English Teaching Opportunity at the American Home in Vladimir, Russia
*Application deadline is March 15th of every year!*
Serendipity American English and Culture Program has been in continuous operation at the American Home in Vladimir, Russia since September 1992 under the auspices of Serendipity: Russian Consulting & Development, Ltd.—now called Serendipity-Russia. Demand for English lessons from native speakers remains very strong. In addition to classes, our teachers offer lectures on topics of special interest to Russians. Recent topics have ranged from the “realities” of American higher education to much lighter fare such as the American preoccupation with physical fitness.
This is an exceptional opportunity to experience Russia in a uniquely supportive atmosphere and to accomplish something worthwhile in the process. Previous teachers have commented very favorably on the quality of our facilities and teaching materials; the tremendous support provided by their colleagues, including our dedicated Russian staff; and, how much they have enjoyed their Russian students. Several of our teachers have parlayed their experience in Vladimir into employment in Moscow or stateside—or into admission to major graduate programs.
Contract period: Second week of August through the end of June (2nd year renewal possible)
• A stipend
• Room and board with a Russian family
• Three hours per week of individual Russian lessons taught by trained native speakers
• Pleasant, well-equipped working environment in the “first American home in Russia”
• Assistance from the very knowledgeable and supportive Russian staff
• Round trip airfare to Moscow; one year multi entry visa—Serendipity provides full visa support and pays the visa fee on the Russian side–teachers pay the visa fee on the American side; and maintenance of health insurance coverage in the U.S. plus emergency medical evacuation coverage. (Basic limited medical expenses in Russia, with the exception of medications, will be covered.)
• New teachers will be required to take an online TESOL course. The cost of this course is about $265. All the new teachers will take this course at the same time and will share the feedback they receive.
• Fulfillment of the contract teaching obligations–which includes teaching summer school if asked.
• Some knowledge of Russian is strongly recommended, although not required.
*Application deadline is March 15th of every year!*
The Microsoft Word file from the link below provides a list of the information and documents you need to submit in order to complete your application, and it includes instructions for the submission of your letters of recommendation. Download the application instructions and apply now!
If you have any questions about joining the American Home team, please contact Dr. Ron Pope at RonPope42@cs.com!
Notes from former teachers
In response to the question, “What are the best things about your present job?”
Hands down, the people. The teachers that I work with are from all over America and all have different educational backgrounds. Most have studied Russian, but not all of them have. We are all teaching for the first time, and teaching EFL in Russia has its own unique set of challenges that we are facing together. The Russian staff at the American Home is also wonderful, and very supportive when we have questions. The students are the people who are really making my experience great though. It’s incredible to see their progress in class, and also to learn about their lives outside of school and meet their friends and families on the weekends.
Sarah Forman, from the AATSEEL Newsletter Vol. 51, February 2008
During my time in Vladimir I have been able to learn an immense amount about teaching, Russian culture and language, and myself…. Every day here provides me with new perspectives and experiences that I know I would never have had if I were still in the United States. Coming to Russia as an English teacher is a powerful experience, one that will test you in many ways. It is a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture and to get some valuable teaching experience in the process.
Michael “Misha” Kogan, Indiana University
Note: The above is from an article in the School of Russian and Asian Studies newsletter. For the complete article: www.sras.org/news2.phtml?m=631
I started studying Russian my third-year of college and then graduated knowing that I wanted and needed to learn much more Russian and more about Russia — and what better way to spend the year after graduation than abroad. The Serendipity program was the best way I found to do that. I was able to live with a family, experience provincial Russia (I figured it would be fairly easy to find a way to live in Moscow or Petersburg at some later point), develop my Russian language skills, be part of a community, have a network of other Americans (but not too many) and explore what the other side of the desk is like after 18 years as a student. All of this and more was what I got. My co-teachers were people to learn with and from, and provided a support base — when we learned a new custom, or had a question, we were able to share. The staff at the American Home were also an invaluable and constant resource. Galya had answers to all questions, and the “night guards” were always happy to call a cab for us or drink a cup of tea. And then there were the students. I learned so much from them, about teaching, learning, Russia, them and myself. I had some of the same students for two semesters. It was astounding seeing their improvement, and having them comment on my (constantly growing) teaching skill. I felt that I really gave them a feel for the poems we read, the movies we watched, the words we used — and they, through their learning process, opened up the English language to me. Would I do it again? YES.
