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Working in Russia!

 
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carlos-england



Joined: 16 Jul 2004
Posts: 165
Location: Buenos Aires - Cabalitto

PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 10:46 am    Post subject: Working in Russia! Reply with quote

Hello all!

I'm currently halfway through a three year language
studies degree at the University of Wales in Swansea
which includes TEFL, my aim/ambition is to work in Russia
and then go eventually work in Argentina.

I'm 32 and have done a manner of horrific, low paid
jobs before stumbling into higher education, I know
I won't make my fortune in Russia (or Argentina) but
I think the experiences that I will gain will be worth all
the monetary braid that you can earn in more mundane
routine jobs.

So... where is a good place to get started in regards
to teach in Russia? I have always fancied going to Samara? any views
on this place or Moscow, or anywhere else you have been and
taught your opinions would be gratefully recieved.

Also I have wrote enquiring letters to BKC-IH, any views
on this organization? from the posts I have read here they
seem to have their detractors but every big firm I have ever
worked for in industry has their negative points, are there
any better organizations than this one that you would recommend?

And also is it true that Russian students try to correct
the native speaker teachers grammar? and if it happened
to you, how did you deal with it?

Thank you!
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zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you crazy? Go directly to Argentina, man! Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Higher education in Russia can be very boring and monotonous and is really, truly, extremely underpaid.

I have recently seen the light and now understand Russia for the boring grimy place it really is (that and I don't want any competition).

Get yourself over to that other landmass. Get yourself an Argentine wife. Be able to see mountains and ocean once in a while. Eat some real food. Be warm occasionally. During your summer break you can come home for the holidays.
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waxwing



Joined: 29 Jun 2003
Posts: 719
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no special problem with Russian students correcting teachers' grammar.

Of course if said teacher doesn't understand grammar at all ... Smile but given your educational background I can't see why that would be a problem.

Some students have difficult questions, in my experience. Not many. Of course we're only talking about the higher levels. Use it as a learning experience, and be honest! Don't pretend you know something if you don't Smile

zaneth, why do you mention 'higher education in Russia'. The OP only mentioned BKC as far as I can see.

As for searching for jobs I can make the following points.

As well as BKC, there are other similar big companies that I can think of, namely:
Language Link
English First.

There may be others too. I worked for English First, I got offered an interview at BKC (well, I was breathing after all Smile ) but I thought EF had slightly better pay and conditions. Wasn't much in it though.

But these are not the only places to get jobs. There are other, smaller firms. Especially in Moscow.
I recommend keeping an eye on:
1. this site
2. www.tefl.com
3. www.expat.ru (terribly designed website but there is a 'vacancies' bit with a list of jobs, many of which are English teaching)
4. err there are others but I can't remember off hand. Search.

Of course you can go the BKC route. If you're up for shared housing, commutes, split site and split shift (I think I'm going to rename it "split shite"). Plus the money will be difficult to live on, and I hope you enjoy washing your own clothes! I know, I'm a miserable barstool. Sue me Smile

Probably the 'clever' thing to do is come here without a job for a month or two. But you'll need start-up funds for that. You'll need a visa (read the boards, there are various issues to consider here), and of course if in Moscow you'll need a certain amount of cash just for accomm.
Well, it's an idea but I guess it depends on your inclinations.

Argentina is interesting but I think SA in general is a tough place to make a living teaching English.

Good luck!
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Communist Smurf



Joined: 24 Jun 2003
Posts: 330
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coming here with a tourist visa shouldn't be too much of a problem. If you're here for less than two weeks you probably won't even need to register your visa (this advise should be taken with caution. I didn't register my *one* time for a two-week trip here).

My personal advise: come here now (as a tourist) to get a feel for things and try to get a job working part-time for a company. You'll earn real money by doing privates.

I think the best resource for finding work (specifically privates) is Bonne International and the Moscow Times. Bonne International will find clients for you (they charge the client for finding you and you pay nothing). Teachers have told me if you post an ad in the Moscow Times (there will usually be 3-7 ads already) you'll usually have some success in doing just that for a few weeks to build a client-base.

