EFL teachers considering employment with Language Link will, no doubt, have numerous questions which will need answering prior to accepting employment. This is only natural; therefore we encourage prospective teachers to seek answers to all their questions prior to 'signing on the dotted line'. As experience has shown that certain questions are more frequently asked than others, we have listed and answered them on this page. It is our hope that this will save our potential applicants some of their valuable time. That said, however, should you not find an answer to your question(s), feel free to contact us. After all, the only foolish question is the one not asked.
General questions about Language Link and Russia:
[Who can apply for work with Language Link? (see FAQ 2 and 3 for additional information)]
[What native English-speaking nationalities do you employ?]
[Besides native English speakers, what other nationalities does Language Link employ?]
[What kind of contracts do you offer teachers?]
[Are salaries paid in dollars/ pounds or roubles?]
[Is the rouble a stable currency?]
[What medical examinations, shots and/ or tests do I need in order to work in Russia?]
[How do I apply for Language Link?]
Specific questions about arriving, living and working in Russia:
[What is it like arriving at an airport in Russia, and will I be picked up?]
[What will happen the first day of my arrival in Russia?]
[What will my accommodation be like?]
[What kind of lifestyle can I expect to have on a Language Link salary?]
[Will I work a split shift?]
[What kind of methodology do Language Link teachers use?]
[What kind of students will I be expected to teach?]
Because Language Link is primarily a school of English, the vast majority of our English Foreign Language (EFL) teachers are native English speakers. That said, the ability to speak English is only one of a number of different criteria by which we select our EFL teaching staff. Also imperative is the possession of a TEFL certification. Though holding a university degree is desirable, experience has shown that it is not a necessary pre-requisite to attaining success as a teacher. We do, however, demand that our teachers be 'educated speakers'. For those looking to enter the field of TEFL and who do not hold a teaching certification, we recommend applying for the Language Link Teacher Internship Programme.
Though the majority of our teachers are British and American, Language Link also employs Irish, Canadians, South Africans, Australians and New Zealanders. If your nationality doesn't figure in this short list, then Language Link is unable to obtain a letter of invitation for you. Admittedly, this seems strange, and one must ask, 'Why is this so'? The answer to this question is two-fold. First, and foremost, companies that are allowed to invite and employ 'foreign specialists' from abroad are usually limited to a given number of countries from which it may do so. Likewise, this list may vary from Language Link location to location. Secondly, there can be no doubt that there exists a certain prejudice when it comes to preferred dialect or accent. The average Russian has a preference for either 'proper English' a.k.a. British English or the somewhat more colourful American version. At Language Link, we do not condone such attitudes but must, through legal and economic necessity, tailor our hiring practices to conform to both, government decree and language market demands. It should be noted however that both of the above do and have changed over time. Formerly, Australians were excluded from employment. Therefore, if you are native English speaking, you are encouraged to apply regardless of your country of origin as these lists do change from time to time.
Though Language Link is primarily a school of English, it also maintains both a Department for Russian Studies and a Department for European Language Study. Therefore, in addition to native English speakers, Language Link also employs both Russian and European teachers. Russian teachers are hired by Language Link to teach either EFL or Russian as a Foreign Language. In either case, they must be highly qualified holding similar or higher credentials than native English speakers and be experienced teachers. Teachers who work within our Department for European Language Study must be native speaking (e.g. French, German, Spanish, Italian) and hold relevant teaching qualifications.
Language Link teachers are offered full-time teaching contracts by The Company. Though the contract is for 40 hours per week, teaching is to a maximum of 34 academic hours (about 25 clock hours) per week. In addition to a competitive salary on which Language Link pays all Russian taxes, teachers receive free accommodation, a travel allowance to contractual maximums, paid holiday and sick time, provision of medical services, full visa support and on-going academic support from our Head of Academic Department and Directors of Studies.
