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Teach English in St Petersburg, Russia

Known as the "Window to the West," St Petersburg stands as a testament to Russia's deep historical and cultural roots intertwined with European influences. Founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, the city has since evolved into a vibrant metropolis filled with grand palaces, impressive cathedrals, and picturesque canals. As the former capital of the Russian Empire, it boasts a unique identity, melding the old with the new, classical with contemporary. With its artistic heart beating in the rhythms of ballet, opera, and literature, St Petersburg offers an unparalleled experience, making it an intriguing choice for English teachers wanting to make an impact abroad.

Reasons to Teach English in St Petersburg

  1. Cultural Immersion: As the birthplace of many literary greats, including Fyodor Dostoevsky and Anna Akhmatova, and the backdrop for world-class ballet and opera, teachers have an opportunity to delve deep into the Russian cultural fabric.

  2. Demand for English Teachers: With globalization, there's a growing interest among the Russian population to learn English. As St Petersburg is a prime tourist destination and a business hub, proficient English skills are highly sought after.

  3. Picturesque Scenery: From the pastel-colored facades lining the Neva River to the enchanting white nights of summer, the city's beauty is bound to inspire.

  4. Historical Significance: Teachers can take a walk back in time by exploring the city's rich history, from the iconic Hermitage Museum to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.

  5. Affordable Living: Compared to Moscow, St Petersburg offers a more affordable cost of living, allowing teachers to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while saving.

  6. Warm Community: The people of St Petersburg are known for their warmth and hospitality, making it easier for foreigners to adapt and find a sense of belonging.

  7. Learn Russian: Living and working in St Petersburg provides a perfect opportunity for teachers to learn or enhance their Russian language skills, adding a valuable asset to their personal and professional growth.

  8. Gateway to Europe: Situated close to the European border, St Petersburg allows easy travel to various European destinations, making it perfect for those bitten by the wanderlust bug.

Understanding St Petersburg's Education Landscape

St Petersburg's educational realm is a blend of traditional Russian methodologies and contemporary global practices. Historically revered for its academic and artistic pursuits, the city houses several renowned universities, schools, and institutions. English, being the lingua franca of the world, is highly esteemed. Many parents in St Petersburg seek to provide their children with an early start in English to prepare them for future academic and professional opportunities.

Private language schools have mushroomed across the city, catering to both youngsters and adults. These institutions offer courses ranging from basic conversational practice to advanced business English. Additionally, there are international schools and kindergartens that follow the English curriculum, providing another avenue for TEFL teachers.

Moreover, with the influx of multinational corporations in the city, there's a growing demand for corporate English training, where teachers guide professionals to master the language for business communication.

Eligibility and Requirements to Teach English in St Petersburg

The requirements to teach English in St Petersburg will be similar to the standard requirements for teaching English in Russia, however, here are the specific requirements for St Petersburg:

  1. Bachelor's Degree: Most institutions prefer candidates with a university degree in any discipline.

  2. TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certification: A minimum of a 120-hour TEFL certification is generally required. Schools may prefer CELTA or equivalent qualifications, especially for higher-paying positions.

  3. Native English Speaker: Being a native speaker from countries like the USA, UK, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, or Ireland is often preferred, although exceptions can be made for highly proficient non-native speakers.

  4. Experience: While not always mandatory, having prior teaching experience can be an advantage, especially for positions in international schools or reputable language institutions.

  5. Clean Background Check: A criminal background check is necessary for obtaining a work visa.

  6. Medical Examination: Teachers may need to undergo a medical check, including a test for HIV, as part of the visa process.

Salary and Benefits for Teaching English in St Petersburg

Teaching English in St Petersburg can be a rewarding experience both culturally and financially. On average:

  • Salary: Teachers can expect to earn between 50,000 to 80,000 RUB per month. However, this can vary based on qualifications, experience, and the type of institution.

  • Health Insurance: Health coverage is usually provided or, if not, can be obtained relatively inexpensively.

  • Paid Holidays: Teachers typically receive paid public holidays and vacation days, especially if they are on a 12-month contract.

  • Contract Duration: Most contracts are for one year, with the possibility of extension.

  • Teaching Hours: On average, teachers work 20-30 hours a week. However, this can vary depending on the type of school and the terms of the contract.

