snow covered mountain with blue sky and reflection in lake
The alpine mountains. Photo  ©

Christophe Schindler used under licence, adapted from the original

How does the programme operate in Swizterland? 

The Language Assistants Programme is a bi-lateral mobility programme. We work with our partner organisation, Movetia, to send English Language Assistants to primary and secondary schools in Switzerland.  

Movetia administer the programme in Switzerland and manage the relationship with regional authorities and schools on our behalf. 

As part of our allocation process, we will be sharing the information you include in your application with Movetia and the regional authorities and schools that they work with. By submitting an application, you are agreeing to us sharing the information with all parties listed above. 

Am I eligible for a placement in Switzerland?

To be a Language Assistant in Switzerland, you must:

  • fulfil the general eligibility criteria 
  • hold a UK, Irish or EU passport
  • have A2-level French and/or German. Please note however that Assistants will be expected to be able to communicate and complete the necessary administration procedures in French/German. Please note further that a small number of Swiss schools may require a French/German level of B1. We encourage French/German speakers at A2 level to apply, but advise that they may need to be slightly more flexible with regard to their regional preferences, and that competition for such placements may be higher.
  • be aged between 20 and 35 (on 1 August 2024).

Will I need a visa?  

Assistants going to Switzerland who do not have an EU passport or pre-existing Swiss residency must apply for a Work and Residence Permit. Applications for the Work and Residence permit must be submitted in conjunction with the host institution during the summer – an entry visa is not required. Our partners in Switzerland will provide further information on this if you are selected for a post.   

A registration fee of 100-170 CHF will be paid by the assistant upon collection of the permit. Additional costs may arise if a certified translation is required by the cantonal authorities.  

Please ensure your passport is valid 6 months beyond the end of your assistantship and has been issued within the last ten years (even if it has six months or more left).   

Please note that visa requirements can change at short notice, and the British Council cannot be held responsible for any changes to the visa process or to the approximate costs listed above which have been given as a guide only. If allocated a placement, you will receive the most up-to-date information for the processes. You should not apply until you have been instructed to do so by the team.      

When will I start my placement?

Posts in Switzerland run from mid-August/early September 2024 until end June/mid-July 2025, depending on the school and region.  

Will there be an induction course?

A compulsory induction day is usually held in Bern, and run by our Swiss partners, Movetia. This is likely to take place in late August and Assistants will be invited to the induction course by Movetia via email. 

Assistants should arrive in Switzerland in mid-to-late August in order to attend the induction course, ready to begin their placement soon after.    

Please note that this information is subject to change. 

How many hours will I work per week?

You can expect to work approximately 12 hours per week. Please be aware that the number of hours and your specific timetable can vary depending on the region and institution that you are allocated to.  

How many posts are available in Switzerland?

Every year there are approximately 10-20 posts available in Switzerland. We have posts in both French- and German-speaking parts of the country,however, in previous years there have been a limited number of posts available in French-speaking regions.Applicants for French-speaking posts may therefore be offered a placement in a German-speaking region. .

Places are competitive, and we usually give priority to candidates who are able to demonstrate significant teaching experience. 

What type of institution will I be working in?

Posts are available in secondary schools, with a very small number of postings in primary schools (you may work in up to three schools). 

Assistants in Switzerland operate with a greater degree of independence, both in and out of school, than they do in other European countries. Posts in Switzerland are ideal for candidates with teaching experience or for those who wish to enter a career in teaching.

How much will I be paid?

You will be paid a gross salary of around CHF 3,200 per month (approx. CHF 2,600 after deductions). There may be variations in salaries depending on school and region; your exact salary will be confirmed in your contract.

Please note that our overseas partners and employing institutions are ultimately responsible for setting the salary of Language Assistants and this amount should therefore be treated as indicative and may be subject to change.

What are the costs involved?   