At Language Link, all salaries are paid in roubles. It is absolutely illegal for any company operating in the Federal Republic of Russia to pay salaries in any currency other than roubles. Companies that do so not only place their employees (in this case teachers) in jeoprady, but run the risk of company closure should such practices be discovered by the authorities. That said, however, it should be noted that the rouble is fully convertible within Russia. In fact, as any visitor to Russia will have discovered, there are banks and currency exchanges located on practically every street of all major and minor metropolitan areas. Therefore, teachers looking to exchange their salaries for hard currency will have no difficulty doing so. Teachers, however, are advised to consider their daily living needs prior to converting their salaries to hard currency as it is unlawful to pay for products (including foodstuffs) or services in any currency other than roubles.
The rouble has been stable at around 30 roubles to the US dollar for some time now. Following the financial crisis of August '98, the rouble experienced rapid devaluation and hard currency reserves were being quickly depleted. This situation has, however, been reversing itself. Hard currency reserves are now well over 80 billion dollars and is projected to be over 100 billion dollars provided the current price of oil remains stable. Because of this situation and because Russia is rich in many natural resources whose sales are linked to hard currency (such as gold and petoleum), the rouble is now set for a period of long stability. With this in mind, the reader is reminded to keep an open mind with regard to Russia. Though Russia has had its share of problems, one has only to pick up the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times and read about the falling dollar and other currencies.
Any country which allows aliens to work in a legal context demands certain assurances that the foreign employee is 'healthy' both prior to and/ or after their arrival in-country. Russia is no exception to this rule. That said, there are few shot or vaccinations which are required by Russian law. Formerly, when 'work permissions' were required for foreign teacher, it was necessary for teacher to be HIV tested shortly after their arrival in Russia. Under the new law, teachers invited to Russia by companies which have the right both to invite AND employ teachers no longer need to have work permissions; thus, they no longer need to be HIV tested. However sometimes the embassy asks for an HIV certificate anyway when you apply for the visa. Always check with the embassy you're applying to in order to find out their current regulations and requirements. The following vaccinations, whilst not essential, are recommended prior to arrival in Russia: Hepatitis A, typhoid, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, polio and rabies.
Language Link recommends that anyone coming to Russia consider taking out a personal health insurance policy or at the very least having medical, dental and eye check-ups to avoid arriving with any health problems. In any event, you are advised to bring a copy of your shot record.
Teachers may apply for Language Link online. However, teachers considering applying to Language Link are asked to reflect for a moment as to their reasons for doing so. Russia, being the largest country on earth, is without doubt extremely far from that place which you call 'home'. Therefore, before leaving the safety of what is both known and familiar, ask yourself, this question, 'Is Language Link, teaching and Russia really for me'? To date, over 1000 teachers have been employed by Language Link in Russia, and though the vast majority of those have found their experience with Language Link to have been enjoyable, unique and memorable, this has not been true of everyone. Given this, it is safe to make three statements: 1) Language Link is not for everyone, 2) teaching is not for everyone and 3) Russia is not for everyone. Of this first statement, applicants must be aware, Language Link is looking to hire teachers not tourists. Language Link has built its reputation in Russia by the delivery of quality language education. We do not take this responsibility lightly, for our students are above all our clients and therefore pay for our language services. Given this, teachers are expected to come to class on time and be prepared for their lessons. They are likewise expected to take an active interest in their students and their classroom progress. Understanding this responsibility, applicants, especially those without experience, must ask themselves if teaching English is really something for which they feel an affinity. Make no mistake about it; teaching English involves work, both in preparation and in lesson delivery. EFL, unlike your own native language learning experience, involves having students talk, not teachers. Therefore, lessons are built around communicative activities. Finally, and this cannot be overstated, Russia is neither Britain, the US, Canada or any other country — except Russia. Therefore, if you think to come to Russia, do some research first. Though this country is the exclusive warehouse of a culture as rich as any of those found in Europe, it is a country which has lived through seven decades of deprivation. Therefore, its infra-structure is often defective or in a state of disrepair. At Language Link, we view this as a challenge for teachers to overcome, and when they do so, they discover that they have become teachers sought after the world over.
Upon your arrival at Sheremetyevo or Domodedovo airport, you will most probably exit the plane directly into the airport. As you do so, you will be directed to passport control. There you will be asked for your passport, visa and migration card. The immigration card will have been given to you on the plane. It MUST be fill in and submitted to passport control. There they will stamp both your passport and immigration card. DO NOT leave passport control without the stamped immigration card. If you arrive at Domodedovo airport, the migration card will be printed for you at passport control.
