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Seeking Kent Kruhoeffer's Opinion
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Ted Engel



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2003 9:54 pm    Post subject: Seeking Kent Kruhoeffer's Opinion Reply with quote

Kent:

First, let me thank you for your many contributions to this forum and to the ESL Café as a whole. Your insights are valuable, and I’ve learned a great deal from your postings.

For many years, I have had a fascination with Russia that has led me to finally consider a position teaching English with an organization in the Federation. Though I have traveled within Russia before, the opportunity to spend an extended amount of time there is greatly appealing. My background is, I believe, somewhat different from most potential English teachers, and I’d greatly appreciate your assessment of my skills and experience.

I am currently working as a contract-based website developer and technical writer in the Chicago area, a career that has given me a great deal of experience writing and speaking in a business environment. As you might expect, I’ve also developed an expertise in a number of software applications, including the Microsoft Office suite and a host of specialized applications used mainly by technical writers and other information technology professionals.

I also have bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the former in psychology with an emphasis on learning in a work environment, and the latter in human resources management. As an undergraduate, I worked with the head of the psychology department to teach a yearlong psychology class in research and statistics. Among my responsibilities in that role were teaching, grading papers and tests, and holding regular office hours.

My business background has been built with a variety of companies, largely international, where I’ve worked successfully among peers from a culture different from my own. Essentially, I know something of how global organizations and their functions function, in addition to being extremely knowledgeable of the employment process in the United States. I should add that I do not speak any Russian.

With that brief description in mind, is my marketability currently enough to successfully obtain a position, or should I consider CELTA certification as well? Would my experiences make me a more desirable candidate based upon the need for English-based services—such as technical writing—that might exist outside of the classroom? I’m seriously considering making this a reality, and I’d like to take the time to over the next several months to ensure I’m as desirable a candidate as I can be for a school such as yours.

I welcome your suggestions and thank you—and anyone else who would like to contribute—for your assistance. If you need any additional information, please ask and I’ll be happy to provide it.
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Kent F. Kruhoeffer



Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Posts: 2129
Location: 中国

PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2003 11:09 am    Post subject: Thanks, Ted Reply with quote

Dear Ted,

Thank you for your kind words. Cool I do understand your desire to live and work in Russia. It is truly a fascinating place to be right now.

First, let me say this: I am *not* an expert on Russia. I've been here for about 2 years now, so I do have a good "feel" for things and can 'get by' in Russian...but I am definitely not a know-it-all. Having said that, I am more than happy to offer my advice and opinions to you, Ted.

Regarding your qualifications: I feel confident that you can find a good position here in Russia without having to take any additional certification courses.

Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against CELTA, DELTA or RSA-Trinity-TESOL for the younger generation who've just graduated from university and never set foot in a "real" classroom. Or ...even for older folks who are thinking about a mid-life career change, would like to teach English, but have had no practical classroom experience to brag about on their resume'. That's up to you, Ted. In plain English, you don't really need CELTA for most jobs in Russia, but it won't hurt to have it. With some schools, like the big BKC International House Moscow, you do need it.

In your case, with your background and excellent qualifications...the key question is this: Do you really want to live and work in a country (like Russia) where the pay is so low? Put another way, are you really willing to "trade" your present circumstances and financial comfort...for a lifestyle of living basically hand-to-mouth? If the answer is "yes", and you're 'up' to the very real challenges of living in a developing country....then I'd say go for it! You won't regret it.

If you'd like to read more about the school where I work, you can go directly to our modest website at: www.linguamir.com. Lots of interesting stuff there to browse through on a rainy day.

BKC, Language Link and English First (The Big 3) all have websites as well, where you can read about the various cities, programs, and job offers. TEFL.com also has regular job-offers for Russia, by the way.

So, Ted...I'm not sure if this has helped, but you can write again anytime. I try to check the boards at least once a day, and would be happy to reply if asked.