Living in St Petersburg

St Petersburg, often referred to as the "Venice of the North," is a city of majestic beauty, historical significance, and vibrant culture. Living in this Russian gem can be an experience of a lifetime for an expat. Here's a glimpse of what life in St Petersburg can be like, along with some interesting facts about the city:

The City's Landscape and Climate

St Petersburg is spread across a series of islands linked by over 400 bridges, giving it a unique European charm. The Neva River runs through the city, with its embankments offering picturesque views, especially during the famous "White Nights" in summer when the sun barely sets. The city experiences long, cold winters with snow-covered streets and short but mild summers, which are perfect for exploring its many parks and outdoor attractions.

Cultural and Historical Significance

St Petersburg is a hub of Russian culture and history. The State Hermitage Museum, one of the world's largest and most prestigious museums, is located here. From ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre to countless art galleries, there's no shortage of cultural activities. The city's historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, adorned with baroque and neoclassical buildings.

Local Life and Cuisine

Local markets, such as the Kuznechny Market, offer fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other delicacies. Russian cuisine, with dishes like Borscht, Pelmeni, and Pirozhki, can be savored at various eateries across the city. International cuisine is also readily available, reflecting the city's cosmopolitan nature.

Cost of Living

While St Petersburg is one of the more expensive cities in Russia, it's still more affordable than many Western European cities. Rent, transportation, and groceries are reasonably priced, making it possible for teachers to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.


While Russian is the primary language spoken, you'll find many people, especially the younger generation, who speak English. Nevertheless, learning basic Russian can be beneficial and is appreciated by the locals.


The city boasts an efficient public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the metro. The St Petersburg Metro is not only functional but is also an architectural wonder with some stations resembling art galleries or palaces.

Interesting Facts:

  • St Petersburg has changed its name three times in history: from St Petersburg to Petrograd, then to Leningrad, and back to St Petersburg.
  • The city was under siege during World War II for 872 days, an event commemorated at the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad.
  • Every year, the city hosts the Scarlet Sails celebration, a massive public event marking the end of the school year, with fireworks, concerts, and a ship with scarlet sails cruising along the Neva.

Teacher Stories

Elaine from the USA:
"When I first arrived in St Petersburg, the beauty of the city took my breath away. The intricate architecture, the vast expanse of the Neva River, and the historical sites at every turn were overwhelming. Teaching English here gave me not only an opportunity to connect with my students but also to delve deep into Russian culture. The locals were eager to share their stories and traditions, and in return, I shared tales of life in America. Over the course of two years, my students and colleagues became my family away from home."

Liam from the UK:
"Coming from London, I thought I knew what to expect from big cities. But St Petersburg was a revelation. The sheer dedication of my students to learn, the vibrant nightlife, and the camaraderie among expats made my teaching stint here one of the most memorable experiences of my life. And yes, the Russian winter is as harsh as they say, but there's nothing like seeing the city blanketed in snow."

Thuli from South Africa:
"Being from a warm country, the St Petersburg winter was a shock! But soon, I learned to embrace it - the snow-covered streets, the festivities, and especially the warmth of the people. My students were curious about South Africa, and we had many discussions comparing our cultures, wildlife, and traditions. Teaching in St Petersburg was a journey of mutual discovery."

Sean from Ireland:
"I've taught in a few countries before, but St Petersburg holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps it was the mix of its rich history, the arts, or the genuine friendships I forged. The Irish and Russians have more in common than one might think, especially our love for storytelling and hearty laughter. Sharing stories from back home and hearing theirs in return was the highlight of my teaching journey."

Isabella from New Zealand:
"Coming from the quiet landscapes of New Zealand, the hustle and bustle of St Petersburg were initially overwhelming. But as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, I fell in love with the rhythm of the city. My students, eager to learn and share, became a bridge between my homeland and my new home. We exchanged tales of our countries, and I realized that despite the distance, there's a universal human connection that binds us all."

Moving Towards Teaching English In St Petersburg

Teaching English in St Petersburg is not just about imparting language skills. It's a dance of cultures, a fusion of histories, and a journey of personal growth. As many teachers have found, the city welcomes you with open arms, offering both challenges and rewards. While the winters might test your resilience, the warmth of the students and the charm of the city make it all worth it.

If you're looking to make memories, foster genuine connections, and experience a unique blend of East meets West, St Petersburg awaits. With its majestic architecture, vibrant arts scene, and the ever-curious students, your teaching journey here promises to be unforgettable. So, pack your bags, open your heart, and take the leap into the beautiful tapestry that is St Petersburg.