Becoming a Modern Language Assistant in the UK gives you the chance to improve your English, experience UK culture and gain skills to help you in your career.   

You will also help to improve and develop the language skills of students by giving them an insight into the culture of your country. 

Gain teaching experience

Being a language assistant will give you experience of working in a teaching environment alongside experienced colleagues. You will gain a deeper understanding of the education systems in the UK and of different teaching methods.

You will also be invited to induction and training meetings during your placement to support your development even further.  

Improve your English language skills

Living and working in the UK gives you an opportunity to practise your English language skills. Whether you are shopping, talking with colleagues or just watching TV, your skills will improve each and every day.

You will also have the chance to hear and experience the diverse range of dialects and regional variations of the language across the country. 

Gain transferable skills

In a global jobs market, many employers want workers who are culturally aware. Your time working in the UK will show that you have gained experience abroad and that you have developed a range of useful skills, such as: 

  • communication
  • creative thinking and problem solving
  • the ability to work independently and as part of a team. 

Enjoy cultural experiences

From the city of London to the Highlands of Scotland, the UK is a diverse and multicultural nation. You will get to experience this much more than you would just on holiday or a short visit. You will also meet other language assistants and build a network of friends from around the world.

What will I do as a Modern Language Assistant?

You will support the teaching of your language in either a primary or secondary school, or a further or higher education institution (you may have more than one place of work). You will work between 12 and 18 hours a week for up to a year and receive a salary during your placement.

You will help to plan activities and lessons, produce resources to help students to improve their language skills, and prepare students for their oral examination. 

You will also get an opportunity to contribute to cross-curricular work in collaboration with other subject areas as well as introduce students to your own culture by discussing topics such as current affairs, films, sport and festivals. 

You may also support the creation and/or development of international partnerships with a school in your country.

More generally, you will not be required to discipline students, cover for illness or mark work on a regular basis.

When will I work?

If you are a French, Spanish, German, or Italian speaking language assistant, you may be employed on either a long or a short post. You can find out full information on the duration of long and short posts on our website here.

Language assistants from China usually work from mid-September to June the following year.

You will be required to work 12 hours per week. This is contact time in the classroom and you will be expected to spend time preparing for your lessons in addition to these 12 hours.

Schools can arrange to pay language assistants to work for up to six additional hours per week on top of the initial 12 hours, as long as this is agreed in advance.

How much will I be paid?

The amount you will be paid will vary depending on where in the UK you are based. The UK is fairly expensive compared to most European countries, but the allowance is quite generous for the number of hours you will work. 

Although extra money is paid to those working in London, the cost of living in the capital is high. You may be able to supplement your income by giving private lessons or doing a part-time job, as long as these do not affect your working hours in school. You may be able to supplement your income by giving private lessons or doing a part-time job, as long as these are in keeping with visa restrictions and do not affect your working hours in school.

For full information on salary rates across the UK regions, please see our salaries webpage.

Where can I go?

Posts are available in most regions of the UK, including The Isle of Wight, the Isle of Man and the Orkney Islands. On your application form, you may make three choices.

There are very few posts in the most well-known areas, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Brighton and Bath, so you should not expect to be automatically offered a post in one of these areas. 

Posts do exist in London but tend to be very popular. Although there is an additional allowance for working in London, be aware that it is much more expensive to live there than in any other part of the UK.

We recommend that you research different areas of the UK before making your regional choices. 

The education systems vary across the different countries of the UK.

What support and guidance are provided during my assistantship?

The British Council Language Assistants team provide a range of support to assistants coming to the UK, including:

  • visa application guidance
  • pre-departure webinars, which cover the administrative side of moving to the UK and an introduction to key principles of Child Protection
  • online teacher training courses, including a mandatory Child Protection module
  • access to training days with our UK partners including Goethe Institut, Consejería de Educación and Institut Français
  • we also offer guidance to assistants so that you can better cope with challenges and issues during the assistantship in the document 'Who to Contact - Guidance for Language Assistants' (available for download below)
  • a support network of other British Council language assistants locally and across the UK
  • our Modern Language Assistants Information Booklet, which is updated each year and provides guidance for both host institutions and language assistants. The 2022-24 Booklet is available for download at the bottom of the page.

Back to Become a language assistant in the UK.