Teach English in Italy – the following comments are from English teachers who have taught, or currently teach English in Italy.
I spent three years working in Italy, in Milano and Genova. The most astonishing thing that I can remember about moving there is the way everything is so bound up in bureaucracy, and that the men are absolutely enamored with foreigners.
The first bit of advice I can give is that English teachers should have a valid working visa for the country. Although Italy is notorious for perpetuating illegal employment, it is in your best interests to ensure that you are legal in that country. Potential employers from the more reputable schools will consider this an essential requirement for the position.
Many of the major Italian cities have local street press in English, and there is one in Milan called “EasyMilano”. It contains a wealth of information on things to do and to be done with other people from the ever-growing English speaking community in Milan. The magazine also includes a classified section, which is a good place to look out for housing. A visa is sort of essential for renting property as well.
Another thing that you must remember to do is report to the local ‘questura’ or police station upon arrival (I think you have 8 days) with necessary paperwork, and some official stamps. I’m not absolutely au fait with the process, so you should ask at the Italian embassy in your own country exactly what the process is before you even leave. Although there are a lot of Italians now who speak English, it can be very disorienting to have to deal with official business with someone whose first language is not the same as yours. Breakdowns in communication can cost you hours of queuing, so make sure you’ve got the good oil before you go.
Italy’s cost of living is ever on the up. The effect of changing to the Euro is still being felt, and the Italians themselves are critical of their compatriots, whom they accuse of overcharging. The idea was that the Euro was supposed to make everything equal, but now instead of a beer costing 10,000 lire (the old currency), it costs 10 Euro (which is actually double the price!!!). Fresh fruit and veges, and meat can be quite expensive, but as the Mediterranean diet is loaded with pasta and rice and bread, these remain the basic staples which are usually fairly cheap. A cheap night out can be had by getting a pizza from your local pizzeria (less than 10 Euro), and having a beer. Just a little tip that goes with that – Italians tend to drink beer when they have pizza. In fact, a friend of mine once told me that it was easy to pick foreigners in the pizzeria – they would have the wine. Don’t let this bother you though. The house wines are usually pretty good, and they’re definitely a cost effective solution to drinking, often costing the same as soft drink!
Another little custom to beware of is the full glass. Italians NEVER pour a full glass of any drink when they are at the table (except for beer on tap, which the waiter brings to you anyway). Anything that must be poured into a glass should never more than half-fill the glass. It is seen as greed and bad form. Even water is not free from this requirement. And as for food, always take less than you really think you can eat. You will invariably be offered seconds, and probably thirds, and it is customary to accept these offerings, unless you’d like to offend your host. So the trick to not getting over full, and also not ending up overweight!, is to take smaller portions than you normally would.
Alcohol served in pubs and clubs is not measured either. There is no such thing as a standard drink. If you knew that your limit at home was five drinks before you started to feel a little under the weather, then after five Italians drinks, you’ll probably be very unwell. Work on the assumption that in one drink there is the equivalent of two standard ones. LADIES, please heed this as serious advice, as I have seen many girls in regrettable situations as a result of not knowing the strength of the drink.
Make it a priority to learn some Italian before you go. The Italians will appreciate your efforts, and you’ll find it easier to get around them. At least know how to buy a bus/tram/underground ticket, order food, and the numbers! It’s amazing how numbers are everywhere, and we as language teachers should also have made the effort to learn some of the host country’s language, so that we can better appreciate the difficulties facing our students.
Lastly, make it a priority to see as much of Italy as you can. There is not one place I’ve been in that country which was not enchanting. Having travelled alone, and with friends, from the Alps to Sicily, from Trieste to Ventimiglia and beyond, I have had the chance to see, taste and smell Italy. I have travelled to festivals, street parties, saints’ days and sporting events. Immerse yourself in the culture, and you’ll be too busy to even think about being homesick. It has the potential to be even better than you thought it ever could be!
I have been living in Italy for over two months now. I moved here because my boyfriend is Italian, but I have been taking Italian classes for a few years. I would strongly suggest that you have a basic understanding of the language, because you will find it slow moving, learning as you go! Especially in a small town, where no one speaks your language. Besides, contrary to popular belief, most Italians only speak one language – unlike Germans.
