Travel & Teach - Italy
Italy is a great TEFL destination for you with an increasing number of language schools and is another popular location for Global English graduates. The culture, history and cuisine have long made Italy desirable, while earning a reasonable living teaching English.
However, it’s competitive here. Firstly, the destination itself is glamorous – Venice, Pisa, Florence, Milan and Rome are cities where it is all too easy to fall in love with ‘la dolce vita’ (the sweet life). So you won’t be the only EFL teacher on the block. On a traditional contract with a language school you can expect to get by - but don't expect to save or live lavishly.
The compensation is that Italian students of English are generally friendly and the warmth of the welcome has been testified to by many. It's the way of life that attracts rather than the pay.
EU nationals can work in Italy relatively easily. For those outside of the EU, it may be possible to work on a student visa when enrolled a few hours at a recognised institution. Check with the consulate.
For those under the age of 35, options exist for English teaching on various summer camps.
Otherwise, the best time to look for work is early September. Contracts tend to run October to June.
Tips for teaching English in Italy
* get all your paperwork in order - Italians employers like qualifications
* be prepared to work split shifts, mornings, afternoons and evenings with breaks in between
* choose the 150-hour TESOL Level 4 online >> for Europe
* consider the 30-hour Teaching English to Young Learners >> to help you stand out as most work in language schools is to young people
* business is also highly prized, so if you are interested in teaching adults take our 30-hour Business TESOL >>
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
Great advice on Visas for Italy: http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/italy-visa/
British Council in Italy: http://www.britishcouncil.org/it/italy.htm
Italian Embassy UK: http://italy.embassyhomepage.com/
Italian Embassy USA: http://www.immihelp.com/visas/schengenvisa/italian-consulates-usa.html
Italian National Tourist Office: http://www.italiantourism.com/
Global English students are working all over the world with their accredited TESOL certificates. Find out
how TESOL training from Global English has made a difference to their lives:
Before coming to Italy I started a full immersion teacher trainer course in central London but I found that this method really didn't suit my personality or the way in which I learned effectively. As a consequence I left the course early and moved to Italy.
I thought that teaching English would be a temporary filler while I decided what I wanted to do and started teaching a few people at home on a voluntary basis. I soon discovered that I was lacking in the methodology not to mention the grammar. I therefore decided to start the Global English correspondence course of 175 hours with business.
As I began working on the course I developed a real passion and interest for the English language and a desire to teach it. By chance I was taken on by a local private language school and for the first year of teaching I worked in the classrooms during the week and on my course in my spare time. In May 2008 I received my qualification and having enjoyed the course and learning method so much I decided to continue with the Young Learners course, successfully completing it in October of 2008.
For the past two years I have continued to work in two different private schools here in Tuscany teaching adults of all levels, everyday, business and english for tourism, in addition to courses for teenagers and children from 3 years old. I love teaching and in September this year I am opening my own school here called English World. I have already recommended your courses to one of my prospective teachers and I am looking forward to doing the level three course with you when it is ready.
I’ve been in Bologna now for 6 years and have always worked here as a bilingual secretary. Having two small children I wanted to reduce my hours and saw that there was a big demand for mother tongue English teachers, which is why I decided to take the Global English TESOL Certificate course.
Bologna is a fairly large city in the traditionally more sophisticated and wealthy, north of Italy. It’s large enough to be international, but also small enough to still feel like a town and not just another northern Italian metropolis. Its origins date back to Roman times circa 150 BC but it really flourished in mediaeval times and many of the original mediaeval buildings can still be seen around the city today. It is also home to the oldest university in Europe and students come from all over the world to study here. This also makes it an expensive city in which to live, with accommodation costly and sometimes difficult to come by.
There are many private language schools in Bologna, offering English courses for children aged 3 and upwards, for business people and for those who want to learn English for fun. Demand is high and Italians regard studying English as a fashionable thing to do, but also a necessity. Being an international city, this also means that there are already many native English speakers living here and finding work with a school without any experience can be difficult, although with a TEFL qualification you are taken more seriously. I have in fact just secured my first teaching role here in a school after having completed the Global English TESOL Certificate course. Many people start off doing private tuition work and once you have built up contacts, things get easier. Living in Italy is all about knowing people. It is also vital to have a basic knowledge of Italian. Also be prepared for interviews to be conducted in Italian if the head of the school is Italian!
The Italian bureaucracy can be a nightmare and the first thing to do upon arriving is to get a Permesso di Soggiorno which basically gives you the right to live and work here. Even EU citizens need this precious document. Be prepared to supply mountains of paperwork.
Once you have got your Permesso di Soggiorno and have found somewhere to live, start to get to know people and try to master some Italian (it can take 6 months to a year to get really settled). Bologna can be a great place to live. The coast is an hour away, spring starts early and winter arrives later, the outdoor life is buzzing and there are many restaurants and bars catering for all tastes. And if you makes friends with the true Bolognese people (Italians are very regionalist and consider themselves citizens of their region before being Italian), you have found a friend for life.
The private language schools here start serious recruiting in September (courses start in October), although the New Year is also a good time. Contracts generally run from October to May/June. I got in touch with the schools by writing a letter introducing myself and sending a one page CV (both in Italian) but I also just dropped in and asked if they needed teachers and left my CV. (The ones nearer home I called in and the ones further away I sent letters). That is in fact how I found my present job. I called in the office and left my CV and they phoned me back.
I am here in Italia getting ready to start taking Italian language lessons next week. The teaching job that was offered to me is too far for me to go from where I am living. I'm living in a small town in the south and the job was in Napoli so I didn't take it, but I have been offered two since. One is a private teaching job for a family here that I will be starting next week and doing after school.
