Section 1: General questions about Language Link's Teacher Intern Certification Programme
Section 2: Academic Questions about Language Link's Teacher Intern Certification Programme
Section 3: Questions about Life in Russia
General questions about Language Link's Teacher Intern Certification Programme
Q: Where does the Initial (one month) Training Programme (ITP) take place?
A: Regardless of where you are assigned to teach, the Language Link Initial Training Programme is held in Moscow at our Central School.
Q: How long does the Teacher Intern Certification Programme last?
A: The length of the programme is 1 academic year, i.e. 36 teaching weeks following completion of the four-week Initial Teacher Training Programme.
Q: How much does the Teacher Intern Certification Programme cost?
A: Language Link's four-week Teacher Intern Certification Programme is provided free of charge by Language Link in exchange for commiting to and completing the full nine month programme. On arrival in Russia, course participants must however pay US$ 600 to cover the cost of their accommodation in Moscow during the four-week Initial Teacher Training Programme (ITP). If you would like to arrange your own accommodation during the four-week Teacher Training Programme, then this fee need not be paid.
Q: What does the Programme consist of?
A: The teacher Intern Certification Programme begins with the Initial Teacher Training Programme (ITP), which is one month of classroom-based EFL training. On completion of the ITP, the teacher intern is assigned classes to teach. Throughout the programme, Teacher Interns receive input and guidance from Teacher Trainers and are observed by Academic Managers.
Q: Do Teacher Interns receive a teaching contract?
A: Yes. Prior to the start of the Teacher Intern Training Programme, each Teacher Intern is required to sign an employment contract with Language Link referred to as Terms and Conditions for Teachers-in-Training 2016-2017. Essentially this contract is the same as that signed by our TEFL certified teachers with one exception: though the benefit package is the same, the Teacher Intern receives a smaller monthly starting salary than a newly qualified TEFL teacher with the possibility of pay rises based on merit and performance.
Q: How are pay rises granted to Teacher Interns?
A: Teacher Interns will be evaluated twice in an academic year. These evaluations will be in the form of Performance Reviews which are conducted by an Academic Manager. During a Performance Review a Teacher Intern is evaluated on his/ her teaching performance, attitude, participation, observation results and attendance at mock exams and workshops. Should a Teacher Intern's classroom performance and/or teaching standards be less than acceptable, the Teacher Intern may be ineligible for a pay rise and also may be placed on probation until such time as his or her classroom performance improves to the point of meriting status reconsideration.
Q: When do Teacher Interns receive full teaching status?
A: Full teaching status may be provisionally granted on successful completion of Block B. On the condition that the Teacher Intern maintains consistently high teaching standards throughout Block C, they are then awarded a Language Link Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This confirms his or her full teacher status at the end of the programme.
Q: Do Teacher Interns receive a Teaching Certificate?
A: Yes. Upon completing the nine-month Teacher Intern Certification Programme, teachers receive a Language Link Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language attesting to the fact that they have completed both an on-the-job training programme and a practical teaching experience component.
Q: Which nationalities are eligible for the Teacher Intern Certification Programme?
A: Your participation depends on Language Link's ability to issue you with a visa invitation. To be an EFL teacher, you must be British, American, Irish, Canadian, Australian, South African or a New Zealander. If your nationality doesn't figure in this short list, then Language Link may not be able to offer you employment. If you're asking "Why is this so?" the answer is that companies with permission to invite and employ 'foreign specialists' are usually limited to a given number of countries from which they may do so. To see if you are eligible the Teacher Intern Training Programme, please contact us.
Q: What kind of classes will I be asked to teach?
A: Teacher Interns teach in schools and companies, and occasionally may be asked to teach in an English Camp for short periods. Teaching may involve instruction in any of the following areas: tuition of General English to adults and/or young learners, Conversation courses, Business English, English for Special Purposes and/or Examination preparation classes.
Q: What holidays will I have during the Teacher Intern Certification Programme?
A: Teacher Interns are entitled to all public holidays as paid time off and one week unpaid holiday prior to the one week New Year public holiday period.
Q: How and when can I apply?
