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Planning on Teaching in Russia
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Chrstphr87340



Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:41 am    Post subject: Planning on Teaching in Russia Reply with quote

Hey! This is my first post to this forum. I am an American college student who will be graduating next May (May 2013), and after that I am planning on teaching English in Russia, or perhaps another Russian-speaking country. Right now, I am a history major with a solid GPA, I’ve taken four semesters of Russian language (with a fifth planned for next semester, and a possible sixth before I graduate).

In the summer of 2010, I spent a month about an hour outside of Perm working at a summer camp for Russian children. Although the camp experience was certainly different than the experience of teaching English, I was able to become somewhat acquainted with life in Russia, and found an extremely kind, hospitable people, albeit with a lot of government, bureaucratic red tape.

I have had a lifelong interest in Russia, and I am interested in both teaching and getting my language skills up to fluency- although I have taken four semesters, Russian is very difficult and I am certainly nowhere near fluent. I just had a few questions for people more experienced in teaching and living in Russia and the former-USSR:

1. Is Russia the best place to teach if I am trying to get acquainted with the general Russian/CIS culture and gain fluency in Russian? I am open to several other nations, including the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia (i.e., Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.)

2. What would be the best city other than Moscow to teach in? I know that Moscow is the largest city and I assume that it has the best opportunities for expats, but I spent a few days in Moscow in the summer of 2010, and what I garnered from the Russians I talked to outside of Moscow (mostly in Perm), Moscow is considered to be “different” from the rest of Russia. I am looking for an authentic Russian experience; however, I am also looking for a place that is accommodating towards expats, particularly those with developing language ability.

3. Is CELTA the best route to go? If not, what other programs should I look into?

4. There are only two Russian schools that do CELTA- one in Rostov-on-Don, the other in Moscow. However, BKC Moscow, the school that does CELTA, seems to have a acquired a negative reputation. Do you know anything about BKC Moscow? If I am not planning to teach at BKC Moscow, but merely planning to get my CELTA, do the negative opinions matter? Do you know anything about Language Link in Rostov-on-Don?

5. Anything you think that I should bring/plan for? How much money to bring, nightlife in certain cities, etc.?

Thank you for your answers and advice! All is appreciated!
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Foma87



Joined: 13 Sep 2011
Posts: 61
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

my take:

i. obviously russia is the best option as far as learning russian is concerned but a healthy percentage of rigans, kievans and almatians speak the language and belarus is, well, officially a russian-speaking country.

ii. there's nothing unauthentic about moscow, just a much greater diversity of lifestyles. i've only ever lived there and spb. the former is better for work, while the latter is better for socializing. both are pretty awesome.

iii. never got it; never been an issue for me as far as getting work is concerned, either.

iv. i've seen here on this site that the the bkc certs are quality, but that the school is shoddy. don't have first-hand experience with either, however.

v. warm clothes and at least 6k startup cash unless a school is gonna take care of everything for you and even then….
bars and clubs in moscow and spb can be spendy. I usually spend $70 if alone and $250 if I have company (obviously this depends on your tastes as well). nightlife in spb is much more satisfying and less expensive than moscow.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9307
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CELTA at BKC is indeed quality - have no fear. In any case, CELTA is a CELTA once you have the document.

The school is, as said, another kettle of fishies. There are many and bewildering parts to this organisation, but the CELTA part is mostly separate to the rest of it. So, don't be put off by the very real shoddiness of BKC: it won't impact on any trainees taking the course there.

Best of luck.
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ecocks



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 883
Location: Gdansk, Poland

PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For polishing up your Russian it makes no difference at all whether you go to central or eastern Ukraine or Russia. I have not met or heard of any westerners working in Belarus and there seem to be very few positions in the Baltic States. In the "-stans" there is still a lot of Russian spoken but many are pushing to switch to their ethnic languages for signage and documentation.

CELTA's are CELTA's as they say. I know BC does the 3-4 courses in Kyiv during the summer months. Not sure about elsewhere.

