If you are studying or have knowledge of a language, chances are you would like to spend some time in a country where this language is spoken. This is supposed to be the fatest way of learning a language as well as a self-developing experience.
Many people have heard of the Erasmus program, where students spend a year studying in a foreign univeristy. However, fewer people have heard of the British Council Assistantship.
So who are the "British Council" (B.C) and what does an English Assistant do? The B.C are the UK's international cultural relations body. Acting as a public body and charity, the organisation aims to promote the widespread learning of the English language and British Culture across the globe.
As a language assistant with the B.C, you will be focusing on achieving just that and attempting to bring these aspects of learning to life in the classroom. You will have a choice of what level you wish to teach from Primary to college level and your role will be to support the English teachers in your allocated schools.
For many reasons, the British Council may be a preferable alternative to Erasmus. From a financial point of view, first of all, the British Council Assitantship offers considerable advantages. Although the salary varies from country to country, within Europe, you may expect to earn something in the region of €800 per month (net). Further to this, B.C language assistants are eligable for an Erasmus grant (if you are a European) which is worth approximately €2000 for a typical seven month placement. As well as all this, you are able still able to apply for a maintenance loan with student finance.
Other benefits of the assistanship include the opportunity to gain some great work experience, particularly if you are looking to become a teacher. Working as a teacher develops leadership qualities that are both applicable and recongised in business. With competition increasing for graduate jobs in Britain and across the world, work experience is now demanded by more than half of graduate employers.
The assitantship might not be right for everyone though. If your level of ability in your language of study is not quite where you would like it to be, chances are you would be better off studying and developing your language skills on Erasmus. Furthermore, you will need lots of confidence and resiliance to stand up in front of a group of children, speak in a foreign language and try to engage them. A major disadvantage of the British Council assistantship is the lack of opportunity to make friends. You will meet with the all of the other region's language assistants at the beginning of the year and this is really your biggest opportunity to network and make arrangements to meet up with people.
Both the British Council and Erasmus programs offer students great experience, a chance to develop their language skills and grow their confidence. If you are from the USA, don't dispair, there is an American program equivilant to that of the British Council too!