I realize that I already wrote about this subject in an earlier post: What the Hell is a Russian State School? However, the thing is that I wrote about it, I didn’t show it. So in this post I’d like to include some images from my time teaching ESL in the Russian public school system. If you want to hear a bit of background about Russian public schools, read one. If you just want to check out the photos, scroll on down.

Where else could I possibly start, except to stay that Russian public schools are crazy! Kids run wildly in the halls, they slam doors, they yell and scream. There is very little, if any, order. As an American this was surprising. When we were kids, if we ran in the hall we got yelled at. I think we even had to walk in lines sometimes. Order was the name of the game.

Who is to Blame?

Man, when I was teaching English in Moscow class would end, and those kids would bolt out of there faster then if I was chasing them with a machete. Not that this bolting behavior was restricted to the end of class either. I had a couple of particularly difficult classes where the kids would run out during the middle of class. When that happened I would have to chase them down. Or just ignore it and let them come back. Sometimes I locked the door to keep them in, sometimes I didn’t care. Their parents were paying a lot of money (by Russian standards) for lessons from a native speaking American. If the kids didn’t have the discipline to stay in the classroom, I felt that the parents shared at least half the blame.

Moving on to the classrooms themselves. That’s a tricky question. I taught in two different schools (#11 and #8). The former looked like it had been around since Stalin, and the latter looked like it had been finished about six months before I arrived in Russia. However, that’s not to say it’s destined to stay that way. Even at the brand new school, chairs were beginning to fall apart, and trim was coming off the doors. The window blinds were a mess and there was never enough chalk. That’s just a Russian school for you. It’s the facade of something brand new, but when you look underneath the surface you see that it’s actually quite poorly done.

The Experience of Teaching ESL in Russia

My experience teaching was perplexing till the last. I never knew whether I was a terrible ESL teacher, or whether I literally scored the worst possible teaching situations known to man, and I should have received the medal of honor for my efforts. Perhaps a bit of both. That’s enough of that though.

Despite the conditions, I still made the best of it. I got to meet some cool students, study the language, learn about a new culture, and find a bit more of my missing personality. Also, teaching in Russia was my jumping off point for travelling the world. I’ve traveled to more than half a dozen countries since then, and I wouldn’t change anything for the world. If you’d like to do the same, you can check out my book, Try the Borsch, where I go deep into how to find the best possible ESL job in Russia. Ok, to the pictures!


I loathed this piano. Keeping the kids from playing it was half my job at school #11.

Seating at the Older Russian Public School

This was my “office” along with two other teachers. The seat of the chair came off and sometimes my kids stole my water. 

My office at a Russian public school

An empty hall (a rare site) at school #11. My room was just down the hall and on the right. 

A hall at a Russian public state school

The real question you should ask yourself is: where the hell is the toilet paper?

A picture of the bathrooms in a Russian public school


Everything was nicer at school #8, but appearances can be deceiving.

Desks at a new Russian Public School

This was my “office” at school #8. Everyday, pack up the CD player and bring it back home.

My desk where I worked at a Russian public school

It’s not that I hate chalk (I do) it’s that we always ran out of the stuff! Also the erasers sucked. 

A blackboard at a Russian public school

Even though I loathe chalk, it was still better than this tiny little whiteboard in school #11.

A piano in a Russian public school classroom


Teaching English is a great way to get out into the world while getting paid at the same time. There are all sorts of interesting places that you can travel to. Maybe you already have a country in mind, or maybe you’re still undecided. Either way, here are some cool countries that you should consider checking out! Read more at the bottom of this post to find out where you can find an English teaching position online.

1. China

Big WallChina is a great country to teach English in because they have a demand for teachers that is through the roof. China’s huge population ensures that there is always a large demand for teachers. Salary and job security aside, one of the main highlights teaching here is the low cost of living. Many English teachers receive benefits such as free housing and free airfare.

Estimated salary range : $1000 – $2500

2. South Korea

South KoreaSouth Koreans brag about having one of the best BBQ the world. Not only that, but they have a rich culture and Seoul is one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. Unfortunately, if you are set on teaching here, you will have a much better chance to land a job in a city outside of Seoul. Competition is fierce for the teaching positions in this capital city. When you teach English in South Korea you often get paid airfare, free housing and contract completion bonuses. In some cases a TEFL certification is not required.

Estimated range of salary : $1800 – $2100

3. Colombia

ColombiaLots of young and middle aged people are going to Colombia to teach, which makes it number four on this list. The wages aren’t great, but the evergreen Rainforests, stunning beaches South American culture make Colombia a great destination. The country also has a rich history that is still evident in the smaller towns and villages. Columbia has a large community of expats and teachers, which means you’ll always have people to swap stories with.

Estimated salary range : $500 – $1500

4. Saudi Arabia

Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia is on this list because of the huge salary you can bring in as an English teacher. Not only that, you’ll never have to worry about snow and you may even get your own personal driver. The salary is high because Saudi Arabia has a very rigorous screening process. You are going to need at least 4-5 years of experience teaching and a college degree, preferably in English or linguistics. Try applying without it and nobody is going to return your emails.

Estimated salary range : $3200 – $5000

5. Vietnam

Bay in VietnamA country famous for its captivating tropical paradises, Vietnam is a beautiful country to teach in. The salary is high compared to neighboring countries and the cost of living is low. With Thailand and Cambodia being a flight or a train ride away, this is a dream come true for people who love to travel. Southeast Asia has always had a charm that that continually draws in new Westerners.

Estimated salary range : $1000 – $2200

6. Turkey

TurkeyTurkey, where the east and west clash. This place is a wonderful country as it’s between the Middle East and Europe. That gives you a mixed a taste of traditional Middle Eastern culture with some of the nicer amenities of Western culture. Turkey offers an attractive , high, growing job market for English teachers. Istanbul, the only city in the world to have one foot in Asia and another in Europe, is where you’ll be able to find most of the jobs teaching English.

Estimated salary range : $2000 – $2500

7. Spain

SpainSpain is on the list because of the country’s high demand for English teachers. Despite its struggling economy, Spain is still a good choice due to its spectacular architecture, non stop night life, and its fine cuisine. Don’t forget that Ibiza has some of the best clubs in the world if you love to party. To find a good job, head to Madrid during the hiring season from mid-September into October and again in January 3rd right after 3 kings day which is January 6th.

Estimated salary range : $700 – $1500

Finding Work as an English Teacher

Thankfully English teachers are always in demand. You might not get the country you wanted, but you will find a job. The two best resources for finding work are:

Dave’s ESL Cafe International Job Board

TELF Jobs Database

If you’re interested in Russia, be sure to check out my free eBook: Try the Borsch. Inside you’ll find loads of useful information about finding a teaching position in Moscow.