You can apply 2 - 12 months before you wish to join the Teacher Intern Certification Programme. The first step in the application process is to complete and submit an online application form. Once we receive it, we will contact your nominated referees for recommendations. Provided two favourable references are returned and a pre-interview task is completed successfully, we will then invite you to a Skype or telephone interview, which will last about twenty to thirty minutes, and will be paid for by Language Link. Following the interview you will be notified by email as to whether or not you have been accepted onto the Teacher Intern Certification Programme.
Academic Questions about Language Link's Teacher Intern Certification Programme
Q: What is required from me as a Teacher Intern?
A: During the initial one month ITP, Teacher Interns are required to attend daily intensive training sessions, complete a project, and conduct peer and student practice teaching. Following the ITP, Teacher Interns are required to complete nine months of classroom teaching, attend mandatory workshops, meetings and mock exams, attend tutorials with Academic Managers and be observed by Academic Managers regularly.
Q: How often do I have to attend seminars and workshops?
A: Workshops are held during each Block of the programme. Workshop attendance is optional, unless otherwise specified. If a workshop or meeting is specified as “Mandatory”, absence from said workshop without a valid excuse will result in a pay deduction. It should be noted that while workshops not specified as “Mandatory” are indeed optional, attendance at said workshops will increase your chances of a pay rise based on your Performance Evaluations. Non-attendance at optional workshops will be noted.
What are Mock Exams and how often am I required to attend?
A: Language Link offers exam preparation for Cambridge Exams (i.e. FCE, CAE, etc.) As a testing center, we also offer “mock” exams to allow some exam practice for those who wish take the Cambridge exam at a later date. For these mock exams, native speaking teachers are needed for exam invigilation and assessment. Normally Language Link holds mock exams three times per academic year. Teacher Interns are required to attend and invigilate or assess at all mock exams, unless otherwise specified. Failure to attend a mock exam without a valid excuse will result in a pay deduction.
Q: What if I am ill during the course and fall behind?
A: Your course tutor will work out a revised programme so you can catch up.
Q: How is the course assessed?
A: The Initial (one month) Training Programme (ITP) has an end-of-course test. Performance during the training programme, punctuality, teaching results, contribution during input sessions, completion of the assigned project and organisation of training notes are also among the factors that are taken into consideration. The remainder of Block A, Block B and Block C are assessed on observations of the trainees' teaching practice, tutorials, attendance at workshops and mock exams, as well as administrative aspects such as dress code, completion of paperwork, and so on.
Questions about Life in Russia
Q: How expensive is life in Russia? Will I earn enough to cover living costs?
A: The money you earn as a Teacher Intern should cover around 80% - 100% of your living costs in Russia, although this does depend on how often you like to go out and whether you plan to make lots of trips and excursions. Provided you avoid expat hang-outs in Moscow, the cost of living here is in general lower than any major western metropolis. The prices below should only be considered a rough guide (take the upper limits for Moscow and the lower limits for Volgograd, with St Petersburg somewhere in between):
- Eating, Drinking and Dining: Your weekly grocery bill should be around $40-75 per person (all prices are in USD). You can buy a fairly decent three-course meal out for about $15 per person. If you eat out at lunchtime during the week, you can get a good three-course business lunch for around $5-8.
- Evening Entertainment: A ticket to an English-language cinema costs $8-10, or you can see films in Russian for about $6. Theatre, opera and ballet tickets can cost as little as $6 but expect to pay $10 - $15 for decent seats. Entrance to museums and art galleries can cost anything from 50 cents to $10, depending on the place and what discounts you can get. Cover charges for nightclubs, if there is one, usually average at about $6 - $12.
- Transport: A monthly metro pass costs between 400 roubles ($16) and 775 roubles ($31). Bus, tram and trolleybus tickets cost 50 cents - $1 (for one to four journeys, irrespective of length).
- Trips and Excursions: You can arrange day trips (e.g. to Golden Ring towns) for $10 - $20. Train travel in Russia is extremely good value (a 3rd class ticket from Moscow-St Petersburg costs about $50). Outside Moscow and St Petersburg it is usually possible to arrange accommodation for $30-60 per night, although that may mean Soviet-style hotels where service and decor leave a lot to be desired.
