Teaching English in Belarus

For English teachers interested in teaching English in Belarus here is an interview with Cole Davis - who also talks about teaching English in Russia here. Cole has many years of experience teaching in the region and is the owner of Career Steer a website helping people with career choices.

Belarus is a landlocked country of less than 10 million people and as Cole mentions, the opportunities for finding much work here are small. However, some English teachers do find work in the country. For most teachers, teaching English in Belarus, means teaching English in Minsk, the capital city. Here is the interview.


Interview on Teaching English in Belarus with Cole Davis

What is the job market for teaching jobs like in Belarus now? Have there been many changes recently?

The market is terrible! Most schools, if they can offer a visa, offer part-time work,generally offering conversational classes. Unless you can find some good one-to-one work, you'll go broke. The only serious full-time employer is International House in Minsk.

How would you recommend a new teacher gets his/her first teaching job in Belarus?

Apply to International House Minsk in the spring (go the IH web site for details). If you must try other schools, make direct contact. Newcomers can get jobs.

Is TEFL certification and/or experience necessary?

For IH, emphatically yes, CELTA is required. I think they will take new teachers.For the other schools, for conversationl classes, a qualification is not required, nor experience, but resourcefulness is required. You have to think up discussion topics and ways of getting the students to talk!

What is a typical range of salaries for teaching English in Belarus? Is it possible to save any money? Are there large regional variations?

I think IH Minsk pay about $700 with free accommodation. Expect peanuts from everywhere else, mainly because of lack of hours. With the former, you can save if you don't overdo the night life. Elsewhere, you'll go broke unless you are very successful at picking up one-to-one work.

What are the best things about living in Belarus?

Minsk has excellent restaurants and nightlife, which is fine if you can afford it. A friendly city, although not an old building to be seen thanks to the depredations of the second world war. The other cities are said to be charming, but I doubt if there is any work to be found there. Belarusian people are very friendly, although they do tend to believe that all westerners are wealthy.

What are the best cities in Belarus for getting an English teaching job?

Only Minsk, I think.

How important is it to learn Russian or Belarusian? Are there good opportunities to learn the language?

I always recommend learning to read the Cyrillic script. Then you can read an Anglo-Russian dictionary. Employers, however, are not overly concerned about your knowledge of Russian, but I would suggest at least reading the first few chapters of a textbook so that you can be polite and can do some basic shopping and travel. Where the school offers language learning, I think it is worthwhile to take them up on the offer. You may also try private tutors, but I think the local universities are quite good too.

Generally speaking, I would not recommend making a study of Belarusian. This is not to criticise the language itself; it is not commonly spoken and, if you research the country more, you will find that it can carry unwelcome connotations. In any case, almost everyvbody speaks Russian as either their first language or, in some villages, as the lingua franca.

A Walk in Minsk

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