Last updated: 25/11/2020

If students at your university are looking for a first step in the world of work, we offer overseas placements to work as Language Assistants for both undergraduates and graduates. A year as a Language Assistant gives students the opportunity to develop transferrable skills that will make their CV stand out from the crowd. 

University students must have completed at least two years of an undergraduate degree, and be highly proficient in English (C2 level). Teaching opportunities are available in 15 destinations and students do not need a formal language qualification to become a Language Assistant.

Promoting the programme to your students

UK higher education institutions, especially study abroad co-ordinators, faculty members and career offices, can raise awareness of the programme and its benefits by highlighting:

Key changes for 2021/2
  • A new opportunity for graduates in Hong Kong 
  • Candidates must have lived in the UK at some point in their life for a total of two years prior to application
  • Knowledge of UK culture will be assessed through questions in the application form

Language Requirements

  • There is no longer a target destination language requirement for Spain, Hong Kong and China. Applicants need to be highly proficient in English - C2 level
  • Austria, Germany and Switzerland is now A2 in the target language 
  • The reference deadline for 2021/22 is a week following the applicant submission deadline 
  • As well as two completed years at university, other minimum qualification equivalents are welcomed as specified on our website

Getting involved

In the sections below, you will find an outline of what universities are required to do in order for your students to take part in this programme.


The nominated students' referee will need to provide a university reference for each student. You will find a template of the online reference in the downloads section. There is also a template application in the downloads section which you and your students can refer to. This is for reference only – offline applications won’t be accepted.

Once the applicant has completed their section of the application, a notification will be sent to the nominated referee, who will be able to submit the reference online. Once the reference is submitted, the application is complete and will be sent to the British Council. 

The application process for 2020-21 is online unless there are medical reasons that might prevent them from doing so. Such a case should be discussed with the British Council before the candidate starts the application process. 

Final year students applying for an assistantship in China or Hong Kong should apply to us directly and not go through their university.

If your students ask you for advice, please direct them to our English Language Assistants section which has all the information they need.


If requested, the British Council can provide updates to university departments regarding the progress of the candidates’ applications.

When students have been accepted onto the programme, referees should help them to prepare for their placement.

All candidates will go through roughly the same application process and will receive very similar information. However, the fact that we run programmes with 14 countries worldwide means that the timing of, for example, video interviews, matching meetings, confirmation emails and pre-departure information packs varies from one country to another.

Some candidates may be asked to complete a video assessment. The assessment is designed to test, among other aspects, students' motivation, enthusiasm and adaptability. Students should be encouraged to prepare for these as much as possible.

When students return

Returning students have the chance to take part in the Language Assistants Ambassadors programme, to promote the opportunity and pass on guidance to future Language Assistants. An induction day for successful Language Assistant Ambassadors is held each September to provide information on the programme and how to promote it in their university. This year, ambassador activity is online, with selected ambassadors participating in promotional presentations, self-led activity and development webinars.  

This is a great opportunity for students to pass on their experiences and could lead to future employment opportunities, so they should be encouraged to take part wherever possible.

Promotional materials

Video presentation

This short video presentation produced by members of the English Language Assistants team is designed to give both students and tutors an overview of the programme offering for the 2021-22 academic year. We would encourage you to share the video with any potential applicants, including soon-to-be graduates in all disciplines.

From finding accommodation, money matters and insurance, to settling into school life, managing culture shock and country specific advice, our Language Assistants Podcast allows applicants to hear more about the programme.  
Additional resources

You can download materials in the section below. New content will be added soon.

We are always keen to receive feedback on the programme. If you have any comments or questions, please email us on

External links