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Advice--contemplating a move to Russia

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Joined: 28 Sep 2012
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:40 am    Post subject: Advice--contemplating a move to Russia Reply with quote

Greetings everyone. I am contemplating going to Russia (Or Ukraine???) in pursuit of a professional endeavor in teaching English. I would like some feedback/advice from you all about how to best go forward granted my personal experience.

I have graduated with a BS in History/English/literature. Recently, I lived in a village for three months in Nepal teaching English to young orphaned monks. The teaching was informal and quite challenging for me. Also, during my fourth undergraduate year, I worked as a composition consultant in my university's writing center--I rarely worked with ESL students, but the experience was invaluable in dealing creatively with new communication-related situations as they arose. Finally, I lived in Russia (St. Petersburg) during my final undergraduate academic semester for a semester studying abroad, so I have a firsthand experience of Russian culture and language.

With this experience, do you think it would be very difficult for me to attain a position, preferably working with young adults/adults? If I decide to go, I will likely attain CELTA certification (or a different certification) as well as participate in an intensive Russian program (for my own comfort in both teaching and more generally in living in a foreign culture).

Or, do you think Peace Corps is a decent option? The only issue with Peace Corps is that if I apply to teach English, say in Ukraine, it's not guaranteed that this would be my occupation there.

Thanks in advance, the forum is very helpful...
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Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 10144
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there. Didn't read your post until now. Sorry that it slipped under the radar. Though a little late, Godot has appeared! I'll try to answer your questions.

I think you'll be able to find a position in Russia, but it depends on what you are looking for. More than likely, you'll find work easily enough in one of the large chain-schools - also referred to as 'McSchools' on this forum. However, I would strongly advise getting a Celta if you are contemplating teaching here. You could even do it with BKC-IH in Moscow. Stay clear of online courses generally though. Waste of money: teach you nothing.

As you probably already know, Russian unis don't really offer much to EFL teachers - even those who are qualified to work there. Probably not worth even searching there in most cases, if you were thinking of that.

Peace Corp is not an option in the Russian Federation. They were booted out a few years ago for some reason. Espionage, or something similar. A little like the British Council being banished for 'tax evasion'. Can't think why anybody would go the Peace Corp route anyway. Why volunteer when you can be paid : )

So, yes, you will likely find something. You've spent time abroad in challenging situations; you've worked in an educational environment before (though not EFL); you have lived in Russia before. All of these are major pluses for employers here, as the chief worry about new recruits is that they won't be able to handle the potential comfort deprivations that life in Russia can sometimes entail, and so end up fleeing. You sound like a good bet who would stay the course. But get an EFL certificate - otherwise you may be rejected for that. It'll also be invaluable in learning to hold down a class : )

Best of luck to you.
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Joined: 28 Sep 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Thanks for the reply!

As for certification, I am not planning on going the route of online certification. I highly prefer in-class training. As of now, I could possibly undergo CELTA training in San Francisco within a few months, but ouch, it's very expensive. I see, for example, that in Kiev, Ukraine, I can become CELTA-certified for what I assume is a decent price, $1500. Ukraine, to me, is an open option as well.

I would prefer to avoid Moscow. When I lived in Russia, I briefly visited Moscow and just don't think I am suited to live there for any amount of time, even if it's a month for a certificate. If it's my best option, though, then I could certainly do it. Is it not, as I have heard, more advantageous to receive training before traveling to the country in which I desire to teach English (in my case, I am in the United States) rather than booking a departing flight and becoming certified abroad, then attempting the job search? I guess the job search would also be a bit more guided if I become certified abroad...

I'm just a bit skeptical of agreeing to a contract from abroad without being in the classroom first, etc., but I think I would enjoy working with Russian students of English granted my prior experience in the country.

And what do you think about the chances of acquiring a position outside of Moscow/Petersburg? Maybe somewhere such as Yekaterinburg, Khabarovsk, Yaroslavl, Novosibirsk, etc.?

Thanks again! All the best.
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Joined: 17 Apr 2007
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Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't know much about jobs outside Moscow, except that they of course exist. How best to get them, though, is something other posters will have to help with.

As for the Celta, there are two schools of thought on that point. Staying at home to do it usually means that you can focus totally on the learning, and so then get the most from it. However, doing the course in the country you hope to teach in brings other advantages - build up a support network, employer contacts, learn to teach specifically through teaching L2 learners in their own country. But remember that comes with the stress of everything being different all at the same time. In your case, Russia won't be such a shock for you at least.

Economically, there are other factors to consider when choosing a Celta centre. The price at home may be higher, but then you don't need to pay for accommodation or flights upfront either, whereas these can be considerable if training abroad. Schools may not pay for your initial flight if you are already in their country for a Celta. All depends.

Anyway, there is no one 'good' way to do this. Just absolute 'bad' ways. And online TEFL is the single worst 'bad' way to go. Luckily for you, you've already discounted that. So, you shouldn't go to far wrong, whichever plan you adopt.

Good luck.
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