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TEFL Cert in Russia
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karina



Joined: 28 Jul 2004
Posts: 2
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 9:57 pm    Post subject: TEFL Cert in Russia Reply with quote

I am very interested in teaching English in Russia. I already work there as a short term missionary several times a year. I was wondering if anyone can lead me towards the best certifcation for TEFL for Russia. Do they accept all certifications? Or which certificate is best? CELTA? TESOL? Other? I would really appreciate any help I can get.

Thanks!
Karina
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tbiehl2000



Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 7:01 am    Post subject: Tefl certificate Reply with quote

Hi Karina,
I am by no means an expert but I have been doing a fair amount of research on this subject. I have a BA. That is good. Most places want a first degree. Getting certified is the second step (for me anyway). The Celta course is the most internationally recognizable certificate. There is one other certificate that is on par with the Celta and that is the Trinity-tesol certificate. There are schools that offer other certificates and I'm sure most are valid, but I am going to pursue the Celta. I figure if I am going to spend the time and money I might as well get a solid certificate. From what I understand, the Celta, coupled with a 4 year degree, carries a fair amount of weight in the Tefl world.
I have only found one place in Russia that offers the Celta and that is BKC in Moscow. Good luck to you Karina!!
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bobs12



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

PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know there are other places that offer the CELTA, but you really need to think- is it worth it? I've never heard of any place that was interested in the 'grade' of a degree, but maybe that's in Moscow.

You have to weigh up the cost of the CELTA- don't forget to add travel, accommodation and other living expenses that you'll incur in addition to the course fees- and seriously think about how long you want to teach English for. How much extra per hour will it have to bring you in order for you to recoup the cost? And do you really think a CELTA gained in Russia will bring you so much extra? Come on guys...

By the time you've actually earned your money back (most likely in a few years) you'll have so much experience and so many references that your CELTA will be less than secondary. CELTA certificates are not proof of your teaching prowess. As one trainer told me, and I quote, "They prove only that you have the necessary basic skills and the potential to become a good teacher."

The truth is that almost any muppet can get a CELTA provided he has the time and the money. All it really proves is that you kept up the minimum attendance, did everything they told you and didn't come to the observed lesson wearing only your girlfriend's underwear.

Sorry, on a much much more serious note, TEFL training is fine for those who are nervous about beginning teaching and are self-conscious about their total lack of experience, but the best way to begin is to throw yourself in at the deep end. Take a good grammar book in with you as a life-ring (trust me, you'll need it) for example Murphy's intermediate-level 'English Grammar in Use' (Cambridge University Press, all good bookshops) and you'll be fine. There are other levels available. The stuff at the back of the advanced book has me scratching my head at times Wink

Murphy is laid out in such a way that it gives you ready-made lessons. I would have had a much harder time without it in my first few months. There are clear explanations on each left-hand page- these are your presentations to the class. The right-hand pages have good, clear exercises. Photocopy them and hand them out. All you add are some of your own examples, some imagination, and plenty of enthusiasm to get your students talking. You can also bring some reading and listening materials (record a news show on radio or TV). Before you know it you have a top-quality lesson based around a simple grammar textbook. If your school uses 'proper' textbooks, all the better. All the necessary materials should be there, but beware- textbooks can be dull, boring and irrelevant.

Start out in your new career by planning your lessons for the first few months- try to imagine how long each exercise will take and make it fit into the time available. Try to start with an introduction and end with a conclusion. That's just about all they'll really tell you in CELTA. I'm sorry but I think it's fair to say it's a waste of money and mainly a way to get flush students on year-out trips to part with mum and dad's dosh.

