Chinese teacher writing Chinese characters on classroom board
Chinese teacher in the classroom ©

Malcolm Harris

Bring Chinese language and culture alive in your classroom

Language assistants can improve your students’ language skills, as well as developing their cultural awareness and understanding of the world.

As Chinese Mandarin is set to be one of the most vital languages to the UK and internationally, it has never been more important to connect young people in the UK with China. Not only will a knowledge of China and Chinese culture open up a world of opportunities for your students, but an ability to communicate in Mandarin will make them stand out from the crowd.

Read our Languages for the Future report to find out more. 

Make a real difference

All Chinese language assistants are either qualified and experienced teachers, or graduates in teaching Chinese as a foreign Language or related qualifications, with at least one year’s experience teaching overseas.

Their experience means that Chinese Language Assistants can further support the development of Mandarin in your school’s curriculum, or even introduce Mandarin to students who may never have experienced learning the language before.

Hosting a language assistant would also allow your school to qualify for the Foundation level International School Award.

What will a Chinese language assistant do in my school?

Having a native speaker around is a great way to support the development of both students and teachers' linguistic and cultural knowledge of China. Chinese language assistants receive ongoing training in both China and the UK which helps to prepare them fully for their assistantship and make a lasting impact in your school’s community.

Chinese Language Assistants can:

Create lesson plans and source cultural learning resources

  • Support the teacher in class or work alone with small groups of students
  • Help to prepare pupils for GCSE/ A Level exams (especially oral and listing)
  • Organise extra-curricular activities based on Chinese culture during lunchtimes or after school (e.g. Calligraphy, Tai Chi classes)
  • Lead some activities during classes based on a range of topics related to China
  • Help schools to set up partnerships with schools in China
  • Work across the curriculum to introduce Chinese culture through different subject disciplines

 *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 will a Chinese Language Assistant work in my school?

For 2017/18, Chinese Language Assistants will be employed from 12 September 2017 to 23 June 2018 (UK-wide) and work between 12-18 hours a week.

Can I share a Chinese Language Assistant with nearby schools?

Yes absolutely. Chinese Language Assistants can be shared with up to three other primary or secondary schools in the local area. Partner schools should be within a reasonable travelling distance from each other.

To help you find a suitable partner school in your area, you can register on schools online and join our UK schools forum.

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 recommend you:

Contact your partner school in advance of submitting an application and agree that an assistant will be proposed to work in your school.  

  1. Ensure your prospective Chinese Language Assistant submits an application to the British Council in China by the given deadline.  
  2. Ensure your partner school in China submits an application on the Hanban website providing an up to date contact number, email address, and details on your partnership (including visits and project activities). 
  3. Lastly, include your request to host a Chinese Language Assistant from your partner school in your school’s application to the programme, which you can submit via School’s Online.

Please note, the teacher from your partner school must first pass the British Council and Hanban selection process in order to be hosted by your school. You may wish to encourage more than one application from assistants at your partner school, as the process is competitive.

Is there any funding available?

Funding for the 2018/19 Chinese Language Assistants programme will be announced in the coming year.

In past years, funding for the programme has meant that UK schools only pay assistants the National Living Wage (£7.50 in 2017) for a minimum of 12 hours a week worked, reducing costs dramatically. 

For the 2017/18 programme, the minimum total annual cost to schools for hosting a Chinese Language Assistant is £3,890 (including the IHS surcharge).This cost is further reduced if divided between sharing schools.

To go on the costs page https://www.britishcouncil.org/language-assistants/employ/costs

See also