I have lived and taught English in Italy for many years and would like to add something to the comment about ‘the full glass’. People in Italy drink, but they DO NOT get drunk – that is to say, it is very unusual to see people on the street who have visibly had too much to drink, unlike in England where getting legless is considered (by some) to be a fun way of spending an evening. I once asked some students what their ideas about England were and was taken aback, not to say depressed, when the response I got was ‘Oh yes, the English are drunken hooligans’. I am not a non-drinker, I like a beer as much as the next person, so this isn’t a disapproving comment – it’s just so you know if you come to work here!
Teaching English in Italy can be very rewarding and well-paid. It can also be an absolute nightmare and very badly paid. “Cowboy” schools who delight in ripping off both students and teachers abound. These are usually run by individuals and in my opinion (and having worked in several) are to be avoided if at all possible. The way to earn a decent living in Italy is to get a contract or even work casually in a state school. Almost every Italian state school (at least from Middle school through High school- maybe not so many elementary schools) now employ native speaker teachers for various projects. The average salary for this kind of project is about 25 euro a lesson, which works out much better than the average 10 euro a lesson that you will get working in a private language school. Many private language schools also farm out their teachers to these state schools and pocket the money, often forcing teachers to work a very long day which can start as early as 8am and not finish until 10pm in the private school. Choose a town or area where you would like to work and find the names of all the state schools in the phone book. They will accept people with very little experience as most of the lessons will have an Italian teacher present for discipline purposes and also to evaluate the kids. The last school I worked in employed me to teach 25 classes once a week so the wages were quite adequate for Italy. Be warned though Italy is expensive compared to most places in the UK.
I lived in Italy (Milan) for almost three years and loved the experience. I will admit that when I first moved there, some things drove me crazy. We take it for granted how easy it is to get things done over here: the long opening hours of the retail industry; the fact that you can just pick up the phone and sort out your bills; you can organise your banking without having to double-check. In Italy, if you are female, you will always be first and foremost female rather than a person (this is slowly changing). You can’t just dress how you want, be what you want, do what you want. For all the flesh you see on show in the summer, the Italians are still very traditional. If you decide to make eye contact with an Italian man, this to them means you are interested. Western girls are seen as easy. We have a reputation. And yes, the Italians find our drunkeness bemusing and quite inappropriate.
BUT I made some good friends. I encountered a sense of community in the area I lived in that I have NEVER encountered in the UK. Yes, people are nosy, but they also very often genuinely want to help.
There is not the same degree of violence (ok it gets a little crazy at some of the weekday football games at San Siro where it is wise to take a brolly so you don’t get pissed on – oh, and watch out for the falling bicycles) that we have in England. You don’t hear about the same level of rapes, murders, child abuse… maybe things are hidden. I’m not so sure. There is more honour there. More respect for the older generation. And, you may be viewed as a sex object if you are female and get your bottom pinched BUT the only people who really offended me were Albanians who exposed themselves or touched themselves whilst following me down the street. The Italian men have too much pride to do such things.
And Italy is so, so beautiful. Travel. Go everywhere. Try all the wonderful food. I found most Italians had a smattering of English and loved to tell me the words and sentences they knew. When I asked old ladies in supermarkets about food, they would give me recipes in simple Italian, trying to explain so I could understand. Supermarket staff at the local store knew me well. The parents of the nightmare but lovely children at the school I taught were so supportive. The kids were just adorable even if a couple were a handful. The Italians… Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (the book not the film) sums it up. They… love to eat, be friendly, have heated debates, they love beautiful things and the good life. If you argue with someone who is Italian and you disagree vehemently it’s not the end of the world. It’s OK. You’re just being passionate.
Oh, and the mountains. GO to the mountains. Winter, summer… they’re just beautiful. Go and do some bar work in a ski resort but a small one where you learn about what it feels like to be part of a community. I remember going back to Milan and being overwhelmed by the sight of cars and large buildings again. Oh how I miss the mountains.
