JET Acronyms

When reading this blog, it is likely you'll find the occasional acronym or term that, to someone not intimately associated with Japan or the JET Program, is basically nonsense. It was the same way when I was in the Peace Corps, although it was probably worse then. Below is a list of acronyms that are in common use amongst participants in the JET Program, including an explanation of its use when necessary.

JET Japan Exchange and Teaching

This abbreviation is used in a couple of ways. It can be used to refer to the program itself, usually in the more formal sense, as in "The JET Program is a very important part of Japanese foreign policy"; or it can be used less formally without an article, as in "I did JET for 2 years." It can also be used to refer to participants in the program as a singular or plural noun, as in "I met a JET in Sapporo last week," or "I don't know about you, but those JETs from Hyogo are crazy!"

ALT Assistant Language Teacher

The JET Program fills three different types of positions, and this is the most common. ALT JETs work in Japanese schools—elementary, junior high, and senior high—teaching English to students. As the title suggests, they do this strictly as assistants to established language teachers (JTEs); they do not run their own classrooms. I found it very strange at first, but this acronym is always spelled out — A-L-T — when verbalized; the one or two times I said this as a word, I got funny looks from both fellow ALTs and my teacher counterparts.

JTE Japanese Teacher of English

It would make more sense to refer to them as Japanese English Teachers, if only this abbreviation didn't overlap with the one at the top of the list. These are the teachers that ALTs work with on a daily basis.

CIR Coordinator for International Relations

This is the second position the JET Program fills. CIRs work in local government offices as translators, hosts/hostesses to international visitors, and they organize international exchange activities for their community. Many of them also end up teaching in their local schools as well, but not in the same capacity as ALTs do.

PA Prefectural Advisor

Being a Prefectural Advisor is an added responsibility on top of whatever your first job is, whether you're an ALT or a CIR. Japanese employees that work for the local government can also serve as PAs to support the JETs in these positions. I dont' know how they are selected, but I assume that CLAIR has something to do with it. PAs provide support to the JETs in their prefecture, mostly in the form of counselling should they become disillusioned or downtrodden during their time in Japan.

CLAIR Council of Local Authorities for International Relations

This is the top dog in the JET Program. They basically run the show, in cooperation with a few of the ministries in the Japanese government, such as MEXT.

MEXT Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology

This is the top of the food chain in Japan regarding education policy. They set guidelines for how the education system is structured, and the prefectures of Japan implement them accordingly. I can only assume the X in MEXT came from trying to combine the sounds made by the C-S-S letters in the middle of the title.

ESS English Speaking Society

This is an after-school activity that most JETs are often obliged to take part in. The club can be run in a number of different ways—you can give a presentation on your home country's culture or even have them listen to popular music—but the objective is to expose the club members to another side of English they may not get to experience in the classroom, which is usually about learning grammar points and vocabulary for their exams.

SIG Special Interest Group

You may already know this acronym from some other context. With respect to the JET Programme, these are groups formed for the JET community, by the JET community. Many of them revolve around religious beliefs, but there are others that relate to personal ancestry as well as sexual orientation. Still others are formed for the purpose of organizing sporting events and tournaments.

I update this list continuously as I write new entries. What you find above should be sufficient for anything I've written so far on the blog.