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Russia, Ukraine, CIS, Baltics - where do I go?

 
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Zorba



Joined: 21 Nov 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 4:19 pm    Post subject: Russia, Ukraine, CIS, Baltics - where do I go? Reply with quote

Okay, hi everyone, treat me gently as it's the first time I've posted here. Smile

I'm 22, will be graduating next summer in Russian, have Trinity College TEFL Cert. and six months experience in a private language school in Krasnodar, southern Russia.

Since leaving Russia I can think of nothing but returning! I know it's a bit early to be looking for jobs with a July / Sep 2005 start but I'm keen to get researching.

I've already spent a year in Russia so I know a good bit about the lifestyle and the pros/cons. I'm interested, however, in getting specific advice for what areas of the country or even specific language schools that I should apply for.

For example, is BKC or Language Link worth applying for? I've heard so many contrasting stories that I don't know. I see the British Council has an assisantship scheme in universities, does anyone have any more info. about this? It doesn't require TEFL certification so perhaps I should look for a 'real' teaching job instead.

Am open to suggestions for any part of Russia, but am particularly interested in hearing about anyone's experiences in the south, in the Ukraine or the Baltic States, esp. Crimea, Odessa, Minsk, Riga, Tallinn. It seems to be that the market for TEFL in Estonia/Latvia is very narrow, anyone managed to break in there or have any tips in doing so? Does anyone have any experience in Belarus, can you actually live there?

I know IH have a schools in quite a few of the places I mention. Are there specific advantages for working for an IH school? Is it possible to organise contracts with these schools directly or do I need to wait for vacancies to appear on the central website and apply that way? Would it be better to fix somewhere up in advance or simply go out there at the beginning of the summer and hope to find something?

Sorry for all the questions, hope I don't cause any major fights. Smile Smile
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bobs12



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

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Zorba, welcome to the forum!

What's wrong with causing fights? I do it all the time Wink

Krasnodar? Wow, I have a student from there, maybe you know a guy called Yuri Schkatula? Laughing I'm sure he'd love to meet you!

Okay, serious stuff. As for big schools- I'd say don't sign a contract with them, but work on an hourly basis. If you look through this forum, you'll find a good deal of threads dealing with the pros and cons of contracts vs. 'free to wander' setups. If you come on your own visa, you'll be a lot more free to negotiate for wages and conditions etc. in winter, when there will be a shortage of teachers and the schools won't be able to afford to lose you.

You're coming at a time (I think, guys- you might want to correct me on this) when there will be a lot of teachers signing up on contracts, with some schools they will be on 'internships' or other training-and-teaching courses which bring the schools extra dosh, so you might find it harder to get into the big places.

What I would do is call/email schools now and tell them when you'll be available, and see what they will have at that time. You're qualified and have experience, so I think you'll be able to get a verbal agreement with a fair number of schools. However, as someone once said, "A verbal agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on."

If you're not in it just for the money (hahaha, did anyone seriously come here to get rich in EFL? Laughing ) you might want to try somewhere a bit off the beaten path where you're almost guaranteed a position. You then have a 'foot in the door' and you're in more of a position to travel for interviews, etc. A lot of smaller schools don't have any significant internet presence. Email me or PM me with your email address and I can send you a list of most of the main schools in Saint Petersburg. There are no email addresses, but you'll be able to find them if you search by name on the internet. There are web sites with similar lists of schools in other cities.
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alekto



Joined: 16 Sep 2004
Posts: 21
Location: Moscow, Russia

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I'll try and keep this brief and to-the-point:

IH Schools:

Good because they have a networking system...every April when the vaccencies come up, teachers within IH get first pick and the chance to simply "transfer". This is great if you want to continue teaching elsewhere in the world.

Also good because they are supposed to meet/provide certain standards for their workers, although this can be bent considerably here in Russia

You'd have to wait until advertisements come up, April/May or thereabouts, although BKC-IH is always looking for teachers.

BKC vs. LL:

BKC are, in a sense, more "professional". The majority of their native speaker teachers are qualified (although they do have a branch - Globus - willing to employ unqualified teachers) and they hold regular training seminars. They observe you regularly, provide feedback and are generally well-resourced.

However, being a large Russian insitution, they are prey to the usual faults. The staff can sometimes be awfully unhelpful, even malicious and a fair number of folk leave before contract completion, despite the loss of their end-of-contract bonus.