By the end of my time in Italy I had learned to love the things that had wound me up when I had arrived. The idiosyncrasies of a place, of a people, are what makes them different and special. OK, so there is no such thing as a queue. You learn to be more assertive. No bad thing!
Never go anywhere and expect it to be like home. Live, learn and appreciate. And enjoy. We are so very lucky we can travel so easily these days.
Teaching English in Italy can be great fun as the students are mostly lovely. Things to be aware of are dodgy schools who make you work up to 12 hours a day without a break. Also certain schools don’t pay on time. There are lots of good schools out there just don’t go to the first one who offers you a job, shop around. You will love Italy. Just like the UK be careful what school you go to.
What Lisa said about teaching English in the state schools is absolutely correct. However, it’s also something of a Holy Grail as most of the state contracts will have been swallowed up by the local language schools. It’s not enough to look in the phone book tho’, normally you will need to enter a ‘concorso’ or open competition for jobs; part of the problem lies in finding out exactly when these will take place!
It depends on the person running the school regarding how you are treated. I have worked for schools in the north and they seem to be dodgier. While in the south (the provincial south – not Rome or Naples) the people running the schools seem to be more honest and forthright. I imagine that schools in the major cities including Rome, Milan, etc. are horrible to work for. The individuals running those schools tipify the worst stereotypes about dodgy Italians. So be careful!
Hi! I’m an American who has been in southern Italy for almost 10 years, and a lot of what I see written is true. Especially the part about Italians’ frustration with the impact of the Euro, and the simultaneous need to keep up with appearances. It has made for a very difficult life, especially in the south. But in regards to teaching English in Italy, a new window has opened with the P.O.N.’s. There is more opportunity than ever for a native English speaker, especially one with some experience. At 60/hr for 50-hour contracts, it’s not so bad. Well, at least better than McDonald’s. I put some more info up on my blog if anyone wants to do some reading. www.teach-english-in-italy.net
Ciao Tutti, I had taught English in Bari, Naples, Milano, Roma, Imperia working for language schools. One day I decided to work for myself and opened a language school in ventimiglia in Liguria. I ran this school from scratch for 2 years then I sold it to another ex-pat. Starting your own school in Italy is easy and cheaper than you think. It is cheaper and less hassle to open a school in Italy than Spain. I used to make over 2600 euros per month and work less than 25 hours per week! I have written this easy step by step guide about how to set up your own language school in Italy. www.myscuola.co.uk
No one is getting rich teaching English anywhere including Italy. I suggest that you simply quit complaining about conditions whether they be with private or public schools as each has its advantages and disadvantages. Prepare yourselves as there is a lot of competition for teaching in Italy at every level. Hence, lower wages. And don’t think just because you SPEAK English that you are qualified to teach it! Although you may be able to find some private lessons initially to get you by it’s never enough in the long term which is why teachers scramble looking for contracts! Oh but here is the RUB…you have to WORK! While Italy is all that everyone has previously pointed out in its beauty… No one is going to give you their good money to finance your holiday vacation. It doesn’t work that way. And for most serious private schools with serious clients who pay THEIR good money for language training, they don’t want nor need to throw it away on partially qualified part-time “teachers” whose only goal is to talk about their last weekend visit to CinqueTerra. Dreams of earning 60 euros an hour are just that…DREAMS! Not even middle to top managers earn that in Italy! The average take home wage of most Italians ranges from 1000 to 1500 euro a month on contract. You certainly shouldn’t expect to earn more than that. As a novice instructor you should expect about half that amount on contract. Contracts are regulated by STATE law not by the schools (both public or private) Educate yourself not only on what are your rights but what are the rights of your employer as well. That way you won’t be surprised when by contract you may be asked to work up until 10pm or a certain number of hours. As with everywhere else in the world don’t expect the “Dolce Vita” unless you are willing to work for it.
Hi everyone, just like to add my little two bit. I’ve been teaching English in Rome for over ten years. The key to success is twofold: set up your own private lessons and avoid all offers from any schools alike. Charge students 25 euros an hour and soon you too will be raking in 4000 euros a month. Cheers and good luck to all!
