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Testimonials

Louisa King, United Kingdom

Teacher of English (2009-2010)

Pre-arrival

I do not recall any problems with communication with Language Link before my arrival. The letter of invitation was received in good time, the manager of the center was great at responding to my questions about all subjects: from visa getting to meeting me in the airport.

Life in Ekaterinburg

My first accommodation was a one-room apartment close to the main rail station. I could travel to school on the metro and then take around a 10-minute walk to the school. I was unhappy with the condition of the first flat and the school helped me to find another where I was much happier. The second flat was around a 25 minute walk from the school. The school also assisted in getting a local SIM for my mobile phone and internet access. Mobile phone access was relatively cheap and worked well, but remember that calls to other regions in Russia may be more expensive depending on the type of scheme you are in. I had to get internet access set up in my flat, but once this was done the service was good.

Work experience in general

I generally worked from around 4-5 pm until 9 pm every weekday evening. The salary was good and more than adequate for my needs, and I was able to save some money for the summer break – although I suspect if you have a lively social life and eat/drink out a lot you may find this more difficult.

There was a friendly work atmosphere and teachers would occasionally socialize, for example on public holidays.

Equipment and resources

Classrooms were clean, warm and bright, equipped with a whiteboard and CD player. A resource library was good for adult classes, although there were fewer resources for the children’s classes.

Students

I had some 1-1 classes (2 with children, one with a local businessperson); other classes had between 4 – 12 students.

From foreigner to foreigners

It is not always easy for non-Russian speakers to manage in Russia, as English may not be widely spoken outside the major cities. I already had a university degree in Russian, and I also took 1-1 lessons with a teacher at the school.

A long, down coat and skiing trousers will help you to survive the winter. If you enter a shop with items you’ve bought elsewhere, remember to put them in the locker provided, otherwise you will attract the attention of the store detective…

Joe Harrold, United Kingdom

Teacher of English (September 2013 - July 2015)

Pre-arrival

The process of applying for my job in Russia was clear, easy to understand and fairly quick: as a part of this I had to complete a series of tests and exercises which was followed by a Skype interview. Later I had an interview with a representative of Interstudy in Ekaterinburg in order to get my placement here. Getting a letter of invitation and medical insurance took approximately 1 month. I was very satisfied with my information support while applying for a visa, as well as the organization of my arrival in Yekaterinburg.

Life in Ekaterinburg

My accommodation here was really good: I lived in a one-room flat about 20 minutes from the city center by bus. The flat had modern appliances including a washing machine and oven. The cost of local mobile service and Internet was quite low. I paid around 500 rubles for Internet each month, the speed of the service was very good, however I had experienced a number of technical issues with the company.

Work experience in general

My work timetable was regular each week, the administrators were very flexible and had avoided split shifts whenever possible. The salary had been paid on schedule without exception, I have never been underpaid. The atmosphere at work was friendly, however teachers do not often go out together as a group. In the first year there wasn’t a lot of academic support, however in the second year a new Director of Studies has always helped me when I have asked.

Equipment and resources

My classroom was the largest in the school and was more than big enough for lessons, but the equipment could sometimes be a bit lacking. Among the syllabus we used there were New English File and English in Mind for most group classes, I had also taught using Hot Spot, Friends, Discover English and Laser. There were a resource library, fairly well stocked for adults, although there could be more material for teenagers.

Students

The maximum number of students per class was 10. I have taught all levels and ages of students from elementary to advanced and from 9 years old children to adults.

From foreigner to foreigners

I believe it is possible to live in Russia without Russian. I could have Russian lessons at Interstudy however they are not through the company but organised privately with a teacher at the school.

Expect the unexpected and try to see everything as an experience. Teaching people here is very rewarding and children are usually very well-behaved, if you go in with a positive outlook it’s a great experience.

Justin Yeager, USA

Teacher of English (2007-2015)

Between my master’s and doctoral programs, I was working as a regional manager for an American company that owned different restaurants and cafes in New England, Boston and Massachusetts. There were some people from Russia on the "Work and Travel" program, so I got to know some of them. That was when I realized Russians were pretty cool, and meeting them motivated me. I love to travel, and for Americans, Russia is quite an exotic country, which seems extremely far away. I was always interested in Russian culture and understood that 1 or 2 weeks was not enough fully get a feel for the country and understand who the people are and how they live every day. In 2007, I decided to get more than a tourist’s idea of the country. I started looking for a job in Russia. I received an offer from "Language Link"(which later became "Interstudy") and quickly agreed – it was the best option for me.

