Your day-to-day tasks will revolve around English lessons that incorporate formal teaching and interactive activities. Imagine that you have two groups of students -- one of about eight adults who speak English well enough to discuss topics of everyday interest, and the other a group of ten children about 10 years of age who only know a few words of English. You meet each group twice per week for about an hour-and-a-half each time and you spend a few hours preparing for the lessons as well. On Friday, you also lead an English-language movie night. All-in-all, you spend about 20 hours per week on work-related activities.
You carefully plan each lesson, initially with the help of your supervisor and increasingly on your own. For the adult group, you pick topics like travel, money, and relationships. You show them videos to challenge their English comprehension and assign reading materials in order to expand their vocabularies. With the kids, you play games like Simon Says and hangman, teaching them colors, numbers, and simple sentences.
The most memorable lesson? Maybe the one on space travel -- who would have thought that so many of your adult students had engineering degrees! Or perhaps the one about the Cuban missile crisis, where your students shared with you their thoughts on President Kennedy and the history of those events.
Your host organization will be a language academy, offering courses that feel similar to SAT- or A-levels prep. Except in their case, the courses are foreign languages and their students would include children and adults. For the children, the language classes complement the school curriculum, while adults brush up on language skills for work or travel.
That said, while SAT- or A-level prep is a one-off, learning a foreign language takes time. Students get to know each other, creating a small community. Adults bond over a common interest in other cultures, ideas, and lifestyles. Kids have fun together and, as far as parents are concerned, do something useful at the same time. You are a special guest for this crowd, and it's almost inevitable that you will spend time with them outside of class. They will want to learn more about you and will have tons of questions about what life in the West is like and how Russia is perceived, sharing their own perspectives along the way.
You will stay with a host family, maybe two (same as the translation position). Imagine coming home after a day of work. For dinner, how does a bowl of borscht with a dollop of sour cream, black bread, and pryaniki and tea for dessert sound? Ok, so your host family works, and this is the second day you're eating that borscht. But, hey, you had one hell of a time talking about that dubbed Sherlock episode you all watched together last Sunday and you can't wait for the weekend since your hosts are meeting up with some friends at the river and are taking you with them.
Your homestay is first and foremost a place to rest and to recharge. But it is also a glimpse into Russian family life. Yes, it will be fun and, yes, you get lots of Russian language practice.
"My teaching experience was one of the best experiences of my life. The Russians I met have become some of the nicest and most genuine friends I have. I was also fortunate to go on a camping trip. If I could, I would do it all over again. It was a truly worthwhile and amazing experience."
Alex A. (University of Florida)
Located in one of two regional centers (Ryazan and Voronezh), the teaching internship is a very personally rewarding experience. The work is fun, but also challenging, and you have support from a professional teacher to help you improve as you go along. As an alum put it, "When I left, I felt like I had made an impact on the place and the place had an impact on me." The structure of the internship is highly flexible, and you can make it as immersive as you like.
On a resume, this internship will help you show that you want to translate your studies into a career and that you are willing to step well outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to do so. If showing evidence of expertise on Russia/CIS or mastery of the Russian language is your objective, the level at which you experience Russia on this program easily demonstrates both. Naturally, if you're interested in teaching English abroad or teaching in general, this program is a perfect test run.