Teaching English in Russia – Pros and cons of different jobs
Russia is one of several countries in Europe but outside the EU, where you are not restricted by passport. This means that teaching English in Russia is an option for people of all nationalities. Tim is an Australian teaching there and told us more about the pros and cons of the different English teaching jobs in Russia.
If you hail from a climate of intense heat, unrelenting sandstorms and free-market capitalism then keep reading. I’m here to provide any potential comrades with an insight into the life of teaching English in Russia.
Let’s begin with exactly how you want to work hard for the money, and for the benefit of the motherland. There are 3 main ingredients in the Russian teaching scene: being a governor/governess, teaching adults in a language school and teaching children in a private kindergarten.
So, to keep things simple, honest and open here is a very abridged list of pros and cons for each based on my own experiences.
Teaching English in Russia as a governor or governess
Potentially the job with the highest rate of pay. You are generally paid in Euros, Pounds or Americansky Dollars as opposed to Russian Rubles, so let’s raise our glasses to stability, furthermore, this will be in the 1000’s per week. You have generally just 1 on 1 interaction with the same child and can quickly and easily find an approach to best help them acquire English.
The Oligarchy. These families are generally not more than a stone’s throw from Oligarch status. They come from a background of abundance and focus on meeting every demand of the child, not the need of the child. These children struggle a lot when it comes time to provide structure, routine and discipline that they have had no say in. Not to mention the parents will have extremely high expectations in terms of your commitment, granted, given the money they will pay.
Teaching in a language school in Russia
One of the largest pools for potential employers. There are numerous language schools, the larger ones are often well established and a handful of these will also be international chains. This means a large number of employers to choose from, some guarantee that you won’t be screwed over completely and the potential to move around countries and roles with the larger chains.
Probably the least adequately paid work. For full-time hours most places will pay between 50000-70000 rubles and generally don’t include accommodation. Some places will essentially bounce you around between clients so you won’t have a fixed place of work. There will be an onus on you to have a thorough command of English, especially grammar, which may be daunting to teachers new to the TEFL scene.
Teaching in a kindergarten in Russia
Well paid, fewer hours, no real commitment outside of your teaching hours. For this sort of work pay will begin at 70,000 rubles and can stretch as high as 200,000 rubles. The hours will also normally be 9-3 or in some cases 9-5. There is generally not as much preparation required in terms of language and grammar analysis and lesson planning, however, you’ll need to prepare plenty of creative flare, games and activities.
Working with children. This is such an organic area. Working with children is generally not something you can teach. Sure, you can improve points but some people will be naturally strong at being able to communicate and relate to children and some will fail like the Hindenburg. Your job will become a test of your ability to inspire learning and direct behaviour, not teaching lessons focused on rules, principles and grammar.
The almighty visa
Next, let’s touch upon the visa process. The visa process will essentially be the same for the aforementioned places of work, however, with some teeny tiny variations from country to country. For most nationalities, you will be required to have a work permit/work visa to enter and live inside this mighty motherland.
To begin this process, your future place of employment will have to cough up what is known as an invitation letter. They will acquire this from the migration department and then the original of this letter must be mailed to you at your current place of residence. Make sure they send it with a reputable courier with tracking such as DHL, this will ensure that your invitation letter does not end up in the furnace of the post office heater.
Once you have your original invitation letter you’ll need to download and complete a visa application form and send this, your invitation letter, passport, passport photos, money by snail-mail to your nearest Russian embassy or consulate. After weeks of waiting beside your mailbox you will be returned you passport complete with Russian visa.
Soon enough you should find yourself standing on the very streets of Russia. There is something both truly brutal and brutal about this massive country and there are not many people around the globe that are able to say they called Russia home at some point.
Whatever experience you expect to get living and teaching abroad can be quite comfortably be attained by the tried and true methods like South Korea, however, nothing will push your comfort zone and promote your own self-growth more than a stay in somewhere as mysterious and intense as Russia.
If you wish to know more about the lifestyle and oddities of life here in Russia be sure to come check out my blog Terrible Trips
For more on teaching English in Russia, have a look at the New Teacher Tales interview with Becky.
Another option in this area is to teach English in Ukraine. We’ve been teaching there for nearly three years now and have a comprehensive post on how to do it: Teaching English in Ukraine.