Life in Ekaterinburg

I chose Ekaterinburg to feel "true Russia". Moscow is a beautiful city, but too noisy and busy for me, and St. Petersburg has too much European influence because of historical reasons.

In Ekaterinburg, I first lived with a guy from Australia, and later I got my own place. The "Language Link" staff found an accommodation and paid for it. It was almost in the city center - a 15-minute walk from the office.

Work Experience in General

The staff always tried to schedule classes in the most convenient way for the teachers.

The classrooms were comfortable and cozy, perfect for the groups of 10.

Books and materials were available in the center’s library, and of course I had to use the books to teach grammar and vocabulary, although my courseswere first and foremost speaking intensive. The book that "Interstudy" staff chose to work with - "English File"- was magnificent, I really loved it’s format.

Students

Working with Russian students was always interesting, but not easy, so I felt like I had to learn how to teach again. A Russian mentality has its own specific features: there has to be a rule and there has to be a name for this rule. At the beginning of my work, it seemed unnecessary and excessive, but later I started to understand the whole system of Russian education and that influencedmy perception very much.

I started to work with teenage groups. According to Interstudy’s system, the maximum number of people in one group is 10, and I find it brilliant.

From Foreigner to Foreigner

Initially I didn’t speak any Russian, but I knew I could call my friends and ask them for help. Now Ican speak Russian, but mostly fromso-called "street" teaching, although Russian lessons were provided at work. I can say it’s quite possible to live here without knowing Russian, a lot of younger people can speak English nowadays. But I do advise learning the basics at the very minimum in order to feel more confident.

Probably the most important advice for all people coming to Russia for the first time: if Russian people invite you to go somewhere or do something – just do it. It’s a perfect chance to find new contacts through them and make new friends. In addition, Russian hospitality is not a myth – these people will make sure that you enjoy yourself and that everything is fantastic for you.

Every day in Russia is a surprise. I have lived here for 9 years and still find things that are new, interesting, and sometimes shocking(in a good way).Remember that your level of happiness doesn’t depend too much on the place. Just be optimistic and open to everything new.

Jonathan Tucker, United Kingdom

Teacher of English (September 2012 - June 2016)

How clear and understandable was beginning of communication with Interstudy?

Everything was clear from the very beginning

How much time did it take to get a letter of invitation and medical insurance?

It took no longer than could be expected for such a process. Everything was done as quickly as possible, although I cannot remember exactly how long it took, as my initial year at this school was three years ago.

Did you get information support while applying for a visa?

Yes, Tatyana always responded very quickly in answer to any queries I had.

How was organized your arriving to Yekaterinburg?

I was met at the station without any problems.

Accommodation - how is it was? How far it was from the school?

In my first year, before I organised my own accommodation, the flat was fine apart from the Soviet landlord who had extremely strange ideas about rentiong flats out. it was a ten minute metro ride away from the center.

Local mobile service and Internet – cost and quality?

Both the local mobile service and internet are affordable and of good quality, although Kabinet internet puts the нет into  интернет, meaning it is shockingly bad.

Timetable (split shifts and number of ac.hours per week, stability)

My timetable has always been ok. If I have had a split-shift, every effort has been made to make things as convenient as possible,

How was your salary?

My salary has always been regularly paid.

Classrooms – equipment, size. Number of students in a group

Apart from the awful quality of the CD players for the first two and a half years, the equipment has always been of a decent standard. My room was small, but adequate for the purpose. I’ve never had a group bigger than 10 regular students.

Age and level of students.

The average age and level of the students has always been around 30 and intermediate repectively.

Is there a resource library?

Yes there is. It has also been updated rairly regularly.

What syllabus did you use?

NEF mainly. English in Mind is deplorable. (Awful)

Did they provide academic support?

Academic support was always available.

Is there a friendly atmosphere? Do teachers go out together?