Fantastic and uplifting advice! Thanks John. I think it has a lot to do with your attitude and your ability. Can you actually teach? Do you know your subject? Are you going to give a good quality lesson? If you can say yes then there are always people willing to pay good money for a good teacher. I am on my way to Rome soon and I think John’s advice is definitley something to think about. Viva Roma!
Don’t do it unless you’re young, cashed up and free of any financial or other ties. I loved living in Rome. I speak fluent Italian and made good friends there, and loved exploring the sites. The pay was really lousy over there, about 7 euros per hour, and the language schools don’t pay holidays so you will find yourself very short of cash when the schools shut down for a month in August and also over Christmas. A lot of the language schools are unethical. They will try not to pay you if a student is a no-show. They also misrepresent the teachers’ qualifications to the students. One school I was working at told all new students that every teacher was a university qualified mother tongue speaker with at least 5 years’ teaching experience, which was an outright lie. I am TESOL qualified and was earning 800-1,200 euros per month, which is bugger all. Renting a 2 bedroom flat costs around 1,200 per month, so at least half your pay will go on rent and the other half won’t leave you much to live off. Teachers are paid monthly, and I found that for the last week of each month I had to put food from the supermarket on my Australian credit card. I came home a few thousand dollars in debt, and haven’t looked back since. I am able to progress my career here and not worry about money.
I also found Italians to be generally very racist towards non-Europeans, which really annoyed me. People specifically told me “You’re alright because you’re white and you speak English”. Italians on the whole are a lot less accepting of homosexuality than Australians. Most of my Italian friends were male. I found Italian women to be quite tense and difficult to befriend on the whole. My female friends were colleagues from different countries. There are a lot of good things about the culture. As mentioned by other bloggers, binge drinking is not common in Italy, which was great. I went out late at least once a week because I felt safe going to pubs and clubs. Most Italians do not speak English beyond elementary level, so anyone wanting to work there would do well to study the language for a couple of years beforehand. Most of the friends I made over there are Italian, and I am aware that speaking the language fluently made life a lot easier for me.
Another thing I appreciated about the culture was that, on the whole, young Italian adults are well educated about history, politics and current affairs, and it is fairly common for strangers in a pub to start discussing the state of the world rather than football/cricket. I found that the people I met in Rome were on the whole reliable and honorable, and very loyal friends. Chivalry is alive and well in Italy.
While there are aspects of the culture that I miss, I am happy to be earning a decent wage back in a racially diverse society where being gay isn’t an issue.
English teachers be careful of false contracts, where no taxes are paid for you, all illegal and there are huge hassles if the finance police come to the school! I also recommend being part of the CiGL-Nidl, a union for teachers that is not in the public school system.
Be aware that Italy is a very regional country. The experience someone may have in regards to attitudes towards women, foreigners, whatever really, depends largely upon where you are in the country. It is not a large country but the differences in mentalities and opportunities can vary a great deal, particularly between the north and south.
I am an Australian living in Milan. When dealing with government departments, dont assume that they have all information on any given subject is in one easy to find place, or that the person behind the counter has any interest in doing their job and actually helping people, because it isnt always the case. In other words expect frustration and generally you wont be disappointed.
Italy is such a good place to live if you have some money in your pocket. The weather is great for most of the year (I live in the centre) and there’s so much to see it’s ridiculous. The food is obviously great, the wine is sensational (albeit a bit pricey considering the pitiful measures you get in bars and restaurants) and life is really nice. Unfortunately, it’s getting EXTREMELY expensive here. The average TEFL salary is between â‚¬1,000 and â‚¬1,300 (for the 8-9 months you will be paid) and you really need to be on the upper end of that scale to have any standard of living at all given that unemployment benefit for the summer is all but impossible to obtain. A beer in a bar will cost between â‚¬3-5 and a meal â‚¬15-100 depending on whether you like pizza or not and the price of petrol is going to be â‚¬2 a litre with a couple of years. The whole country’s salary structure has been stagnant since the ’90s and the chances of their going up are zilch. If you fancy Italy it’s now or never in my opinion. In 5 years time, half the population is going to be on the poverty line. TEFLers are already there.
