The Language Assistants programme has been running for 110 years. Throughout the year, our team are here and available able to answer your questions and provide advice on acting as a succesful host school.

New! Language assistant endorsement letters can help you persuade senior management that language assistants are a good investment.

These are available for both primary and secondary schools. Visit the 'downloads' section below to access the endorsement toolkit.

What support will we get?

With experience and expertise on our side, the British Council offers support and advice prior to a language assistant's arrival and also during their period of appointment. From selecting the perfect candidate to handling visas, we are here to support schools throughout the process and do not charge any programme fees to take part. 

All language assistants hired through the British Council are interviewed and approved by our overseas partners. Recruiting through the British Council means schools can be safe in the knowledge that they will get year round advice and guidance.

By working with the British Council Modern Language Assistants programme, you will receive additional support throughout the year, including:

  • Schools Online support forum
  • support throughout the application process and prior to the assistant’s arrival;
  • British Council administrative visa sponsorship for Modern Language Assistants from outside the European Economic Area;
  • induction and training sessions for Modern Language Assistants upon arrival in the UK;
  • possible additional training days provided by our UK partner organisations (Goethe Institut, Consejería de Educación, Institut Français etc.);
  • exemption from paying council tax for Modern Language Assistants on the official British Council programme;
  • an in-built support network of other British Council Modern Language Assistants in the surrounding area and across the UK;
  • a yearly Modern Language Assistants booklet, covering many useful topics including preparation tips, initial admin support, activity ideas and information on life in the UK. 

Our 'Downloads' section contains resources to ensure your language assistant succesfully integrates into school life, including an endorsement letter toolkit showing why a language assistant is a good investment for budget holders.

Language learning resources

The British Council also has a number of resources available to support language learning. Schools and assistants can access a range of our primary language resources, including our new Primary Languages Starter Pack.

Administrative procedures for hosting institutions

Once you have been allocated a language assistant, the hosting school or local authority will need to undertake the following tasks:

  • As soon as an offer of employment has been at least verbally accepted by the assistant, you should complete the online Confirmation of Appointment 2017-18 form. This enables us to issue a Certificate of Registration to the language assistant.
  • Write an offer of appointment and draw up a contract. The British Council can provide templates for these.
  • Organise monthly payments at the appropriate rate. Information on taxation for language assistants from EU countries can be found here.
  • Coordinate the timetable and arrival arrangements. If the language assistant is shared with other schools, identify a host school who will be responsible for these tasks. The timetable should allow reasonable free time and one full day free each week if possible.

You should also appoint a mentor teacher, the language assistant’s main contact both prior to arrival and during their assistantship. They will be responsible for introducing the assistant to the school community and providing advice and support throughout their period of appointment.

Visas and work permits

Most language assistants are from EU/EEA countries and are automatically legally eligible to work in the UK.

If you host a language assistant from Latin America, Quebec or China, all you need to do is send a copy of your offer letter and confirmation that the language assistant has accepted the post before the summer holidays.

We will prepare a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ which your assistant can use to apply for their visa. The British Council acts as sponsor for the assistant and takes responsibility for supporting them throughout the visa application process prior to arrival.

Please note, some language assistants coming through our EEA partner organisations may hold a non-EU passport. In this case, the visa process is the same as the process for our assistants from Canada, China or Latin America.


The language assistant is responsible for arranging their accommodation but you should provide guidance where possible, especially to help arrange temporary accommodation for when they first arrive. This will help them to settle into daily life and work.

Further support

Chinese Language Assistants 

An intensive pre-departure training course, organised by Hanban (Office of Chinese Language Council International), will be provided with sessions from the British Council and UK teacher training experts. The course covers sessions on the role of the Chinese language assistant, teaching Mandarin as a Foreign Language, the UK education system and how to adapt to a UK classroom. 

They will also be provided with a further three-day induction course on arrival in the UK. This includes sessions on lesson planning, cultural immersion and practical matters. Training, funded by HSBC, also takes place in November and March to provide continuous pastoral and professional support

Language assistants will receive an online booklet with guidance on the role of the language assistant as well as information on administrative matters, such as banking and income tax. Visa sponsorship and advice to Chinese language assistants will be available throughout the application process.


Advice on administrative matters and pastoral care provided by an experienced Customer Services team and online information booklet is available for schools. Support for the language assistant in the classroom and guidance on administrative matters in relation to their employment is also provided. Visa sponsorship and advice to Chinese language assistants and host schools will be available throughout the application process.

Schools can also take a look at our language resources page.  


Another fantastic tool your Language Assistant could use with classes or small groups of pupils is eTwinning. The mentor teacher can register on and quickly start an online project space with a school from the Language Assistant’s country, using one of the project kits on the portal. Whilst an Assistant cannot start a project themselves as they are not a qualified teacher, they can join the project as a “visitor” and can run through interactive activities in the project with a European partner class, including uploading materials, or chat sessions with peers in the partner country. eTwinning is a safe online community for communication and collaboration amongst teachers and pupils in over 174,000 schools Europe-wide. The Language Assistant can help to embed eTwinning activity in your school, the recommended platform for any Erasmus+ activity. eTwinning is something your Assistant can take with them into their future career as a teacher, should they wish to pursue a career in teaching.


  • Supports language learning policies for schools across the UK
  • Offers to run free workshops at schools delivered by experienced eTwinning teachers.
  • Supports project work for Erasmus+ funded projects
  • Allows parents and governors to view the results of student project work via the free and secure online platform.

Registration is free for all UK teachers via


To find out more and to connect with the UK team go to:

See also