Becoming a language assistant in a UK school 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 language assistant?

As a language assistant in a UK school, 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?

Unless you are a language assistant from China, your appointment will run from September (posts in Scotland or Northern Ireland) or October (posts in England or Wales) to May the following year, unless you have agreed otherwise with the local authority or your host school.

Language assistants from China usually work from mid-September 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.

The current allowance for the following countries is as follows:

England (excluding London), Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales 

£886 per month (before tax and other deductions)

Inner London 

£1,115 per month (before tax and other deductions)

Outer London 

£1,053 per month (before tax and other deductions)

London fringe 

£937 per month (before tax and other deductions)

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.

Back to Become a language assistant in the UK.