Yours sincerely,

Kent F. Kruhoeffer
Linguamir
Samara, Russia

1 February 2003
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Ted Engel



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2003 4:09 pm    Post subject: Additional Questions Reply with quote

Kent:

Thank you for your thoughtful comments—I appreciate them a great deal, especially as a novice. After reading your message, I wanted to ask you follow-up questions.

First, is my business and writing background a potential selling point for a school? I would guess a school—especially in St. Petersburg or Moscow—would be approached by people seeking additional expertise in English, such as technical writing or promotional copy.

I’m also concerned about the difference between writing and speaking grammatically-correct English—as I do on my job—and teaching the same to students. For example, your organizations' website states:

"At a minimum, candidates should possess an undergraduate degree, RSA/Trinity or CELTA certification and several years of teaching experience abroad."

What can I do to make that concern a non-issue (e.g., teaching methods classes or books) and address any employer concerns related to it?

Finally, when is the proper time to start the recruitment process? You’ve mentioned that most positions are available in the fall, and I’m curious about when you suggest I begin the job search process.

Again, thank you for your help.

Regards,

Ted Engel
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Kent F. Kruhoeffer



Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Posts: 2129
Location: 中国

PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2003 8:21 am    Post subject: Hello Chicago Ted ! Reply with quote

Dear Ted,

Four inches of new snow here in Samara overnight! We must have at least 4 feet of accumulated snow on the ground now. Yikes. Hope you like snow Exclamation

Also, very sorry to hear about the shuttle Columbia. Crying or Very sad I hope you don't have any astronaut friends?

OK. I'll try to answer your follow-up questions.

First, the demand for business and/or technical writers in Russia will be almost "zero" ...unless you speak fluent Russian. In that case, there are a few schools that offer translation services, but this accounts for almost nothing in terms of a school's total revenue.

Most language schools in Russia are generally offering courses that teach "the basics", using textbooks that teach Oxford-style, British English, btw. Many schools, like Linguamir, also offer additional courses in Business English, IELTS exam preparation, TOEFL, TOEIC, and so on. But again, these "extra offerings" account for a very small fraction of the total student pie.

In plain English, most of our business comes from students who need **general English skills** for either: A) immigration to an Anglophone country B) their jobs or C) travel & tourism

Regarding your second question with reference to our website's preference for teachers with at least a B.A., a few years of teaching experience, and/or a teaching certificate:

Yes...we *like* to hire people who have had experience teaching (and/or a teaching certificate), but this is NOT written in stone. The BA requirement is.

I can't speak for all schools in Russia Ted, but...at Linguamir, the Director, who makes decisions about hiring, tends to look at the "whole package" that an applicant brings to the table, and not focus on only one or the other aspect ...at the cost of other equally important aspects. For example: Personality. Attitude. Sense of humor. Travel experience. Foreign language skills (Do you speak German, or french, or Russian, etc...) Other degrees and qualifications (Do you have a J.D., or a business background? etc.) All of these things are important when viewed "in their totality." Individually, none of them will make or break your chances of landing that ideal job, Ted. Wink

Finally, you asked about the best time to start looking for jobs in Russia: Ok, it's true that most schools in Russia hire new staff for start dates in September, but it's *never* too early to go after something, if you know what you want. The early bird gets the worm kinda thing. My guess is that you will see lots of new job offers here on Dave's (and other sites) beginning in April, with the Spring thaw.

Hope this helps a little Exclamation Take care, Ted. Good luck with your project.

Best wishes,
Kent
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Ted Engel



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2003 12:35 am    Post subject: Any Closing Thoughts? Reply with quote

Kurt:

Once again, thank you for your reply. I must admit that cold snow don't bother me, as I am from Upstate New York and now reside in Chicago! While Russia deservedly has a reputation for its trying winters, I doubt I'd experience much that would surprise me.

Without trying to take up too much more of your time--as you have been overly generous with it already--I wondered whether or not you had any closing thoughts. I've raised issues that are important from a novice's perspective, but perhaps there are some you might bring to the table as one who lives the Russian teaching experince day in and day out.

