Russia is a great destination for those who want to teach English abroad. Schools are run professionally and students are very eager to learn. The Communicative Approach works perfectly here, but there are a few things that ESL teachers should consider when teaching English in Russia.
For several decades, the only ways for people in Russia to study foreign languages were learning grammar and translating monotonous texts. In the late 90s schools began to use the Communicative Approach, which was very unusual and odd for students. Since then, a lot has changed and now this approach is widely practiced as everyone knows its advantages and effectiveness. However, people (especially adults) who start learning English are usually skeptical about “speaking English only” right from the very first lesson. This is based on an old Russian conception about learning: rules come first. That said, ESL teachers must do their best to demonstrate how communicative activities work from day one.
Many countries have specific cultural values and taboo topics. In Russia people may discuss everything; there aren’t any notably prohibited subjects and teachers are free to choose from a wide variety of authentic materials. All students – young and adult – are completely different, so you should get to know their interests at the beginning of the course or the school year.
Exam Preparation & the Communicative Approach – TESOL Russia
Foreign teachers working at Russian schools have to prepare children for an extremely important final English exam, which is really hard and which requires deep knowledge of the English language (Approximately high-intermediate at the age of 16). Pupils spend several hours every day preparing for the exam, so they must be highly motivated, inspired and fully interested in the language. Those teachers who have completed a TESOL course know how to create and apply communicative tasks. Pupils especially like role-plays and class discussions, which help them to acquire the required speaking skills for the exam.
Using L1 within the Communicative Approach – TESOL Russia
If you teach adults you will soon find out that Russians work hard and don’t have much free time. This means they don’t usually spend a lot of time doing homework, so they really hope to get the most out of your lesson. How well can you speak Russian? You need to answer this question before choosing what language level to teach. If you only know basic Russian, you will face many problems with low level adult students. Many adult students in Russia expect you to provide translations and this is why many employers give preference to ESL teachers who speak Russian; however, you are the certified teacher and it is your job to determine when it is effective to use L1 in the ESL classroom and when it is not.
In general, English learners in Russia like communicative activities. If you have a good range of role-plays, games, vocabulary and grammar activities, and you are well grounded in conducting all these activities, you will definitely work with students effectively.