After passing through passport control, you will immediately enter the baggage pickup area. An attendant may ask you something in Russia or English. Without doubt, he is asking you if you want a luggage caddie. If you say 'yes', then be aware that it is not a free service, and you will have to pay for each piece of luggage.
Regardless, you will need to find the appropriate baggage conveyor belt for your flight. If you do not find your flight marked, then your luggage probably hasn't been unloaded yet. Things take a little longer in Russia.
Either before you pick up your luggage or just afterwards, you may need to fill in the custom's declaration form, depending on what you've brought with you. The forms can be found on tables located in the luggage pickup area. These forms are available in a number of different languages (Russian, English, German and French). If you are bringing large amounts of money into the country, then be sure to declare it on this form. If you have something that you wish to have declared (computer equipment, etc), then declare it and go to the red area with your items 'to be declared'. If not go through the green area.
After passing through this area, exit and walk through the 'aisle' created by the people. It is here, on one side or the other, that you will see someone with a 'Language Link' sign. Welcome to Russia.
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. I would not worry about this latter point as we're batting a 100%.
After clearing passport control, retrieving your luggage and exiting through customs, you will be met by a Language Link representative who will bring you to your flat. Depending upon the time of day, either you will be left to wash up and catch up on some much needed rest or will be brought into the office to meet the Head of the Academic Department, Directors of Studies and the administrative staff charged with processing your paperwork. If, on the other hand, it is too late to come into the office, then arrangements will be made to bring you in the following day. In either case, because of the importance of correctly processing your paperwork and the immediacy involved in doing this, Language Link asks all in-coming teachers to have the following documents set aside for easy retrieval: passport, visa, copies of your diplomas and teaching certificates, a current CV and receipts for both your visa and travel expenses. These will be collected by the office and a photocopy of your passport issued until yours is returned by the authorites (in about a week's time). Completing this, you will be brought over to our Central School where the Head of the Academic Department and/ or the Director of Studies will introduce you to other members of staff, go over the contract, discuss teaching issues and clear up any questions which you may have at this time. You will have an orientation session where you will learn all about the way that Language Link does things, so that it's easier on you.
All teachers working for Language Link receive free accommodation in shared accommodation. As such, each teacher has their own bedroom and use of a kitchen and bathroom which is shared with another teacher. It is Language Link's policy to place teachers as close to the school where they will be teaching as possible. This makes returning home in the evening easier and quicker. Other factors which go into the decision-making process are age, gender and common interests. It must be stated that in Moscow, a one-hour commute is considered normal.
Putting this issue aside, the accommodation itself is modest but comfortable. Each teacher assigned an accommodation has the responsibility of making it their own by adding their own personal touches. Some teachers have opted to change curtains, others to hang posters and/ or pictures which they have received from home or bought here in Russia. Some teachers invest in televisions which they sell prior to their departure from Russia. In any event, your home is usually what you make it.
One final note: Most of our returning teachers have asked Language Link to house them in the same accommodation which they had this year.
Without knowing each teacher individually, this is a difficult question to answer. However, that said, it must be stated that our teachers receive a salary far above the average Russian salary. Therefore, you can expect to lead a better than average lifestyle which can involve dining out, bar hopping and travelling. Of course, that said, you should not hope to try and do this every night. In trying to decide how far your salary will go, there are a number of factors that one must consider. First and on the positive side, the salary given by Language Link is net, therefore The Company has paid all Russian taxes on it. Second, your accommodation as well as the tax on it and utilities (except phone/internet) is all paid for by The Company. As housing usually takes the biggest bite out of anyone's salary, you are already ahead of the game. Given this, it would appear that your only 'real expense' are food and entertainment. At this point, it is up to the individual to make lifestyle choices. If you are the type who enjoys home cooking and/ or fast food, the occasional nice restaurant, beer/ wine at home or with friends, walking in parks, exploring back streets, local haunts and museums, then you will lead an extraordinary lifestyle. You will manage not only to satisfy your needs but also save money for internal travel or to return home with. If on the other hand, you wish to lead the lifestyle of an ex-pat in need of the savour of fine cuisine, popping the cork on a bottle of Bordeaux, taking a taxi instead of the bus or metro and/ or being first on the club scene, you will find that 1) Russia is not for you and 2) neither is the lifestyle of a teacher.