Don't be fooled into thinking that a CELTA certificate makes you an authority in the world of teaching, or in the world of English for that matter. I've seen some of the illiterate duffers that passed through the doors of one institution (I've berated it here too often, so I shan't name it) Rolling Eyes The best thing to do is just to start. You'd do much better offering your services for free in a public school or a school for the disabled (I can put people in touch with one such school in St. Petersburg, as well as a privately-run orphanage where some free English lessons would brighten up the day for a lot of kids)

An internet search will turn up many such places. Don't waste your money on CELTA- it could go a lot further elsewhere. TEFL training schools are cashing in on a growing trend, churning out 'teachers' at a tremendous rate. I have introduced many people to teaching while I've been in St. Petersburg. Not one of them has had any qualification. The thing that will serve you best here is your personality and enthusiasm, not a certificate.
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tbiehl2000



Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 7:56 pm    Post subject: celta...skip it? Reply with quote

So the Celta is overrated? Maybe I will skip it and save a few bucks. I have a first degree and no teaching experience. Anyone have an opinion on this? The course is fairly expensive.
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tbiehl2000



Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 7:58 pm    Post subject: celta...skip it? Reply with quote

So the Celta is overrated? Maybe I will skip it and save a few bucks. I have a first degree and no teaching experience. Anyone have an opinion on this? The course is fairly expensive.
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canucktechie



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 343
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I don't think the CELTA is overrated. It's only a month long, and anyone can understand that you don't learn a whole lot in just a month. What it does give you is a very thorough grounding in the basics of EFL teaching (not English grammar & vocab itself, you are supposed to know that already).

Another thing you get for your month and $$$ is proof that you are genuinely interested in EFL as a career, and are not just a fly-by-nighter. There are countries (Far East comes to mind) where you can get a job without EFL certification, but Russia (and other European countries in general) are not among them.

By the way, if you do get a job in Russia, I suggest you keep your missionary work out of the classroom. Russia has a 1000+ year old Christian church and the locals don't see much need for something "better".
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tbiehl2000



Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 9:31 pm    Post subject: Bobs12 says you can... Reply with quote

Do I really need a TEFL Cert in Russia? Doesn't look like it. Just a way to spend my hard earned cash.
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bobs12



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

PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

canucktechie wrote:
but Russia (and other European countries in general) are not among them...

...keep your missionary work out of the classroom



On the first point- I beg to differ, at least based on my own experience. I've made a 'career' out of EFL without any paper to prove it, and unless you want to be DoS or the like, I don't see the value of the certificate. Maybe I'm lucky, maybe St. Petersburg is an exception, but I've worked with a good number of schools here and turned down offers for an even greater deal more. I've been sent to businesses where I've been paid up to twice what the 'qualified' teachers were making.

I don't understand where this logic comes from- one thing a CELTA shows the school (if it's streetwise enough to catch on) is that you had the money to do this before you started teaching, and will probably be solvent enough not to be too picky about wages. Trust me, I've seen it, if only in one place, it's the way a lot of places work in Russia. I've heard the line, "but your husband's a businessman, you don't need so much money," delivered to one young lady.

I know that in most of Western Europe (bigger cities at least) a CELTA is regarded as the absolute minimum required for teaching in a public institution, and will likely get you a classroom assistant's job for pocket money at best. Note absolute minimum. It's hardly even a qualification and it says nothing even about your knowledge of the language. I know CELTA 'teachers' who don't know the difference between discreet and discrete. And one who thought they were both spelled 'descreet'. I believe (may well be misinformed, I admit) that the European standard is a degree in EFL, usually an MA, which proves that you are a 'real' teacher, and not a CELTA-toting fly-by-nighter hoping to rake in extra dosh on his year out with the aid of a dodgy certificate.

Russia, to me, is without a doubt one of those places where a CELTA is little more than an expensive till receipt.


On the second point, the author of the first post has been coming to Russia for quite a while and most likely knows where her missionary work is appreciated and where it is not. That said, I wholeheartedly agree with canucktechie. I've worked in a city where Mormons have a strong presence, with their usual lure of free English lessons in return for, well, whatever it is... When word got out that the school where I worked had a native teacher (who wasn't a Mormon) they were almost overwhelmed with applications from students. The folk there would have happily run the Mormons out of town at pitchfork-point had they not been good law-abiding citizens. Making any religious affiliations known to a commercial school is a big mistake- religious rhetoric has no place in the classroom, children don't like it and parents won't abide by it. Letting on that you're a Mormon is nigh on suicidal.

