Teach English in Russia: Ultimate Guide

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Written By Matt Shannon

To teach English in Russia, you should be a native speaker, and have a bachelor’s degree. Teaching English will be the easiest path to begin working abroad. In this guide will answer the most common questions regarding teaching English including, how you can get started.

There can be a stigma around teaching English abroad, but it doesn’t have to be the case. For many people, this is the first job that they get in a foreign country. It can be an excellent way to network your way into a professional job once you are on the ground.

Most successful expats in Russia got their start teaching English in Russia. Then they positioned their previous experience to get a better job. This strategy is excellent for more risk-averse people as you can arrive with a job lined up to support yourself as you search for your dream job.

Qualifications Required

Most English schools do not require you have have certifications to teach English in Russia. Generally, this depends on the type of school you are considering. The more professional the school, the higher the likelihood you should be certified. Requirements range from certifications to a formal teaching education.

As a general rule, a bachelor’s degree and citizenship from an English speaking country is required. While CELTA or other TEFL certification is always a plus on your resume, be careful about spending thousands of dollars on them. Unless you are looking to make English teaching your career, the return on investment is usually not worth it.

That being said, if you want to teach English in Russia for the foreseeable future, we highly recommend getting one of these certifications. It will make your job search considerably easier.

For the majority of people, a bachelor’s degree will suffice to find a decent job and private students. 

Certification Options 

If you are set on getting a teaching certification to teach English in Russia, the gold standard is still CELTA. CELTA is run by the Cambridge English Language Assessment from Cambridge University. They design these courses to be rigorous and to provide anyone with all of the required knowledge to become an English teacher. The classes teach lesson planning, classroom management, and professional skills that are invaluable to a new teacher.

They are taught internationally, but most commonly in major US and UK cities. Some courses can be taken online as well. For the teaching assessments, you must complete it on site. At the time of writing, CELTA courses cost about $2500 and run for 5 weeks.

There is also a myriad of other TEFL certification options out there in just about any major city. The reputation and value of these vary drastically, so it is best to consider if you need the certification. Costs range from $500 – $3000 and depending on your needs, they can be a good investment or a waste of money. It is best to do as much research as possible about the course before paying and taking the course.

We advise talking to people who have taken the course and have jobs. You should be able to ask the provider to put you in touch with recently employed students. If the teaching center does not want to do this, you should steer clear of taking any courses with them. 

While there are numerous options for TEFL classes, it is best to use your judgment. Reach out to schools in the Cities you would like to work and start a conversation. Is certification required? If so, which certifications do they recommend and which certifications do their teachers have. If teaching long term is not in your interest, a certification will not be the best route. The demand for teachers in Russia is high enough that they are willing to look past candidates without certification.

Different Types of English Teaching Schools

There are numerous jobs out there to teach English in Russia and they all have positives and negatives. 

The most popular type of job to teach English is usually at global English schools like English First. These schools are very good at providing a decent salary, relatively low workload (25 teaching hours per week), and visa support. They can even offer career opportunities outside of teaching such as marketing and school management positions.

These are great entry-level jobs for anyone looking to teach English but don’t want headaches. There are drawbacks though. Usually, you are committing to teaching only at the school, and many of the larger schools frown upon teaching privately in your spare time as they are sponsoring your visa.

The next group of English teaching jobs is usually with local schools. In Russia, they are dime a dozen. Sometimes they will provide you with visa support, but the salary will be lower than at a global English school. The positive here is that you usually have much more flexibility to teach on your own time and your workload is typically 15-20 hours a week, therefore, the salary is lower.

Many people encounter local labor market issues like a delay in salary payments (even if you are officially employed), cancelled classes and not being compensated, or other HR-related issues. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, this can be a blessing. You have the time to go out and find other English teaching or professional work once you are on the ground. 

The ideal position would be to teach English in Russia at an international school for local children and diplomats. Especially if you are looking for career stability, growth opportunities, and a great salary. In Russia’s major cities, there will be a handful of these schools, supported by the embassies of English speaking countries.

It isn’t uncommon though for them to have more rigorous qualification requirements of their teachers. They usually like to see some experience teaching in a school in your home country as you could be teaching subjects like math, science, or history in English to native speakers and local children.

