Teaching English in Russia and Ukraine

Is it possible to earn a living teaching English in Russia or Ukraine?

Yes, you can definitely earn a living teaching English here. As an English teacher in Russia or Ukraine the pay isn’t much, but nor are your expenses. As of 2013, you can make between $10 – $20 per hour, depending on the city and the school. And if you’re a go-getter, you can work as much as you want. There really is no shortage of language schools in Russia and Ukraine, and they all love having a native speaker on staff.

And while on the subject of money, payment varies from school to school. That is, some pay you weekly, some pay you at the end of each day. So be sure to keep track of the hours you’ve taught.

How can I find a teaching position?

1. Check online first

Before I moved to Sevastopol, Ukraine I wrote to a few of the schools there. I got the best response from a school named Varich School of World Communication. The owner, Vladimir Varich, even drove up to meet me at the Simferopol airport (90 minutes north of Sevastopol) and let me stay in his apartment while I hunted for my own place. So, do a Google search of the city you’d like to be in, and add this phrase, “изучение английского” (“study of English”). For example, search this: “севастополь изучение английского” and you’ll see the schools I taught at.

2. Walk in

But I also simply walked in to schools and got hired. Dress professionally, speak with clear pronunciation, and be friendly. Following that advice, I walked in to the Hotline school (in the Hotel Ukraine), as well as the Linguist Center, on Bolshaya Morskaya and got hired at both places on the spot.
Hotline school
The administrator at both places each asked if I could teach a class that same evening!

On a side-note: Ask the administrator if it’s okay to give private lessons, too. Some don’t mind, but others insist on taking a cut (since it is originally their student). I’ve found students willing to pay 15 Euro per hour for private lessons. In Ukraine, that’s very good pay.

What is the flow of a typical lesson?

Curriculum-based teaching:

Some schools have a strict curriculum they want you to follow. For example, at the Hotline school, I had to read from the textbook they used, and ask students questions about the material.
Those lessons are easy, though not all that fun as a teacher. Don’t get too caught up in trying to fix their pronunciation. If you understand what they said, that really is good enough. Instead, focus on fixing their grammar. Don’t worry if you don’t know the technical name of the rule they’ve broken (you need to use the present progressive, not the past tense for that). Just re-phrase it the correct way for them, and have them repeat it.

Free flow:

Personally, I preferred the lessons I gave at the Linguist Center because they gave me free reign. These were advanced students and they really just needed practice speaking with a native speaker. In those classes, I inevitably started by going around the room and having each student tell me something. For example: What did you do this morning? (I usually gave my own example first: “This morning I work up at 8, made coffee, had breakfast and then took a shower. What about you, Julia?”) When that warm up is done, I usually started with idioms and expressions. For example, I’d teach the ending “ish”, as in, “I got there at about eleven-ish.” After a few more examples, I then had each student make up his own “ish” example. Finally, I worked on back and forth conversations by encouraging students to ask me a question. After answering it, I’d ask a related question to them. After all, part of being a good speaker is being a good conversationalist.

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