Moving to Russia is a big step, and if you are considering applying for the Work-Study programme you are bound to have a lot of questions about what awaits you at Language Link. Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, covering everything from safety to school facilities and accreditation to accommodation.
If you have a question that doesn't feature in this list, please contact us (indicating Work-Study in the subject), and we will be very happy to help.
Section 1: About the Work-Study Programme itself
[What nationalities are eligible for Work-Study?]
[Can I take part in Work-Study without teaching qualifications or experience?]
[What kind of classes will I be asked to teach?]
[How much will my Russian level improve during this programme?]
[How much free time will I have?]
[In which cities is the Work-Study programme available?]
[How many Work-Study vacancies are available?]
[How long is the programme?]
[What holidays will I get during the programme?]
[Will my Russian studies at Language Link be accredited by my university?]
[What kind of visa will I get?]
[How and when can I apply?]
Section 2: About arriving, living and working in Russia
[How expensive is life in Russia? Will I earn enough to cover living costs?]
[What will my accommodation be like?]
[What's the social life like at Language Link?]
[What are the schools and facilities like where I'll be teaching and studying?]
[Can you tell me more about Moscow, St Petersburg, Volgograd and Samara?]
[Is it safe to live in Russia?]
[Just how cold does it actually get in Russia? ]
[What will it be like arriving in Russia?]
Section 1: About the Work-Study Programme itself
Q: What nationalities are eligible for Work-Study?
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 or a New Zealander. We also take on other Western Europeans to teach other major European languages (French, German and Italian). If your nationality doesn't figure in this short list, then Language Link may not be able to offer you employment (for more precise information, contact us as Russian visa regulations do change).
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.
Q: Can I take part in Work-Study without prior teaching qualifications or experience?
A: Yes you can. If you are an aspiring teacher without a TEFL qualification or relevant teaching experience you are eligible for programme A. The only pre-requisites are enthusiasm for teaching, good language awareness and competence in written and spoken English. You will receive training via our Initial Training Programme (ITP) and continued academic support throughout your contract. If you are a newly qualified teacher with no classroom experience, you are exempt from the training programme, and are eligible for programme B.
If you have relevant teaching experience (EFL or ESL) but no recognised qualification, you may be exempt from the training programme, but at Language Link's discretion.
Q: What kind of classes will I be asked to teach?
A: The majority of classes are general English classes for adults or young learners (the latter are 5-18 year olds). You may be asked to teach in-company if you have business experience, or if we judge you to be particularly suitable for such work (this means travelling to clients' offices to give lessons of Business or General English). The maximum number of students in a Language Link group is 12, and you may occasionally be asked to give students individual lessons. The majority of lessons are held in the afternoon or evening, although some classes also run in the mornings. Language Link runs many different courses for every level, from complete beginners to advanced exam preparation courses.
Most courses are based on a particular textbook, but you will be expected to use supplementary materials to complement the textbook, which you can get from the school resource library or create yourself. There may also be the opportunity to teach in Russian schools, where class sizes average about 20.
Q: How much will my Russian level improve during this programme?
A: The longer you stay on the programme, the more effort you put in and the more hours you study, the more progress you will make. Previous participants on the 36-week programme have gone from very hesitant pre-intermediate level when they arrived to confident upper-intermediate fluency by the end of their programme (studying 15 academic hours per week). You can speed up your progress by studying more and teaching less, by opting for home-stay accommodation and by practising your Russian at every opportunity.
Even on the shorter 16- and 24-week programmes you should be able to make a significant impact on your fluency level and understanding, as studying Russian in a Russian-speaking environment is 10 times more effective than studying Russian in the USA or UK.
Q: How much free time will I have?
A: The Work-Study Programme has been designed so that your time commitments should be no more than 40 clock hours a week (although Work-Study A participants may do slightly more during initial training). An approximate breakdown of these 40 hours is as follows:
18 academic hours/ 13.5 clock hours a week of teaching
6 clock hours for lesson planning
12 academic hours/ 9 clock hours a week for language study
4 clock hours set aside for homework.
The remaining 7.5 clock hours are set aside for travelling to and from where you teach
We believe this balance of work and study ensures you get maximum benefit from your time and money, and you also have adequate spare time available to discover Russia. However, Work-Study is undoubtedly hard work. You will of course have 2 days a week off (Saturday and Sunday in all centres except Samara, where you may be given 2 weekdays off), but during the working week you should expect a full timetable, with Russian lessons starting in the morning between 9 and 10 am.
Your teaching will usually start mid-afternoon, and not usually finish until around 9 pm. Although this programme is not easy, those willing to put in the work will reap great rewards in both their professional and personal development.
