Which schools can take part?

The offer is aimed at Swiss upper secondary-level schools (secondary schools, specialist vocational schools and Federal Vocational Baccalaureate schools). On enquiry, schools of other levels can also be taken into consideration.

Partner countries and countries of origin

The Language Assistants Programme is organised bilaterally with Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Movetia is currently considering the possibility of setting up a new partnership with Ireland. In addition, places for native Italian speakers are found on a unilateral basis.

Profile of the applicants

Applicants who fulfil the following requirements can take part in the programme.

Mother tongue
The applicants speak German, English, French, Italian or Spanish as their mother tongue or to an equivalent standard.

At least four half-year terms or a completed course of studies in the following subject areas:

  1. German, English, French, Italian or Spanish Language and Literature;
  2. German (DaF), English (EFL), French (FLE), Italian or Spanish as a Foreign Language;
  3. Further fields of study, preferably with German, English, French, Italian or Spanish Language or Literature as subsidiary subjects;
  4. Courses in education at a university, a teacher training college or university of applied arts and sciences.

Knowledge of the languages of the Swiss host region
Depending on the Swiss language region, the candidates should be able to show German or French to A2 level (Common European Framework of Reference CEFR) or to demonstrate that they are able to cope independently in Switzerland.

Further admission criteria
A good general education, clear way of speaking in the mother tongue, knowledge of the field of education/teaching and independent work with split classes or groups are required.

Age limits
As a rule, the participants are aged between 21 and 30 years. From Great Britain and France, candidates from 20 to 35 years of age are also accepted into the programme. Exceptions can also be made in justified cases (e.g. getting married and having a family or doing a second VET or PET). The overriding principle is that participation in the programme should retain the nature of a VET traineeship. Furthermore, attention is paid to ensuring that the age difference between the pupils/students and the language assistants is not too great so that a degree of closeness to the world in which they live is possible.

Selection procedure

An initial selection of the applications is made by the foreign partner organisations on the strength of the application file. This applies to applications from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and the UK. In a second step, a consultation takes place with Movetia. In the process, Movetia is guided - as far as possible - by the wishes expressed by the host schools.

If required or depending on the purpose of the partner organisation, Movetia also accepts direct applications from the partner countries. Applicants who are shortlisted in this direct way are generally invited by Movetia to attend a telephone or Skype interview. The final choice is made in a third step by the heads of the host school.

Host schools and tasks

The language assistants are placed, firstly, with upper secondary-level ‘Gymnasium’ (grammar) and VET schools (secondary schools, Federal Vocational Baccalaureate schools; pupils and students from 15 to 20 years of age).

On enquiry, schools of other levels can also be taken into consideration. Up to three host schools can also offer an assistantship position jointly. The rights and obligations are laid down in an agreement or contract between the language assistant and the school authorities. In addition, the school authorities designate a mentor (male or female), who is responsible for looking after the professional and personal welfare of the language teaching assistant.

Period of employment, working hours and salary

As a rule, the period of employment lasts for 10 months (1st September till 30th June). In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, schools also often employ teaching assistants for the whole school year (mid-August till mid-July). The teaching commitment is 12 hours a week (16 lessons of 45 minutes each).

The monthly minimum gross pay, i.e. the amount before any deductions, is CHF 3,200 (net approx. CHF 2,550). This pay is geared to the costs of living for of a single person.

These details are guidelines. The precise number of hours and amount of pay respectively are discussed and laid down by contract beforehand between the canton or the school and the language assistants.

Residence of the language assistant

The language assistant is, in principle, responsible him/herself for looking and paying for accommodation. The language assistant takes up residence in Switzerland – preferably in the canton employing him/her and in a locality close to the school. In the case of family commitments or other important reasons, non-local places of residence should also be permitted.

Seminars and survey

Shortly before or at the beginning of their stay in Switzerland, the language assistants attend a one-day seminar to prepare for life in Switzerland and for their work as assistants. The timing of this seminar is geared to the beginning of the school year of those cantons in which most language assistants are employed. The school authorities are asked to draw the attention of their future language assistants, in good time, to the date on which this seminar takes place in order to give them the opportunity to plan their entry into the country accordingly.

The assistantship period is concluded with a survey of the language teaching assistants. This survey is for the purpose of quality control and to improve the provision.

Milestones of the placement process

  1. Advice: Schools which are, for the first time, considering the idea of taking on a language assistant can turn to Movetia for advice and clarification of all the questions regarding details.
  2. Application (registration): Registrations for the school year 2022/23 will now be made via an information tool. Specific information will be available in November.
  3. Selection of the applications: In most cases, the recruitment is carried out on the strength of standardised application forms in collaboration with a partner organisation in the country of origin. The initial assessment and selection of the applications is already carried out in the country of origin. If possible, the partner organisations running the programme abroad hold an interview to assess aptitude and suitability. In most cases, however, this task is undertaken by decentralised authorities (e.g. universities).
  4. Placement – together with partner organisation: Movetia receives a certain number of applications, selected by the partner organisation. The number depends on the pre-determined needs of the Swiss host schools. Language assistants are then allocated to the Swiss host schools on the strength of the profile that the schools have given in the application form (registration of needs). The Swiss host schools generally receive one application file. It is not possible to provide several application files for selection for every assistant’s vacancy. The possibility of supplying an alternative application file later if necessary depends on the number of applications received by the partner organisation. 

Placement – Direct applications to Movetia

See Selection Procedure. For Spanish and Italian language assistantships, Movetia sends several application files to the schools for selection.

Further information

Further details regarding the placement and employment process are set out in the guideline (see column on the right side, in German).