What Does A Language Assistant Do?

The True Daily Life of a Language Assistant in Spain

frustrated man

Sometimes an Assistant's Duties Aren't Very Clear!

The Ministry of Education’s official program manual conveniently leaves out what exactly an Auxiliar de Conversación is expected to do! The British Council (which has a similar English Language Assistant Program for British University Students) offers two guides, which are much more helpful and almost everything in these ELA (English Language Assistant) guides would apply to a North American:

As the ELA guide points out, in theory language assistants are there to assist the classroom teacher and are not expected to teach a class alone. But in practice, this is definitely not always the case. The following are some of the cases that former language assistants have experienced while participating in the program in Spain.

  • The assistant prepares any activity they want for a portion of the class.
  • The assistant prepares a specific activity agreed upon with the classroom teacher for a portion of the class.
  • The assistant stands with the teacher and is incorporated throughout the lesson.
  • The assistant stands with the teacher and does nothing.
  • The assistant sits in a student seat and serves as a human dictionary or pronunciation guide.
  • The assistant sits in a corner and does nothing.
  • The assistant takes students one-on-one for help and conversation.
  • The assistant takes a group of kids to another room for a lesson.
  • The assistant is used to verbally correct homework assignments with students.
  • The assistant reads stories out loud to the students.
  • The assistant is responsible for making powerpoints about culture and presenting them to students.
  • The assistant fully teaches the English classes, grammar and all.
  • The assistant independently teaches bilingual subject classes (math, science, gym, art, music, etc.)

If you are starting out as a language assistant it is highly recommended that you agree on your role and responsibilities from day one and that you do not take on too much responsibility. Technically, you should never be alone in the classroom, but if your school wants you to be and you do not mind (maybe you studied teaching) then you could come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

For a real life example of a language assistant’s experience check out the blog: Reflections On Life As A Language Assistant

If you are or have been part of this program please add any advice or a different role you may have served in the comments. It’s really helpful for new assistants!

Photo Credit: Zach Klein

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