might not pass the grade.
In this post I will share some tips to how to tackle the essay based off my own experiences and from what I have researched online.
Read your embassy’s rules and guidelines
Make sure you know what is expected of you when you write your essay based on your embassy’s guidelines. Some embassies supply a detailed list of what they want you to cover in the essay, while other embassies provide only the minimal of details.
I’ve noticed that the general layout of the essay seems to be the same worldwide:
Page limit: 2
Page size: A4
Font: Times New Roman
Font size: 12
It’s also a good idea to have your name and page number in the header of each page.
Areas to focus on when writing
The essay is like your big selling point – you want to convince the reader that you would make an ideal JET candidate. Here are some questions that I have come up with (based on what I researched online) that you might consider answering in the essay:
- Why Japan? There are many countries that offer English-teaching jobs to foreigners, such as South Korea and China. So what makes Japan special? Any previous experiences in Japan or with Japanese culture that you could share?
- Why the JET Programme? There is also Interac and private companies that hire English teachers in Japan, so why the JET Programme? You don’t need to write a whole paragraph about this, maybe just one or two sentences would suffice.
- Why do I want to teach English? Do you have a passion for the English language? A desire to connect with Japanese students? What is it about teaching English as a foreign language to students that appeals to you?
- Why me? What skills, traits, strengths, or talents do you have that you can bring to Japan that would benefit the programme and in extension your schools and students? Good organisational and management skills, Japanese and English language skills, flexibility, adaptability, patience, an open mind, a desire to learn from others in a different culture – these are the sort of words that often appear in essays and I believe it is the sort of thing that readers like to see. Personally, during my time in Japan I discovered that having a lot of patience, being flexible and adaptable, and definitely an open mind to Japanese culture is very important when working in a Japanese work environment..
- What experiences or stories do I have that could relate to teaching, Japan, or students? If you have any prior teaching or tutoring experience, or experience with children or students, then mention it here. No need to get into too much detail – all your work and volunteer experience will already be down in your application form. Use the essay to give examples.
- How will being on the programme help with my future career goals? You do have to answer this question in the application form, but if you have space in the essay you could elaborate on this point.
Getting rid of unnecessary words and sentences
You have a page limit for the essay so you need to make every sentence count in order to get everything you want to say across to the reader in two pages. If a sentence does not contribute to the essay as a whole, or if they are too wordy, then either reword or delete them. Try to keep your sentences solid and to the point.
Spelling, grammar and proofreading
Your essay should be free of spelling and grammar mistakes. Have others read your essay in case you (or your spell check) missed something.
Good luck to those aspiring JETs who are applying for next year’s intake.