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WARNING: International House (IH) Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
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mandivided



Joined: 20 Feb 2006
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:40 am    Post subject: WARNING: International House (IH) Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine Reply with quote

For the record, I would like to say that working at IH Dnipropetrovsk is not worth one’s time, effort, hardship etc. due to the following reasons - based on my personal experience, as well as that of others, whilst employed there from September to November 2007:

1. Although the Director of IH Dnipropetrovsk, Sergei Nesterenko, comes off at first as a nice guy, he is an absolute cheapskate and a poor manager. Granted, he does do a few things correctly e.g. throwing the occasional party for his staff; providing training seminars etc.

However:

a.) You WILL NOT BE PROVIDED WITH A CONTRACT. None of the non-Ukrainian teachers recruited and employed by IH this year was given contracts, which runs counter to IH rules and regulations, which are/were posted in the lobby of the school on Ulitsa Komsomolskaya.

b.) You will find yourself LIVING AND WORKING IN URKAINE ILLEGALLY (as myself and three other non-Ukrainian teachers (English, Swiss and German respectively), came to learn, which does present problems.

c.) You will be SHARING ALL OF YOUR CLASSES WITH ANOTHER TEACHER (a Ukrainian teacher), which is a bad idea. The reason for IH doing so is that they cannot recruit, and more importantly retain native English speaking teachers. Do you think that sharing classes with another teacher makes sense? If so, then ask yourself the following: ‘Did I ever have two teachers teaching one subject to me in school…at university etc.?’ The answer more than likely will be ‘No’.

d.) You WILL NOT BE TEACHING GRAMMAR, as Sergei apparently does not believe that non Ukrainian teachers can teach Ukrainian/Russian speakers English grammar, which is ridiculous and counter productive. Not to mention causing you the teacher, extra hassles with regard to preparation time. Futhermore, if you are not teaching gammar, your future development (knowledge, skills etc.) at grammar and thus AS A TEACHER will be severely stunted – I experienced a similar situation in a school in Poland. Bad for teachers. Bad for students. Good for the Directors' bank balance. No fun.

e.) You WILL NOT RECIEVE A COMPETITIVE WAGE/SALARY. The American School in Dnipropetrvsk pays more.

f.) You will more than likely WILL BE PLACED IN UNSATISFACTORY/SUB-STANDARD ACCOMODATION. Cases in point: I. I spent the first month in my flat sleeping on two, three-inch thin, decades old, urine/blood stained mattresses (with only sheets and a blanket to keep the cold out due to the fact that the city fathers didn’t turn the heat on until early November). It took several weeks of requesting a new mattress, bedding etc. before Sergei finally acquiesced, and then he bought only one pillow! I also on several occasions request ample items for my flat, but Sergei/IH kept fobbing me off with regard to the matter i.e. I only had one small cooking pot, a fork, a couple of table spoons, knives etc. No frying pan; no matching plates; no drinking glasses; no cutting board. Not to mention an iron and an ironing board. Why should I, on the low monthly salary which I was earning have to shell out for such things? II. I am not the only one who had problems with regard to housing. If you like, send me a private message and I would be happy to provide you with testimony from current and former teachers at IH Dnipro who had similar stories.

g.) You may THINK/BE INFORMED THAT THE MONTHLY RENT FOR YOUR APARTMENT IS x WHEN IT IS IN FACT y.

h.) SERGEI WILL BAD MOUTH YOU BEHIND YOUR BACK AND DAMAGE YOUR REPUTAION. The reasons for doing so being largely unknown to me, but that is exactly what happened at the IH seminar held in Kiev last October – Sergei, when asked as to the competency of IH Dnipro’s new native speakers by the Director of IH Kiev, Sergei replied that my colleagues and I weren’t ‘any good’, which was news to all of us. Furthermore, the Director of IH Kiev then tried to recruit the teacher from Switzerland, as well as myself. For the record, I don’t believe that she, nor several of the other IH owners/operators in Ukraine care much for Mr. Nesterenko.

i.) You will be FORCED TO TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION while Sergei gets chauffeured around in his brand-new $40,000 Mitsubishi.

j.) You MIGHT NOT SEE THE DIRECTOR FROM TIME TO TIME, such as when he disappears for a month without informing you and the other native speakers. In such a situation, you might find yourself asking the question “Okay, just who is in charge now?’

k.) Many UKRAINIANS WILL THINK YOU ARE A COMPLETE FOOL for living and working in Ukraine, and thus, you will find yourself being treated like a fool.

l.) The locally employed Ukrainian teachers (all fantastic), are forced to LICK-UP TO SERGEI because they need their jobs. You, my informed friend, will not have to do the same. As I didn’t have to, which is why I resigned from IH (in writing and verbally), and left.

m.) Sergei HAS MORE IMPORTANT THINGS ON HIS MIND THAN IH/YOU/STUDENTS ETC. such as his political ambitions as well as the fact that he publishes the English language magazine "DNK", which is a HUGE DRAIN on his/your time, resources and finances.

More to come at a later date – I’ve spent far too much energy on this this fine Saturday afternoon.

