English-as-a-Second-Chance at Life
Updated: Mar 26, 2022
How come that something so natural as language becomes so not-natural when it comes to a second language? Perhaps you once found yourself struggling to do something as basic as ordering a cup of coffee in a foreign country. Many of us are lucky because we already speak English—a language that over the years has become a “must-speak” language.
Leaving the discussions of its superiority to another day, let’s take a look at how Russians feel about having English as their second language.
According to a 2017 study, Russia was ranked 38th among 80 countries in terms of English proficiency. Being ranked 38th among 80 countries does sound promising. It means that Russian tourists can order a cup of coffee with the right amount of sugar, but here is the thing: Only 11% can somewhat speak English, and most of the speakers are concentrated in large cities such as Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok, and Novosibirsk. Taking into account the relative isolation of small cities, these numbers often go to single digits.
Aleksandr Larianovski—one of the executives of Russian-based study platform SkyEng—notes that only 3% take English as a second language in school. But with lack of practice, only 5-6% from those 3% somehow can speak, write and understand in English. “It’s not just numbers, says Aleksandr, “It also affects the reputation of a country”.
But can it? It can cause some problems for tourists or soccer fans, but there is doubt it can cause damage to reputation. The biggest problem lies on an individual level. Everybody knows what doors a second language can open. Everybody knows that being bilingual gives a person opportunities to travel freely, study abroad, work for an international company, or just be the star of a “reading a book or watching a TV-show in the original language” story. Everybody also knows that the road from “London is the capital of Great Britain” to “Hit the nail on the head” is long and thorny, and often comes at a price.
English lessons are expensive. The average price is 800 rubles for 45 minutes. With four sessions per month, a person making 20,000 rubles would spend 16% of that on lessons. Even though free lessons have become more and more popular, they are certainly not enough when it comes to a college-entrance exams and TOEFL. These require a person-to-person lesson with a tremendous amount of persistence, and more than four sessions per month.
We shared the story of Anna Myshakina and her journey in English. Her story is inspiring and proves that English is a language that opens a world to people that seek to explore it. She was our first student, and it all pretty much started with her first, GEN-sponsored English lesson.
As the school season approaches, GEN is looking forward to sharing new success stories with you. We also welcome you to be a part of these stories. With just $50 a month you can sponsor a new English student today!