Teach English in Russia
Why teach English?
Perhaps you’re looking to establish your own teaching career but teaching English sounds severely mundane to you? But it is in fact not so. Firstly, the only skill you will ever require to be an English teacher is a good command over your own language, no special training or diploma required (in most cases); it is as convenient as that. The list of prerequisites is short; you do not need any more than a bachelor’s degree in most cases to able to start off, making it an easy profession to step into.
Being a teacher has its own perks too, you get the summers off, along with every other seasonal holiday/vacation (winter break, spring break, Easter etc.) instead of having an increased workload like other jobs, the timings are usually shorter, extending morning-afternoon in most cases. There is relatively a lower level of work associated stress in comparison to corporate or retail jobs. And the respect that comes with being a teacher is definitely important enough to be factored in. Not just that but being an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher comes with the added benefit of getting to travel abroad to teach English to speakers of other languages, not only extending your geographical horizons but also giving you exposure to pupils from different ethnicities, languages and races, so you can explore Moscow in Russia or Paris in France while having something to pay for it.
English is widely used as a second language in most countries. According to statistics 1/1.5 Billion people that speak the English Language, use it as a secondary language. It is now considered the international language of communication, since it is now dominating the international digital world, the international market and pretty much everything else. The fact that most digital applications, documents and job resumes need to be translated to English in order to serve an international audience proves that the importance of learning English language cannot be looked over. It is fast becoming an important stakeholder in the job market, with fluency in English language being an important aspect of the eligibility criteria. Given the importance, countries now actively seek native English speakers to teach the English language at all levels, hence, increasing the demand for ESL teachers.
Is teaching English in Russia a good option?
Russia is a fast-growing economic power, making it a great place to dive into if you are starting off your ESL career. With its rich culture, cuisine, and architecture it makes a great destination to live in with the opportunity to earn simultaneously. More Russians are now interested to learn the English language, making the job market better for ESL teachers.
- Better Job Market for English Teachers – Russia has recently started to introduce English as a compulsory language, as part of their curriculum. It provides plenty of job opportunities for English teachers in Public, Private and even Private language schools that have now begun seeking ESL teachers to teach at these levels. The Job Market for such teachers is expanding by the day in Russia, with both Primary and Post-Secondary Private Education gaining more and more popularity, opening more job ventures for those who seek it.
- Easier Requirements – Fortunately for native English speakers, you do not need a college degree or any special diploma other than a TEFL certification in order to qualify as an ESL teacher in Russia. However, having a basic Bachelor’s will be an added benefit for your resume.
- Easy Visa Process – An added perk of working in Russia, is the comparatively easier process of acquiring a work visa. The local employing company will sponsor you, and you shall get a working visa painlessly! This process is easier for ESL teachers due to the high demand, lessening the hurdles otherwise faced in getting a visa for Russia, which is quite the arduous task. The easy work visa process makes Russia stand out in comparison to countries like France that barely ever grant work visas, forcing teachers to look for alternatives.
- No travel needed to Interview – If you want to play it safe and make sure your job is 100% confirmed before you travel to a new country, Russia, fortunately, offers you that opportunity. Meaning you can interview and get hired for your applied job without having you to travel all the way to Russia, saving you time and money.
What qualification is required to become an English language teacher in Russia?
- Bachelor’s Degree – Not typically required, but in the event where it is, a BA/BS degree is asked for.
- TEFL/TESOL Certification – A TEFL certification is a prerequisite; it can be acquired by taking a 4-week TEFL course in St. Petersburg, Russia or any of the Worldwide TEFL locations according to your feasibility. You can also instead complete the Online TEFL course.
- Visa – As mentioned above, institutions hiring you will typically sponsor you a work visa. In order to get your visa, you need an official invitation letter from your employer. Once you’re hired, have the letter mailed to yourself and once you have it, download the visa application form from the official website of the Russian Consulate (www.russianembassy.org). When filling in the application, make sure you have all documents prepared as mentioned on the application. You typically need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your last date of stay in Russia and has 2 blank pages, recent passport size photographs, a negative HIV test taken in the last 3 months and the report should be valid for at least 30 days at the time of your application; lastly you need the visa processing fee (please refer to the consulate’s official website for more information but can cost around $190 or more). After you complete the list of documents, submit them to the Russian embassy in your country. It can take up to 15 working days for you to get a visa.
What are the various job options?