LL are pretty much the same in many ways, although they have the monopoly on work-study programes, which means a large number of unqualified teachers. They also do internships...

Being the smaller school, I've had a friend who was much happier with them than with BKC, just because LL listened to him when he had problems, whereas in BKC issues just get swallowed up in the mire.

Basically, if you want to follow a professional teaching path, then BKC is probably your best bet. If you don't want to be qualified and want a slightly less "intense" teaching experience, then LL will probably suit you more.

Ultimately, people here tend to prefer one or the other, for various reasons.

British Council

I am not aware of any kind of university programe here, although that may just be because it's organised by the administrative side rather than the teaching side.

The British Counil do take on teachers off-contract. Unfortunately, this means you have to organise everything yourself - visa, accomodation, flights - and then chase up enough work to pay your way. Nonetheless, if you're an experienced (2 years post CELTA minimum) EFL teacher, it's an option, even just some Saturday classes to boost your pay.

I hope that helped!

Good luck
valya
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waxwing



Joined: 29 Jun 2003
Posts: 719
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

alekto, just curious as to why you don't mention EF.
I mean I wouldn't even comment on it except it seems virtually everbody who talks about teaching in Moscow talks about BKC and LL. But I know that EF have a lot of schools in the region too. I wonder why they're 'off the radar'? They have like something like 15 schools there plus several in other parts of Russia.

Thanks for the summary though, it's always interesting to see experienced people's perspectives.
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 974
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:37 pm    Post subject: Where to go?? Reply with quote

My honest first word of advice is forget Belarus-as far as I know there is only one school in Minsk which ocassionally has vacancies via International House in London.I have visted various parts of the country and have friends there and although it is interesting if you have a nostalgia for Soviet style life,it is also a pariah state run by a nasty dictatorship which would resurrect Stalin if it could!Another drawback is that much of the territory was contaminated by Chernobil and as a consequence,locally grown food products can be very suspect!!As for Ukraine,well if the election yesterday has gone the right way,the long-suffering people there just might have a hope of a better life at last.
The Baltic states are another kettle of fish-remember they're now in the E.U. -one word of advice,please don't associate them with Russia anymore,a very sensitive issue, as all of them have Russian speaking minorities,Latvia being the best example.It is a nice country,as is Estonia but I was told by several foreigners who taught e.f.l. in Lithuania that they only earned about enough to get by on,nothing more!
Coming to Russia,a country about which I consider myself quite familiar,you will not make money by working on contract for either of the two big schools already referred to-you will also probably work split-shifts and be worn out,only to have to share a grotty flat miles from where you teach most of the time!You can read the ins and outs from other postings on this website about them.Freelance is of course much more lucrative,but has its drawbacks so if you want to get in and don't mind suffering for a bit,you could try using them for that purpose!
Krasnodar-as the former agent here in Paphos, Cyprus for Kubantourist,I know the place well and have fond memories of my visits to Goryachiy Kluch,Anapa, Maykop etc.They used to send tourist groups to Cyprus back in the 1990's but they stopped after the 1998 financial crisis and now just sell seats on their weekly Sunday flight to Larnaca.If you ever visit their office near Ulitsa Krasnaya, say a big hello to Viktor Repin the director from me,as well as Andrei and Igor.all really great guys!
Hope this is of interest and wishing you all the best!

Martin Standage.
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alekto



Joined: 16 Sep 2004
Posts: 21
Location: Moscow, Russia

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

waxwing wrote:
alekto, just curious as to why you don't mention EF.
I mean I wouldn't even comment on it except it seems virtually everbody who talks about teaching in Moscow talks about BKC and LL. But I know that EF have a lot of schools in the region too. I wonder why they're 'off the radar'? They have like something like 15 schools there plus several in other parts of Russia.


That's a good point actually! Well, I've never worked for them and have only recently met someone who does here (and we don't talk about work when we meet - in Russian lessons - so it doesn't mean much), so I guess that's the main reason I don't tend to think of them.

