Why Language Link? Why Russia?
Whether it be a way of working your way around the world, learning a new language and culture or a pedagogical passion for the present perfect, everyone has their own reasons for wanting to teach EFL abroad. I would recommend Russia as a destination and Language Link as an employer.
Before joining Language Link, I had studied Russian at university and had spent a year as an English assistant at a Moscow university. I had fallen for the lifestyle of skiing in the winter, working at my girlfriends' country dacha in the summer, playing trombone in Moscow jazz clubs and was eagerly searching for ways to get back to Russia.
A foreigner needs to be sponsored by an employer or a travel agency in order to be granted an entry visa into Russia. I decided to study for a TESOL certificate and apply to EFL companies operating in Moscow, as teaching seemed a faster way of finding a job in Russia than waiting for a British bank or oil company to second me to Moscow.
I decided on Language Link because they would organise my work permit, pay for my plane tickets and accommodation. They also had a positive attitude towards inexperienced teachers and had offices in London, as opposed to other schools, which recruited through agencies. Although I would be employed and paid by Language Link Russia, I felt reassured that the company had links with the UK.
Although my original motivations for teaching in Moscow were social rather than career-oriented, I soon started enjoying teaching. There were always experienced teachers around who were willing to share ideas for lessons. As opposed to my previous materials-starved teaching experience in Russia, Language Link allows unlimited access to photocopiers and the Internet, which allowed me to tailor my lessons to the interests of both adults and teenagers.
However, teaching in Russia has become much more demanding over the past two years. As the rouble has appreciated, English lessons have become relatively much more expensive and the students who can afford to study have become sovereign in a very competitive EFL market. Students are quick to complain about `bad' teachers (they have quite traditional views on what a teacher should be) and often want to study at unsociable times. Although a teacher is contracted to teach 30x45 min lessons per week, these lessons might be split between early morning (8am) and evening lessons until 9pm. As a result, teaching can be a very tiring experience.
Nevertheless, teaching did not prevent me from leading the life I longed for in England. In fact, I met a great deal of friends among the teaching and Russian staff at Language Link. I have even decided to choose teaching as my career. Whatever your motivation for teaching abroad is, I would recommend Russia and Language Link.