TESOL Blog

These notes provide basic information about what to expect when seeking work teaching English in Italy. Note that there will be considerable variation between schools, employers’ preferences, and government regulations, and requirements will change from time to time. Before entering into any commitment, you are advised to check with an appropriate authoritative source such as the Italian embassy in your country, especially if you are not a European Union(EU) citizen.

Italy is a very popular country for English language teachers to go to (sunshine, great food, gorgeous wine, a tremendous history) so it is important to be appropriately qualified with a certificate which is widely accepted around the world. A one-month training course, or the equivalent 150-hour course by distance learning, is the minimum requirement and the qualification will need to be accredited by a well respected organisation. With taught courses this generally means Cambridge or Trinity, and with distance learning course the College of Teachers is the most respected accreditation body. Having teaching experience would also be an advantage when it comes to job hunting. Salaries in cities and in state schools can be good but salaries in private schools (especially in the south of the country) are relatively low. Still, the cost of living away from cities tends to be relatively low too.

Native speakers

Americans and native speakers from non-EU countries may find it somewhat difficult to find a work permit (although this is far from impossible of course) but there are plenty of jobs available for native speakers of English from the UK. Schools can be contacted directly or there are sometimes central offices (e.g. staff@wallstreet.it) or agencies that do the hiring. Many people find the Yellow Pages very helpful. Teachers from America can get posts in Italy if they are recruited directly from the US. Another option for Americans is to go to Italy as a student because then they are legally allowed to work 20 hours a week. For Australians and New Zealanders it is possible to go on a working holiday for 12 months and work during the stay.

Private and state schools

Teaching posts are available in both private language schools as well as state schools. There is pressure to improve the language skills of young people in Italy and so there is currently a push to improve the teaching of English. This has resulted in significantly better pay rates in state schools than in private schools and there is more about this on a helpful website called Transitions Abroad.

Pay in state schools can be more than twice that in private language schools and the teaching hours may well be shorter too. However, make sure that you are employed directly through the school and not through an agency or language school because they are very likely to pay you only at the minimum rate. Private schools will invariably aim to get away with paying the minimum while expecting you to teach at awkward hours, but once you have had some teaching experience in Italy you will be in a better position to bargain. Once you have your foot in the door of any school be flexible and prepared to teach whatever hours you are offered. This will give you more experience and stand you in good stead when you move on.

Freelance teaching

Teaching freelance can work well because this can give you the freedom to teach when you want whilst also following up other interests. However, to operate effectively as a freelance teacher you need, ideally, a) an accredited teaching qualification b) teaching experience and c) knowledge of Italian. Having these three will enable you to develop a good private business as a modest advertising campaign plus word of mouth will build up a regular group of students. Without a qualification or experience, you are unlikely to be able to retain your students as they will quickly realise that you do not have the necessary background and experience to significantly improve their English language skills. Knowledge of Italian will enable you to integrate in the local community and become better known for your teaching skills.

Salaries

Pay varies a lot depending on whether a teacher is working in a state school or a private school, in the north or in the south, full time or part time, and so on. However, a rough figure of between €1,000 and €2,000 per month after all deductions is common, with some teachers earning considerably more. Some jobs come with accommodation.

Summer camps for children

It is possible to get summer jobs which involve herding children as well as some teaching. These are best for young people with infinite energy who want a few months experience of living in another country. However, they can also sometimes be a way of starting off, making contacts and finding out more about where to focus your job hunt. Some camps are just a couple of weeks while others can be for as long as three months. Some employers ask for a teaching qualification but others do not require this and provide some basic training themselves. Have a look at Teaching English in Italy.

Teaching Business English

Having a TESOL Certificate in Teaching Business English will significantly improve your skills, and your CV, and could lead to significantly higher rates of pay working for a language school, or directly with a company.

Completing the TESOL-direct 150-hour Associateship in TESOL accredited by the College of Teachers will provide you with the skills you need to teach English in Italy.

Note that whether you have a TESOL or TEFL certificate is unimportant. Both acronyms refer to precisely the same style of training and both are accepted by all employers. We offer TEFL courses on our sister-site www.englishtc.co.uk.

Other useful sites

Author: TESOL Direct

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