Meeting many Ukrainian teachers in Nikolaev over the years has opened my eyes to the world of public schools here. Some of the challenges most teachers face are from a completely outdated system filled with teachers that earn very little.
Teachers in Ukraine earn as little as 100US dollars a month. This is for a work week that encompasses at least 50 hours in the classroom and another 20 or so at home. Correcting students homework and creating lesson plans is just a part of the job outside the classroom. Private language schools help fill the void.
Most public schools in Ukraine are understaffed, underpaid and average 40 students per classroom. Some more and some less. Some schools are well known for teaching great English while others regard English as a side sport.
Sadly, most teachers are only trained to teach the very elementary levels of English grammar. Most have difficulty speaking English as well. Rarely is an English teacher able to teach beyond the elementary level.
While most teachers in Ukraine teach young students at the primary level; they speak and instruct mostly in Ukrainian and Russian depending on the city in which a teacher teaches.
Pronunciation for many English words can be terribly mis-pronounced. Unfortunately, this is very common. I am sure it is from the past and from the teachers-teaching-teachers syndrome. Private language schools have standards.
Most of the English teaching books were written by Ukrainians. The grammar is poor, the books are boring and most teachers dislike them with a passion.
The students despise the books forced upon them in the classroom. There was a time when teachers were allowed to use materials including English Grammar books by well known publishers. Not so today in most schools.
All public school English teachers should be given a medal for their ability to do their best with limited resources.
British English is taught as a second language to something close to ninety percent of all Ukrainian students at the primary and secondary levels.
All testing, competitions and debates are all in British English. It’s good. The main problem with a single focus on British English is that students are criticized and reprimanded for learning American, Canadian and more versions of English.
If a student uses another variant of English besides British, no credit is given for the additional efforts of the student. Lessons for teens.
Thanks to the education system in Ukraine. I know that the teachers try to do their best and provide an education worthy of the best. I know many teachers who love their jobs.
Unfortunately, most of the Ukrainian teachers feel helpless when it comes to using and teaching with the best resources available. For the students, learning a second language like English often seems more like a chore rather than another life adventure. It can be compared to schools in other countries.
Teachers are also underpaid. The biggest challenge is that most young teachers have no desire to enter the public school system in Ukraine. It is often a thankless job and the expectations are achievable.
Private language schools in Ukraine fill an important void in the education system. The positive element is that private language schools are able to hire well trained teachers at higher salaries.
Students who can afford a private school or tutor are the lucky ones. This is a small majority of young students. Adults who attend private language schools are also the beneficiaries of better English.
While all public schools focus on grammar, Larisa English teaches grammar with a smaller emphasis than public schools, spoken English is always the first priority.