Instead of studying at a European university as part of the Erasmus+ scheme, you could spend your third year abroad as a language assistant. Assistantships operate in numerous European countries, run by different organisations in different countries. If you are studying at a UK university, you will apply through the British Council for an assistantship position in another European country.
What is it?
The British Council Language Assistantship scheme allows you to spend an academic year abroad helping to teach English to schoolchildren, in either a secondary or primary school. You are normally affiliated to one school but may share your time between a few. Your role will normally involve planning activities and resources to help students improve their English and you will normally be expected to work between 11 and 20 hours a week.
Where can I go?
The European countries in which you can become a language assistant are as follows: Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, China, Canada and Latin America. For destinations outside Europe, candidates who pass the first selection stage will be required to complete an assessment day. Once you have chosen the country that you like to go to, you can list certain regions within that country that you would prefer. This does not guarantee a place there, however, as certain areas are very popular and there are not enough schools taking part in the scheme to provide placements for everyone.
Who is eligible?
For European placements, you must be under 30 years of age (or 35 in France), have completed your UK-based education up to A Level, have taken at least two years of your university education and be a native-level English speaker. You must also be available for the full length of the appointment offered to you and must be willing to accept any post offered to you. In addition, you need to be able to apply for an International Child Protection Certificate. You do not, however, need a formal qualification in the language of the country you intend to be an assistant in.
For most posts you need to be able to work between 1st October (late August in Germany) and 31st May (30th April in France). These dates may vary depending on your region.
Applications for the following academic year open in October. If you are a modern languages student, your university will normally guide you through your application. Otherwise, see the British Council website for more details.
What are the benefits?
As you do not need any formal language qualifications, being a language assistant means that any eligible person can take the opportunity to learn or improve their language skills in the best way possible – by immersing themselves in the language and culture on a daily basis. Not only that, but you also get the chance to share your knowledge of the English language and of UK culture. You should make valuable connections during your time abroad, with other teachers, fellow assistants, and, if you take steps to integrate within the local community, you should also make plenty of local friends, too. Gaining teaching experience will be a real asset for your CV, helping you secure employment in the future, especially in the field of education. The assistantship also comes with the benefit of a wage that will allow you to live fairly comfortably while abroad.
What funding is available?
You will receive a monthly salary as an English language assistant. This is usually around 800 Euro a month, although this varies according to region. You may also be able to receive a reduced amount of your UK student loan during your year abroad.
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For many UK students, the possibility of studying or working abroad in Europe is a means to increase employability by broadening horizons, widening knowledge of other cultures and improving communication skills. While time abroad is a necessary component of a number of degree courses, such as those in Modern Languages, many students are independently making the decision to spend time abroad during their studies.
A third year abroad is usually a standard part of Modern Language degrees, or those with a modern language component, such as Law and French. But, this doesn’t have to be the sole domain of the modern-language student. Why not defer your final year of university and do some travelling, live in another country and gain some invaluable experience that you won’t find in a lecture theatre.
There are a number of ways that you can spend a third year abroad. One of the most popular is the Erasmus+ programme, which allows you to work or study abroad.