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Modern Language Assistants MLAs






Having a native speaker in the classroom can have a resounding impact on pupils, teachers, and the schools and settings that they work in.


BELS' Modern Language Assistants (MLAs) are native speakers of French, Spanish, German and Italian who have undergone a competitive selection process and are mostly University undergraduates, graduates or trainee teachers. 


As the service is arranged through the British Council who also sponsor the visas, these young people are carefully selected to provide the best support to teachers and pupils.


BELS' MLAs will help you teach your pupils their target language, whilst supporting your school in delivering an excellent foreign language programme that is rich in culture and supported by the current best practices for language learning.


The presence of an MLA in the classroom has shown to have a lasting impact: improving pupils’ intercultural skills and awareness, increasing language ability and confidence among pupils and teachers, and leading to greater pupil attainment and motivation to learn new languages.


This MLA service supports the standard British Council MLA long contract from 1 October to 31 May (35 weeks) with a minimum of 12 hours a week), but also facilitates a local sharing arrangement for schools wanting an assistant for less than 12 hours a week. This flexible approach ensures schools are able to receive the right amount of support for their teachers and pupils.


The MLA service provision runs from 1st October to 31st May (35 weeks). We encourage schools to start considering the value an MLA would have in their school during the Spring term, to enable the process to begin and have the Assistant ready to commence work in October. We will ask for subscribers to start submitting their applications in April to allow time for the needed immigration paperwork to be processed.


How Modern Language Assistants can help in your classroom:

  • Support the introduction of a new language or support existing language provision.

  • Work with up to 15 pupils on their own, or the whole class in the presence of a teacher.

  • Create lesson plans and develop teaching materials based on contemporary culture.

  • Support exam preparation with new resources such as recordings for listening practice.

  • Deliver interactive classroom activities on topics such as culture and celebrations


Included in this BELS MLA Service:


  • Coordination of requests from schools and liaising with the British Council to obtain MLA dossiers and throughout the employment period

  • Management of MLA salaries (invoiced to schools)

  • Management of the sharing arrangements between schools (where applicable), including ensuring effective communication strategies are in place between host - sharing schools

  • Training and support for MLAs and host schools, including free training sessions for the MLAs delivered by a dedicated MFL specialist

  • Advice on the production of suitable resources for the use of the MLA, as well as advice on good practice and effective deployment of the MLA

  • On-going administrative support and quality assurance, as well as guidance and support to schools and MLAs as needed to ensure all participants get the most out of the MLA service

What are the Benefits?

In a recent survey regarding the benefits of hosting a language assistant, Heads of Modern Languages reported improved exam results, higher standards in under-performing students, and greater levels of motivation in talented students. More than 90% would recommend the programme to others.


“Research has shown that an opportunity to learn with an ambassador from another country can help raise attainment and motivation in all areas of the curriculum, particularly in under-achieving pupils. Language Assistants also really help classroom teachers to build their confidence in teaching languages. Their impact lasts much longer than the time they are there’.
Sian Carr, President, Association for School and College Leadership.


Discover how an MLA can enhance  language learning in your school by contacting Des Georgiou at 020 8359 7780 or via email at

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