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The journey begins! If your application to become an English Language Assistant is successful and your post is confirmed, it's time to prepare for your placement. ©

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If your application to be an English Language Assistant is successful and your post is confirmed, you'll need to prepare for your placement.

You’ll receive a detailed information pack around six weeks before you depart. The information will be specific to the country you will be working in and will cover topics such as inductions and lesson ideas. At any time you can find useful information on the country-specific pages.

Last updated: 08/11/2023.

Costs involved

Although there is no fee to work as an English Language Assistant through the British Council, and you will be paid a monthly salary, you will need to cover some costs. These include:

  • return flights to your destination
  • travel insurance
  • accommodation and utility bills
  • an International Child Protection Certificate costing approximately £90.  

Depending on where you wish to be a Language Assistant, there may be other costs such as visas and vaccinations.


Apply for an International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC)

If you have been successfully allocated to the post of an English Language Assistant, you are required to apply for an International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) from ACRO which is in accordance with the British Council’s Child Protection policy. An approved ICPC certificate will allow you to work with young people under 18 in your host country.

ACRO Criminal Records Office is a national police unit working for safer communities and is responsible for issuing ICPCs to English Language Assistants.

You will be withdrawn from the programme if your ICPC is not received by the deadline. 

Your ICPC may also be required to apply for a visa for your host country and it is essential you adhere to the required deadline.

If you are eligible for Turing

f you are a current or recent student, you may be eligible for Turing funding from your university. This is managed by each individual institution, and you should contact them to enquire if you are eligible.  

Contacting your school

The local education authority or the institution will give you the name and location of the school where you’ll be working.You should make immediate contact to confirm that you accept the post and start any administrative procedures they ask you to complete.



You should make sure to find out the following from your school:

  • the age range of the students
  • the size of the class
  • what materials you should take with you
  • term dates
  • what clothes you should wear in school
  • whether the institution can help you find accommodation.

Any additional duties you may be asked to carry out should be agreed with you in advance. You should expect to receive training for these upon arrival.

Preparing to teach

Before you go, you should find out some basic facts about the education system of your host country.

The British Council office in-country may also have information and materials online to help you. You can find a list of country sites where we have a presence on the British Council homepage.

Make sure that you:

  • prepare carefully and seriously for lessons
  • arrange to discuss your work regularly with your mentor teacher
  • arrive for class on time, even if the students are late
  • show an interest in your students’ progress
  • offer to make up time for classes missed.


To help you with teaching, you'll find extensive free tips and resources on our website teachingenglish.org.uk. You will also receive teaching resources when you receive your summer information pack.

We also strongly recommend that all Language Assistants undertake our free online Teaching English course, which also contains a mandatory Child Protection module. Click on the tab below for more details.

Language Assistants Teaching English Course

The British Council is passionate about the English language and those who teach it. We’re here to help you to develop some of the teaching skills that will help you during your ELA placement. There are six free modules to get you started:

  • Getting started
  • Child protection (mandatory)*
  • Understanding grammar
  • Understanding special educational needs (SEN)
  • Understanding grammar teaching – focus on form
  • Reading skills using digital tools – engaging with learning technologies

*The Child Protection module must be completed as part of your Child Protection induction with completion rates monitored. We recommend that you complete the Child Protection module before your departure in the autumn.

The modules are free to all ELAs allocated for the year 2023/2024 and you will be able to access the modules from early September until 30 November 2023.

Please note that the course is optional but we strongly recommend that you undertake it to enhance your professional development. What's more, you’ll be joining a community of Language Assistants improving the performance and experience of their learners.


You will receive a registration email from British Council Online Learning (noreply@britishcouncil.org) from the beginning of September 2023. You will then be able to access the course. Please check your spam folder if you don't receive this email by this date.

Login via the TeachingEnglish website:


Select My portfolio from the top left menu. Start your course from My courses.