There is a friendly atmosphere most of the time, but a lot more could be done to ensure that the native speakers spend more time with the other Russian teachers, as there is very little inter-mingling outside the workplace.

For how long did you work in Ekaterinburg?

For three years.

How important is it to speak Russian for a foreigner coming to Russia? Is it possible to study Russian in Interstudy?

It’s quite important if they want to integrate well into the country and make their lives easier. If they do not desire this, then it is quite easy for them to get by with the help of Russian friends and pointing at things in shops. It is possible to study Russian at Interstudy. I received some very good lessons myself.

What advice can you give to teachers, coming to Russia for the first time?

Try and learn the language, don’t be too polite to drunk people, don’t give your phone number to people out of politeness, if you can avoid travelling by marshrutka, avoid it, don’t live too far from the centre, don’t go to the expat bars too much if you want to have some money left.


Dana Donohoe, USA

Teacher of English (September 2015 - June 2016)

Pre-arrival

Both arrival and pre-arrival support were well-organized. “Interstudy” staff were extremely responsive in the early application phases and always available to assist me and answer any questions regarding the visa process. They e-mailed me regarding my application and set up an interview within a couple of days. All of the necessary documents arrived well in advance of when I needed to apply for my visa.

I also gave “Interstudy” my estimated time of arrival and a member of their staff was waiting for me at the airport when my plane arrived to take me by taxi to my apartment.

Life in Ekaterinburg

My apartment in Ekaterinburg is about a 40-minute walk from work and located on numerous convenient bus and tram lines. It is spacious, clean and supplied with all necessities including bedding, furniture, and kitchen utensils. I use MTC internet and phone service. I get great service and it’s easy to add money to my phone using the machines around the city. “Interstudy” helped me set up my wi-fi router in my apartment and paid the balance every month (500 rubles/month), which was subtracted from my salary.

Work experience in general.

The atmosphere at “Interstudy” is really friendly and laid back. Teachers often hang out, chat, and share food in the office. We went out to a bar or restaurant for a couple of holidays and special occasions.

Teachers receive a set lesson schedule that doesn’t change much from week to week. If there are any changes, you will be provided with a new printed schedule in advance. 30 academic hours per week is the normal workload, but it is possible to take additional lessons for which you will be paid overtime. Teachers will have two designated days off during the week.

“Interstudy” always pays my salary in a regular and timely manner.

Equipment and resources

Classrooms are comfortably furnished and well-lit. They are equipped with whiteboards, dry erase markers and erasers, CD players and textbook CDs, large TVs, and speakers. Classes are a range of different sizes, including individual lessons.

There are lots of different textbooks, grammar reference books, adapted readers, and photocopiables available to teachers. The Director of Studies is available to discuss lessons and materials, the managers are ensured that I always had access to the materials and technology that I needed for my lessons.

I used “Solutions” Pre-Intermediate with my teenage groups, “New English File” Intermediate and Upper-Intermediate with adults, and “Discover English 2” with children 11-12. In addition, I created my own materials for my speaking club lessons and used a variety of materials for one-to-one lessons.

Students

“Interstudy” teaches students of all ages and levels. All groups are limited to 8 students and many are as small as 4-6 students. I taught levels ranging from Pre-Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate and ages ranging from 11 to middle-aged.

From foreigner to foreigners

It’s not necessary to speak Russian to work at “Interstudy” – the center is happy to offer teachers support with any problem or errand that requires knowledge of Russian. That being said, of course, knowing some Russian will make your life easier! “Interstudy” will provide lessons with a Russian teacher no matter what your level is!

Make time to enjoy your life outside of work! Try to explore the city and do things that you enjoy. Start with the red line walking tour that you can follow past many of the city’s main sites!

Jonathan Errington, United Kingdom

Teacher of English (September 2013 - Present)

How clear and understandable was beginning of communication with Interstudy?

Very clear.

How much time did it take to get a letter of invitation and medical insurance?

Not much time. Quick process.

Did you get information support while applying for a visa?

Yes.

How was organized your arriving to Yekaterinburg?

I organised it by myself.

Accommodation - how is it was? How far it was from the school?

Not far from the school. I live in a good place and the company supports accommodation costs.

Local mobile service and Internet – cost and quality?

Good service.