Where to teach? Too many personal choices for anyone to really tell you one over another, IMO. Some considerations are that GENERALLY the larger cities have more jobs but higher costs, you stand out a bit more in smaller towns due to smaller expat populations and less tourism flow. Of course travel is a bit more difficult from the smaller towns but you can certainly go native by avoiding expats more easily and take a bit more relaxed look at things.

In both countries you will want to network quickly with teachers who can get you through the ins and outs of the visa situation. It's a bit easier to get into Ukraine (just buy a ticket) but getting the work permit is a bit more difficult and many choose to work without it. My impression is that Russia is a bit more difficult to do that in these days but one of the Russian hands can certainly give you guidance on that point.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1832

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you decide to go to Russia, do consider Siberia as a possibility (there are a lot of schools in Novosibirsk and the surrounding areas. If anybody is seriously interested, pm me for a list of contacts.) Re Belarus: nice place but difficult to find a decent job (and I mean decent by CIS standards).

The only commonly accepted CELTA equivalent is the Trinity certificate (TESOL). By the way, it is not absolutely necessary to do the CELTA in Russia; you could do it in America or elsewhere (the latter giving you some experience of another country).

Minimum to take with you. A month's salary plus. It is not desperately impressive to ask your employer for a 'sub' to tide you over. Some would advise enough to get a plane out, or maybe enough for 3 months living.
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smithrn1983



Joined: 23 Jul 2010
Posts: 320
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. If you want to learn Russian, then come to Russia or go to either Central or Eastern Ukraine, or Belarus. The Baltic countries aren't too happy to speak Russian in my experience. Might have something to do with their countries being essentially occupied by Russia for most of the last century. I'm not really sure about central Asia, but I've heard that in many places Russian isn't common (to the extent that the people actually don't speak Russian).

2. Talk to Americans outside of New York and you'll also get the feeling that NY is somehow "different" from the rest of America. That said, most of the major cities have English schools, but your 'authentic' Russian experience will depend a lot of where you end up.

3. Get a 120 hour on site TEFL cert. CELTA is just the most widely recognized. It doesn't really matter if you get it in Russia or not, but doing it in Russia will give you a feel for what kind of students you can expect on the job.

5. How much money you need to bring with you will depend on what kind of job you take. If you get something with provided accommodation you'll need to bring less money along. I'd say $3-6k is a good estimate for how much to have with you off the plane.
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Kofola



Joined: 20 Feb 2009
Posts: 147
Location: Slovakia

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm not really sure about central Asia, but I've heard that in many places Russian isn't common (to the extent that the people actually don't speak Russian).


I can only speak for Kyrgyzstan. In the capital, Bishkek, Russian is generally used. The Russian population has shrunk considerably, but ethnic Kyrgyz etc all use Russian as a lingua franca on the marshrutky and in shops etc. Ethnic Kyrgyz have different accents from the ethnic Russians, but I didn't have any problems understanding. Outside the capital, it's a totally different story. People always greeted me in Russian, as they assumed from my height and colouring that I was ethnic Russian, but they talked Kyrgyz amongst themselves. In fact, now I come to think of it, I didn't really see any ethnic Russians outside the capital.

I would go there to learn Russian, although there may be other pretty good reasons for choosing not to go there (political instability etc).
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kazpat



Joined: 04 Jul 2010
Posts: 100
Location: Kazakhstan

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unless you are in a village Russian is widely spoken in Kazakhstan. When I speak Kazakh with people sometimes they reply in Russian out of habit. There is no problem or prejudice against speaking Russian here as there might be in some Baltic countries. 90 percent of signs in my city are bilingual.It is also very common for people to speak like my wife does, one sentence in Russian then the next sentence in Kazakh or even alternating words in Kazakh and Russian.

A friend of mine is Lithuanian and the same age as my wife, both were 9 when the USSR broke up, my wife still considers Russian here native language but my Lithuanian friend can barely speak it. However, a student in my CELTA teaching practice group was from Riga, Latvia and says Russian is still widely spoken especially in the capital.

