Centre Profile: Moscow Region / Moscow
My name is Shawn Butler, and I worked at Language Link Russia during the 2001-2002 academic year. My time spent working for Language Link was busy, though thoroughly satisfying. I learned how to teach in general, how to teach English as a foreign language specifically, and got to live in Russia for a year. Throughout my stay, Language Link was very helpful and flexible in accommodating me.
I had been to Russia twice before as a student and had desperately wanted to get back after my studies ended. I needed a way to support myself, and Language Link obliged. Language Link has a diverse teaching staff from many different English-speaking countries and they are willing to train teachers with little or no experience. As an American with hardly any teaching experience, this was what I was looking for.
When I arrived, I was genuinely surprised to receive a envelope containing a Moscow metro (subway) pass, a phone card, a letter from the Director of Studies Moscow welcoming me to Moscow, and 500 rubles cash. As you are not allowed to take out or bring in Russian rubles and cash machines are notoriously unreliable, a lack of money can make it initially difficult to get by in Russia. The first time I came to Russia, all of the students in my group were continually borrowing money for the first three days. I had never heard of a study abroad program in Russia providing such necessities and here my employer was providing these things. This was not business as usual in Russia, but an indication that maybe my employer did care about its teachers.
Even when I was placed in a school an hour from Moscow, I still felt that I could have said no and Language Link would have accommodated me. However, I wanted to speak some Russian when I wasn't teaching and knew it would be easier outside of Moscow. The town turned out to be wonderful and the students great, which I think is quite characteristic of towns in Moscow region.
When I started to teach in the central school in Moscow, I found out that the students were even more enthusiastic. Language Link does a great job advertising that all its teachers are native English speakers, and the students love this, as it is usually a far cry from the Russian language teachers they have in school. With such enthusiastic students, it is hard to fail as a teacher, but just to make sure, Language Link provides workshops, teaching materials, a teaching library, and of course the Academic Director and more senior teachers were always available for advice. The atmosphere in the teacher's room was always fun and comradely.
The only down side to teaching at Language Link was the hours. Most teachers teach two or three classes from 4:30pm to 9:15pm Monday-Friday. This is a great teaching schedule in general and especially for an expatriate lifestyle in Moscow. However, I was teaching three classes a day spread out over the entire day, known as a split shift. Such a teaching schedule isn't that bad, and I almost came to prefer it, but it can get tiresome at times teaching until late at night, then early the next morning. Very few people managed to get these split shifts, but they do happen.
Language Link is a great place to work if you want to teach abroad in Russia. They provide all the basic support you need and give you enough hours to make money. Concerning Russia, I can't say enough. I have been enthralled by Russia since my first visit and teaching Russian students at Language Link has only added to that interest. I will definitely stop by Language Link when I find myself in Moscow again.
Teacher, Language Link Russia 2001-2002