Additional technical support

To reset your password after you receive your registration email:

  • Make sure you are logged in to the TeachingEnglish website 
  • Click on 'request new password'
  • Type in your email address you used to enrol

You will receive an email with a link to set your password. If you have any problems resetting your password, use the Help button to request the British Council check the email address you used to enrol, and to send a link to you if needed.

If you experience any technical difficulties or have any other queries, please click the 'Help' button on the bottom right of the webpage. .


If you are going to Latin America, you will usually be advised to travel on specific days, to coordinate your arrival with other assistants and meet them at the airport.

If you are appointed to Latin America, you should buy a return flight with a flexible return date (or the option to change the return date), as this is often cheaper than buying two single tickets.

We strongly advise you to look up your destination on Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office's travel aware website.


You must have personal accident and travel insurance for the duration of your appointment, including travel to and from the UK. Your insurance must cover emergency repatriation.

You will receive country-specific information about insurance in your information pack before you leave. Please also read the British Council's advice on personal accident and travel insurance (PDF 135 KB).

For those appointed to an EU country: If your current European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is expired, you’re ineligible for a renewal or you do not own one, you should obtain a Global Health Insurance Card GHIC. A GHIC or EHIC is free of charge.

You can listen to our podcast, run by former English Language Assistants, about travel insurance. 

Finding accommodation

Some host institutions may have accommodation available for you,or have a local contact to help you find accommodation, however, this cannot be guaranteed.  

It is your responsibility to find your own accommodation. There is advice in the downloadable country notes on each of the individual country pages.  

In Hong Kong, student accommodation is provided at a discounted rate to Language Assistants, however, you are also welcome to find your own accommodation.  

The information pack you receive from us may include the contact details of language assistants who were posted to your region last year. They may be able to give you advice about accommodation.

It may also be helpful to ask your school if they can help or find someone who can let you stay with them temporarily. Staff and student notice boards, local newspapers and tourist offices are potential sources of information on accommodation. Your school may also be able to give you contact details of former assistants who may be able to offer advice.

When searching for accommodation, do not go on viewings alone or advertise your phone number in public places.

If you can't find something immediately, don't panic. The time it takes to find suitable accommodation varies from place to place.

Settling in

The initial settling-in period can be difficult. You may not be living in the same place as other assistants, and you cannot always depend on teaching staff in your school for social activities.

Attending local classes and clubs and emailing past and present assistants in your area can help you settle in. If this does not work and you are still unhappy, talk to your mentor or another teacher in the school. They may have some useful advice or contacts.

Reporting problems

If problems occur, you should contact people in the following order to find a solution - always try to solve problems locally before contacting us in the UK. This is because contacts in-country are often best placed to tackle challenges that may arise:

  • your mentor teacher
  • head of department or senior member of staff
  • representative at local education authority (if relevant)
  • our partner organisation in the country where you are working
  • the British Council in the UK.

Your mentor teacher should also be able to make you aware of cultural differences to help you avoid any misunderstandings. 

Personal safety

It is important to protect your personal health and safety while abroad. The following links provide you with information to ensure you are well prepared for living overseas.

Support for British nationals abroad: a guide

Travel check list

Travel and mental health advice

Country specific travel advice

Be aware of legal sensitivities


Assistants allocated a placement in France must be aware of the laws around secularism in the French education system. Please note that all assistants are expected by the académies to respect the secularity charter (La charte de laïcité). 

We cannot be held responsible for issues surrounding the charter and advise candidates to ensure they understand if there are any changes to the law.


In June 2019, Bill 21 was passed by the National Assembly of Québec. This is a secularism law stating that teachers in the public sector are not allowed to wear religious symbols at work.

As an English Language Assistant in Canada you are not technically a teacher, but you will be perceived as such by students and parents. Please make sure to familiarise yourself with this law as it may affect you. 


In general, teachers cannot wear the hijab in schools for reasons of neutrality. Nevertheless, some schools have accepted language assistants wearing the hijab. It is therefore dependent on the school you are placed at.