Employ a language assistant in primary schools

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.

They are native speakers of either French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese (Mandarin) and Irish, and are usually undergraduates aged between 20 and 30 years old. This differs for Chinese language assistants who are qualified and experienced teachers, or teaching graduates with at least one year's experience of teaching overseas.

Make a real difference

All our language assistants are dedicated educators who will make a real difference to language learning in your school.

As well as providing invaluable support for teachers, in a primary school a Language Assistant can:

  • help to introduce language learning
  • work across the curriculum
  • help to implement government policy on language learning. 

A language assistant will provide the cultural awareness and language learning skills that can only be gained from a native speaker. Because they are native speakers, their language is authentic and up to date. Hosting an assistant can also support the building of international partnerships and enable your school to apply for the Foundation International School Award.

What will a language assistant do in my school?

There are no limits to how a language assistant can support your school to bring language learning to life in the classroom. 

They can work together with a teacher or work on their own with small groups of students to introduce basic language skills and improve linguistic ability. They 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 too.

Language assistants can develop lesson plans and extra-curricular activities (e.g. lunch time clubs) focused on their country’s culture and even support the creation and/or development of an international partnership with a school in their own country. As the majority of assistants are not trained teachers however, they should not be asked to take sole responsibility for a whole class, deal with discipline issues or mark students’ work.

As the majority of assistants are not trained teachers, they should not be asked to take sole responsibility for a whole class, deal with discipline issues or mark students’ work.

When would a language assistant work in my school?

The standard period of appointment is from: 

  • 1 October 2016 to 31 May 2017 in England and Wales
  • 1 September 2016 to 31 May 2017 in Northern Ireland

This period may be extended for up to a month either side of the appointment by mutual consent. The language assistant must be paid for any extra work pro-rata.

Each language assistant can be shared between a maximum of three primary and/or secondary schools or further education colleges. This is a programme wide restriction agreed with our overseas partners and is in place to enable language assistants to have as much impact as possible in the institutions they work in. The fewer schools a language assistant works in, the more time they have to engage and support students, staff and the wider school community. 


Where are language assistants from?

French speaking

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • France
  • Switzerland

German speaking

  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Switzerland

Irish speaking

  • Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Ireland

Italian speaking

  • Italy

Mandarin speaking

  • China

Spanish speaking

  • Spain
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Mexico