.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1832

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my short time in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius,I found that many older people used Russian but not only did younger people not know it, they actively discouraged visitors from using it.
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cbrredrider1



Joined: 06 Aug 2010
Posts: 15
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:09 am    Post subject: Working at BKC Reply with quote

BKC was an OK place to work, especially if you are just starting out, but the moment anything goes wrong they aren't willing to help you. They screwed me out of about $5000 dollars in compensation because of a law their government put in place. During my third contract with them the Russian government froze the quotas for work visas for all international companies. BKC could no longer offer me a legal visa. They asked me to work their illegally until they got it sorted out. I made one visa run to Latvia, which was not a legal visa, at my expense and they informed I would have to pay for that trip every three months. This affected 20% or more of their teachers. We were given the option to leave but would have to sacrifice air fare reimbursement and bonus, about a $2000 value in my case. I chose not to stay because the risk was too great. The school announced we could not claim we worked at BKC if we got stopped by police. We would be on our own if we got arrested for not being properly registered.

When I decided to leave I gave them 2 months notice so they would have plenty of time to make arrangements for my classes. They said ok and I booked my flight home accordingly. I had been working in the small town of Podolsk since 2007. I left for one 6 month contract because I was unhappy with the admin there. I was offered more money at another school in Moscow so I took it. BKC Podolsk begged me to come back and offered me a raise, and as an additional bonus the admin I didn't like was gone. I continued working through 2008 and 2009. 2010 is when the government froze work visas for all schools. When I told them I wanted to leave they seemed to take it personal. Their reaction was completely unconscionable. Instead of letting me work out my two months, they kicked me out of the school, blacklisted me from BKC forever, and tried to throw me out of my flat with no place to go. This was all decided by the director of the school in Podolsk. Tell me that wasn't a sour grapes reaction. In addition to the loss of the $2000 for bonus and air fare, I lost my last two months of pay $1300 X2 plus the cost of going to Latvia. I had to stay two weeks. I had to pay for a place to live in Latvia, travel and lost wages from not working. I think all that comes to well over $5000.
BKC Moscow did nothing to help. In fact they sided with the school and blacklisted me. I had the embassy involved and the IH head quarters in London. It was a huge mess just because of a stubborn stupid man running the school in Podolsk. After three great years, several raises and good reviews, I got kicked to the curb. After that I wrote a very nasty blog. It's been two years now and I have changed my blog to be more positive. You can read my new blogs here.
http://bkc-ih-moscow-podolsk.blogspot.com/2010/11/warning-wild-dogs-in-podolsk-russia.html
http://thetruthaboutrussianwomen.blogspot.com/2012/03/russian-women-versus-american-women.html
http://bkc-ih-moscow-sucks.blogspot.com/
I did only because I care about the Students in Podolsk who I still keep in touch with two years later. the students there have no other choices for schools in Podolsk. By scaring teachers off I am only hurting them. even though everything in my blog was true, I still think it's a good place to work. Ever since my incident things are better there. The head teacher is a good friend of mine and in my opinion the best leader the entire company of BKC has working for them.
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Bannik



Joined: 05 Jun 2011
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

coledavis wrote:
If you decide to go to Russia, do consider Siberia as a possibility (there are a lot of schools in Novosibirsk and the surrounding areas. If anybody is seriously interested, pm me for a list of contacts.)


I'd PM you in a heartbeat, but I don't have the requisite number of posts.
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Bannik



Joined: 05 Jun 2011
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If only I could somehow inflate my number of posts to reach that minimum....
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9307
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yer nearly there! Come on!

Contribute to Sasha's Poetry Corner or Book review...
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1832

PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You got there!
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Irina Tarabrina



Joined: 22 May 2012
Posts: 4
Location: St. Cloud, MN

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="coledavis"]If you decide to go to Russia, do consider Siberia as a possibility (there are a lot of schools in Novosibirsk and the surrounding areas. If anybody is seriously interested, pm me for a list of contacts.) Re Belarus: nice place but difficult to find a decent job (and I mean decent by CIS standards).

Hi, we are two teachers with MA English-TESL from the University in Midwest of US. We would be interested to go to Siberia to teach. Siberia would be a a worthy substitute for Minnesota, where we are located right now. Could you PM contacts to me?
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