The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century.

1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

My name is Elena. I am a Russian teacher, and I grew up and studied in Moscow. I’ve been working with students from different countries for 12 years. I presented my Ph.D. thesis at the Moscow State University. When I was 26, a big change came into my life. I won a scholarship and started my second Ph.D. research in Barcelona. I’ve been living in this wonderful city ever since then. I work in two language schools in Barcelona and give individual lessons. In 2016, my husband and I started a new online project – Aprus. It is a service to learn Russian online, and it is designed for those who are interested in the Russian culture and language.

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

My work day includes a lot of activities and roles. From 8 a.m. to 14, I am a student of the course “Business Administration and Management.” I am taking this course because I have an ambitious dream: one day, I hope to run my own Russian centre. After lunch, I am a teacher, researcher, and copywriter. I prepare and give Russian lessons; either individual lessons or in groups. I am also working on my second Ph.D. thesis; it is a very large work, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Before, after, and sometimes during supper, I write posts about the Russian language for the blog which is part of Aprus; I create new content and analyse learners’ feedback in order to improve existing courses. My day ends at about 11 p.m. with a cup of camomile tea and some series.

3.In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

Technology and the net have had a great impact on my teaching methods, especially when I started to teach Russian in a foreign language context, i.e., outside of Russia. First, technology changed my presencial lessons. Having easy access to countless resources on the internet creates fantastic possibilities of working with authentic input, such as audio and video materials (e.g., films, song, TV news, and programs), which have become an almost obligatory element of any foreign language lesson. Another great advantage is that students can complete real-life tasks in Russian without leaving their city. For example, they can read a menu of a fashionable restaurant in the center of Moscow or plan their Trans Siberian trip while sitting in a classroom in Barcelona. Second, the internet has made e-learning possible with its basic principle: “Anyone, anytime, anywhere.” With Aprus and other online resources, my students can keep learning Russian wherever they want and whenever they can: on their way to work, while waiting in the queue in a supermarket, or during their lunch break. In case they have doubts or questions, we are always connected via forum or chat. Finally, the development of technology has been very beneficial for gamification. I am a big fan of using games with my lessons, so I always try to pick up some curious tools and ideas available on the internet.

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

There will always be challenges that we, as teachers, will have to face. In my opinion, in the nearest future, we’ll have to work in a number of directions. First, it is important to keep our learners, especially children, motivated and involved in learning. The online world with all its advantages also brings a lot of distractors that didn’t exist before. Two decades ago, learners’ attention was focused on a teacher; nowadays, they pay sometimes more attention to their mobile phones than to a lesson. It means that lessons must be more interesting and motivating.

Another challenge for language teachers is creating content that meets the specific needs of our learners. So many books for learning “general” Russian (or English, French, etc.) have been published, but there is an obvious dearth of learning materials for specific purposes.

Finally, although e-learning wins more and more positions in education and communication, it has its limitations. We should not forget that some practical skills can be obtained only during traditional face-to-face lessons.

5. Where can we find you online?

You can find me at