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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: 24 June 2021

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 £75.  

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You will be withdrawn from the programme if your ICPC is not received by the deadline.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

There are six stages to successfully applying for an ICPC:

Step 1: You receive your allocation email from the Language Assistants Team - this is required as part of the application process for an ICPC which costs £75 (as at May 2021)

Step 2: You will receive an email from the Team in early June advising you on the process with guidance, your deadline and links to relevant sites including ACRO. An ICPC costs £75.

Step 3: Log onto www.acro.police.uk/icpc

Step 4: Follow the guidance on both the ACRO website and our own guidance to apply for an ICPC

Step 5:  ACRO will process your application and send the certificate to your current address

Step 6: Please email the scanned copy/photograph of the ICPC certificate as an attachment in PDF format (please note that we can only accept coloured quality scans with the hologram clearly visible in the bottom right hand corner) to ICPC@BritishCouncil.org by the deadline specified in your initial email.

Please ensure that you provide the following details in your email:

a. Subject line: Please write ICPC followed by your host country, e.g. 'ICPC France' 

b. Certification text: Please self-certify the ICPC by writing the following in your email:

I, [INSERT YOUR NAME], certify the attached ICPC certificate to be a true copy of the original seen by me.

Please note that the British Council will be working with ACRO to determine if the ICPCs have been tampered with or edited.

Your ICPC will be processed by the Language Assistants Team and approved or followed up if required.

You will still have to apply for an ICPC if you have applied for a consecutive year or returning to the programme as a former ELA. ICPCs are only valid for one year.

Watch this short video by the ELA team which explains the ICPC process.

If you are eligible for Erasmus+

If you are a UK English Language Assistant eligible for Erasmus+ status, you can continue to apply to be an Erasmus+ student, a status which allows you academic recognition and a substantial fee waver.

If your applications for both the English Language Assistants programme and the Erasmus+ scheme are successful, you can expect to receive an Erasmus+ grant for the full duration of the 2020-21 academic year.

For more information, please visit the Erasmus+ webpage.

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.

Resources

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.

You can also access free content from the Financial Times to use in classroom activities. You can register on behalf of your school once you’re in post.

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 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 2021/2022 and you will be able to access the modules until 31 October 2021.

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.

Registration 

You'll receive a registration email from British Council online learning from the start of August 2021 (please check your inbox and your spam folder). You'll then be able to access the course using the login details provided in your registration email.

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

To reset your password after you receive your registration email:

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 ELA team to check the email address you used to enrol, and to send a link to you if needed.

Travel

If you are going to China or 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.

If you are appointed to China, you should buy a return ticket and your school will reimburse your flights upon completion of the contract.

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

Insurance

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.

Many insurers are excluding Covid-19 as a cause of travel delay or medical expenses. Please check carefully that your policy does include, as a minimum, medical expenses as a result of Covid-19. Currently, providers such as Endsleigh and Alpha are still providing this cover on their gap year policies, so they may be an option, if the other elements of cover meet your individual needs.

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

Finding accommodation

If you have been appointed to Ecuador or China, accommodation is usually provided. For all other countries, it is your responsibility to find your own accommodation. There is advice in the downloadable country notes on each of the individual country pages.

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

France

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.

Canada

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. 

Belgium

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.