Private tour guide St. Petersburg russia    Email:    Phone: +7 911 164 6424

One to one lessons in Russian Language.

I offer one-to-one lessons and intensive courses of Russian language at all levels - both for beginners and the more experienced wishing to improve.

Textbooks and materials

I have not yet seen a textbook for Russian which can be used 'as-is'. I have seen various books from Russia, America, England and Canada - actually the best one I've ever seen was from course developed for Swedish solders during the cold war. In general textbooks are:

  • boring
  • mainly focused on grammar issues
  • suggest a peculiar vocabulary
  • annoy and depress

As a result I work with many textbooks at the same time, picking from them what I can apply.

You do not need to buy anything to start working with me: I will provide all necessary materials.

My goals

I do not teach people with the aim of them becoming impeccable Russian language speakers. I prefer more down-to-earth goals such as:

  • to enable them to communicate
  • to complete a specific academic task such as writing a required essay
  • to give them the skills to read newspapers, magazines, journals and other Russian texts
Why do I dare to compete St. Petersburg University courses and similar big brands ?

My answer is simple - because I know how the courses are organized. I do not deny the professionalism of the teachers but think about the following:

  • Due to the low average salary at St. Petersburg university your teacher will be most probably of retirement age. Age usually means experience (that is good) but at the same time - rigidness. They most likely haven't changed their methods and materials from those used for the last 30 years. The texts praising Lenin and communist party will have been removed but the rest is more or less the same.

    I concentrate on vocabulary and topics which are in use today. The thing is that language is like a wet sponge: it always soaks in and contains the present-day reality. It is both impractical and confusing to study with a textbook composed - just imagine it - 35-40 years ago. The grammar is the same - but everyday Russian life has changed completely. My goal is not only to help you understand and express yourself in Russian but also to learn more about local life, how the society is organized, and how human values are perceived - to understand why Russians behave like they do. The Russian approach to love, money, career success etc. is quite different from the American or English one.

  • Who will you study with? Not Russians but other foreigners. So you will have no chance to practice your Russian with them. I can introduce you to my friends - local native Russians. You will have a better chance to practice your Russian and to learn about local life.
  • Once you are in a group you will have to work at a level acceptable for everybody. It will be not very interesting if others are stronger than you or rather stressful if it is you who is the weakest in the group. With me you will work on your level, at a comfortable tempo and you will get ALL my attention.
  • Unlike the course teacher I am open to "special requests". Do you need to write a certain essay for your University? Or to prepare a kind of self-presentation in Russian? Do you need to investigate a certain topic about Russia or life here? We can do all of that together and more.

FAQ:- If I have no previous knowledge of the Russian language, what level can I reasonably expect to attain after 14 days? Will I be able to hold an elementary conversation? Will I be able to read?

There are different factors which heavily influence the final result.

  • How easily do you pick up new information? How many new words can you retain in your memory after one day?
  • How easy or difficult is it for you to imitate the combinations of sounds not typical for your native language?
  • But the main question of any short course is - why do you take it and what do you plan to do with your knowledge in the future?

If you do not plan any other studies, then in 14 days of hard work you can learn a limited vocabulary useful in standard situations (buying food, booking a room in a hotel etc. - topics can be agreed in advance). Your understanding will be limited to the size of your vocabulary. Any real conversation will be not easy with only a modest vocabulary.

You will learn the alphabet and will be able to read in sense of producing the right sounds which is helpful for example for reading the street names. But any article in the Russian newspaper will be surely be too difficult.


You are welcome to request the contact list of my ex-students e-mails to learn more about me directly.

Here are some of their testimonials:

Robert Petrin - Testimony- Russian Language Course

I decided to learn the Russian language for a possible future employment in a CIS country, and purchased a self-study course book in January 2005. Since I have a lot of free time in my present employment, I spent at least an hour a day studying the book and listening to the audio CDs.

While that method produced some results, it definitely did not do so quickly enough. I then sought other ways to accelerate the learning process. This included daily practice with Russian speaking co-workers and friends, and coaching by Russian native in Uzbekistan. My progress was still not satisfactory.

In August this year, I visited St-Petersburg during a two-week holiday, and used the services of Tatiana as a private tour guide for most of the time. I then discussed the possibility of hiring her as a Russian language teacher on a future holiday. We quickly agreed on the dates and type of program I needed.

In early October, I went to St-Petersburg for an intensive ten hours a day Russian course. Tatiana met me at the airport and took me to pre-arranged accommodations and we immediately discussed the training plan that she had prepared. It consisted of two or three sessions a day, followed by self-study in the evening and early morning. The material to be used consisted of an excellent grammar book, which she provided, and her lap top computer, which she uses expertly.