I am likely to target St. Petersburg, and I'd appreciate any contact information you might provide me for your organization's offices there. You can send it to me privately at tedengel@yahoo.com, or post it as you see fit.

Your kindness and your knowledge have been of great value, both to myself and to others who have browsed our coorespondence.

Respectfully,

Ted Engel
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Kent F. Kruhoeffer



Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Posts: 2129
Location: 中国

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2003 7:24 am    Post subject: Final thoughts? hmmmm. Reply with quote

Dear Ted,

St. Petersburg is a really good choice. Closer to the rest of Europe than other Russian cities, full of museums, theatres and cultural possibilities, interesting night life, and milder winters than central Russia, that's for sure.

btw...Our Director had planned to open a Linguamir branch in St. Petersburg, but, like many plans made in Russia, it never materialized. So, I'm afraid I can't help you with any 'specifics' in St. Pete.

I do wish you good luck with your plans, Ted Exclamation Come back anytime and share your experiences with us, ok?

Best wishes,
Kent
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Zolushka



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2003 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Kent! There were some bad rumours about Linguamir a while ago. Does that mean things are better nowadays? Or has it always been the same, and some unsatisfied teachers just blew things out of proportion?
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Kent F. Kruhoeffer



Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Posts: 2129
Location: 中国

PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2003 7:12 am    Post subject: Yes and Yes ! Reply with quote

Dear Zolushka,

Yes, I think things have improved at Linguamir over the past couple of years now. And "yes", I think people who have had negative experiences at ANY school are more likely to air their grievances in public...as opposed to the ones who have enjoyed themselves. You know the old cliche' ... "Good news is no news."

Me? I am finishing up 2 years here and have not ruled out renewing for a third. For me, at least, working at Linguamir is relaxing and much more enjoyable than other places I've worked. It's all relative, I guess. I think a lot of it has to do with where you're coming from and what your priorities are...and on how well you cope with adversity in general.

For my detailed views on life at Linguamir (and Samara in general) you should head over to the Job Information Journal. Under "Russia", you will find a post entitled: "Linguamir - Better Than Most Schools in Russia." I wrote this in December, and my opinions haven't changed since then. Cool

Regards,
Kent
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Angry Professional



Joined: 03 Feb 2003
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ted, you are aware that an average English teachers salary in Russia is about $500 a month? And that the quality of accomodations you get here likely to suffer greatly in comparison to America? As in not having hot water frequently, etc?
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Ted Engel



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2003 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Angry:

Yes, I'm aware of all of those things. What can you tell us that we might not know about a Russian teaching experience?

Respectfully,

Ted Engel
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little bear



Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:50 pm    Post subject: ... Reply with quote

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little bear



Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:52 pm    Post subject: .... Reply with quote

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little bear



Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:53 pm    Post subject: ... Reply with quote

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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi. I've got some similar skills and experience (e.g. industrial psychology masters, teaching non-linguistic classes, computer programming). I would say that what you've got, especially with the business and software development experience, makes you valuable property. Business English at a language school is one option, as is getting employment directly via a company (almost certainly better paid and hopefully less of a pain re visas).

However, I would also say that while your classroom experience will make the CELTA/Trinity easier for you than utter newbies, nevertheless the TEFL qualification will be invaluable. Teaching a language is not the same as teaching other subjects.

I currently teach some business English. While, certainly at higher language levels, I guess I just might have been able to do it without TEFL training, I'm a lot more useful and versatile having that extra skill set.

So, in summary, I would say, yes I think you've got plenty of potential, but I also think that you may do better if you do pick up some of that additional training first. (Although in your case, you may get away with taking a cheaper course than the CELTA or Trinity, but
caveat emptor. If you pay less for a course which isn't very useful, you've just burned your money.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9710
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cole, look at the dates on this thread. It was bumped - for no apparent reason. I reckon any and all courses that were going to be taken, have been taken...

...
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