Q: In which cities is the Work-Study programme available?
A: The programme is offered in Moscow, St Petersburg, Volgograd and Samara. Although there are Language Link schools in many other cities, these are the only centres with 'Russian as a Foreign Language' departments.
Q: How many Work-Study vacancies are available?
A: Language Link offers around 10 Work-Study places each semester, of which 5-6 in Moscow, 1-2 are in St Petersburg, and 1-2 in Volgograd. This figure may be slightly higher or lower depending upon student numbers and the demand for teaching.
Q: How long is the programme?
A: The Work-Study A Programme lasts for 14, 22 or 34 weeks following completion of the 4 week Initial Training Programme, and the Work-Study B Programme (for those with EFL teaching experience/qualifications) lasts for 12, 16, 24 or 36 weeks.
Q: What holidays will I get during the programme?
A: Language Link observes all official Russian public holidays. As such, the school is closed on the following dates: January 1st, 2nd, & 7th; March 8th; May 1st, 2nd, & 9th; June 12th and November 7th. There is generally a two week break from teaching around Christmas and New Year, and a week-long break in the first week of May. You may choose to continue your Russian studies during these breaks, or take time off to travel. Russian lessons missed due to public holidays are made up either during the programme or by adding days on at the end of the programme. Russian lessons missed due to a requested break during the school's holiday period may either be taken over the remainder of the programme, or the cost of the lessons may be refunded upon completion of the programme.
Q: Will my Russian studies at Language Link be accredited by my university?
A: To answer this question you will need to speak to your professors and the Study Abroad Coordinator at your university/college. Working in our favour is the fact that Language Link runs accredited academic semester programmes for Dickinson College of Pennsylvania, USA, and RLUS of the UK (Russian Language Undergraduate Studies: the educational organisation which organizes year-abroad courses for many undergraduates studying Russian in British universities). The standard of tuition in our Russian Department is extremely high, and many of our teachers are specialists in academic fields (translation, literature, history, etc.)
However, we understand that each institution applies its own criteria when accrediting study abroad, so accreditation cannot be guaranteed. We are happy to correspond with your professors/study abroad coordinators to discuss the issue, and to provide comprehensive course descriptions upon request.
Q: What kind of visa will I get?
A: At the moment, Work-Study participants on 12-week programmes get 3-month single entry visas, and all other participants receive 3-month single entry business visas that are converted to one-year multi-entry visas upon arrival in Russia. However, this is liable to change as the Russian government frequently alters visa legislation.
You can be fully assured that everything about your visa and registration will be correct and above-board, as Language Link, Russia is one of the few English language schools operating in Russia with full permission both to invite and employ native English speaking teachers from the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Q: How and when can I apply?
A: You can apply 3 - 12 months before you wish to join the programme. The first step in the application process is to complete and submit an online application form . Once we receive it, we will confirm whether or not you are eligible, and ask you to confirm that all the details on your application form are correct. We will then contact your nominated referees for recommendations, and meanwhile, if you are applying for Work-Study A, we will ask you to complete a pre-interview TEFL task. Provided two favourable references are returned, and the pre-interview task is completed satisfactorily (if applicable), we will invite you to a telephone interview, which will last ten to fifteen 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 programme.
If you are accepted, we will ask you to decide on your preferred balance of teaching hours to Russian studies, to select a Russian course and accommodation type.
We will draw up a contract and programme fee invoice based on your choices, and payment of the fee will secure your place on the Work-Study programme.
Section 2: About arriving, living and working in Russia
Q: How expensive is life in Russia? Will I earn enough to cover living costs?
A: The money you earn as a Work-Study should cover around 80% - 100% of your living costs in Russia, although this does depend on the number of hours you teach, how often you like to go out and whether you plan to make lots of trips and excursions. Day to day living costs in St Petersburg, Volgograd and Samara are lower than in Moscow; provided you avoid expat hang-outs in Moscow, the cost of living there is still lower than in the West. The prices below should only be considered a rough guide (take the upper limits for Moscow and the lower limits for Volgograd and Samara, with St Petersburg somewhere in between):
Eating, Drinking and Dining: Your weekly grocery bill should be around $50-75 per person (all prices are in USD). You can buy a fairly decent three-course meal out for about $20 per person. If you eat out at lunchtime during the week, you can get a good three-course business lunch for around $7-10.
Evening Entertainment: A ticket to an English-language cinema costs $10-15, or you can see films in Russian for slightly less. Theatre, opera and ballet tickets can cost as little as $6 but expect to pay $12-20 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 $16 and $30. Bus, tram and trolleybus tickets cost 50 cents - $1 (for one journey, 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 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.
