GROUP COURSE FAQs

ARE RLC’S TEACHERS NATIVE RUSSIAN SPEAKERS?
 
Yes, our teachers are all native speakers of Russian. In addition, they are also all qualified teachers of a foreign language – usually Russian, although in two cases originally English.
 
HOW BIG ARE THE CLASSES?
 
Classes range from a minimum of 4 students to a maximum of 11. The average class-size varies from term to term, but at the moment it is just under 7 people.
 
HOW MUCH HOMEWORK SHOULD I EXPECT TO GET?
 
We try to be realistic in the amount of homework we set! At the same time, your teacher will expect you to do the homework you have been assigned. Bear in mind that if you don’t do it, not only will your own progress be slower; you will also find your teacher has to revise the plans for each lesson – leading to slower progress for all. As a rough guide, you can expect to be given about two hours of homework a week. 

It is generally accepted that it is regular exposure to the language that brings the greatest reward, so if you are able to look at your Russian regularly, even for a short time, you will make much more progress.
 
WILL I GET A CERTIFICATE AT THE END OF MY COURSE?
 
RLC provides certificates of attendance to any group students who request them at the end of term. These state the number of hours attended and the level of the group. 

Students who wish to take the Russian state TRKI (test of Russian as a foreign language) exams can do so every year in July. Certificates are awarded to successful candidates by the Russian Ministry of Education.
 
AT WHAT POINT IN THE YEAR CAN I JOIN A GROUP COURSE?
 
We have 4 group terms throughout the year, starting in January, April, July and October. Terms run for 10 weeks, and we take new students for every term of the year.
 
CAN I JOIN HALF-WAY THROUGH A GROUP TERM?
 
As we have four terms a year, we encourage people to join at the start of a term to make the most of the course and to minimise disruption to other students. We usually close applications in the second week of term, and applications after this point are generally deferred to the next term. 

However, if you are beyond beginner level it may be possible to join a group in the middle of term, provided there is space at the relevant level. During our Summer Term starting in July, we usually have smaller classes and so more places available.
 
WHY DO I NEED TO BE ASSESSED IF I ALREADY KNOW MY LEVEL?
 
Often students come to us having already taken courses elsewhere, where their level has been identified as, for example, ‘elementary’ or ‘intermediate’. While we don’t dispute this, because the majority of our courses follow our own unique course materials, we find it’s best to determine a student’s level within the context of our own levels and materials.
 
I USED TO HAVE LESSONS WITH RLC A FEW YEARS AGO, NOW I WOULD LIKE TO JOIN A GROUP COURSE AGAIN; DO I STILL NEED TO BE ASSESSED?
 
This depends how long ago you studied with us. If you were previously on a group course, we will be able to locate you within our database, and work out your level when you last studied with us. Based on this we can usually offer you a group to join without the need of an assessment. If, however, you have done some separate study in the intervening period, we usually recommend a new assessment.
 
WHAT HAPPENS IF I MISS A GROUP CLASS?
 
Your teacher will email you the work and homework missed following the class, so that you can keep up ready for the next class. 

Some students like to arrange a catch-up individual class. This can normally be organised with your regular teacher, but will be charged separately at a special discounted individual rate.
 
IF I CAN’T ATTEND A GROUP CLASS IN PERSON, CAN I ATTEND VIA SKYPE INSTEAD?
 
We always encourage students to attend all classes in person. However, we understand that this isn’t always possible. In such circumstances it may be possible to skype in to your lesson. We do not, however, encourage this, as it can be disruptive to other members of the group. We also ask that you provide us with at least 24 hours’ notice to attend your group via skype.
 
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY TEACHER IS ON HOLIDAY OR OFF SICK?
 
If you are on a group course, your classes continue every week. If your regular teacher is away for any reason, we will arrange a cover teacher to take the class.
 
WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE TO DROP OUT OF A GROUP COURSE PART-WAY THROUGH THE TERM?
 
Unfortunately we cannot offer a refund if you drop out of your course after the term has started. This is because at that point we cannot offer your place to anyone else. In exceptional circumstances we may offer to hold half your fees in credit to be used against further lessons. 

Refunds for a group course will only be given if you cancel your place before the term has started, in which case any course fees will be returned in full.
 
WILL THERE BE MUCH CHANCE TO PRACTISE SPEAKING IN THE CLASS?
 
We realise that class time may be your only or main opportunity to speak Russian. Our approach, therefore, can broadly be defined as ‘communicative’: this means we concentrate primarily on the spoken language, and we practise the language in class through conversation and oral drilling. 