However, this isn't really the place for discussing religion Shocked

Back to tbiehl's question- if you're coming to St. Petersburg (er, you did say that, didn't you?) I can assure you that you'll need those $'s getting yourself established and settled in.

In some places a certificate can give you an instant boost on the pay ladder, but again go back to my point about how long you have to work to get that cash back... by that time you'll know a lot more than any fresh-from-the-box CELTA graduate and you should already have been being paid accordingly for some time. Before coming to Russia I almost fell into the CELTA trap because everything I read on the 'net while jobsearching told me I needed it. Obviously the schools have to say that or else they won't attract students. Also the training centres are obviously the ones who proclaim the loudest.
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tbiehl2000



Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 4:00 am    Post subject: Bobs12 Reply with quote

I certainly like your style. I'm almost laughing as I read your post. I will probably do the Celta course anyway just in case I want to work somewhere that requires it. Also, I want some training. I don't want to just do the sink or swim thing. I don't care so much about recouping my money. I have lots of Russian friends in St Petersburg so I will knock on a lot of doors there. I should be there (Russia) for the duration of my 30 tourist visa. I'll definitely visit Moscow. I'll 'pm' you before that. I expect to be in St. Petersburg in the latter part of October.
I'm very curious about you personally. What brought you to Russia, how long you plan on staying, what kind of job do you have, accomodations etc. Hope you are doing well. tbiehl
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zaneth



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

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 5:15 am    Post subject: sink or swim Reply with quote

I took the CELTA. I still felt like it was sink or swim.

Why not discuss religion on this forum? It isn't a classroom. Perhaps in another thread?
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bobs12



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

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 1:34 pm    Post subject: CELTA for Russia Reply with quote

Thanks tbiehl, pm me before you come and we can meet for a beer. Make sure you have time to spare if you want the whole story Wink

Zaneth- yeah, teaching is a sink or swim thing anyway. I've set up friends in jobs with no prior teaching experience, and they've taken to teaching like ducks to water. I've seen CELTA 'teachers' crash and burn.

One thing I think is that CELTA seems to concentrate too much on 'methodology' and theory, and takes a very simple, potentially enjoyable process and turns it into a jargon-loaded, fire-breathing monster. Who cares if the students' L1 keeps interfering with their L2, isn't it easier to say the blasted kids keep speaking Russian? Does it really matter if Olga has a problem with false cognates, when the real problem is that she giggles when you talk about preservatives? And what difference does it make if you can tell a developmental error from an overgeneralisation error if you don't even know the difference between its and it's?

If you spend a month teaching someone the theory of swimming before throwing him in the pool, I put my money on him drowning while he tries to remember whether to kick or breathe. If we had to know how to fire the neurons all the way down our arm in order to pick our nose, we'd never be caught out in public again. Teaching is a very natural process that is best developed through practice and guidance. Walking into the classroom wondering whether you should use peer correction on your poor discriminators, or worrying about gathering material for your summative assessment is tantamount to kissing your gluteus maximus goodbye.



Discussing religion- I've lost a lot of friends that way... it's a valid topic though- в чужой монастырь со своим уставом не ходят kind of thing? Could be interesting, but I'd rather let someone else open it. I'm in danger of pushing my luck, especially since all my posts at the moment are a bit controversial-ish Wink
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Castro



Joined: 14 May 2003
Posts: 57
Location: still Russia

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 2:11 pm    Post subject: TEFL Cert in Russia Reply with quote

