The role of the language assistant

What does the language assistant do?

Working under teacher supervision, you will plan and lead activities on a daily basis to motivate students to learn more about the target language. You will share your culture and the unique linguistic features of your home region through art, music, stories, local expressions, and humour. The language assistant is paid to work 25 hours per week: 20 hours of working directly with students, and five hours of preparation time.

Elementary- and secondary-school levels

At the elementary- and secondary-school levels, your work will consist mostly of preparing and executing activities that focus on language (aural comprehension and oral expression). You will develop activities that reflect everyday communication opportunities in order to help students improve their English-language skills in real-life situations. Drawing from your own interests and those of the students, this is an opportunity to use your talents and passions to help someone build skills in English, and to have fun doing it. Examples include starting a debate, playing a trivia game, putting on a play, and teaching a dance or a new sport. You may also work with a small group of students in a separate room.

Postsecondary level (for English language assistants in Quebec only)

At the postsecondary level, your role as a language assistant will be somewhat different. You will not necessarily work in a classroom with an instructor. Instead, you might be called upon to lead sessions with small groups of students in language labs. You will also encourage and facilitate exchanges between students to promote the sharing of language and culture.

Description of tasks

The language assistant does not replace the teacher. The tasks of a language assistant may include the following:

  • encouraging students to participate in oral communication activities;
  • preparing classroom activities that focus on learning about language and culture;
  • leading small groups of two to 10 students;
  • motivating students to learn English;
  • encouraging students to appreciate and explore your culture and their own in a respectful and creative way through language;
  • participating in evening and weekend cultural activities;
  • meeting with school staff upon request.

The role of the teacher

Language assistants work under the direction of teachers, who guide them in choosing activities to undertake, while giving them the opportunity to develop new ones. Teachers familiarize language assistants with the language program offered at their institution, and inform them about the various activities organized around language learning.

The role of the supervisor

The supervisor introduces a language assistant to the school board and community, and keeps in touch with the language assistant during the program year. The educational institution or school board to which the language assistant is assigned is considered to be his or her employer. Supervisors also deal with most employment issues such as holidays, compensation due to illness, dismissal, and so on.


Click here to download the Odyssey Administrative and Financial Guide for more information.


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