However, different groups – and teachers – will tend to emphasise different language skills during their lessons. We do not have a single ‘method’ at RLC: we know that different teachers are able to teach a language equally successfully using their chosen methods. We therefore concentrate on what we teach (generally defined by the content of our course books), and the quality of the teaching.
 
I AM PAYING FOR MYSELF – DO I STILL NEED TO PAY VAT?
 
All courses at RLC are subject to VAT at 20%, so everyone has to pay it. However, most of our corporate clients (as long as they are registered for VAT) are able to reclaim the VAT they pay on our courses. Private individuals cannot do this. For this reason we charge two different prices for our group courses – an ex-VAT price for corporate clients, and a VAT-inclusive price for private clients.

For example, we might charge a company £260 + VAT for a course. This would cost them £312, of which they can then reclaim £52 of VAT.

We would charge a private individual £260 including VAT for the same course, because they would not be able to reclaim the VAT.

Effectively this means that we offer a discounted price to private individuals, since RLC receives only £216.67 from a private student paying £260 including VAT (we have to pay the VAT of £43.33 to the Inland Revenue).

It is therefore particularly important that our company-funded students pay the proper corporate fee, and do not try to claim the discounted price for private students.
 
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO BECOME FLUENT?
 
This is the question that we always try to avoid answering! There are a number of factors that will affect how fast you progress: frequency of study, how much work you put in out of class and, of course, natural aptitude. 

If you are an absolute beginner – even if your ultimate aim is to become ‘fluent’ – we recommend you concentrate on short-term, attainable targets. The great thing about starting anything from scratch is that every step of the way offers tangible results. This is certainly the case with Russian, where you will find that even a small amount of the language offers immediate rewards, whether it be completing practical tasks on trips to Russia, creating a good impression on Russian colleagues and friends, or simply understanding more about the country and its people. 

And as for becoming fluent – the short answer is: it will take you a very long time! Real fluency is almost impossible to attain without spending a considerable period of time in a Russian-speaking environment. So for those who are serious about progressing to an advanced level, we always recommend a period of study in Russia.
 
IS RUSSIAN DIFFICULT?
 
Organisations that classify languages by difficulty (e.g. the UK and US Diplomatic services) normally place Russian in the second tier of difficulty for English speakers – so not as hard as Mandarin or Arabic, but harder than common European languages. 

The main difficulty Russian poses for English speakers is that it is an inflected language. This means that words change their ending depending on what they are doing in a sentence: ‘with sugar’, for example, uses a different form of the word sugar to ‘without sugar’. In fairly crude terms, this means that the problem when studying Russian is that you need to learn not only the word, but also what to do with it. 

Set against that, Russian is broadly a logical language, which more or less does what it is supposed to do. This means that it has something for both the creative and the analytical mind: it is an elegant language in look, sound and structure; at the same time it appeals to those who like an intellectual challenge and enjoy knowing why things are the way they are. In short, in our experience Russian seems to have broad appeal for the adult mind.
 
I WANT TO TAKE GCSEs OR A LEVELS – CAN I DO THIS AT THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE CENTRE?
 
We are not a registered Edexcel testing centre for GCSE or A level. However, we do have a number of teachers who are experienced in preparing students for GCSE, A Level and University Entrance exams.

To find a centre where you can sit Russian GCSE and A Level, please go to the Edexcel website

As an alternative qualification, RLC holds the Russian state TRKI exams (Test of Russian as a Foreign Language) in June/July every year, run in conjunction with Moscow State University. For further information on these exams please click here.
 
I WOULD LIKE MY CHILD TO LEARN RUSSIAN. DO YOU PROVIDE GROUPS OR TUTORS FOR CHILDREN?
 
We do have two teachers who specialise in working with children and are DBS-checked. We do not run group courses for children. If you are interested in these, we recommend you get in touch with Znaniye Russian School or visit the Russian Embassy website.
 
WHY IS THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE CENTRE THE BEST PLACE IN THE UK TO TAKE RUSSIAN LESSONS?
 
At the Russian Language Centre, Russian is our passion and our sole focus. This means:
  • we have gathered together some of the best Russian language teachers in the country, who are able share their experience, resources and skills with each other.
  • we have collected a massive range of Russian-language teaching resources, including many textbooks normally only available in Russia. The wide range of available materials allows our teachers to tailor lessons precisely to the individual or group.
  • our Beginners’ textbooks (covering the first 250 hours of tuition) are unique, developed by us specifically for the needs of adults learning Russian in the UK. They are the single most important way we ensure that all our students get the same high-quality service.
  • we are by far the biggest provider of group courses in the UK. Our long experience of teaching Russian to adults means that we know the best ways to organise, develop, and implement Russian language courses, and have a few tricks up our sleeves when it comes to keeping students motivated.
  • we offer maximum variety and flexibility in your Russian language course – other, smaller providers are not able to achieve this.
  • we are the only organisation in the UK offering the TRKI exams (Test of Russian as a Foreign Language) to external candidates. you can ‘try before you buy’. If you are interested in individual tuition you can organise a trial lesson. If you would like to join a group you can attend one of our Open Evenings [link]. As well as free taster classes for beginners, these evenings offer the chance to meet the teachers, have a look at the course materials, and find out more about group tuition with RLC.
 
