An Australian in Italy - my life teaching English

An Australian in Italy - my life teaching English

While it's not easy to teach English in Europe as a non-EU national, it is certainly possible. Alison David's can-do attitude and love of Italy were the catalysts for a TESOL course and a new life teaching English abroad. We asked Alison about her inspirational journey from Oz to Milan.

Hi Alison. What’s your background and why Italy?
I’m Australian and it’s been a dream for over 25 years to live here. I’ve studied Italian and visited numerous times.  I love it and had to work out how to be here. As well as 3 degrees and a background in marketing, I knew my English could be a passport to working here. So I took the Global English 150-hour TESOL course with a specialism in business English and here I am.

How can work in Italy if you are not from the EU?
A student visa allows you to work 25 hours a week if you also study. It depends where you’re from so check with the embassy.

How did  you first find work?
I was in the post office and heard an English voice. This contact said he said he knew a good school looking for teachers. A  CV, interview and then job offer followed. Note, I got NO responses to emails from Australia to schools. However, I’m now teaching business English and have about as many hours as I can handle.
Tell us about your teaching. What's tough and what do you love?
I love the interaction with students: the days when we laugh with tears running down our faces. I love when they get something and when they’re having conversations, and arguing about something like football in English. They invite me out for aperitivo to say thank you, and give me lovely gifts! Students have become friends who care about me being safe and happy in their city. I’ve also enjoyed working at some amazing, internationally known companies.

A typical day is tiring, though. I can do a lot of travelling between classes which can result in 12 hour days with only 7 hours paid work, plus admin.

Any advice for new EFL teachers considering teaching English in Italy

  • Know that the bureaucracy is indescribable. Getting a permesso di sogiorno, carta d’identita, codice fiscale etc. can take forever.
  • Learn to speak at least some Italian as this is very helpful for life outside work. Italy has one of the lowest percentages of people who speak English in Europe. 
  • Come with enough money to get by for a few months. You might start work, but not get paid for over 2 months. 
  • Dress smartly.
  • Know your English grammar because the Italians do, inside out. They can quote Shakespeare but can’t have a conversation in English. But that’s where I come in!

Thank you for sharing, Alison. Hope you continue to enjoy your new Italian life. Keep in touch.


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Got a question about teaching in Italy or TESOL course training options? Email GE Director of Studies William


  • Author: Louisa Walsh
  • Date: 01/10/2014

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"For the past two years I have worked here in Tuscany teaching all levels. I have already recommended your courses to one of my prospective teachers..."

Alison Salmon, English World, Italy

An Australian in Italy - my life teaching English