©

Grace Grossman

It's a fantastic opportunity to grow as a person and learn a lot about a different culture to yours, as well as inspire others and represent your own language and culture.

Jinni, Language Assistant in Valencia, Spain 2018-19

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Life cycle

1905-present

Country/Region

UK

Client/Partner

Department for Education (DfE), Scottish Government, Department of Education (Northern Ireland), Department of Education and Skills (Wales)

Vision

To bring languages and cultures to life through the interaction of native speakers with young learners, thereby inspiring a generation of young people to drive future international relationships and mobility opportunities.

Situation

The UK government has a commitment to language learning and a ‘Global Britain’. Language Assistants helps young people gain meaningful experience of life in another country, immersing them in the language and providing the opportunity to improve their cultural fluency. By working directly with partner institutions and organisations overseas, the programme supports English language learning across Spanish, French, German, Italian and Mandarin-speaking countries. Hosting international teachers helps to create a more favourable future environment for UK nationals overseas, and overseas nationals in the UK. 

Implementation

The programme provides unique training opportunities to develop the skills and experience for current or prospective teachers, as well as those entering the wider UK workforce. Through the support of Language Assistants, language teachers are expected to plan and deliver their own lessons in the classroom, either with a full class or smaller groups. 

We work with overseas partner organisations to manage placing assistants, sponsoring visas, providing criminal record checks, pre-departure and arrival advice and local support within the partner country. 

Impact 

Since 1905, Language Assistants have been providing valuable opportunities for UK students and graduates to teach in classrooms around the world where they can promote the English language and engage in cultural exchange.

In 2018, the programme sent more than 2,000 English Language Assistants from 176 UK universities out on placements, teaching English to over one million pupils. This supports both the teaching of English as well as promoting UK culture in classrooms. A total of 95 per cent of programme participants felt they had acquired new knowledge or skills as a result; including language skills, cultural awareness, teaching skills, confidence, independence and other transferrable skills.

The reciprocal side of the programme brings in Modern Language Assistants to stimulate interest in language learning and cultural understanding within UK schools, colleges and Universities each year.

Mutual benefit

By encouraging students and recent graduates to engage with each other’s country, the Language Assistants programme aims to bring people from the UK and across the world closer together, increase mutual understanding, develop language skills and pave the way to lasting connections between countries.

Developing an internationally competitive future workforce stimulates mutual prosperity and competitiveness of the UK and partner countries, while contributing to a sustainable supply of language teachers following declining numbers in the UK. English and Modern Language Assistants have enormous potential to promote their home culture abroad, whilst developing the skills, confidence and employability of the students they teach, and inspiring the next generation of Language Assistants.