Bowie Snodgrass, Vassar
Teaching English at the American Home in Vladimir is the best way I can imagine to get to know Russia. You live with a Russian family and take Russian lessons from an excellent teacher at the same time that you have the support, assistance and friendship of the other American teachers and the wonderful Russian staff. As you get to know your students better they begin inviting you to dinner, to the theater, to go dancing, etc. Thanks to the friendships I’ve established here, I feel even more comfortable than I did last year in France where I was more familiar with the language and culture. However, I do recommend learning as much as you can about teaching English to foreigners before you get here. There is an orientation before classes begin, but the more experience you have, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Nicole Mercer, University of California at Santa Cruz
I would highly recommend this job, not only to Russian majors, but to anyone with an interest in Russia. Vladimir is a nice place–quiet and provincial, but within daytrip-distance from Moscow. The teachers here all live with Russian families and are offered three hours a week of Russian tutoring as part of their salary, so even though we’re teaching English, there’s ample opportunity to speak Russian. In terms of teaching English, there are many opportunities in Russia, but I can’t imagine finding a better situation than I have here. The staff at the American Home (both Russian and American) is incredibly supportive and encouraging and has been a wonderful part of my experience here. Because of the maximum 2-year contract, there is a constant influx of new ideas and passing on of learned lessons and experience.
Kira Lee, Carleton College
Vladimir offers a real opportunity to immerse yourself in Russian language and culture. Such immersion can be very frightening at first, and that is why working at the American Home is such a plus. Here I am given the opportunity to work with Russians in an atmosphere that is very familiar, fostering, and comfortable. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to experience Russia for what it really is–and be involved in an internship-style occupation that is both flexible and rewarding.
Matt Plischke, Miami University (Ohio)
Vladimir and the American Home are ideally situated. Vladimir is a part of Russia’s famed Golden Ring, and the American Home lies in the heart of downtown Vladimir. Here, you have all the advantages of Russian city life, but with all the charm of the nearby dachas. The American Home really is the meeting and mixing point for two cultures. You live and work with a friendly staff and friendly students. The Russian lessons and the Russian homestay give you a chance to improve your speaking abilities while experiencing Russian culture firsthand. The longer I stay, the more I discover how much Vladimir has to offer me.
Erika Boeckler, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Working in Vladimir is the best thing I have ever done to improve my Russian, learn more about Russian culture, and give myself time to decide what my next step will be.
Rachel Lu Owens, University of Montana
One of the things my current professors [at Columbia University] have pointed out to me is that, for people interested in pursuing anything related to Russian or post-Soviet studies, there’s a real advantage to living in a city like Vladimir. Because of the political situation which restricted most travel and research outside of Moscow and Leningrad for so long, a lot of the current specialists are people who may very well not have spent much time outside these two major cities. For this reason, I’m told, the younger Americans who are living in small towns in Russia are seen as possessing a “unique and valuable experience” when compared to those who worked pretty much exclusively in the larger cities.
Jason Muse, Occidental College
For more information, be sure to check out The American Home English Program: Participant Comments & Observations!
The lectures the American Home organizes about American traditions help to eliminate stereotypes….
The conversation classes are a great addition to the regular courses. If we ever have a chance to go to the United States it will definitely be easier to understand people…..
Having 10 different levels of proficiency [i.e., 5 years with two semesters each] is a great thing. The people who are studying with me are all at the same level which allows us to use our time in class efficiently…
Their extraordinary sense of humor, kindness, understanding, and even their artistic abilities–all this is a great combination in our teachers….
The opportunity to communicate with American teachers is wonderful….
This program is great. The classes are taught in an open, relaxing way, and this makes you feel the same…
We like our classes very much. We don’t feel intimidated in the American Home like we do in our regular foreign language classes. When the class is over each day we don’t want to leave…
The relaxed system of teaching, the humor, the willingness to answer all of our questions–all of this helps to break down the language barriers…
Everything we talk about is very interesting, as are all the videos. I think they have found the best way of teaching here at the American Home…
The discussions in class, the home work, the audio and video materials–all of this provides a solid foundation for learning….
I took the TOEFL test [Test of English as a Foreign Language–required of all students who want to study in U.S. or Canadian universities] at the beginning of our special class. After just two months I had improved my score by 30 percent!
Our son is confined to a wheelchair, but thanks to his English classes, he has been able to enter a new world and to be with others. He is able to study a different culture and to feel the warmth and caring of the people who work at the American Home…. We want to thank the administration of the American Home for giving him a chance to study here….