Time to grab a bite. I hope this information will have proved to be useful and I wish you, the reader the best of luck. Not to mention a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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canucktechie



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 343
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many UKRAINIANS WILL THINK YOU ARE A COMPLETE FOOL for living and working in Ukraine, and thus, you will find yourself being treated like a fool.

To be fair, I have never encountered this attitude in Kiev. Perhaps people in Dnipro are just rude?

It is also quite common for people to work in Ukraine without visas at all. Also most teachers in Russia have business visas which don't really authorize you to work either.

However the rest sounds pretty bad. I can say schools in Russia are very short of teachers (look at the job postings) and they have to give some minimal standard of accommodation and quality of work just to get people. Despite the low pay and other issues, schools in Ukraine don't seem to have any problem getting teachers.
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mandivided



Joined: 20 Feb 2006
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do agree with much of what you wrote. Moreover, I actually had a very positive experience with regard to the people/management at IH Kharkov last August, who proved to be professional, upfront etc. It’s just that I felt that it would have been irresponsible of me to not warn teachers about IH Dnipropetrovsk, which has had problems in the past with regard to recruitment and retention of teachers.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the situation in Kiev was different, especially given all the competition there. Perhaps I was just unlucky. By the way, the people in Dnipro were nice as anywhere, although there was a bit of an ‘elitniy’ attitude among the more affluent citizens there: kind of like stepping back into a time warp…e.g. Moscow circa 2000: hookas in every bar; shiny black SUV’s everywhere; dorky-looking guys with all the girls…you know yourself.
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canucktechie



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 343
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mandivided wrote:

It wouldn’t surprise me if the situation in Kiev was different, especially given all the competition there.

Don't know which side you mean the competition is on. Kiev of course has many more jobs than any other city in Ukraine, but it also has a much larger teacher pool, both in-town and would-be. Full time positions are very scarce, and schools that hire part-time do not take any responsibility for housing and visa matters (nor do they pay you enough to live on). I don't think it's just a coincidence that teachers in Kiev (I mean the native speakers, not the locals) are disproportionately male - there has to be some incentive to make up for this. Wink
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jpvanderwerf2001



Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Posts: 1076
Location: New York

PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked in Ukraine for two years from 2001-03, and didn't have those same experiences. However, I worked for IH-Lviv, and things might've been different due to different managers, etc.
I must say that I did meet Sergei a couple of times, and he seemed like a nice guy; in fact, I evern considered working for him in DP a few years back. Again, as the OP stated, he might just be a good guy (out of school) and a less-than-effective manager. I have no idea on the latter point.
As the OP stated as well, IH-Kharkiv is one of the best language schools I've ever seen (anywhere!). If I ever decided to go back to Ukraine, that would be the kind school I would hope to work in. Really great atmosphere.
It's sad to read these kinds of posts/experiences.
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Old Lion



Joined: 24 Dec 2007
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know about this school when I get some time I’ll write more.
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sharky_8380



Joined: 11 Mar 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:23 am    Post subject: more information? Reply with quote

Hey guys, I know this is an old post, so I don't know if anyone will get this, but I was wondering what other information you could provide me about IH Dnipropetrovsk. I was looking at some possible work there. It's been a while since these posts - perhaps, things have changed? (I think the same director is still there, so I don't know how likely that is)

Old Lion: You said you had some things to add? Any extra info especially from any current teachers would be great.

Thanks!
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sharky_8380



Joined: 11 Mar 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 7:10 pm    Post subject: info Reply with quote

Yes, still a possibility, but I was wondering about the working conditions there. Do most places offer accommodation, visa, etc.? Any info would be great!


- sharky
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Tamara123



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have also been in contact with this school and would like to know if anyone has any recent experience about IH DNK. Sharky, have you found anything else out about them?
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Mahn



Joined: 26 Aug 2010
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just been offered a job at this school. I've already accepted a job offer elsewhere, but the visa situation with the other job is causing me a bit of a headache so I might still be open to this offer.

Does anyone know if things are still as bad there as stated in the original post? I always thought IH had a fairly decent reputation, so I found reading all the negative stuff about this school a little disheartening.
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eltie



Joined: 06 Dec 2009
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:44 pm    Post subject: IH-DNK Reply with quote

I was recruited by IH-DNK in February 2010 for my first job out of a CELTA training course. First let me say the good things ... this won't take long. The flat they provided was quite nice and clean. And I did not have any trouble getting paid the agreed-upon amount (which, despite what they say, is negotiable - another newbie at the school made significantly more than the USD 500 per month they claimed all newbies made).

Now comes the rest of it - this may take a while.