A myriad of options, as to where they can teach, are available to those wanting to teach English in Russia, including:
- Private Language Schools – Private Language schools allow students to learn a foreign language through a curriculum designed specifically for that purpose, in the comfort of their own home country. English language schools are getting more popular in Russia, making them a budding place for ESL teachers. They also cater to the more ESL teachers in Russia.
- Benefits and salary
- ESL teachers can expect to earn around $1000-1200 per month, but it varies from city to city, with Moscow and St. Petersburg being the highest paying cities in Russia.
- More job availability, since these schools are gaining popularity and thus increasing the demand for ESL teachers.
- Students at Private English schools come in specifically to learn the English language, hence are more compliant than students that learn it merely as a part of their curriculum.
- Such schools have an international standard to adhere to, so are generally well maintained.
- Compared to Public and Private Russian schools, salaries are usually greater.
- Some schools like BKC offer shared accommodation
- Requirements – The list of requirements varies greatly depending on the school. But typically you need the following
- A valid work permit
- A TEFL/CELTA certification
- A Bachelor’s degree is not typically required but is an added benefit
- Some schools may require prior teaching experience.
- Native level of English speaking- ability to explain basic English grammar.
- Popular Language Schools in Russia – These schools are well established Private Language schools in Russia, with over 200 teachers in various cities.
- BKC International House
- Language link Russia
- Denis’ School
- English First
- Private schools – Even with increasing interest to learn the English language, public schools are slow to catch on introducing it as part of their syllabus. Hence Private schools come into play and are often happy providing Russians the opportunity to learn English from a native speaker.
- Salaries and benefits
- Private schools usually pay more than language schools; one can make around $1500-2000 USD per month.
- Most schools provide accommodation
- The working hours are less, morning-mid afternoon
- Some schools may pay for airfare
- Frequent job openings
- A valid work permit for Russia
- TEFL/CELTA certification
- Prior teaching experience of at least one year
- Reference letters from prior employers
- English teaching for business patrons – With the increasing use of English Language in the international market, it is not surprising to know that more and more Russian business owners seek to polish their language skills in order to stay up to date with new market policies and also to cater clients internationally. These Businessmen seek private language tutors to learn English, or for teachers to teach English at their business to their employees.
- Benefits and salaries
- Since these jobs are usually freelance, it cuts out the cost of processing and increases the money for you.
- You can earn $15-25 USD per hour
- Work hours are usually flexible
- Increases exposure to more locals, widening your horizons
- The requirements are usually less or flexible in terms of skills and experience
- Private tuitions or freelance – You can go solo and work as a freelancer in Russia, giving private tuitions to students willing to learn. You may also freelance at schools or other learning centers, teaching English for a limited time. This, however, makes it difficult to start with since you have to manage your own visa process, pay for your own accommodation and even seek clients on your own. Most often tutoring and freelancing are part-time jobs for those looking to make some extra cash along with a contract based teaching job.
- Benefits and salaries
- You can earn up to $30 per hour or more depending on how much your pupil is willing to pay (how rich they are).
- You can take up work according to your own feasibility
- No official requirements
- Flexible working hours
- Exposure to all kinds of students improves your Public Relations.
- Decreases the monotony of work
- Universities – If you’re qualified enough, you can try out ESL at the university level. Russian universities often look to hire native English speakers exclusively to teach the English language at the university level, due to the expertise and fluency unparalleled to Russian locals. Such jobs might be limited but pay considerably well compared to schools, so might as well be worth trying for.
- Salaries and benefits
- Salary as a university-level ESL teacher can increase markedly, and one can expect to earn anywhere between $1500-2000 USD per month, but it can vary greatly and you can earn up to $3500 as well depending on working hours, institution, city and job description.
- Some universities provide accommodation. In some cases, on campus
- Job packages may include flight reimbursement
- Provides the opportunity to work alongside many experts in the field
- Job contracts are usually longer, providing more job security.
- Valid working Visa
- TEFL/CELTA certification
- A Bachelor’s degree and in some cases, a master’s degree.
- Prior ESL experience
- Reference letters from previous employers
- Some degree of command on the Russian language
- These requirements are general and may vary depending on position and the university’s own requirements.
- Universities with good English programs
- South Ural State University
- HSE University
- Tomsk State University
What to look for before moving to Russia?