Timetable (split shifts and number of ac.hours per week, stability).

Good timetable, but most days finish at 8pm or 9pm which doesn’t leave much time to do anything in the week sociably. The stability of groups is varied.

How was your salary?

The salary is acceptable if you stay in the provided accommodation.

Classrooms – equipment, size. Number of students in a group.

I have the largest classroom, it is big enough to have a group of 8 students. The class sizes can range from 1 or 2 to 7 or 8. The classrooms have basic equipment - CD player, pens, whiteboard.

Age and level of students.

The age and level of students is varied.

Is there a resource library?

Yes, but it needs to be updated with more modern books and resources.

What syllabus did you use?

There is no syllabus because this is a language school, not a school. We use the appropriate books for the appropriate age and level

For how long did you work in Ekaterinburg?

4 years.

Give three reasons why you have stayed at the company for 4 years time.

Coming to this city, and Russia in general was a challenge for me. At first it was very difficult but I had help from friends and Interstudy. I wasn’t the best teacher at first and the transition from teaching in a school in England to teaching in a language centre was a shock. Gradually though, I became very good at teaching and developed my own unique system of teaching which has been very successful. I love the city of Yekaterinburg, and I very much enjoy working in Interstudy. I feel that I have a place here and I have built a good reputation for myself as a teacher of English language. Working for any company, no matter how big or small, there can be issues and problems which can be difficult to discuss and which can make some people annoyed or upset. This, unfortunately is part of business and should not reflect on the overall experience. So, to conclude:

1) Most importantly, the students. I feel that I can help them to achieve what they want. This gives me great satisfaction in my work.

2) Of all the language schools in this area, Interstudy is by far the best, and of course I want to work for the best company in this sphere and to help it to grow further.

3) Progression. I am aware that Interstudy is a progressive company, and I want to be a part of that.

Tell about Ekaterinburg and social life in the city.

Yekaterinburg is the place if you want to be a teacher in Russia! It is a very academic city with thousands of students who want to be taught by a great teacher. If you are a great teacher then you will easily build a reputation and create a wonderful rapport with students which is an extremely rewarding experience. As for the city itself, Yekaterinburg is a beautiful and modern city, the old mixed with the new. There is a wide range of bars, restaurants, night clubs and cafes to suit any needs. You would be surprised that there are many English speakers here in the city, so making yourself understood in any of the mentioned places is not a problem most of the time. Yekaterinburg also has hidden beauty in its countryside and mountainous areas. A 20 minute drive out of the city centre and you can be transported to some of the most spectacular landscapes, lakes and campsites that Russia has to offer. You can easily make friends here in Yekaterinburg as there are many people who are just happy to talk to a native speaker of English. At first it can be a little daunting that if people here your voice they want to talk to you and ask you a lot of questions, but this soon becomes normal. The weather in this region is very unpredictable, except for Winter. When Winter comes around, it hits hard and it stays. The temperature can drop to -40 sometimes, which sounds crazy, but it’s normal. You won’t feel the cold if you wear the right clothing, and what’s more, the city takes on a different beauty in the Winter months. The thing that you will notice most about this city is the progression – there is always something new being built, whether it be new, high rise apartment blocks or new office complexes, it is evident that this city is on the up!

How important is it to speak Russian for a foreigner coming to Russia? Is it possible to study Russian in Interstudy?

A person can survive without a good knowledge of Russian language, basic is ok. Obviously to communicate better a better level of Russian language is needed.

What advice can you give to teachers, coming to Russia for the first time?

Learn grammar and know how to teach grammar. Be communicative.


Clive Coombs, United Kingdom

Teacher of English (April 2016 - Present)

How clear and understandable was beginning of communication with Interstudy? 

Very easy - mostly via email with director Tatyana.

How much time did it take to get a letter of invitation and medical insurance?

I don't remember, about 21 days I think.

Did you get information support while applying for a visa?

Received when requested.

How was organized your arriving to Yekaterinburg? 

Tatyana met me at the airport.

Accommodation - how is it? How far it was from the school?

Not too luxurious! It is adequate for a short period. Smaller than I am used to, but I am close to amenities. There are a few problems in the flat, but I can live with them! It is about 30 minutes walk, or 20 minutes team-ride, to/from school.

