to The St. Petersburg Times
BELENKY / The St. Petersburg Times
Stanislav Chernyshov set up his own
school, Extra-Class, to teach Russian as a foreign
language. Four years later and clients from
international media agencies, foreign embassies and
prominent businesspeople regularly attend his school in
makes foreign diplomats, BBC and Spiegel journalists and high
profile businesspeople from all over Russia come to one St.
prominent language centers in Moscow, many international
organizations put their faith in a small school on Ligovsky Prospekt
to teach Russian to their employees.
Chernyshov, director of the Extra-Class language center, has devoted
most of his teaching career to bringing the Russian language closer
to foreigners. Explaining his success with Extra-Class, Chernyshov
said: "I understand what students from abroad are looking for."
contrast to pupils or students at a university, these people are
highly motivated to learn a new language. They know exactly what
they are looking for and are willing to spend time and money on a
good language school," Chernyshov said.
Norman, executive editor of the Hermitage Magazine, and a former
student of Chernyshov, explained why she wanted to brush up her
is not an absolute necessity to know Russian - many people here
speak English. But knowing Russian gives you an enormous advantage
to understand people's mentality. You are not so obviously foreign
and can better interact with locals," she said.
founded Extra-Class three years ago to offer specialist Russian
language courses for foreign businesspeople.
former graduate from the St. Petersburg State University, Chernyshov
developed his view of how a second language should be taught during
more than 12 years of teaching.
a new language does not mean filling in grammar exercises and
quoting grammar rules by heart. First and foremost, it is important
to know how to react in specific everyday situations, be able to
talk to people and express yourself," Chernyshov said, taking a
subtle sideswipe at Soviet teaching methods.
good teaching material is as important as good tutors, Chernyshov
wrote his own course book for beginners, "Poekhali" ("Let's Go"),
which was published three years ago.
Chernyshov, "Poekhali" focuses on modern Russian life and does not
confront students with the former Soviet world. While identifying in
the books the Russia that students daily encounter, they are also
asked their opinions about it.
his own business, however, did not go that smoothly at first,
Chernyshov recollects. Without his passion for teaching and
commitment to the project, he says he would have given up long ago.
we founded the school three years ago, all government benefits for
educational institutions were cut. In former times, educational
institutions only had to pay one tenth of the rent. Now we have to
pay all the costs," he said.
were other obstacles.
Russia, we have quite an inflexible banking system. If, for example,
we want to offer a student a discount, it takes many extra documents
and explanations to the bank to do that," Chernyshov said.
do know a bit about how things like that work in the rest of the
world and I have the impression it is much easier elsewhere."
it was founded, the school has had to move twice and will soon move
a third time. Nevertheless, students keep finding their way to
school has its own web site, and recommendations by former students
have given it a good reputation.
journalists, and foreign businesspeople have all taken "extra
classes" at Chernyshov's language school.
Evans, from the British Embassy in Moscow, said he gained valuable
training at the school.
provided me with focused material which I needed for my job and I
was taught both ordinary and more formal language. That covered what
I needed, basically," Evans said.
Norman, the decision to take lessons at the school was finalized by
takes great pains to make lessons interesting. For instance, he
creates situations, he encourages his students to tell their own
stories and prepares material that is of interest to them," she
student, Kalle Kaub who works for the BBC in Moscow, wrote the
following in the school's guestbook after graduating from the
quite apparent that teaching is not just bread and butter to
Stanislav, but a mission and passion," Kaub wrote.
the success of the school, Chernyshov hopes to develop his
2' will soon be published" he said. "And I am thinking of offering
courses for specific purposes, like, for instance, Norwegian for
businesspeople. But I do not have any particular plans to enlarge my
school. Quality is more important than quantity and I stick to this
motto for the future."