Before however, making the big move to Russia, there are several factors that need to be kept in the loop, namely;
- Cost of living – Cost of living anywhere depends on your budget, your earnings, where you live, and what city you live in. Accommodation in posh areas of bigger cities like Moscow can be fairly expensive, compared to smaller cities. But generally, the cost of living in Russia, considering the basics like rent, groceries etc. calculates to be around 350-1050 USD (20,000-60,000 Rubbles)
- Transportation – Russia’s infrastructure is exceptionally well developed, and forms of transportation like railway, buses, bicycles, and taxis are readily available. Russia is well known for the railway network that connects them to 13 other nations. The Taxi system too is very well developed and provides safe and reliable transportation, usually just a call away, which makes it suitable for most ESL teachers. The more cost-effective alternatives to Taxi can be the Bus that travels to all major locations in most big cities or the train that can effectively provide long-distance travel, cutting down on air-travel costs.
- Language – Russian is spoken throughout the country, which may be a little overwhelming to learn for first-time speakers. ESL teachers can start by learning the basics that they need every day, common phrases and greetings that will help bridge the cultural gap amongst locals, and then eventually teachers can take classes or courses that help them learn Russian.
- Health care – ESL teachers have to purchase health insurance as a prerequisite for obtaining the visa before traveling to Russia, in order to receive free health services during their stay abroad. Russia’s healthcare is said to employ more health professionals than any other country in the world, making state-provided health care fairly reliable. Private healthcare is also available but is limited to bigger cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg.
- Climate – Russia is known to be climatically diverse but Continental climate is prevalent throughout most of Russia having snow in winters and rain in the spring season. Winter season in Russia can be dramatically harsh for first-time visitors with temperatures dropping as low as -15C, summers are typically cool, not exceeding more than 30C in most of Russia. Depending on where ESL teachers are hired, climates vary greatly, and so one must research the weather before traveling.
Challenges you may face while teaching English in Russia
- Conservative work culture – ESL teachers traveling from Western countries like the USA and Canada might find the Russian work environment in great contrast to that of their own home countries. There are established work attires for both men and women, required to be strictly formal and conservative. Not only that, there are also established protocols to approach a colleague or senior in terms of work, and cannot merely be done as one wills. Professional relationships must be kept formal with regards to workplace etiquette.
- Teaching English is a relatively new phenomenon in Russia – With ESL teachers newly gaining popularity in Russia, there are still things that need to be sorted for it to be a suitable career option. Russian language is still the main language of communication all over Russia and is taken much pride in, so working in smaller cities can present as a challenge for non-Russian speakers.
- Keeping you yourself safe and legal – No matter where you work in Russia, if you are a non-resident, it is imperative that you have a valid work permit in order to work. If you are a student, you require a student visa to work on campus. Working with any other visa without a proper work permit is considered under the table and is illegal in Russia. If caught in this type of work, you can be deported and banned from Russia for five years along with being heavily fined. Even though the process of acquiring a legitimate work visa is tiresome and expensive, it is absolutely important to adhere to the law, in order to prevent any mishaps.
How to become an EFL teacher without traveling abroad?
If you are looking to become an EFL teacher without going to the country of your interest itself, you can look into options that let you teach English online. Many online websites and classrooms hire native language speakers to teach foreign languages to non-speakers. You can also tutor pupils online privately if you can find any such students. One of the best ways to teach online is through VIPKID.
What is VIPKID?
VIPKID is a website that serves as a virtual classroom that teaches the English language to non-English speaking children, using the latest video call technology much like skype with the added feature of being able to show lesson slides and enabling the student and teacher to be able to look and converse with each other. The lessons involve speaking activities from prepared lectures and fun activities that the teacher can plan using props, puppets, and other material.
Benefits of teaching on VIPKID
- International experience – You get an international teaching experience with exposure to kids all over the world from many different countries that use VIPKID, that too from the comfort of your own home
- You become your own boss – Working hours are usually flexible; you can choose your own work hours from early mornings or weekend evenings according to your feasibility. If you work another job, you can adjust a VIPKID job in your schedule additionally to earn some extra cash.
- Pay is good – The salary is usually between 16-22 USD per hour, for two 25-28 minute classes.
Requirements for becoming an ESL teacher on VIPKID
- A valid work permit in USA or Canada
- A bachelor’s degree
- At least one-year experience in working with kids.
With ESL gaining popularity in many countries of the world, Russia makes a good prospect for those looking to get into it. Economically, Russia is stabilizing more and more by the day, making job markets more reliable especially for ESL teachers, given the high demand recently. In terms of lifestyle and culture, Russia does not lack much and makes an attractive destination for many native English speakers. So if you want to enjoy blinis and pierogis while sipping vodka along Lake Baikal, with an opportunity to earn in the background, ESL teaching in Russia just might be your calling.