Applicants should also be aware that there are significant costs associated with the work and residence process and moving to Switzerland. However, these costs should not come all at once as they will occur at different stages of the process, from residence permit application to arrival in Switzerland. Costs are likely to include:   

Pre-departure:  

  • International Child Protection Certificate (£90)  

  • Residence permit application including administrative fees (approx. CHF 95-180)  

  • Translation of documents required for the permit into German, French or Italian (except canton of Jura). You may be required to pay upfront, however, the host school should cover the cost 

  • Travel costs to placement location  

  • Health insurance in Switzerland (must be organised before entering Switzerland and paid by the Language Assistant. Please note that theGHIC is not valid in Switzerland) 

In post (before receiving first payment) 

  • Accommodation costs including initial temporary accommodation and deposit for permanent accommodation in Switzerland 

  • Registration in Switzerland (CHF 100-170) 

  • Costs for initial few months – You may not receive your first payment until late September, so you will need sufficient funds for this time. Previous assistants have recommended budgeting for at least two months without pay (£2,300) 

 We encourage you to read more about the monthly allowance and how much money we recommend budgeting for Switzerland in section 8 of the destination guide (available to downloaded from the bottom of this page).  

What holidays will I have?

In Switzerland the academic calendar runs from mid-August/early September until end June/mid-July. Assistants can expect to receive the same school and national holidays as their institution.   

Holidays often vary by region and sometimes institution. There is only one federal holiday in Switzerland – National Day on 1 August – with each canton designating their own public holidays. Your institution will give you full details of your term dates when you begin your post.   

Where can I go in Switzerland?

We have posts in both French- and German-speaking parts of the country.

Most posts are in German-speaking cantons (regions), with various posts in rural areas. These may include Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Basel-Stadt, Luzern, Obwalden, St. Gallen, Solothurn, Schwyz, Zug and Zürich.

Placements in larger towns (such as Basel and Zürich) cannot be guaranteed.

A number of posts are offered in the French-speaking cantons. Posts are likely to be in rural areas (cantons Fribourg, Vaud and Jura).

You should research the various areas of Switzerland thoroughly before applying. Unfortunately, we cannot currently offer placements in Italian-speaking Switzerland. 

I've worked as a Language Assistant in Switzerland – can I apply again?

Assistants currently working in Switzerland can apply for a consecutive year. This must be done through our partner organisation Movetia. Please contact Movetia for further information on how to submit a request and application with them. 

Consecutive year Assistants can request to remain at the same school or request a change. They will not be required to attend the induction course the following year. 

Please note all consecutive year Assistants must apply again for an International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) for the new academic year.    

How do I provide additional letters of recommendation? 

Candidates for Switzerland need to provide two references.

If you have selected Switzerland as your second or third country preference, you are invited but not required to upload an additional letter of recommendation. You may however be asked for one during the matching process if shortlisted for Switzerland. 

If you have previously been working as an Assistant in Switzerland, you are not required to upload an additional letter of recommendation; you should however ensure that you have uploaded a reference from your previous Swiss host institution in the About you > Returning and Former Language Assistants part of the application. 

The additional letter of recommendation may be a professional or academic reference from a current or previous employer or university tutor. You cannot use the same referee twice. 

You are required to upload an additional letter of recommendation when selecting Switzerland your first-choicedestinationpreferencein the application. The letter must be uploaded before submitting the application (deadline: 1 February 2023). It is your responsibility to ensure that you are provided with a letter of recommendation by your referee in time for the deadline above and that the letter fulfils the requirements below. 

Please ensure that the letter:   

  • is on headed paper and signed by the referee;

  • includes the date and position title (for example “English Language Assistant”);

  • comments on your qualification, if possible with elements referring to the position of an English Language Assistant in Switzerland;

  • is uploaded as a PDF. 

Where can I get information about my placement from?

The guide for Language Assistants in Switzerland 2023-24 is available to download in PDF format below. This information has been provided for reference and is subject to change each year. Updated guidance for Assistants going out on placement in 2024-25 will be available in summer 2024. 

Last updated: 26/04/2024