Local mobile service and Internet – cost and quality? 

Mobile phone and Internet are good - I 'top up' as necessary.

Timetable (split shifts and number of ac. hours per week, stability).

I understand the requirements of 'teaching in shifts'. I always work 'overtime' too.

How is your salary?

Salary a little lower than expected, but I believe it is around 'average' for the position. Full remuneration package includes accommodation, medical insurance, visa costs, and initial travel costs (limited). And is paid net of tax.

You cannot compare Russian salaries with UK, or American, you must factor in 'local costs of living' - this is not often done by an applicant; they remain 'put off'/disappointed with what they perceive as a low salary, without checking the costs of living!).

Classrooms – equipment, size. Number of students in a group.

Adequate to provide the learning that I am required to deliver.

Age and level of students.

I teach mostly adults, in small groups and as individuals; I also teach a few 'late teens' in 1-2-1 tutorial-style.

Is there a resource library?

There are shelves of books and CDs available.

Did they provide academic support?

Academic director Ludmilla can usually suggest a book or find something that I can use.

Is there a friendly atmosphere? Do teachers go out together?

Very - almost like a family; but I think this depends on the individual teacher too. Everyone seems very friendly towards me, I was accepted and made to feel very welcome - not only by my teaching colleagues, or 'my, but also 'the 5th floor', marketing people, Hilton Camp people, etc.

We do go out together, sometimes 'company organised' occasions and sometimes 'just the guys'.

For how long have you worked in Ekaterinburg?

1 year and 2 month.

Give three things about the city.

1. Ekaterinburg is quite compact and cosmopolitan, almost with a 'Western European feel' to it.

2. There are good, and inexpensive, transport links to make it very easy to move between districts.

3. There are a lot of 'green lungs' - parks, for fresh air within the city; it is hard to believe that you are in a large city when you are in these parks!

(And.........don't forget the History! There is even a red line painted on the pavement - it acts as a guide, so that you find all the 'touristy bits' easily; and it can 'save you from getting lost', just find the red line and follow It and you will eventually get back to where you started!)

How important is it to speak Russian for a foreigner coming to Russia?  

It can enhance your experiences, but ISPs not an absolute necessity; understanding the culture is far more important.

What advice can you give to teachers, coming to Russia for the first time?

Ooh - interesting question!

Be careful - not all schools are the same. Ask to speak with current 'native speakers'!

Check out the school. It's history, the staff, schools location, 'remuneration package' (not just salary offer), courses, 'partner organisations', etc. (social media is such a useful 'tool' for this!).

Do your homework on Russian people/Russian culture. 

Be open and receptive. 

"Don't believe everything you read in the papers" (#blameitonrussia etc.)

Take nothing for granted. Don't expect too much - it's not always the same as you're used to! 

Be willing to learn about yourself.

Shawn Bennik, USA

Teacher of English (September 2016 - until now)

How clear and understandable was beginning of communication with Interstudy?

Absolutely clear.

How much time did it take to get a letter of invitation and medical insurance?

It arrived quite rapidly.

Did you get information support while applying for a visa?

Some.

How was organized your arrival to Yekaterinburg?

No problems whatsoever.

Accommodation - how was it? How far was it from the school?

The apartment was amiable and a 30 minute walk to the school.

Local mobile service and  Internet – cost and quality?

Reasonable.

Timetable (split shifts and number of ac.hours per week, stability).

The hours and scheduling were as agreed upon between myself and the school.

How was your salary?

Quite competitive.

Classrooms – equipment, size. Number of students in a group.

The classes were small which allowed more individual attention for each student.

Age and level of students.

From 12 to 42 years of age. Beginner to advanced.

Is there a resource library?

Yes.

What syllabus did you use?

I followed the Solutions and Eng. File class format.

Did they provide academic support?

Of coarse.

Is there a friendly atmosphere? Do teachers  go out together?

I always found the staff quite friendly. There were occasional teacher gatherings.

For how long did you work in Ekaterinburg?

One year.

How important is it to speak Russian for a foreigner coming to Russia? Is it possible to study Russian in Interstudy?

I would recommend it. They did provide information for tutors.

What advice can you give to teachers, coming to Russia for the first time?

