Employ a Chinese language assistant

Bring the world of language and culture alive in your classroom

Language assistants give your school the opportunity to broaden students' understanding of the world, improve their language skills and increase their cultural awareness.

China's economy is growing rapidly and its place as a world superpower has not gone unnoticed. For many, China is as the centre of the world and, over the next 20 years, Chinese will be one of the most vital languages to the UK and internationally, meaning that learning Chinese is more popular than ever. Read our Languages for the Future report and find out more.

Make a real difference

Education is highly valued in China and teaching is a well respected profession. Chinese language assistants are either qualified and experienced teachers, or teaching graduates with at least one year's experience of teaching overseas, and can make a real difference to language learning in your school.

Language assistants can help introduce language learning to your students, providing cultural awareness and language-learning skills in a way that can only be gained from a native speaker. They can also:

  • work across the curriculum
  • support teachers where needed 
  • help to implement government policy on language learning. 

Because they are native speakers, their language is authentic and up-to-date. Hosting a language assistant can also support international partnerships and enable your school to apply for the Foundation International School Award.

What will a Chinese language assistant do in my school?

Chinese language assistants work in schools to support an existing Mandarin provision or introduce the language and culture to students for the first time. Their role can be tailored depending on the requirements of the school. 

They can work together with a teacher or work on their own with small groups of students to introduce language skills and improve linguistic ability. Having a native speaker around is a great way to support the development of teachers' linguistic and cultural knowledge of China too. They can also help teachers to set-up or support an international partnership with a school in China and/or the running of joint-curriculum activities to enhance students' learning.

Chinese language assistants can help students practice their speaking skills and prepare for their oral examinations, or contribute to cross-curricular work in collaboration with other subject areas to introduce or broaden understanding of China and Chinese culture. They can:

  • help with the creation of lesson plans and teaching materials based on China and contemporary Chinese culture
  • support and prepare pupils for examinations (e.g. one-to-one speaking practice)
  • organise and run extra-curricular or cross-curricular activities, including lunchtime and after-school clubs, bringing the language and culture alive across the school community.*

A Chinese language assistant can also deliver a number of interactive classroom activities on topics such as current affairs, education, sport, fashion, films, TV, and lifestyles and celebrations relevant to China (and curriculum requirements if relevant)

 *Local authorities can also employ Chinese Language Assistants on a pro rata basis (see the 'Costs’ section) to run Chinese language clubs or taster classes in schools considering the introduction of Chinese.

When would a Chinese language assistant work in my school?

The standard period of appointment for Chinese Language Assistants working in all parts of the UK is mid-September 2016 to 30 June 2017. 

Each language assistant can be shared between a maximum of three primary and/or secondary schools or further education colleges. Remember, the fewer schools a language assistant works in, the more time they have to engage and support students, staff and the wider school community. 

How can I request a Chinese language assistant from our partner school in China?

Hosting a Chinese language assistant from your partner school is a great way to strengthen your partnership further. To host an assistant from your partner school, we reccomend taking the steps below.

First, contact your partner school in advance of submitting an application. Agree that a teacher will be proposed to work in your school, and ensure that they have or will submit an application to the British Council in China by the 23rd March.  Prospective candidates can submit an application on the Hanban website

Secondly, ensure that the contact information you provide for your Chinese partner school is current, with a recent contact number and email address, and make sure information on your partnership (including visits and project activities) are detailed accordingly. If you have the name of your partner school in Chinese characters, it is useful to provide this along with the Pin Yin (Romanised form of the characters). 

Thirdly, include your request to host a teacher from your partner school in the online application form.

And finally, please note, the teacher from your partner school must first pass the British Council and Hanban selection process (application and interview) in order to be hosted by your school. As the application process is very competitive, you may wish to encourage more than one application from your partner school. We advise at least three candidates submit an application. 


Is there any funding available?

We are excited to announce that Chinese language assistants are once again subsidised by Hanban.

This means schools will only need to pay assistants the National Living Wage for each hour worked, reducing costs dramatically. 

For further information, see our 'Costs' page.

Schools in Wales 

For 2016 we have eight fully funded Chinese language assistant places available.  

For this funding, schools are required to apply to host an assistant as part of a cluster of three schools. Schools who have hosted a language assistant before can still apply for this opportunity but priority will be given to schools who have not hosted before as part of the assessment process.