Right now Bonne International is trying hard to find a male willing to work part-time in their daycare center. If you're keen to the idea of working with children, they offered me $800 per month for 20 hours per week. I got the feeling I could have negotiated for more as they seemed desperate.

CS
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:31 am    Post subject: Come to St. Petersburg Reply with quote

Forget Moscow. St, Petersburg is the place to start. Go staright to Moscow and you'll go nuts- don't throw yourself in at the deep end!

Students 'correcting' grammar- yes, sometimes it happens, and sometimes they are right. Good advice from waxwing- if you don't know the answer, don't pretend that you do. When I come across something I can't answer I usually make a note of it and promise to find out the real answer later. But this only happens with the really advanced students. You sometimes get people swearing black and blue about things like 'I' and 'me', where you just have to tell them that natives speak English without following the rules, and that you have to learn the exceptions or else you'll sound like a wally.

"Knock knock"

"Who's there?"

"It is I"

"Chego?!" (Russian for 'you what?!')


I found it wasn't so much grammar they tried to correct as pronunciation. Only a week ago I had an argument with my girlfriend's best friend about pronunciation of the letter 'a' as in 'cat' and 'and' and 'Africa'. Russian teachers look in a dictionary and try to use the phonetic spelling as a guide to pronunciation. They see the weird a-and-back-to-front e symbol and take it to be pronounced as some kind of strangled 'ae' sound. It comes out as 'E-efrika', e-end, cet and so on. She's almost finished her teaching degree... to become an English teacher...

Has anyone else found this? I even checked with my American colleague, just in case they were making a kind of exaggerated pronunciation of the American version, but there was just no way it could have been the case. Get them to drop it and you see a huge change in their accent.

I had a great classroom experience with a good intermediate group. I asked them if they liked fish. A simple question. Not one of the eight of them responded. I asked a few more times, and they eventually asked me to write it up on the board, which I did. Before I had even turned back to face the class, the oldest (sixty-year-old school shrink) exclaimed, "Ah, you mean feesh! Robert, you do not have zee good pronouncy-ayshun. Zees eez not korrrrekt..." All murmured in agreement.

I walked out of the room to take a couple of deep breaths before coming back in. For me, this is one of the toughest parts of the job- after two years it becomes a mental drain. Just try telling the average Russian that 'guitar' isn't pronounced 'gee-tar'...


Smurf's idea is good. Go private. Set yourself a minimum wage to begin with, and turn away any chancers who offer you less. Also turn away girls who flutter their eyelashes when they ask about lessons, especially if their first question is where they'll be held. I came here as a bit of a dumbass and it took me quite a while to realise that they weren't looking for lessons and had no intentions of parting with any money. Humouring them seems like fun at first, but you quickly realise it's a total waste of time.

Start by targeting the more affluent areas of town (working from the centre northwards) and as you find more students, so your list of contacts will grow. In the beginning, take time to get to know your students. Buy them drinks, be generous with your time, and they'll tell their friends about you. Be a good teacher, and the dosh will come to you.

Taking a low-paid job in a language school like Benedict (just don't sign any contracts and don't ever let a school have your passport details- they don't need them and will just use them to scare you if you don't do what they want) is a good way to meet potential private students. The Benedict school in particular sends people round lots of different locations in the city, so lots of scope for contacts.

Going to businesses is okay, but unless you have either teaching or business experience, you'll need to do a lot of bluffing to get in to bigger companies (in my experience anyway.) When my cushy little number in this computer company folds, I'm going to go private.
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zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Waxwing, it was the line about stumbling into higher education. Reread it today and realized he meant as a consumer.

I get people say key as kay all the time. They've heard it that way so much from teachers, other students. When I say, "actually, it's 'kee'" of course they respond with disbelief. "Are you sure?"