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not a simple 'yes' or 'no'. The reason for this varies depending upon a number of factors. First, if you wish to teach in a major metropolitan area such as Moscow, St. Petersburg or any other city with over one million people, then the answer is almost certainly 'yes'. That said, however, there are a number of other factors which will determine whether or not this will actually be so. Among these are your school's location within such a metropolitan area. For the most part, teachers assigned to the Central School will no doubt be more experienced than those assigned to non-central schools (i.e. schools located outside the city centre). As such, they will be charged with the responsibility of teaching such classes as Business English, English for International Examination Preparation (TOEFL, Cambridge, IELTS, etc.), English for Specific Purposes and of course General English. They will likewise spend part of their time teaching in the Central School and part of their time teaching in-company. As is the nature of business, most companies opt for lessons when such will not overly interfer with the workday of those receiving tuition. Obviously, this will be either in the morning before the start of the real work day or just after the finish of work. Given this, a split shift is unavoidable. Teachers located outside of the city centre will have an easier time of it as most of their classes will be scheduled in the evening. That said, however, there is still the likely possibility that they will have at least one class scheduled for a couple of mornings a week. If it were up to the language school, then we would prefere to block lessons as this would make everyone's life easier, but it is not. Like every other business looking to stay in operation, language schools must cater to the market. Operating a language school is as much about business as it is about education, and operating a business is all about being able to pay the bills which include the salary and benefit package which the school provides for its teachers.
By understanding and accepting that 'teaching English' and 'teaching English as a foreign language' are not necessarily one and the same thing, one is better able to understand the kind of classroom methodology that Language Link ascribes to. Teachers entering a classroom are there for one reason only and that is to teach the student to speak and understand English. Admittedly, this does not take into account either reading or writing, however when all is said and done, students are paying for the former skills more so than for the latter. Therefore, lessons must be conducted with the goal of getting students to speak and to speak some more. In order to accomplish this, lessons must be communicative in context. Though there are many communicative methodologies for use by teachers, we suggest the 'ecclectic approach' also known as a 'bit of this and a bit of that'. In other words, teachers must find that balance of communicative strategies which work within a particular classroom with a particular type of student. Early on, teachers will discover what works and what doesn't. However, be aware and be warned, foreign language students are adept at 'voting with their feet'. They are better aware of what is going on in the classroom than are most new teachers. Therefore, teachers are advised that if their students are not occupying most of the talking time in class, then something is amiss, and if it is not corrected immediately, students will leave your course. In order to avoid this, then it is necessary to understand, that though Language Link students must buy a coursebook for use in class, the book is never enough. Teachers must also make ample use of supplementary materials. These are available for use by teachers, therefore there is no excuse for not using them. Lastly, and this is a word of warning for experienced teachers, Russian students have absolutely nothing in common with students from the Pacific rim. Russians want to talk and demand the opportunity to do so. Failure to understand this has led to the downfall of more than one teacher with prior experience in Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea.
The vast majority of Language Link students are teenager and younger. Thus, classes are composed of either students of secondary school age or younger learners. In addition to these two groups are the young adults attending either an institute or university. Quite often, however, this group is mixed within the true adult class.
In the past, all secondary students were studying with Language Link as part of their extra-curricular education. More recently, however, Language Link teachers, as part of a new programme referred to as 'Interlink English', have been entering a number of private and public schools where they give English language tuition either individually or as part of a mixed Anglo-Russian teaching team.
Adults students fall within two categories — those wishing to upgrade their language skill for any one of a number of reasons (travel, promotion, boredom, etc.) or those wishing to do so in order to improve or enhance their business prospects. Within both groups, there are also those wishing to sit an international exam in English such as the TOEFL or IELTS. Their reasons are therefore linked to further educational pursuits or the desire to immigrate.
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