English Language Assistants have to meet a range of criteria so please check full details before making an application. ©

Mat Wright 

Eligibility criteria for the English Language Assistants programme vary depending on where you want to teach.

Below you can find information about the general programme and the further eligibility criteria that apply to specific countries. Please consult these resources carefully before submitting an application.

To be eligible to apply, you must meet all of the following criteria:

1. Be highly proficient in English

Your level of English (speaking, listening, reading and writing) must be equivalent to C2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). You must assess your own level against the CEFRL, however we will also assess your English skills by reviewing your written application and your reference. It is in your own interest to hold the required level of English as you will be expected to teach it to a high level.  

2. Meet the language requirements

Language requirements vary between countries. You do not need a formal language qualification - skills can be acquired through regular travel, private study or a course at a university language centre. 

  • China, Hong Kong and Spain: no language skills required
  • Austria, Germany and Switzerland: A2 in the target language
  • All other destinations: B1 in the destination’s main language

Self-assess your language level against the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. We will assess your language skills using the information provided on your application. It is in your own best interest to hold the required language level. You will be expected to communicate and complete the necessary administration procedures in the language of your destination.

3. Hold a UK/Irish or European passport

You must hold a UK, Irish or other European Union (EU) passport to be eligible for the English Language Assistant programme. Holders of a non-EU passport are not eligible for the programme.

Some countries (Canada, Chile, China and Italy) require applicants to hold a UK/Irish passport. Please check the individual country pages for more specific requirements. Only holders of a UK passport may apply to Argentina. Please check the individual country pages for more specific requirements.

4. Have lived in the UK for a minimum of two years and be eligible to apply for an International Child Protection Certificate 

Candidates must have lived in the UK at some point in their life for a total of two years prior to application. All applicants must be able to demonstrate their knowledge of UK culture which will be assessed through questions in the application form. 

Successful candidates must also apply for an International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) before taking up their post, which requires that they have been living in the UK for 2 years prior to applying. This is a form of criminal record check. Do not apply for the ICPC until we instruct you to. This will cost approximately £75.00. 

An ICPC is obligatory also for anyone applying for a consecutive year, whether you're applying through the British Council or a partner organisation.

In line with our Child Protection Policy and our approach to safeguarding children, we cannot accept your application if you have any convictions, cautions, reprimand, warning, prosecutions or criminal proceedings for the offences outlined below: 

  • a sexual or violence-related offence 
  • any offence involving any type of harm (physical, emotional or sexual abuse) to a child or children. 

We reserve the right to reject your application for any other offences. These will be assessed on a case-by-case basis considering the following: 

  • time since the offence(s) occurred 
  • age at which the offence(s) was/were committed 
  • pattern of behaviour e.g. repeated offences 
  • disclosure or non-disclosure of the offence(s) 
  • explanation of the circumstances of the offence(s) 
  • classification and step down period of the offence according to the ACRO step-down model  
  • satisfactory university/employer/character references 
  • motivation for the programme 
  • employment history. 

If you commit a criminal offence or are the subject of any criminal proceedings after you submit your application, you must inform us in writing as soon as possible. Failure to do so may lead to your application being withdrawn. This will be corroborated by your ICPC certificate. 

5. Hold the minimum academic qualifications 

The Language Assistants programme primarily provides undergraduates with the opportunity to carry out their year abroad, however we welcome applications from graduates and those who have pursued other academic and career pathways. To be eligible for the programme you must therefore have any of the following qualifications in advance of starting your post:  

  • Have completed at least two years of an undergraduate degree OR
  • Have completed a TEFL or CELTA course with at least two years of English Language Teaching OR 
  • Have completed at least one year of study of a Level 5 qualification (or above) through a Further Education institution/ TVET college

6. Further eligibility requirements

Teaching qualifications

You do not need a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification to apply. However, successful candidates for China will be required to complete a compulsory TEFL course prior to departure.

Support requirements and flexibility 

If you have any specific support requirements (for example, personal circumstances, a disability, medical conditions or dependent children), please provide as much information as possible in your application to allow us and our partners to find you a post which is best suited to your needs.

We may contact you during the application process to request further information to help our allocation process. Please note that it is not always possible for our overseas partners to accommodate all requests and you should undertake independent research to understand what support is available in your country of application.  

For applicants without support requirements, we will endeavour to find the most suitable post based on your preferences (area, environment, age group etc.) but applicants must show some flexibility and accept that this is not always possible. 

For most countries, you will be able to give three area preferences, and preferences relating to the size of town you’d like to work in and the age group you’d like to teach. However, the number of posts in each area is limited and your preferences cannot be guaranteed. 

We recommend that you look at the preferences for your country of application and research the areas available thoroughly before applying. 

You must be available to complete the full period of your post, usually a full academic year. In Argentina, Austria and Germany, a limited number of six-month posts are available. 

Maximum number of placements

You can be a Language Assistant through our programme a maximum of four times, regardless of whether the posts were in the same or different countries. Both consecutive and non-consecutive years will be counted.

6. Country-specific eligibility requirements

Please see below for a brief summary of language requirements and age limits for each country:


Language Requirement (CEFF)

Age limit


Argentina B1  n/a UK only 
Austria A2  35 (pending number of applicants)  UK/Irish/EU
Belgium B1  35  UK/Irish/EU
Canada B1  35  UK or Irish only
Chile B1  n/a  UK or Irish only
China None  55 Graduates and UK/Irish passport holders only
Colombia B1

 Minimum 20

Maximum n/a

 UK/Irish/EU passport and have been educated in the UK (you cannot apply if you hold dual nationality with Colombia).

You must be studying/have studied languages, literature or Latin American studies at university level and have some teaching experience.

Ecuador B1  n/a  UK/Irish/EU
France B1  35  UK/Irish/EU
Germany A2  35  UK/Irish/EU
Hong Kong None N/A UK/Irish/EU
Italy B1   n/a You must hold a UK or Irish passport
Mexico B1  30  UK/Irish/EU
Spain None  60 UK/Irish or EU passport other than Spanish
Switzerland (French-speaking) A2

 Minimum 20

Maximum 35

Switzerland (German-speaking) A2  Minimum 20

Maximum 35