My stock answer is a "Uh, yeah, pretty sure." Then they realize that questioning me on the pronunciation of my own language is a bit strange. They're just surprised is all. When confronted by an apparent contradiction, people want it resolved. Don't take it personally.

It does get humorous at times. One of my favorites is "sheet" and "shit" Sometimes people are afraid to say the first word because it sounds like the common mispronunciation of the second.
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Communist Smurf



Joined: 24 Jun 2003
Posts: 330
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zaneth wrote:
It does get humorous at times. One of my favorites is "sheet" and "*beep*" Sometimes people are afraid to say the first word because it sounds like the common mispronunciation of the second.

Don't forget the "beach."
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chookov



Joined: 18 Jul 2004
Posts: 2
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 8:12 am    Post subject: Who's teaching who? Reply with quote

For job location choices, it's 'horses for courses'. Every country has pluses and minuses. If you check other threads you can assess these. First time out though, unless you've had a lot of experience overseas, take a contract with a school to sound out the situation and find your feet - working from a tourist visa can be fraught with difficulties if you get caught out. But if you're adventurous...!

So many times I've come across a blank expression on my adult Russian students' faces when I try to explain that we learn English at school without having to do much 'grammar' - there's no understanding of the 'whole of languqage' approach here in Moscow. The advice about not pretending you know some obscure grammar point is a valid one - but I also offer to check what the rule is and explain it next lesson. It's amazing how fast you learn.

Similarly about pronunciation - there is no 'standard' pronunciation of English vowel sounds, compare an Aussie, Southerner and a Geordie - but there is 'International' English which differs from the version I call 'Soviet English".

My favourite words are piece, yup and loch
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 9:25 am    Post subject: Nessie Reply with quote

My kids always loved reading about the Loch Ness Monster. I had a hilarious discussion with a very uppity Russian teacher (of English) who clearly thought her English was better than mine as I didn't speak with the same impossibly strangled impersonation of RP that she did. She told me a story about meeting some Irish people and being surprised to discover that their pronunciation was 'wrong'.
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waxwing



Joined: 29 Jun 2003
Posts: 719
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 9:27 am    Post subject: Re: Come to St. Petersburg Reply with quote

bobs12 wrote:

I found it wasn't so much grammar they tried to correct as pronunciation. Only a week ago I had an argument with my girlfriend's best friend about pronunciation of the letter 'a' as in 'cat' and 'and' and 'Africa'. Russian teachers look in a dictionary and try to use the phonetic spelling as a guide to pronunciation. They see the weird a-and-back-to-front e symbol and take it to be pronounced as some kind of strangled 'ae' sound. It comes out as 'E-efrika', e-end, cet and so on. She's almost finished her teaching degree... to become an English teacher...

Has anyone else found this?


It might be an idea to actually learn the phonetic alphabet, bobs..
On the CELTA/ Trinity I believe it's mandatory.

FWIW yes, Russians have tremendous problems with the two phonemes 'a' (as in Africa) and 'e' as in 'bet' (sorry I can't type in IPA here..). They don't distinguish between them properly.
And yes, of course there is the beach / bitch problem etc. Smile , well this is not exclusive to Russians. The English language has 5 vowel letters and something like 20 vowel phonemes. It's very, very tough.

You can try helping them with that.. I don't think we should ridicule their scholarship. Learning a foreign accent without going to the country is no picnic!
I have one friend here who has managed to gain a truly excellent accent through her University studies. She actually understands phonetics and intonation - a hell of a lot better than a lazy git like me Laughing
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read and write fluently in phonetics Smile well, I did at one point. I had to in order to keep one uppity so-and-so off my back, he refused to learn pronunciation by listening. But what's the point of learning a third alphabet, that doesn't exist in real life, when the problem is pronunciation, not recognising where to produce which sound? (for students I mean) His accent was ridiculous, he needed to listen to real pronunciation, not read it in a book.

With my students, of course I help them, or else I wouldn't be doing my job properly, but I'm not here to change the accent of the entire Russian nation- they have to pay me to do that!

'Ship or sheep' is a good resource.
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