At any rate, I'm looking for any criticism or suggestions anyone reading this might have. And with no further ado, here it is:
[UPDATE: I've made some minor corrections here, fixing a few typos that I somehow didn't catch in my first proof run; I'll give it a more thorough edit later, but I won't be posting that.]
I am at a point of transition in my life. Because of the problems with the IT industry (of which I was -- until recently -- a part) and the problems that this has caused me personally, I've been given a great opportunity, the opportunity to see my troubles for what they really are: an opportunity to start fresh and do something I really love. And I've discovered that over the last decade, as I've worked for paychecks alone, I'd forgotten how much I really love languages, and how working with languages is something I really want to do.
Applying for JET is, frankly, part of a plan I have for my future. Whether or not I'm accepted in the program, I hope to go to Japan relatively soon. My primary goal is to become fluent in Japanese, which I hope will help me to get accepted into a good computational linguistics graduate program (perhaps, even, in Japan), and to help me in my goal to move into the field of computational linguistics, especially machine translation, which I see as the best possible fit for my background and interests. That said, I do enjoy teaching, despite never having done it formally. I think much of life -- that is, anything involving interaction with other people -- is really about communication, and true communication involves teaching, even if in the most informal way. There can be no true understanding without “teaching” others what you think, and why you think it, and at the same time learning the same things from them.
I've been teaching myself Japanese for a couple of years now. I chose the language as my next language to study because, first, it's fascinating, and second, the written language is particularly challenging, and I could never resist a challenge. I've also come to understand how important understanding Japan and the Japanese people is to understanding the language, and in the process, that fascination with the language has grown to become a great interest in the country as well.
I believe that my situation with regards to JET as an individual is in the best tradition of the purpose and idealism behind JET as a whole. I believe that JET and the Japanese students I hope to teach stand to benefit from my enthusiasm, as I stand to be enriched by my very commitment to teach in (and in the process learn from) Japan, not only on a professional level in my chosen future field, but on a personal level as well. I hope you'll give me the opportunity to, in some small way, try to make a positive difference, not only for myself, but for those I would teach.