Italy is very nice. The people are very friendly as well. Finding a job here is very easy to be honest with you. There are many schools here that will hire Americans as well as British.
Venice Allen and Darren Howat
They’re qualification-obsessed in Italy and it’s pretty impossible to find a job in a school without a TEFL or something similar. We had an Interview with a director of one of the chain of British Schools (there are over 80 around the country) and he was very keen for us to work for him. There isn’t much competition for teaching work in this area as there are so few foreigners, and demand to learn is very high. He found out about the Global English Internet course and said that if we worked on it over the summer we could start full time at the beginning of the school year in September.
The money teaching in the private language schools isn’t great, but as we are a couple and both working full time we can actually save some money each month, which is great because one day we would very much like to buy an old crumbly Italian farmhouse. Right now we are renting a huge flat in a village two kilometres from the town where we teach. The locals think we’re weird because we don’t have much furniture and we haven’t brought our parents with us.
The jewel in Salento’s crown is Lecce, the main city of the area. With several private language schools and a university, there is no shortage of work for mother-tongue English teachers.
The life we live here is ‘tranquilo’, certainly not the ideal destination if you are looking for bright lights and modern culture. But for those searching the simple pleasures - hot sun, good food, friendly people - this little undiscovered corner of southern Europe could be paradise.
My interest in teaching ESL came after teaching English language and literature for a number of years in an international highschool in southern Africa. For many of the students there, English is not their first language and so teachers are encouraged to learn some ESL teaching methods to use 'in the mainstream'. I found that these really interested me and, when I left full-time teaching, I launched myself into a TEFL-TEYL course with Global English and simultaneously began teaching a few ESL students privately.
My husband and I had been wanting for some years to move to Mediterranean Europe, and when our daughter married an Italian it became even more important to be here to be near her and our eventual grandchildren. My ability and qualification to teach ESL has provided the foundation for us to relocate and start a new life here.
Firstly, I made contact with a language centre in Umbria (near Perugia where my daughter lives) and have now worked for them for over a year. As has been pointed out, however, English lessons are among the first things to go in harsher economic times, the likes of which we continue to experience here, so there isn't that much work at the moment.
The centre caters mostly for corporate clients who want week-long full immersion courses, which is interesting work though I find that some of the students are not as dedicated to learning the language, as are private students who shell out from their own pockets to have lessons. As I couldn't have a contract with the centre, I have now obtained a Partita IVA (VAT) number, and am on the lookout for students of my own, who I can teach in my home or theirs.
I know that success in this enterprise will depend a lot on word-of-mouth, and that it may take some time. I will never make a fortune at it, either, but it is also in part a quieter life that my husband and I are seeking here, and we'd like to have time to travel too, so I'll be content if I have 6-10 dedicated students, of any age. The more varied, the better.
The main thing is that I love this work and, from my contact with my students, my own knowledge and understanding of Italian is also growing! Umbrians are notoriously a bit slow ('chiusi') to accept new things and people, but I find that once they have done so, they are very loyal and generous. Our son-in-law's family certainly have welcomed us unbelievably warmly.
All in all, I am confident that we are going to be very happy here. AND, just to make things even better, we now have a gorgeous Italian/Canadian grandson!
Travel and Teach
Demand for English in Italy is high. Many students seek to supplement less than adequate English teaching in their state schools, so you can expect many of your students to be young adults or children, although business students requesting one to one tuition are also becoming more prevalent.
If you are adventurous and happy to travel to the country first, then there are excellent opportunities for securing teaching hours at various schools in order to make up a full timetable. From this flexible beginning you should be able to develop the contacts necessary to make a successful teaching career, if that is what you are looking for. But even before you go, it is advisable to arm yourself with the right information. The Italian Yellow Pages will have details of language schools in various regions of Italy. The website you’ll need is www.paginegialle.it and then search under ‘Scuole di Lingue’ by region.
Most of the teaching follows the academic school year. If you are looking for work on the spot then the best time is in September or January. Work opportunities are more limited in July and August. However, one thing you might try in July/August is the popular beach resorts on the Adriatic, for example or Sardegna, where there are "holiday clubs" which employ English teachers for the summer. A lot of the work here is likely to be with children or young adults, but there may also be some opportunities with adults. Teaching experience will be needed here though.
It is strongly recommended that you take:
* the 30-hour Teaching English to Young Learners >> for work in language schools
You might find the guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here.
The working day
Due to the increasing popularity of Italy, it is far easier to obtain work on the spot than, say, by applying for work from outside the country. Initially, you would expect to make up a full timetable (22 hours +) by working part time at a variety of schools or institutes. Lessons are likely to be spread out across the day in common with timetables across Europe. This could mean teaching a businessperson in his factory before work at 8am, having the afternoon off and starting lessons again at 5pm, working through until 9pm. But once you are established and have proved yourself it will be easier to gain a full time contract with one school. By then you should have gained enough contacts to freelance, which is more financially lucrative.
For EU nationals it is relatively easy to obtain the necessary paperwork to live and work here, but it can take time and again some Italian will be helpful to speed the process along. After arrival, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit, for which you will require a letter from your employer. But that is only the start of the process, and Italy is one of the countries where speed and bureaucracy are not often found in the same sentence. The trick is to be patient, take important documents (passport, birth certificate, certificates and diplomas) with you and get them authenticated or notarised by the Italian Embassy before you go (see Useful Contacts section).
It it much tougher to find work legally if you are an American, Australian or New Zealander. Many work illegally since the paperwork involved makes it too difficult for schools to employ non EU citizens. Do check out a few schemes with the Italian consulate which may enable you to work legally. These include working as an independent contractor, entering Italy as a student and then working for 20 hours per week, or on a working holiday scheme.