Sure, you can find well-paid work in Moscow without a CELTA or any piece of paper but it wonít be for a reputable organization. Itís a fair point that the benefits of a one month training course are limited but I donít think anyone is claiming you finish the course a polished teacher. The CELTA is an initial entry-level qualification, the reason the course isnít any longer and more comprehensive is because the cost would make it prohibitive for most trainees. Remember that an increasing number of non-native speakers take the CELTA. Often they already have a pedagogic education from their own country, they want an internationally accredited certificate and an introduction to communicative methodology. These teachers already have some experience and Iíve never heard one of them say the course was a waste of time or money. In the end I guess it depends on your objectives, if you want a career in TEFL or a job with a school which can offer you support, the CELTA or equivalent is a good first step.
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bobs12



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

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a point I agree on- CELTA is valuable as a qualification for non-native teachers as my Brazilian ex-flatmate will testify. The question of what constitutes a 'reputable organisation' may be open to debate. By reputable what do you mean? Surely reputation doesn't matter if the work is well paid? There are lots of supposedly 'reputable' organisations in St. Petersburg that systematically rip off their teachers (and students) and have a tremendous employee turnover.

Plus, I think it's a myth that a CELTA is a stepping stone to an EFL 'career', because it is, as you say, an entry-level qualification. People don't build careers on one-month off-the-shelf training courses. Real EFL qualifications are actually pretty hard to come by, which is why a relevant university degree (a language BA, preferably English with a foreign language, with a one-year teacher training course would probably be a good substitute) goes a long way toward getting a better position. If someone already has classroom experience, he probably wouldn't have much to gain from a CELTA, and would do well to aim higher than a CELTA.

There was a while where I was under the illusion that taking a CELTA course would mean I'd be able to cope with any situation, but after very frank discussions with two trainers (with whom I worked at separate times) I realised that it's not quite what it seems.

Something reminded me about a hilarious encounter with a Russian teacher of English who accompanied me on a trip to Finland, supposedly in the capacity of organiser rather than teacher. She'd been to some training centre in England which sounded a bit New Age- I wouldn't be surprised if they recommended learning/teaching in a horizontal position with crystals on your forehead in a dark room with whale sounds playing in the background.

The said teacher constantly tried to take over classes, tried to teach me how to teach, terrorised a poor bunch of women who didn't speak more than a few words of English, reprimanded me in front of them for translating and explaining grammar in Russian, "They must learn to communicate only in English. Only een Eeeengleeesh!" On a five-day trip to Finland with a bunch of women who had only elected to take an English teacher with them to make the visa process simpler, and, I suspect, for entertainment purposes Wink it was entirely inappropriate to torture them and spoil their time like that. Her 'methodology' wasn't just funny, it was humiliating for the women- trying to teach pronunciation with face-pulling exercises to ladies, among whom some couldn't even say "my name is..." Laughing

The best bit was when she tried to teach me English, at which point I ordered her to leave the classroom and not to enter in future without knocking. Trying to correct my pronunciation of 'present' so the stress fell on the last syllable, Russian-style, and also to insist that 'present' (correct pronunciation) was actually the right verb for 'giving presents' almost led me to throw her in one of the many lakes for which Finland is much overrated. It transpired that she was trying to impress the women into making a weekly three-hour round trip to take classes with her in her Saturday school. Didn't hear if anyone signed up or not...

But that has absolutely nothing to do with the thread topic, sorry. Sad Just an anecdote.

However, on a more serious point about getting work in reputable places: Russia is not a place where qualifications are ultimate. In Finland last year I was sent to teach a business English course. So that I didn't panic before I went, the Ben School told me that a gaggle of 16-to19-year-old girls with no prior business experience was waiting for me. I prepared accordingly Wink , and arrived to discover that in fact I had the Moscow State Railway University's department of Economics and Finance in my classroom, with English ability ranging from total zero to a girl who'd been in the States as a youngster and knew her grammar almost as well as me. Not to mention the Dean of the faculty and two of his senior lecturers. I almost drowned in my own cold sweat, especially when I was greeted by the Dean and told how eagerly they were all awaiting the top-notch professional course that the BS claimed to have prepared (which, naturally, resulted in double the usual charge.)

