Partner countries and countries of origin

The Language Assistants Programme is organized bilaterally with Germany, France, the UK and Austria. Interested persons from those countries should start by consulting the websites of the partner organisations. Movetia is currently looking into the possibility of setting up new partnerships with Spain and Ireland. Details for these two countries will be announced by mid-December 2018. Until then, Movetia will continue to accept direct applications. In addition, places for Italian-speaking assistants can be found on a unilateral basis. 

Application criteria

Interested persons who fulfil the following requirements can take part in the programme.

Mother tongue

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

Education and training

The candidates must be able to show at least four half-year terms or have graduated 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. University courses in education, 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, they should have German or French at A2 level (Common European Framework of Reference CEFR).

Further admission criteria and age limits

Furthermore, a good general education, clear way of speaking in the mother tongue, knowledge in the field of education and teaching, and independent work with split classes or groups are also required. The participants are, as a rule, between 21 and 30 years of age. From Great Britain and France, candidates from 20 to 35 years of age are also accepted into the programme. In justified cases (e.g. getting married and having a family or doing a second VET or PET), exceptions can also be made. 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 language assistant is made on the strength of the application file. Short-listed applicants are, as a rule, invited by Movetia to attend a telephone or Skype interview. The final selection is made in a third step by the heads of the host school.

Host schools and tasks

Language assistants are placed almost exclusively with upper secondary level ‘Gymnasium’ (grammar) and VET schools (secondary schools, Federal Vocational Baccalaureate schools; pupils and students aged from 15 to 20 years). In individual cases, a language assistant can work at up to three schools. The language assistant and the school authorities sign an agreement or contract with each other. This sets out the terms and conditions of employment and the rights and obligations of both parties to the contract.

The language assistant takes up residence in Switzerland, preferably in the canton employing him/her and in a locality close to the school.

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 2,600). This pay is geared to the cost of living for a single person.

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

Seminars and survey

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 aligned with the start 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. This survey is for the purpose of quality control and to improve the range of opportunities offered.

Milestones of the application and placement process

  1. The organisation running the programme in the country of origin – if such an organisation exists – is, first of all, responsible for participation in the Language Assistants Programme in Switzerland. Interested persons can obtain all the important information, application forms, deadlines, etc. from its website. 
  2. If there is no partner organisation in the country of origin, interested persons can request the application forms from Movetia. Details regarding the desired language region (German or French-speaking region) and information on the relevant knowledge of the language help to avoid unnecessary questions.
  3. Movetia examines the incoming applications, which are sent in either by the partner organisation or individually.
  4. Movetia sends the applications mediated by a partner organisation or the independently selected application files (see above) to an interested Swiss school.
  5. The Swiss school examines the application(s) and, if it is interested in taking someone on, gets in touch directly with the applicants. It is important that the applicants can be contacted by e-mail or telephone throughout the placement phase. When the school has decided on an applicant, the terms and conditions of employment are laid down by contract (see above).
  6. The future language assistant makes all the necessary arrangements for his/her stay in Switzerland. At the same time, any partner organisations in the country of origin and Movetia provide support by sending out useful information and holding an introductory seminar, which takes place in Switzerland.