Russia has long been a popular option amongst EFL teachers, and certainly has plenty
of opportunities for work.
The British Council and other traditionally more ‘elite’ bodies do not have a huge
presence here, but there are still plenty of language schools.
Current visa regulations restrict teachers from working freelance – this was always the
best way to earn money, but it’s no longer legal.
There are a number of international schools who will employ teachers with CELTA / DELTA
qualifications. They tend to select more mature people who have had enough experience with
school children (usually 11-18 year olds). Salaries are good, but they pay less to the
ESL staff than they do to the other high school teachers who work there. However, they do
pay better than any other language school, and you should get paid holidays.
Salary and hours
Classes can be 2 – 3 academic hours (40 mins per ‘hour’), Saturday morning classes are
6 academic hours long. Usual teaching hours per week can be 26-32 hours.
An average teaching salary would probably be somewhere between 40-60,000 Rubles per
Type of teaching
Russian language schools employ lots of Russian staff, and in fact may only have 1-2
native English speakers, therefore if you work there you are more likely to have students
who are fairly fluent in English already.
Normally teachers pay their own rent (some language schools offer free accommodation,
usually shared, but pay lower salaries). Because of the high rent prices in Moscow (4 to 5
times higher than you would have paid here 10 years ago) more newcomers to Moscow are
being encouraged to share. This can often be in a two room apartment (@ 35-45,000 Rubles
per month). A three room apartment might cost about 50,000 Rubles. Prices depend on
location (proximity to metro station) and quality of décor / furniture. It’s almost
impossible to find a one room apartment for less than 30,000 Rubles (and if you could,
you wouldn’t want to live there).
Start of school year/ best time to look for work
The ‘school year’ supposedly starts in September, but most schools can still be pretty
low on students, and you don’t get really busy until October. Everything stops at the end
of May. It’s still possible to get paid by the hour after then, but all full time
contracts stop on 31st May.
Russia has a lot of red tape. A job offer from a school will help you to get a visa. You
may need to take an HIV test to show to the embassy/consulate where you apply. Then
you’ll probably need to take another one when you arrive in Russia. At the moment, all
English speaking nationals are required to apply for a visa in their own country.
An EU passport holder can get one in any EU country, unless you are from UK or
EIRE (they have to go home).
Moscow is a huge, modern city. The metro system, and other forms of public transport,
are cheap and efficient. Prices of other goods and services can vary greatly. It is
still possible to live here fairly cheaply (ignoring the outrageous cost of accommodation),
but the same items than you may be used to buying in your own country will cost a lot more
in Russia. Mobile phone tariffs and internet charges are quite cheap, and they are some of
the first things you should try to set up upon arrival. Most internet providers can also
offer some English language TV stations.
Knowledge of the Russian language is still essential. Most restaurants in the centre
will provide an English menu, but those are the only places where you will see English
being used. You will become very dependent upon people who can help you get by, unless you
are willing to put in a lot of time and effort to develop your language skills.
It can get very cold here (obviously!), but it can also be surprisingly hot in
summer. During the summer heat waves, your local hot water provider likes to shut down
the supply for three weeks to clean and repair the system (but hopefully you’ll have
already gone on holiday by then).
Further details can be found by checking the following websites: www. expat.ru
It’s worth bearing in mind that living and working in St Petersburg as opposed to
Moscow can sometimes be a lot cheaper.