Whichever accommodation option you choose (shared apartment or family home-stay), you will have no bills to worry about apart for telephone calls abroad (for these you should buy phone cards: a $20 card lasts 112 minutes when calling Europe and America from Russia).
Q: What will my accommodation be like?
A: If you choose to live in accommodation provided by Language Link, you may choose between an apartment (usually shared with one or two other Language Link employees) and a family home-stay. In both cases, your accommodation will be located within walking distance (20 minutes max) of a metro station, but it may be in any area of the city. Shared apartments are typically Russian style, with a single bedroom for each person living there, and a kitchen, bathroom and toilet which you share. 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.
Home-stay families are all carefully selected by Language Link. Many hosts have years of experience working with foreigners, and will help you practise and improve your language skills.
In a family home-stay you have a bedroom to yourself plus access to the bathroom/ toilet and the kitchen. You may opt for breakfast only (bed and breakfast), or breakfast and dinner (half-board).
Q: What's the social life like at Language Link?
A: Language Link's teaching staff (qualified teachers, Interns, 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 Moscow's, St Petersburg's, Volgograd's or Samara’s many cafes or bars to catch up.
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 parties, etc.
Q: What are the schools and facilities like where I'll be teaching and studying?
Moscow: Language Link’s central school is situated fairly near the city centre, within five minutes’ walk of the metro stations Novoslobodskaya (Íîâîñëîáîäñêàÿ) and Mendeleevskaya (Ìåíäåëååâñêàÿ). The classrooms are located on the 2nd floor of an office building. You will be provided with a map upon arrival. The Central School is also the place where you will find the English & Russian Department’s main headquarters, classrooms and one of our teacher prep rooms. If you are a teaching assistant, you can plan your lessons in the teachers’ centre near the school, which is home to a photocopier, a teaching resource library and English-language video library, plus a computer centre where you can access your e-mail. There are also many branch schools around Moscow where you may be asked to teach (most of these are classrooms in ordinary Russian schools which Language Link rents for evening English classes). Central Administration and the Translation Department are located in a ground floor office on the premises of the Russian State University of the Humanities (RGGU), a 5-minute walk from the metro and Central School.
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 two floors of a former factory building, and the classrooms are modern and well equipped.
Volgograd: Language Link's school and office moved in January 2008 to a beautiful new office building in the city centre. The school is situated between the railway station and the Volga river, on Komsomolskaya street just past Prospect Lenina (Volgograd's leafy main street). 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 and EFL resource library.
Samara: Language Link's school and office in Samara is located in a recently-refurbished wood and brick building about twenty minutes from the city centre, and are easily reached by public transport.
The office is staffed from 12 pm to 7 pm, Monday to Friday. The school currently has four classrooms, all of which are modern and comfortable, and outfitted with tape recorders and whiteboards. There is also a TV and video player available for use. There is an administrative office, a small staff room with a computer with internet, a photocopier, and a small library of reference and resource books.
Q: Can you tell me more about Moscow, St Petersburg, Volgograd and Samara?
A: Detailed information about life in Moscow,
St. Petersburg, Volgograd, and Samara can be found at the links provided.
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. The mafia will take no notice of you whatsoever. Recent events have obviously made terrorism a concern, but sadly, no city in the world is immune from that threat these days. Volgograd and Samara may be considered slightly quieter, and thus safer, but the following advice applies to all four 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 the attitude of some Russian males towards the opposite sex unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. Men should also be careful when out late at night in large English-speaking groups, as nationalism is on the rise in Russia. The police regularly stop young males (especially those with dark skin or Asian features) – normally they just check your ID and let you go. 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 St Petersburg. Remember that safety, both here in Russia and at home, is generally a question of using common sense and making smart decisions. Always be aware of yourself, your belongings and your surroundings, and you shouldn’t come across any major problems.
Q: Just how cold does it actually get in Russia?
A: Russia can almost 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 Work-Study programme is not based in Siberia, and the climate in Moscow, St Petersburg, Volgograd and Samara is not as extreme as certain stereotypes would have you believe. First snow generally falls in late November, and the average temperature in December, January and February is minus 5 and 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. St Petersburg is probably the coldest of the Work-Study centres, as its proximity to the sea make the climate windier and damper than Moscow’s. Volgograd and Samara’s climate is the mildest, with average temperatures about 10 degrees higher than in Moscow.
What many people tend to forget is that Russia 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. 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.
Just after you pick up your luggage, you should fill in a custom's declaration form if you have something to declare, and go through the red channel. If you have nothing to declare (you do not need to declare laptops), 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.