Not much to say here. The culture isn’t that dramatically different from North America or Europe.

Louis Marinelli, USA

Teacher of English (November 2016 - until now)

How clear and understandable was beginning of communication with Interstudy?

Crystal clear. Completely understandable.

How much time did it take to get a letter of invitation and medical insurance?

Between a month and two months once all parties had agreed on the terms of employment.

Did you get information support while applying for a visa?

Yes.

How was organized your arriving to Yekaterinburg?

Very.

Accommodation - how is it? How far it was from the school?

Accommodation was as expected. It was not far from the school.

Local mobile service and Internet – cost and quality?

Good. I use Beeline and it costs about 500 rubles per month for unlimited service including high speed internet. 

Timetable (split shifts and number of ac.hours per week, stability).

I generally like my timetable but do not enjoy working in the mornings. I greatly appreciate the work the school does to keep my morning working hours to a minimum. I also don't enjoy split shifts with great gaps in between the shifts because it makes the rest of the day a long waiting period. I am happy with the number of hours per week, and the general stability of the schedule during the fall and spring seasons

How is your salary?

I am happy with my salary.

Classrooms – equipment, size. Number of students in a group.

I don't have any complaints about the classrooms. More multimedia options, such as a projector+laptop, would be cool.

Age and level of students.

I prefer adults. I like my classes that have people over the age of 18. Teaching younger students forces me to be someone I'm not and I don't enjoy those classes as a result.

Is there a resource library?

Yes, very organized.

Did they provide academic support?

Yes.

Is there a friendly atmosphere? Do teachers go out together?

Yes. Yes.

For how long have you worked in Ekaterinburg?

I have worked in Yekaterinburg for 9 months now.

How important is it to speak Russian for a foreigner coming to Russia?

I think it's a big plus but as far as I'm aware, some of our current longer-term teachers don't speak Russian very well and they get by. So, not mandatory but certainly helpful.

Your impression about Ekaterinburg.

I've lived in various cities in Russia and I have enjoyed living in Yekaterinburg more than any other Russian city.

What advice can you give to teachers, coming to Russia for the first time?

Be prepared to improvise and be prepared to adjust to living without the same level of customer service that you are accustomed to in the West. In Russia, the notion that the "customer is always right" is not always respected, and you will not always be treated like the institution you are shopping at wants to earn your business. 

Chisha Paszczyk, USA

Teacher of English (February 2017 - May 2017)

How clear and understandable was beginning of communication with Interstudy? 

Very clear.

Did you get information support while applying for a visa? 

Yes, Tatyana was always there to help.

How was organized your arriving to Yekaterinburg? 

My arrival was simple. I simply got on a plane and had a layover and then got on another plane and arrived in Ekaterinburg. Upon arrival I got a taxi and went to the flat of my friend with whom I shared a flat. 

Accommodation - how is it was? How far it was from the school? 

I had my own accommodation.

Local mobile service and Internet – cost and quality? 

I got that sorted myself too.

Timetable (split shifts and number of ac.hours per week, stability). 

My timetable was great by the end of my contract.

How was your salary? 

Of course it could always be higher, but I had enough to get by with.

Age and level of students.

Well I taught all ages and levels, but I definitely prefer adults!

Is there a resource library? 

There are resources in terms of books. I think communication games would be beneficial too!

Did they provide academic support? 

Interstudy was very supportive when I had difficult teenage pupils. They called parents when behaviour was unacceptable.

Is there a friendly atmosphere? Do teachers go out together? 

Teachers are very friendly and as I understand it, teachers do go out together, but I haven't done so outwith corporate outings. 

For how long have you worked in Ekaterinburg? 

I worked in Ekaterinburg for 4 months.

How important is it to speak Russian for a foreigner coming to Russia? 

Frankly, if you come to live in any foreign country, it is essential to speak the language.

Your impression about Ekaterinburg. 

The city may appear at first glance like any other city, but it has some very extraordinary people inhabiting it. The citizens are very hard working, academically motivated and creative, which makes them a pleasure to know and work with.

What advice can you give to teachers, coming to Russia for the first time? 

Dress warmly, be open minded, do something outside of work that gets you acquainted on neutral territory with the locals and learn Russian.