First, I have never in my life received such a complete lack of support from a supervisor as I did from Zhenya. From the day I met her, I begged her to observe my classes. She refused, saying that she wouldn't observe my classes until I had been there at least a month so I could feel comfortable and "establish rapport" with the students. I told her I needed feedback from the beginning, because if I was doing something wrong I needed to know about it asap so I could correct it immediately. I pleaded with her, said that I'd feel really uncomfortable if I'd been making mistakes for a month, whereas I expect to make mistakes at the beginning. She essentially said, 'Well, I know you've known yourself for decades, and I just met you twenty minutes ago, but I know you better than you know yourself.' Nobody is more stupid than somebody who thinks they know me better than I do. Well you can guess what happened - after more than a month, I found out that some of my students had been complaining because they didn't understand me, and one wasn't even attending my classes for that reason. To say the least, I was devastated - I naively had expected them to ask questions if they didn't understand, or at least to tell the truth when I asked them if they understood. For the remainder of my time with IH-DNK I had a difficult time holding my head up when I entered the class.

I also had had no experience with children, and had significant problems with a student in an elementary class of teenagers. When I asked Zhenya to observe the class and offer feedback, she refused for more than a month. She also refused to allow me to phone the parents, throw somebody out of class, or take any disciplinary action whatsoever. In the meantime, the class got more out of control. I finally gave two weeks notice that I would be leaving at the end of my eight-week trial period. In my last class with the teens, the worst-behaved student - the ringleader who set off the other students - who was disruptive on a good day, was finishing off a large can of Red Bull (super-caffienated) and literally bouncing off the walls. Finally I figured, what the h***, I'm quitting anyway, so after several warnings I grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out of class and left her with the receptionist. The effect on the other students was amazing - peace and quiet for the first time! If I had been given the authority to do this from day one, I would not have had any problems. But Zhenya's attitude was, let the problem grow so I can 'establish rapport.'

They had a training seminar for new native-speaking teachers. No answers to anything, just 'think about it and come up with the answer yourself.' I agree that it's sometimes helpful to try to figure out solutions than to be told them, but often it is so much more effective to be given direct feedback instead of 'well what do you think?' But they seem to think this is the solution 100% of the time - if it is, what the h*** are they there for?

Native speakers are discouraged from interacting with the Ukrainian teachers. Another new teacher asked to be paired with an experienced teacher (all of whom were Ukrainian) for mentoring, and they turned down his idea for no good reason. Also when they hired five new native speaking teachers for their new school, the native speakers were all expected to attend a get-together dinner at a restaurant, but the Ukrainian teachers weren't even invited. Why?

After I gave notice, Sergei seemed surprised that I was leaving (apparently Zhenya had not been communicating my comments to him) and tried to act hurt. I already was in contact with another school and he asked if I could stay longer, until he found a replacement, but I wouldn't give him any guarantees because I didn't want to endanger my job at the other school. Then he was upset when I told him I couldn't stay beyond the two weeks notice, and he e-mailed me 'You said you would stay until we found a replacement!' What a load of crap. He also said I could stay in the flat until they found someone. Then, after all this bs about it being difficult to find a replacement, I got one day's notice to vacate the flat because the new guy was moving in.

Also, they tell you they'll get you a work visa. They lie. They apply for a work number so you can pay taxes, but that's it - no work visa, not even a business visa. So essentially you're a tourist in the country, and you can only be there 90 days, then you have to leave the country for 90 days. This law often isn't enforced at the border and you can usually come right back in, but you can't count on it. A teacher from the US - who left IH-DNK in May - had to pay a $100 bribe as she was leaving Kiev Airport, for overstaying the 90 / 180 law. And of course Sergei refused to reimburse her, despite the fact that it was his fault that she wasn't legal in the country.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1828

PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While not wishing to oppose everything said here, I wish to note a couple of practices which are not unusual for eastern Europe and which are justifiable (although not to everybody's tastes). Some schools do have classes shared by alternating native speaker and local teachers, often with the latter tending to teach the grammar. Some schools do give you the chance to settle in for a few weeks before formally observing a class. I personally would favour this second approach; one thing I am less than keen on is the practice of observing the first lesson.
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eltie



Joined: 06 Dec 2009
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IH-DNK does now have native speakers teach grammar. The classes are shared with a local teacher, and both teachers teach everything - grammar, vocabulary, conversation, etc. The school where I am working now has local teachers teach the grammar, and native speakers teach conversation, which I feel is much better. Several other schools in the city also have this approach. My personal opinion is that Ukrainian teachers can explain the grammar better as they speak the local language, and have studied the grammar from a non-native's perspective. And native speakers can teach conversation better, because we don't always use the language in real conversation as it is in the textbook, and there are many subtleties of the language that the textbooks don't pick up on.

As for my teaching not being observed for over a month ... some people would feel uncomfortable being observed from the first class, so they should be given a chance to settle in. My gripe is that I made it VERY clear that I was not one of those people. I asked many times, begged even, for feedback, to be observed, and told her exactly how I'd feel if I'd been making mistakes for a month - essentially I predicted exactly what would happen when I finally did get feedback. And she didn't care enough to listen to me.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1828

PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re the grammar: I don't think they should be overly prescriptive, as sometimes it is useful for the native speaker to go over something with the students. Re the observation: yes, I see your point entirely.
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sharter



Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 878
Location: All over the place

PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:52 pm    Post subject: Weird Reply with quote

I've been a qualified teacher for 15 years. I think class sharing is a good idea. I don't get the obsession with grammar teaching in the op either. What an odd thread!
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