Four Ex-Students Want to Keep JET – Yet we need to hear from more!

A few months ago, an article about the debate on the benefits of the JET Programme caught my eye.

On July 27, 2010, The Japan Times published an article as part of the response to the JET Programme being called out as part of the massive budget review.  In this article, four students speak about their experiences with JET teachers, in a favorable way.  In the section of the article presenting the case against JET, the articles states: “[JET participants] have usually enjoyed their stay, but their effectiveness in improving the English language ability of their students was never quantitatively measured and, given Japanese students’ performances on international English tests, is questionable at best.”  I don’t disagree with this statement, as there is has been a lack of quantitative measurement of the impact of JET and this is something that JET alumni should strive to change.

Still, even without quantitative measurement, hearing from more students can begin to show the benefits of the program.  Hearing from 4 students as presented in the article just isn’t enough.  Fortunately, JET alumni, such as Christiana Aretta with her site 100 English Dreams, have started sharing words from their students about their experiences with JET teachers.

Ever since I saw the article mentioned above, I have been wanting to share the words from some of my students.

I taught at an all girl’s high school.  On my last day of teaching my 3rd grade (12th grade USA equivalent), I gave my students 10 minutes to write me goodbye letters, in English.  These are students I taught Oral Communication (OC) to the previous year.  In OC class we took a very different approach than the other English classes.   The wonderful teacher who was my partner in this class and I thought that the most important thing we could teach our students was that communication is the purpose of English.  To that end, OC class focused on speaking and communicating ideas.  While we did grade for grammar on writing assignments, many assignments focused on leaving embarrassment behind and not being afraid to make mistakes.

Here are a few of the letters the students in this class wrote to me (all grammar and spelling is their own):

Natsumi:

I didn’t like English before.  But because of OC class, I like English now.  I enjoyed that skit, school introduction, speech, and so on.  It makes me happy.  I will study English more, and will be good speaker.

Kumiko:

I have very good time with you in [school name].  When I met you first, I couldn’t speak to you.  But now, I can do!  Gradually, I know you, I want to speak more!  In the future, I want to go and live in Hawaii.  Then I want you and your husband to visit my house.  I will certainly buy condominium.  I will send e-mail!  (If I have free time!).

Mari:

I wanted to talk about a lot of things with Bahia, but I couldn’t.  I’m really sad.  Thanks to OC classes, I can speak English better than I did.  Bahia’s class is very interesting, and I enjoyed it.  I want to speak English much better, so I will study English hard.  I take an entrance examination.  I’ll do my best!!  Thank you very much for teaching English.  Goodbye.

Ayumi:

The first time we met is about two years ago.  We have shared many times.  For example, English Club, OC class, lunch time and so on.  Thanks to your teaching, my English skill has become much better than I was.  I also have got a lot of knowledge about America.  So they are my treasures.  I can’t thank you enough.  I’ll continue to study English and improve my English.  Thank you, Bahia!!! Take care.  Bye!

Miwa:

I am really glad to see you.  I could learn many things from you.  For example, Christmas in America (it was assignment for winter vacation), and how to write English essay.  It was so for fun for me to learn English with you.  So, I was very sad to hear you leave [school name] and I will miss you.  But I never forget you.  (And please remember [school name]).  Thank you very much!!!  I hope you live a happy life with your husband.  See you! (again).  I’m looking forward to see you again.

Ayaka:

Thank you very much for your teaching.  I also appreciate your advice and support for English speach contest last year.  I experienced precious experience through the contest.  I became to be able to speak English better than what I was before.  Thank you very very much!  Please be careful about your health.  Goodbye!  :)

Satoko:

Thank you very much!!  The OC class was very interesting especially skit was awesome!  I want skit’s DVD.  I’ll bring my DVD so could you copy it?  Thank to you, YOGA video became very nice!  I am your myspace friend so please tell me if you have big news.  I will study English hard and I want to speak English fluently.  Good bye!  I miss you!

The most incredible thing to me about these letters (there are about 25 more) is that even students I wasn’t that close to expressed deeper sentiment than I expected.  When I first met these students as 1st year students (USA 10th grade equivalent), some of them could barely say 1 sentence in English, often because of lack of confidence.  By the end of the OC class the attitude of many students had changed and their conversational ability had unquestionably improved.

I certainly will never forgot these wonderful young women and I hope they have not forgotten me (or the English I taught them).

Further reading:

Ex-students don’t want JET grounded

JET ROI: Japan Times article on debate over JET Program

100 English Dreams

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  1. […] By bahia, on November 12, 2010 at 8:09 PM , under ESL, JET, education, japan , teaching . Tags:ALT, English proficiency, english teaching , ESL, gunma, japan , JET, JET Program, JET Programme, teaching , TESOL. No Comments … Go here to see the original: Four Ex-Students Want to Keep JET – Yet we need to hear from more … […]

  2. […] Bahia Portfolio: Four Ex Students Want to Save JET – Yet we need to hear from more! […]



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