 
 
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Testimonials
I quickly found out that the RLC is unique from institutions I had studied at previously in that my teacher individualizes the course structure to the student's needs.
One thing I really like about learning at RLC is that the whole experience is about Russian language and culture.
The course book produced by the RLC makes learning Russian really interesting, and gives a student plenty of opportunity to practice reading, writing and speaking skills.
My teacher also has a very engaging and supportive style and is very passionate and enthusiastic about the Russian language and its culture.
Our diverse and stimulating daytime group receives high quality, engaging tuition which matches our interests and needs.
I'm just finishing my first term and feel really inspired and enthusiastic about continuing.
Our tutor Dmitri Antonov has been an excellent guide to the complexities of the language.
The RLC appealed to me due to its central location and wide range of day and evening classes.
The quality of teaching and course material at the Centre is exceptional.
The use of different teachers also offers different accents, voices and opinions so that one's ears become more attuned to the patterns and rhythms essential to understanding what to me at least is a new language.
I've stuck at it, and my class goers have become friends as well as fellow students. We struggle through our grammar together!
Familiarity leads to greater confidence, which has also been bolstered by our excellent and extraordinarily patient teacher!
The class was young professional people and it was fun but learning was serious and the teacher maintained a strong pace.
After careful research on the internet, RLC seemed the most impressive of the options available. And what a good choice it was.
RLC at Pushkin House means there is a cultural aspect to your learning as it is in the Russian cultural centre of London so I could attend political talks or music recitals and meet others interested in Russian language and culture.
I do definitely recommend RLC. Classes are intense and demanding, but also a good fun, something really important when taking evening lessons after work.
What made me actually enrol was the relaxed, friendly, yet efficient meeting with the course director to establish my level of knowledge.
So when I learned that all the teachers at the Russian Language Centre were Russian I felt confident that I would be in good hands not only learning to speak Russian but also understanding it.
The people in my group are friendly and supportive of each other which is also important as it creates an atmosphere of shared learning.
I joined a group and, unlike large language schools, the groups are small and everyone has plenty of time to practice the language with the teacher's input.
If you are interested in learning Russian, whether as a beginner or someone who might have studied a little before, the RLC is the place to do it.
I chose the RLC after looking at several schools because I liked the flexibility of the courses, and the possibility of having one-to-one tuition, which is the option I took.
The centre has its own set of course books that I've found very effective in helping me to learn.
My teacher also has a very engaging and supportive style and is very passionate and enthusiastic about the Russian language and its culture.
One of the things I most enjoy about the course is that we can now tailor the lessons to meet our various interests.
I would recommend the RLC both for its focus on rigorous learning of the grammar (which is essential to make any real progress in Russian) and then at a later stage for its flexibility in allowing students to pursue their own interests.
I have found the atmosphere at the RLC to be very open and supportive.
From the beginning, the teachers have been motivational and invested in their students' success, giving them confidence to improve. What began as a spontaneous decision to try something new slowly became a serious hobby and then a passion.
I would recommend RLC to anyone wanting to begin learning or improve their Russian language skills.  It's an inclusive and friendly environment.
The course is very practically based and combines grammar and themes which build on the grammar with further vocabulary; for example, travel and directions, conversation about families, the weather, shopping, ordering in a restaurant and much more!
Having completed four terms, I am now having a break from studying, but may return after another few weeks travelling in Russia, for which I am even better equipped than before.
I was pleased to pass my first exams last summer as did the other two of my classmates who took the exam.  I would strongly recommend the school to other potential students.
After less than a year I was able to attend Euro 2012 in Ukraine with a friend and manage my way around without having to resort to English - and more recently, I was able to give half my wedding speech in Russian which went down very well with the in-laws!
After two years people have come and gone from the group but the core few along with our tutor have all become good friends, usually finishing each term with a visit to a Russian restaurant to toast our progress!
I am soon to visit Russia for the first time to take extra lessons and try out my linguistic abilities on the locals! This would not have been possible had it not been for the progress I am making at the RLC.