- Clothes: It's worth buying winter items (hat, scarf, big coat, fur-lined boots) here, as they are better value than in the West and are more suited to the Russian climate. However, other clothes tend to be poorer quality for higher prices, so we recommend you do your clothes shopping before you arrive.
In your accommodation, you will have no bills to worry about apart for telephone calls abroad (for these you should buy phone cards: a $15 card can last up to 180 minutes when calling Europe and America from Russia). Any calls you make within the city you are living in will be free of charge. If you have or install internet in your flat, you will need to pay for that yourself.
Q: What will my accommodation be like?
A: The standard accommodation for Teacher Interns is a shared apartment, though in some cases it may be home-stay accommodation. Shared apartments are typically Russian style, with a single bedroom for each person living there, and a kitchen, bathroom and toilet which you share with a colleague. All apartments are furnished and equipped with the necessary basics, including a fridge/freezer, stove, pots and pans and bedding. However, a washing machine is not guaranteed. Your accommodation will be located within walking distance (20 minutes max) of a metro station if you are based in Moscow, but it may be in any area of the city. Once you are assigned classes, we try to accommodate you as close as possible to your place of work, with commuting time averaging from 20 minutes to an hour or more. Since the ITP takes place in the Moscow Central School, Teacher Interns may have long commutes during the training period.
A home-stay option is available if you are particularly keen to live with a Russian family, but may require payment of a supplement. Please contact your recruitment coordinator once you are accepted on to the programme for more information.
Q: What's the social life like at Language Link?
A: Language Link's teaching staff (qualified teachers, teachers-in-training, Work-Study Participants and Volunteers) form a close-knit community, and social life is very much alive. Most nights after work there is the opportunity to meet up with colleagues in one of the various cities' bars to catch up on the latest events and gossip. Teachers often arrange trips to other cities and towns in the former Soviet Union, especially over the public holiday 3-day weekends (of which Russia has many). Language Link also arranges occasional trips and celebrations for its students and teachers, including picnics in the forest cooking 'shashlyki' (kebabs) over an open fire, day trips to nearby places of interest, Christmas and Thanksgiving parties, etc.
Q: What are the schools and facilities like where I'll be teaching?
A: Teacher Interns are usually assigned to one of Language Link's main centres in Moscow (and Moscow region), St Petersburg (and neighbouring Pushkin or Petergof) and Volgograd, though Language Link also has many other centres where Teacher Interns may be placed.
- Moscow: Language Link's central school in Moscow is located conveniently close to the city centre, just behind Mendeleevskaya metro station (about 30 minutes' walk from Red Square). The central school is located on the second floor of a newly remodeled building and occupies 700 square meters of office and classroom space. Though most of this space is taken up by the school's English Foreign Language Department, the school also houses Language Link's Russian Foreign Language programme. You can plan your lessons in the new teacher's centre which is home to photocopiers, a teaching resources library and English-language video library, plus a computer centre where you can access your e-mail. There is also free WI-FI if you wish you bring your own laptop. There are also many branch schools around Moscow where you will probably be asked to teach (many of these are classrooms in ordinary Russian schools which Language Link rents for evening English classes).
- St. Petersburg: As in Moscow, Language Link in St. Petersburg is in the heart of the city. The school is situated just off Nevsky Prospect, behind Kazansky Cathedral. The metro station Nevsky Prospect is a few minutes' walk away. Language Link has renovated a floor of a former factory building, and the classrooms are modern and well equipped. There is also a brand-new centre in the north of the city.
- Volgograd: Language Link's school / office is situated near the railway station in the city centre, on the crossroads of Kommunisticheskaya Street and Port-Said Street. Prospect Lenina (Volgograd's leafy main street) and the Volgograd Technical and Pedagogical Universities are nearby. The office is open every day from 9 am to 7.30 pm, and offers free Internet access and a library of Russian literature. There is also a photocopier, EFL resource library and limited computer access.
Q: Can you tell me more about the cities where LL Teacher Interns work?
A: Detailed information about life in the various cities can be found by clicking the relevant city links found on the drop-down menu at http://www.jobs.languagelink.ru/jobs/locations/.
