British Council is a well-established scheme for year abroad students and recent graduates alike looking to teach overseas. Whether you’re already fluent in a foreign language or have a vocabulary consisting solely of ‘hola’ and ‘cerveza’, spending your year as a language assistant can really help you to improve.
With only 12 hours a week expected of you over 9 months, a steady wage, the option to live practically anywhere from Europe to South America (or even Africa!) plus the benefit of school holidays, what’s stopping you from applying?!
Having spent my year abroad in A Coruña, Galicia (north west Spain), I have put together 10 reasons why British Council should be an option for your next year:
#1: Piling up the cash
Depending on the city and country you go for, British Council pays rather well for 12 hours a week. In most towns and cities this is 700€ a month (and 1000€ for Madrid). You also still qualify for student finance so you can just watch the euros fly in!
#2: Extra time…extra cash
Everybody in Europe is desperate to learn English and will do anything to get their hands on a native speaker to teach their little prince or princess. Many families will pay VERY well for an hour or two of your time a week, so expect around 10-15€/hour to teach English or sometimes just babysit! With the countless hours of free time your school timetable gives you, you can spend your spare time earning tapas or beer money!
#3: Holiday within a holiday within a holiday…
Most schools give you either Monday or Friday off, and what does that mean? Lovely long weekends travelling around your area or perhaps stretching further afield to neighbouring countries. Once you’re in mainland Europe or South America (if you choose that option) it is far cheaper and easier to get around and really explore the unbeaten track.
#4: The big surprise
Who knows where you might end up! The British Council places you depending on your preferences of region, age group, and size of area (a hamlet or city). Yet despite ranking your top 3 regions, you really have no idea where you may end up, as the British Council selection process seems to be more like picking names from a hat when put into practise. Don’t be fazed by the up-and-go process; this will give you the chance to explore new, less-touristy and more rustic destinations. Believe it or not Barcelona isn’t the only place to find beaches in Spain…
#5: Hola/guten tag/bonjour
A year in this profession gives you the perfect opportunity to improve your language skills or perhaps start from scratch as you are surrounded by non-English speakers. Most likely every teacher (other than the English teachers of course) won’t speak English, so you’re forced to learn. It’s not as scary as it sounds! You’ll pick it up in no time and no doubt will return with a lovely authentic accent.
#6: The inside scoop
With study placements it’s very easy to fall into the trap of clustering with other Brits. The result? You learn little about the culture and your language skills may not improve as much as desired. If you really want to hear about the culture of your country from the horse’s mouth, the British Council is perfect as you work with regular everyday teachers who, in the case of Spain at least, are usually exceptionally keen to tell you how much they hate their economic system or love their festivals and fiestas! Working with locals also means you get the inside scoop on where to get the best chorizo and where the hidden beach paradises can be found.
Maybe you want to be a teacher in the future, maybe you don’t; either way, working as a language assistant looks very impressive on your CV as it shows your ability to completely uproot yourself and make it alone in the big wide world. Whether its teaching skills or the ability to time manage and live independently in a new culture, the British Council no doubt provides you with some very impressive skills that help you to stand out from the crowd.
#8: Put the pen down
If you’re about to choose an option for your year abroad, consider this; as an earning teaching assistant you don’t have essays or exams to complete. Instead, for the majority of the week, you’re free to do whatever you like – be it earning even more cash in a part time job or picking up a new hobby (top tip: if you’re by the coast make the most of cheap watersports classes on amazing beaches!). This option gives you a taster of the ‘real world’ and allows you to relax at home rather than worry about a 1000 word assignment due for tomorrow…
#9: The joys of working with kids
Obviously it depends what age group you’re put with, but whatever the age, kids can certainly be entertaining!
From horrific and sometimes unfortunate pronunciations to the gasps of horror you’ll hear when you say that you don’t personally know the Queen or One Direction, working with kids certainly makes each day different – working as a language assistant definitely provides interesting experiences each and every day!
#10: I think I’ll just stick to English
If languages really aren’t your thing, do not fear! The British Council has an option for you too. The scheme doesn’t just apply for language learners; you can be placed in countries such as China, Thailand and India. The world is your oyster!
Find out more!
Have I managed to convince you!? Whether you’re bursting to apply or just want a bit more information, check out the British Council official website and Third Year Abroad’s guide to teaching abroad which gives individual city files, personal accounts from language assistants across the world, and general advice for those taking this option.
Photo credit: @dogmadic, @eastop, @kristja, @lusi, @timsmith and @ywel on sxc.hu