Eligibility criteria for the English Language Assistants programme vary depending on where you want to teach, but the criteria below are valid for all applicants.

Native-level English

You must be a native-level English speaker. We assess your English skills by reviewing your written application and your reference.

Language requirements 

You do not need a formal language qualification to become a Language Assistant. These skills can be acquired through regular travel, private study or through a course at a university language centre. We may test your language skills at a further assessment stage or telephone interview if necessary. It is in your own best interest to hold the required language level as you will be expected to communicate and complete the necessary administration procedures in the target language upon arrival. You can self-assess your language level against the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

  • Spain and China  – No language skills required
  • All other countries – B1 in the target country’s language


You must hold a UK, Irish or other European Union (EU) passport in order to be eligible for the Language Assistants Programme in general. Please see the country pages linked below for more specific requirements. If you have a non-EU passport, then you are not eligible for the Language Assistants Programme.

Secondary-school education

You should have completed the majority of your secondary-school education in the UK. This is because part of your role will be to share your knowledge of UK culture (including the different UK education systems) to the students you will be working with.

There are two exceptions to this:

  1. If you have an Irish passport and completed your secondary-school education in the Republic of Ireland, you are eligible to apply, so long as you are currently studying at a UK university.
  2. If you have a UK or Irish passport but completed your secondary education overseas, you are eligible to apply. 

Non-UK / Irish passport holders who were educated overseas for their secondary education, including in a British international school outside of the UK, are not eligible to apply for the programme.


You must have passed two years of university-level education by the time you start your assistantship to be eligible to apply for the programme.

For China different criteria apply. Please see the China country page for more information.

Preference of location

You must be flexible with regard to the location of your post and be willing to accept a post wherever you are allocated.

For most countries, you will be able to select three area preferences, as well as 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 strictly limited and your preferences cannot be guaranteed.

Please look at the preferences available for your country of application through the links below and research the areas available thoroughly before applying.

If you have any additional support requirements (for example, disabilities, medical conditions or dependent children), please provide as much information as possible in your application to enable us to find a post best suited to your needs. We may contact you during the application process to discuss your specific needs and how we can accommodate them.

Background check

You will need to apply for an International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC). The cost of applying for an ICPC will be approximately £60 and you should not apply for an ICPC until told to do so.

In line with our Child Protection Policy and our approach to safeguarding children, we cannot accept your application if you currently have any outstanding prosecutions or criminal proceedings for the offences outlined below or have ever been convicted of or received a caution, reprimand or warning for a sexual or violence-related offence or any offence involving any type of harm (physical, emotional or sexual abuse) to a child or children.

If you commit a criminal offence or are the subject of any criminal proceedings after you submit your application, you must inform the British Council in writing as soon as possible. Failure to do so may lead to your application being withdrawn.

Teaching qualifications

You do not need a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification to be able to apply.

Number of consecutive placements 

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

Our partner organisations abroad will have their own eligibility criteria, so please check with us before applying if you would be able to stay for a consecutive year in that country. If you are applying for a consecutive year in Colombia, Mexico, Spain or Switzerland, please see the consecutive year application guidance notes below.

Your availability, language requirements and further criteria for each country

You will need to be available to complete the whole period of appointment for the country to which you apply.

Please see the country pages below for the dates relating to your country of application.

Please also see those page for specific language requirements. For interest, you can self-assess your modern-language level against the European Union's framework.

Back to the main English Language Assistants page.