AJET Chairman, Matthew Cook: My Final Message as Chair

Chair MessageIt’s hard to imagine it’s been a year since I became AJET Chair. The mix of emotions that comes with finishing my term are hard to describe. I’m so proud of my team and what we accomplished, but I wish we had a bit more time, so that we could to do more. It’s exciting that there’s new challenges to come in my own life, but sad that I have to end this chapter with AJET.

This year has brought things with it that I could never have imagined. Good and bad. I look back on the year and I’m so happy to have witnessed the unprecedented support we got from 1st year JETs signing up for the AJET e:Connect, but at the same time, who would have thought that we’d have typhoons destroying areas of Japan right after the Tohoku disasters and we would need support to JETs and to rebuild a second time in so many months?

During my time as chair, I wanted to engage all JETs, current and past, as well as the ministries and communities around us. I wanted to inspire everyone to greater success and triumphs that we could all enjoy.

I challenged you all, in my election campaign, to make this the year that “We can do more, we can help more, we can be more!”
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JALT National Conference – October 12-15

Every year, the JALT Conference brings together language teaching professionals from around the world. The conference’s Proceedings bring together a wide range of original, thought-provoking, and stimulating presentations, posters, workshops, forums, and plenaries by teachers and researchers from Japan and overseas, as well as the latest publications of teaching materials. Past topics have included rapports and communication strategies between teachers and students, practical steps towards task-based teaching, using humor in EFL classrooms, and creativity in the language classroom among many others. The theme of this year’s JALT National Conference will be “Making a Difference”. The JALT 2012 tentative schedule can be found here.

Opportunity to present at the 2012 JALT Conference

The Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the improvement of language teaching and learning both within Japan and internationally. JALT has nearly 3,000 members, with 35 chapters across Japan.

Each year JALT holds an annual conference with presenters, speakers, exhibits and events focused around a certain theme. The theme for the 38th conference to be held on October 12-15, 2012 in ACT City, Hamamatsu, is “making a difference.” Participants are invited to join in celebrating and honoring those who have mentored and inspired them through the years.

This year, JALT has given one JET the opportunity to present at this year’s conference as an un-vetted presenter. The deadline for registration is Friday, May 18, 2012. If you are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity to present at the 2012 conference, please contact the AJET Education & Professional Development at education@ajet.net.

For information about JALT please visit their website: www.jalt.org

For additional information regarding the JALT conference please see the conference website: http://jalt.org/conference.

May 2012: JET Effect Spotlight

Many people reading this may already know you because of your work as the AJET Chairman, but you’ve also done quite a bit where you placed as a JET in Osaka prefecture. What got you started getting involved with helping other JETs and getting involved in Osaka?

My first two years working in Japan were, for the most part, a nightmare. I had what they call a “worst-case scenario” for living and working as a JET in Japan. Osaka public school students routinely score low out of all the prefectures on nation wide tests, and our city/municipality scored lowest in Osaka prefecture last year. Even though that’s the case, about 95% of the kids are still great kids, but 5% of the students is all it takes here to have a total breakdown of the system. Read More

April 2012: JET Effect Spotlight

Hello, my name is Benjamin Martin and I am a fourth year ALT in Kumejima-cho, Okinawa. Before transferring to Kumejima, I spent three years on Kitadaito, a small island 320km east of Okinawa with a population of 550 people. Living on Kitadaito was a unique experience, with a combination of mainland Japanese and Okinawan culture. While I was there, I learned about Okinawan and Japanese Sumo, photography, Japanese, and participated in many cultural and social events. Now, on the other side of Okinawa Prefecture, I have been exploring new activities, and new ways to interact with my students.

While I was on Kitadaito, most of my evenings were taken up with various local activities, but I still had a lot of free time. One winter break I sprained my ankle playing badminton and had to stop all the sports I had been doing, which was the major form of entertainment out there. I had recently finished two short plays for my students to perform during the Cultural Festival, but had never attempted anything more. Still, the lack of activity sparked old ideas.
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January 2012: JET Effect Spotlight

Paul Yoo is a third year JET living in Yurihonjo, Akita. He laughingly calls himself ‘the 田舎 BABY’. He is the co-founder and director of volunteerAKITA, a grassroots charity organization that Akita JETs started up in response to the March 11th disaster in Tohoku.

“volunteerAKITA is a great mix of community members and ALTs in Akita prefecture. We are so fortunate to have such a great community up here in Akita! It’s AWESOME!”

“We in Akita were so fortunate compared to other areas in Tohoku, so it only made sense to use our time and resources to offer and bring aid to the folks out east, which is just a quick day trip away.”

The first big initiative launched by volunteerAKITA was The Fruit Tree Project. After their first trip to Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, in early April of 2011 they discovered that there was an urgent need for fresh fruit in the emergency shelters. The people living in the shelters usually just received rice and miso soup for every meal.
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