However, necessity is the mother of invention, and thanks to the college's resources, the internet, and this site, I tweaked my 50-hour course overnight to suit the new goalposts and got away with it like a true Scotsman. Even the Dean was impressed, so much so in fact that he offered me a job on the spot, teaching English in his faculty with a generous salary. I meekly pointed out that I actually had no teaching qualifications at all. The reply was along the lines of, "Dinnae be daft laddie, this is Russia we're talking about."

The moral of the story is that it has nothing to do with paper qualifications. It's who you know and who you are that gets you jobs. The deciding factor in Russia is whether people like you or not.

I'd have taken the job at the time had it not been that I wouldn't *spit* on Moscow if it was burning. I don't think you get much more 'reputable' than a state university. Anyone who's been in Russia long enough with their head out of the sand knows that everything is done through contacts (блат- just be careful with your pronunciation Wink ) and the only way to get them is through time and patience. CELTA fly-by-nighters stand little chance of getting the really good jobs because no-one will give them the contacts. Thus they are stuck with searching the Yellow Pages and asking schools if they need some green CELTA-shaped cannon fodder to fire at their no-hope classes that the long-term teachers have given up on, because no school in their right mind would take a CELTA seriously enough to give it a good job right out of the bag with no personal recommendations. You have to start from the bottom in any case, and a lot of people are going to stay there for the duration anyway, CELTA or no CELTA.

The only person a total stranger with a CELTA has an advantage over is a total stranger without a CELTA, but there aren't many native teachers in St. Petersburg anyway, especially out of season. The basic jobs are there to be had with or without paper. If castro is right in saying:

Quote:
Sure, you can find well-paid work in Moscow without a CELTA or any piece of paper


then what's the problem?

Just for fun, there are some pictures of my State Uni guys here:

http://www.visarus.co.uk/bob/mstru.htm
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Trojan Horse



Joined: 30 Dec 2003
Posts: 61
Location: Europe

PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 5:26 pm    Post subject: TEFL Cert in Russia Reply with quote

Hi Karina

I'd say : save the money and buy a good grammar book, a book of grammar exercises with key at the back Smile and some teacher's manuals for standard textbooks that look good to you.


I'd been teaching for a few years before I did the CELTA course. I thought it was a complete waste of money and I never needed the CELTA to get a good job beforehand. When I first started teaching I was just thrown in at the deep-end with a book, told which chapter to prepare and given 20 minutes to do it. That wasn't great, but I honestly think it is one of those things you only learn by doing. From your missionary work, I'd say you have the confidence it takes to go into a classroom and try and make a bunch of strangers relax and get talking.

The only real problem is when you get zero preparation time, you're just asked to go in there and cover for someone, using a book you've never seen before. CELTA doesn't prepare you for this! Always good to have a folder of emergency plans for standard lessons (present perfect springs to mind, future, past tenses, vocab building, etc) texts, exercises from various sources that work for you. All you need to do is whip out the right stuff and copy it.

Like someone else said, get Murphy, work through it so you have basic grammar straight in your own mind.

I think if you have good English skills generally, you like people and you're prepared to put in a bit of preparation time, there's no need to do CELTA honestly. Never heard that it wrecked anyone's life either though.

Good luck!
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ilugru



Joined: 11 Jun 2004
Posts: 15
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2004 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm a Russian teacher doing CELTA at BKC right now. I've taught ESL for 6 years in Russia and have a degree in linguistics (not in teaching though). By no means can I say that doing CELTA is a waste of time/money, though I knew a bit about teaching ESL before. Of course I know most of the concepts, but knowing and using them in your your own Teaching practice are REALLY different. And the tutors here are quite demanding and there's no way you get a "to standard" evaluation if your lesson wasn't proper. I can't, of course, say that I'll be able to find a decent job wherever I like after the course, but I've already had some good offers as soon as employers learnt about my intention to do CELTA "Oh, great, we'll be waiting for you in September!" I can't say I like everything in it and some of my teaching experience doesn't go with what we're told here, but it promts you to think of what you've been teaching so far and why you've been doing this.
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