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Teaching English in Russia as a TEFL teacher.
TEFL teaching opportunities continue to exist in Russia. There are over 300 English language schools in Moscow alone. Many foreigners can do voluntary work through organizations such as GAP Activity Projects.
TEFL teachers usually teach in State schools and universities. Business English is a major market now, in addition to the usual conversational English, you can earn over $1000 USD doing business courses. Both children and adults are conscious of the importance of a good knowledge of English. Parents are even ready to pay for good teachers, good English courses, and young learners are ready to spend hours studying English.
The knowledge of English may give them an opportunity to get a well-paid job or to enter a prestigious higher educational institution.
In most schools children begin to learn English either at the age of 7 or 10 (the number of schools with the former curriculum is constantly growing). The number of learners in groups varies from 10 to 25. All of them are eager to learn English.
The state policy used to be teach as you wish, use any materials and methods you like – only the result is important. The approximate standard program was published and it stated what should be studied at each grade. Now Happy English” by Kusovlev has been proclaimed to be “a federal course book”, and all the teachers of the state secondary schools have to use it as a basic course in their work. So all the teachers and learners are tied up to one and the same book, ideas, methods.
Conditions vary enormously between schools, and teachers are advised to do sufficient research before accepting a teaching position.
The Climate alters enormously throughout this huge country. Winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia, and summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast. Russia remains heavily dependent on exports of commodities, particularly oil, natural gas, metals, and timber, which account for over 80% of exports, leaving the country vulnerable to swings in world prices. Russia’s industrial base is increasingly dilapidated and must be replaced or modernized if the country is to achieve sustainable economic growth.
A typical breakfast comprises of cold meats, boiled eggs and bread served with Russian tea. Traditional Russian dishes include is borshch, which is a beetroot soup served hot with sour cream, and beef stroganoff which has become an internationally renowned dish.
Tea served without milk is one of the popular drinks, and coffee is widely available. Now they even have starbucks! You can find fast food places in most major cities. Vodka is often flavoured and coloured with herbs and spices. Posolskaya, Stolichnaya and Rossiskaya are popular brands. You will have the opportunity to eat beets, cabbage, carrots, horseradish, pork blinis (crepes); pelmeny (ravioli), smetana (sour cream) a variety of good soups; caviar on white buttered bread. Every summer the hot water is turned off due to the maintenance of the pipes. This is a period of 3 to 4 weeks. Public transport (buses, trolleybus, etc.) can often change schedule from season to season.
Companies offer “medical cover” which usually mean that you have the right to the same medical attention that Russian citizens have. You do not want to go to a Russian hospital that has no drugs, cockroaches everywhere, and 6 people in a room made for two. If you have a cell phone take it with you and change the card for a Russian card when you arrive.
Read the English language papers that are available in Russia on line. Try The Moscow Times or The Exile or The Russia Journal for general information and for job opportunities.
Be careful with the visa offered.
You need a visa that lets you enter and LEAVE the country. One teaching organization has started to issue visa invitations for entry only. To exit means applying for an exit visa. Only the school authorities can do this and it takes up to three weeks to obtain. So, if the teacher is unhappy or dissatisfied they cannot leave as and when they want to do. Some offer a simple 3 month tourist visa which can be extended, but which often means that a quick trip to the Baltic States is necessary in order to obtain a new visa.
You need a work permit which the company should obtain before you arrive – as a result many teachers end up working illegally. The Russian Ministry of Employment has estimated that 60% of foreigners are working illegally in Moscow. This means that when you are stopped by the milicia (a frequent occurrence) the only way out of the problem caused by having irregularities with your papers is to pay a bribe in cash.
Also, any contract in Russia must be written in Russian on one half of the page, vertically, with an English translation opposite. It must be stamped and signed by a notary public and it cannot be e-mailed, it must be an original copy. Visas and residence permits are usually employer specific, which can make it very difficult to change jobs , should you fancy a change. Also Directors and school owners often exert way too much control over their teachers, banning student contact outside the school and such like. Russia, or at least Moscow, is a very good place for a native English speaker to live and teach. After being here for a while it is normally fairly easy to find hourly paid or private work – in fact it is easy to have too much work as there is far greater demand for native teachers than available teachers!
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