I quickly discovered that Tatiana possesses outstanding teaching abilities, and that she mastered English as well. I later discovered that her French is also excellent. The one on one method of learning the Russian grammar is more than I had hoped for. The Russian language has an elaborate grammar that requires skills to teach. Tatiana, with her teaching experience, along with an obvious pedagogy and psychology background, succeeded in presenting the grammar in an easily understandable way.

I knew that my learning and memorizing was dependant on visual acquisition, and fully expected to spend a lot of time writing. Tatiana's expert use of the laptop, as a modern replacement for a blackboard proved invaluable for me.

When one learns such a new language, cultural information becomes critical, and Tatiana spent quite some time covering this subject. Her knowledge and love of her country and culture were always present in her explanations, and provided me a wealth of information.

Based on my learning experience during the past two weeks, I intend to return to St-Petersburg a few more times to continue this excellent course, while using my time here to review the covered material.

While this approach may not be for everyone it is by far the best method of learning Russian, a beautiful but elaborate language.

I strongly recommend to anyone interested in learning the Russian language at an accelerated pace, to consider the one-on-one approach. Of course, it is more expensive than university classes, but is not comparable in terms of enjoyment and results.

I also strongly recommend Tatiana as possibly the best, most talented and competent teacher available. Her approach will satisfy anyone who is highly motivated and dedicated to learning Russian.

Robert Petrin


Rebecca Bouveng, University of Durham, Great Britain (Swedish)
A note for anyone doing studies or research in Russia - how to be successful

I came this time to Russia for five weeks to do research for my PhD studies in Great Britain - I needed to conduct interviews with a large number of Russians, to collect material for a literary chapter, and also to brush up my Russian. This is pretty impossible to do if you're a foreigner, even if you speak decent Russian: trying to get in touch with a large number of Russians of different backgrounds to interview, to write interview questions adapted to Russian mentality, to find your way around the libraries (which have no databases) and at the same time try to improve your language skills... but with the invaluable help of Tatiana, I have managed to get all this done, on time, efficiently, smoothly and with immense success!

It would take a separate dissertation to explain all the different ways she has helped me, advised me and spared me loads of time and effort Tatiana has been my academic supervisor and invaluable secretary:

  • going through the academic basis of my research in order to help me write interview questions that are not mere translations from my English version but perfectly adapted and tried out in order to be understood and responded to by Russians;
  • she has helped me get in touch with and practically arranged interviews with people from all sectors of society: intellectuals, businessmen, manual workers, housewives, students, pensioners;
  • not people from St Petersburg but also Moscow and the countryside.
  • Whereas on my own I could manage to get one or two interviews done per day, Tatiana introduced me in places where I was able to do eight interviews per day!
  • Not only that, she has persistently used every free minute, for example when traveling to and from interviews with me, to train my Russian vocabulary and pronunciation.
  • She has read and summarized for me long Russian expert articles on politics, sociology and philosophy that it takes me at least two-three hours to read myself, never mind the summarizing
  • she has helped me put together a bibliography of excellent Russian resources

To summarize, to get around in Russia as a Western researcher, it's not enough to know the language, even to have experience of living in Russia - you really need help of professional, friendly and conscientious Russians. If ever such existed in Russia, it is Tatiana. She constitutes the most efficient, professional and all-round help you can get. And not only that, she is really interesting, humorous and lovely person.

Rebecca Bouveng, University of Durham, Great Britain (Swedish)


Dominic Martin, post graduate of Cambridge University England

I studied with Tatiana for 5 months in 2008-09.

In this time, thanks to Tatiana, I acquired the ability to converse with Russian people, express myself reasonably clearly in Russian, and to read everyday Russian texts (newspapers, articles).

This required much work from both me and Tatiana. I do not think such a result would have been possible in a normal language school environment. I was able to perceive the difference that Tatiana's teaching had made when I joined the centre of Russian Language and culture at the State University of St Petersburg. I was immediately put into a class with other university students, the majority of whom had already studied the language for 3 years. The goal of many of these students was to receive a certificate from the university that would count as credit towards their university course. Therefore, the teaching had a academic aim (that the students attended classes and passed a test), rather than a practical aim.

My practical aim was to achieve a level of Russian that would allow me to express myself and understand Russian people, so that I could undertake doctoral research work in Ukraine and Siberia. I found that Tatiana's teaching was much more suited to this concrete, practical aim of mine.

In a sense, the language school environment is very convenient for students, like me: it has a familiar university atmosphere with many people of the same age, nearly all of whom speak in English. However, I feel that the very solid base in Russian that I now possess, and the quick progress that I achieved in a relatively short period of time, was largely a result of Tatiana's unique teaching. She is highly recommended.

Dominic Martin, post graduate of Cambridge University England

 +Tatiana Collins+