teacher in classroom

January 15, 2021, by ulyrh1

Applying to Become an English Language Assistant With the British Council

By Rowena Harris, Student Blogger

Interested in working abroad, improving your fluency in another language, and gaining valuable experience to strengthen your CV? The British Council offers paid six-month or one-year placements teaching English as a foreign language in 15 different countries around the world.

The placement involves working in a school, in a country of your choice, teaching English to primary or secondary school students, or even adults. It is a popular option among language students, but you are also eligible if you meet the following requirements.

Are you eligible?

  • Highly proficient in English (C2 Level)
  • Meet the language requirements of your destination country (no requirements in Spain, China, and Hong Kong; A2 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland; B2 in all other countries). Check the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to assess your own level.
  • Have completed at least two years of an undergraduate degree. Alternatively, you may have completed a TEFL or CELTA course with at least two years of English Language Teaching, OR at least one year of study of a Level 5 qualification through a Further Education institution/ TVET college.
  • Hold a UK/Irish or European passport
  • Have lived in the UK for two years minimum and be eligible to apply for an International Child Protection Certificate

Once you have looked through the British Council website and decided you want to apply, you are probably wondering: what does the application involve?

Written application

  • Explain why you are applying (consider why you are interested in teaching and what your future career plans are).
  • Outline what you know about the culture of your destination country and any previous experience you have teaching or working with young people.
  • Detail what aspects of British culture you would like to discuss with your students.


  • Select preferences regarding which country you would like to work in. This includes which region, whether a village, town, or city, and age of students: primary, secondary, or adult.
  • It is worth doing some research before selecting these preferences, particularly into specific regions because you want to live somewhere you find interesting. Ask yourself questions such as: do I want to be in a bigger town or city where there are lots of others my age and plenty of events and activities? Would I prefer to be in a smaller village that is perhaps more typical of the country and more culturally immersive? Bear in mind, most language assistant positions are in smaller towns and you won’t necessarily get your first choice.
  • You must give reasons for some of these preferences (but don’t worry, you don’t need to show off here. They can be practical reasons such as choosing Spain over Latin America because flights home are a lot cheaper!).


  • To complete your application, you will need a reference from a member of your university department to ensure your suitability to work in a school. This involves a university lecturer being assigned to you and carrying out a short interview. It sounds daunting but don’t worry, it is relatively informal, and they are on your side!
  • They will ask questions such as: why do you want to be an English language assistant? What ideas do you have for lessons with the students? What would you do if a particular student was struggling to engage and distracting others?

Will the scheme be impacted by Brexit and Covid-19?

The British Council have confirmed that the English Language Assistant programme is going ahead in the 2021/2022 academic year. However, they will keep applicants updated should the government enforce new coronavirus restrictions. They will also provide students with guidance regarding visas and work permits that may be needed due to Brexit.

Bear in mind that you must be sure of your decision before applying. If your application is successful but you then choose to turn down your placement, a school may be left without a language assistant. Take a look at the British Council website for more information on the role and the regions available in different countries.

The deadline for submitting your application is 3 February to get a placement over the 2021/2022 academic year. Good luck!

If you’re looking for opportunities to gain international work experience, also check out our blog post on how to do it from the comfort of your own home! 

Posted in Applying For JobsWork experience