These are also full-time jobs and you usually have very restricted opportunities to teach English on your own time, but this will depend highly on the school where you are teaching. Salaries are also similar to teaching at a school in the US or UK. 

Another option for to teach English in Russia is to freelance and teach at multiple schools and teach private students. In most cities, there is a huge demand for test prep tutors that help local students get into US and UK universities and if you have extensive experience with college entrance exams, this is a great opportunity.

The main downfall with this method is that it may take some time to build a base of students who you teach. Of course since you are not hosted by a school, you will have to find visa support. There are ways around this though.

The most common option is by opening a limited liability company and teach from your own company to obtain a work and temporary residence permit. This costs money, but it gives you the flexibility to do what you want to do without being constrained by a language school.

For more information on this process, check out our blog post on the options for obtaining residence options in Russia. If you plan to open a company to teach English you can reach out to us at contact@expatriant.com.

Different Types of Classes and Students

There is an almost endless variety to the type of English classes you can teach. You can teach children whether it be classes at the language school or daycare, adults at a language school, or teaching business English classes individually or to groups at local international companies. Let’s take a look at each. 

Teaching children can be difficult but also rewarding. Most local schools have some sort of English immersion programs or daycare for younger children. Your success in this type of environment will highly depend on your personality. Very few children are eager to learn English as they do not see the value, but it is an option. For most people, these are the most difficult students. 

The easiest group of students to teach are young adults. They will be the typical students you will encounter at any international or local language school. Most of the students are driven to learn English and it will be more comfortable to talk about a range of topics with the students.

Most of these language schools who provide these lessons are not in the business to pay English teachers a high salary. You will want to supplement your teaching salary with private students. Many of the students in your group will ask you to provide private lessons outside of the school additionally or refer their friends to you if you are a good teacher. 

A lot of language schools have connections to local international businesses. This means that if you have prior corporate experience, you will have a huge leg up on other candidates to teach business English classes.

Teaching these classes provides you with networking opportunities that other English classes usually do not. You will be teaching at international companies, which may hire expat workers. It gives you a chance to highlight your experience to potential hiring managers and you will be interacting with senior executives on an informal level, which will allow you to get to know them and their business better.

If you are looking to transition from English teaching to a professional job, you need to be teaching business English. This is a fantastic opportunity to land private students who are willing to pay much more for private lessons. They typically require you teach outside of traditional business hours. These students are also quite driven for professional reasons to learn English. So it is easier to motivate them and see progress. 

Where to Look for Jobs

The most difficult part about teaching English in Russia is finding your first job. Especially if you do not already have experience. It can be daunting and time-consuming. Below, we have tried to compile the best list of resources you should check out. Many of them offer options for receiving job newsletters. This is ideal if you are just starting your search so that you can get job alerts as they appear.

Expatriant Jobs
English First
ESL Authority
LinkedIn Jobs
Dave’s ESL Cafe

These sites have the most opportunities at any given time around the world. Many of them have filters to search, which will make your search easier. 

It is much better to search for local language schools. If you don’t speak the local language you will have less luck with this option, but many have sites in English. Popular job boards will have a wealth of English teaching opportunities. These opportunities may not be listed on the more international job sites. It pays to know as much as possible about the local market so you can concentrate your search on the sites that yield the best results. 

Networking to Find an English Teaching Job

At Expatriant, we believe that the most important skill you can learn while abroad is networking. Using your network to find jobs will be even more lucrative. Once you are in-Russia, start attending networking events. The best place to find networking opportunities can be found in many international communities. Some of the best options for places to find events, where local English teachers are present, are Internations, Facebook Expat Groups, Couchsurfing, and Meetup.com. For more information on networking abroad, take a look at our post Six Great Ways to Network Abroad.

The best strategy is to meet local teachers and ask where they are searching for jobs and currently employed. You will get significantly better information from the local teachers than you will ever find on the Internet. 

We hope that you find this guide informative. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at contact@expatriant.com. Want to learn how to jumpstart your English teaching job hunt? Check out our Career Consulting page. We will help you track down the most popular schools in any given country and assist in the application process. 

If you are ready to start applying to English teaching jobs in Russia, check out our newly launched job board – Expatriant Jobs. We publish jobs suitable for expats.