Q: Is it safe to live in Russia?
A: Is it safe to live in New York or London? Moscow and St Petersburg are neither safer nor more dangerous than any other large cities, although there is admittedly a higher than average risk of icicles falling off high buildings and hitting you on the head during the spring thaw. Recent events have obviously made terrorism a concern, but sadly, no city in the world is immune from that threat these days. Volgograd and the other more provincial centres may be considered slightly quieter, and thus safer, but the following advice applies for all cities.
It's all just a question of common sense: you should be careful when going out late at night, and try not to draw attention to yourself, i.e. don't talk loudly in English or flash money/valuables around. If you go out for the evening, stay in a group, and plan it so that you accompany each other home right up to the front door, even if it means you have to sleep on someone else's floor. Women are strongly recommended not to walk home alone after 11pm, and they should be prepared to put up with occasional verbal harassment late at night, as Russian males who have had too much to drink might well shout things at girls on the street. It's irritating and impolite, but if you ignore them they almost always stop bothering you. Guys should also be careful when out late at night in large English-speaking groups, as nationalism is on the rise in Russia as a whole. People of dark skin tones will be more at risk of abuse than others, and may be discriminated against by the police (i.e. stopped more often for ID checks). Smaller streets can be badly lit, so try and keep to the main streets if possible when it's dark. Avoid carrying with you more cash than you need - pick-pocketing is a problem in the metro, particularly in Petersburg. None of this advice is intended to scare you, and in any case, most of it applies anywhere in the world. With luck, your stay here should pass off without you being hassled in any way, but you should know the risks in order to avoid them.
Q: Just how cold does it actually get in Russia?
A: Russia can certainly guarantee you a 'real' winter, with plenty of snow and temperatures that remain below freezing for at least 3 months of the year. However, the climate is not as extreme as certain stereotypes would have you believe. In non-Siberian centres, first snow generally falls in late November, and the average temperature in December, January and February is minus 5 to minus 10 degrees Celsius. If you're reading this in California or Sydney that probably sounds cold, but with a big warm coat, hat and scarf, it's really not so bad. The most extreme cold you could be expected to face would be minus 30, but such temperatures usually only occur for a few days each winter, if at all. The colder temperatures may persist for longer in Siberia. St Petersburg is probably the coldest of the non-Siberian centres, as its proximity to the sea make the climate windier and damper than Moscow's. Volgograd's climate is the mildest, with average temperatures about 10 degrees higher than in Moscow.
What many people tend to forget is that Russia (including Siberia) has a summer too. From May until the end of September, the weather can be lovely, and certainly sunnier and drier than the UK. July and August are the hottest months, when temperatures regularly rise above 30 degrees Celsius.
Q: What will it be like arriving in Russia?
A: Most people arrive at one of Moscow's two international airports, Sheremetevo 2 or Domodedovo. The latter was completely renovated in 2002, and is now an extremely modern and efficient airport comparable with any in Western Europe. Sheremetevo is older and can be worse in terms of passport control and baggage delays, but the exit process is basically the same in both. After getting off the plane (generally directly into the airport building) you should follow the signs to passport control. Before you go through, make sure you have filled in both sections of a migration card (often handed out on the plane, otherwise available on desks in the passport control area). Hand in this card together with your passport and visa, have the migration card stamped (and one copy returned to you), and go through to baggage collection and customs. Find the appropriate baggage conveyor belt for your flight, and avoid the trolley caddies who will charge a fortune for pushing your luggage 50 metres. If you arrive at Domodedovo, the migration card will be printed for you at Passport Control.
If you are bringing large amounts of money or expensive equipment (laptop, etc.) into the country, then be sure to declare it on the customs declaration form. If you have something you need to declare, take your luggage and go through the red channel. If not, go through the green channel.
You will walk through to the exit, where people are waiting to meet the arrivals. It is here, on one side or the other that you will see someone with a 'Language Link' sign, who will welcome you to Russia and take you to your accommodation. If, by chance, you do not see someone with a sign, continue to the end of the 'aisle' and wait. Perhaps you missed him or possibly your plane was early. Do not worry: you will be met.