From what I've heard of their work in other countries, EF are reliable and good to their employees. But I really have no clue how they operate here!
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Phillip Donnelly



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I knew a couple of teachers who used to work for EF in Moscow, and they weren't impressed. In fact, teachers all over the world, especially China, don't seem to be too impressed by them. They're 100 per cent franchise and far more interested in maintaining decor standards than teaching standards. Image and appearance seem to be their main concerns.
Another common teacher complaint about them is that they insist on teachers only using their own EF materials, which are pretty naff, apparently. Also, they only use native speakers for high levels and use Russian teachers for the lower levels. Moreover, there doesn't seem to be the committment to teacher training you find in IH and Language Link. However, it would be intersting to hear from someone who actually works/worked for them, rather than relying on mere hearsay. Any takers?
Re IH Minsk, they have enormous problems recruiting and paying for native teachers, and keeping their visas in order. We did an teacher-exchange with IH Minsk and IH Moscow last year, and the IH Minsk teacher said a lot of good things about the school. I met the DOS there at a training course in IH London, and she's a really nice woman. So, although it wouldn't be an easy ride, I wouldn't discount the country totally.
Re where to go to work in Russia, it is worth repeating that mighty Moscow is where all Russia's oil money goes, and consequently that's where most of the work is.
TEFL teachers are the new nomads and must go where the grass is greenest.
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Zorba



Joined: 21 Nov 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 7:32 pm    Post subject: Salary in Estonia / Latvia Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone who replied. Smile

I am currently looking at a couple of posts in Tallinn and Riga. I'm wondering if someone could advise me about what sort of salary I should expect in these cities. I have Trinity College Cert. and have worked previously for six months in Krasnodar, where I was paid c. $120 / week (including accomm.) As costs in Pribaltika are significantly higher, I suppose about double that ($250 / week, again including flight/accomm.) would be realistic? Or too much / too little? Am not interested in making money but definitely wish to make enough to cover expenses.

If the employer doesn't offer accommodation as part of the package, does anyone know what rent costs are like in Tallinn / Riga at the moment and how easy it is to organise?

Perhaps someone has worked recently for IH or similar employer in the area and would be kind enough to advise me.

Zorbochka
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alutins



Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 2
Location: Seoul, Korea

PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 6:50 pm    Post subject: Latvia Reply with quote

Although I wasn't a teacher in Latvia, I know a wage you should expect is about 350 Lats, check XE.com for the conversion. An apartment will cost you about 150 Lats, BUT, here is my little secret!!!!!!!

Get a hold of the University of Latvia international programs and exchanges office and they will hook you up with dorms that are in the old city!!!!!!!! granted they have to have space first so plan accordingly. these dorms run about 30-70 Lats a month and are clean and best of all, they are within spitting distance of all the nightlife, restaurants, etc. that you'd want to go to. I've stayed there on two separate trips and would highly recommend it!

Latvia is a really really fun place to be if you enjoy the nightlife. there are plenty of other professionals and expats to hang out with. But don't expect to save money while there, most things are pricey.

Hope that helps.
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Katyusha



Joined: 26 Jan 2005
Posts: 43
Location: UAE

PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valya wrote [quote]BKC are, in a sense, more "professional". The majority of their native speaker teachers are qualified (although they do have a branch - Globus - willing to employ unqualified teachers) and they hold regular training seminars. They observe you regularly, provide feedback and are generally well-resourced. [quote]

But at Globus they don't do EFL, do they? How well do you actually know about all the BKC operations? What about LinguaRu? And Linguist? Can you tell us anything about them?
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ilugru



Joined: 11 Jun 2004
Posts: 15
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linguist is a division of BKC where Russian teachers of English mostly work. The salary is much lower than at BKC. Lingua.ru is a school where there are no classes - sounds weird, doesn't it? Burt in fact its for students with flexible schedule, so every week a student makes his own schedule and arranges it with classes available - I don't work for them usually (only occasional stand-ins) so I don't know the details in fact. The salary is about the same as at BKC and they also belong to the same network.
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Katyusha



Joined: 26 Jan 2005
Posts: 43
Location: UAE

PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the run-down. I was hoping that Valya could give us some information as she seems to know so much about BKC, LL and BC. Or does she really? Twisted Evil
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alekto



Joined: 16 Sep 2004
Posts: 21
Location: Moscow, Russia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2005 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Razz

Thanks for the run-down. I was hoping that Valya could give us some information as she seems to know so much about BKC, LL and BC. Or does she really?

Don't know a huge amount...I know more about Ztown than Moscow BKC as that's where I used to work. But my flatmate worked for BKC Moscow and LL, so basically between what he knows and I know, I'd like to think I can just about cover the bases.

Don't really work for BKC anymore, although I'm still on their books. HP-ing for the BC now.

Very Happy
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