So, does the same apply, salary-wise, if you have an M.A. in TESL/Linguistics, are experienced with an american university TESL background, etc? I am preparing to teach English in Rome and would like to know the prospects, working conditions and the ease of navigating from point-to-point (or is it easy to land a position which would domicile in one locale). Thank you for your posting/response!
Hi, I’ve lived in Italy for one year and I’ve been let down by schools offering phantom contracts. It’s so annoying i’m thinking of advertising myself for private english lessons. However, other people i’ve meet here seem to think it’s not a good idea but nobody seems to know why! Any comments would be appreciated.
Hayley, 26 January 2012
My advice to those not already here in Italy is think very carefully before you commit yourself. I have taught in Italy for over 6 years now and am finally leaving. In that time I have worked for several of the larger language schools and also worked freelance.
English teachers are not well paid, are not respected by their employers, are generally given work contracts that are barely legal at best, downright illegal in many cases. By this I mean project contracts. These are the contracts that deprive you of many rights in terms of employment, mean that it’s impossible to get a loan or mortgage, mean that you don’t get paid for holidays, mean that instead of being paid a year’s salary for a year’s work you’ll get 10 or 11 months salary, and so on. If your project contract identifies the project as teaching, it is illegal.
Working privately is another matter. You don’t have a contract, of course, but at least you get to earn the money you deserve. That said, you have to be careful about getting paid, or else you’ll have problems. Some companies here will do their utmost to avoid paying you because the legal system is so poor that you simply won’t live long enough, or have enough money to see a court case against a non-payer bear fruit.
If you’re not an European white person, you’ll experience the kind of racism that died elsewhere decades ago. I’ve lived mostly in the North around Milan but also elsewhere and what I’ve seen sickens me. And I’m white.
You’ll pay the highest rates of tax in Europe but earn among the lowest wages. You’ll pay the highest price in Europe for car insurance, gas, electricity and petrol, plus extortionate rates for property rental.
Choose another country, is the best advice I could offer anybody thinking of coming to Italy to teach English. The photos might look good but you don’t live in a postcard.
Working for a school, the salaries available are low. Most of the ‘progetto’ contracts offered are semi-legal at best. Lots of schools abuse teachers in ways that would be illegal elsewhere. However, as a previous poster said, working privately can be comfortably profitable. However, it takes time to build up clients.
There is a free-to-use teacher directory for Milano and Lombardia which sets out to promote independent teachers, you’ll find it at www.milanoinglese.com (teacher info) and the public site is the .it version of the same domain. It’s a non-profit site set up by ex-teachers to defend themselves against schools. Have a look.
Otherwise, if you’re planning to work for a school, beware of ‘progetto’ contracts which say your project is teaching. Illegal. Beware of those schools which demand you have a partita IVA (VAT number) because this is illegal if you only work for one school. Also, when you get to do the tax returns you’ll regret it!
Well guys, I’ve been living and teaching English in Italy for over 25 years now so I’ve pretty much seen it all: dodgy schools, dishonest and unscrupulous employers etc. My advice to you is to build up a solid basis of private tuition and to maybe do some part-time work for a school – I do this mornings only. If you can find about 25 hours per week privately, you’ll be making good money. However, people will soon twig on if you’re not a competent teacher, so brush up your grammar and be imaginative. Italians like variation so keep your eyes open for new stuff and make your lessons interesting. Buona fortuna!
I lived in Rome for 2 years and most of the time enjoyed it. As mentioned above I am lucky as I am debt free and was able to have the extra finances available. My language school was fine and I was being paid 10 euros an hour. But the cost of living is high in Rome and definitely if you have an apartment near the centre on your own as I was paying 1150 euros for a 1 bedroom. But there are also opportunities for private work.
Hello everyone who is teaching or has taught in Italy. I’ve been living here for over ten tears. I’m TEFL and CELTA certified with a degree. I’m American married to an Italian and working here is a nightmare, everybody loves to take advantage of your services as an English teacher. State or private it doesn’t matter you always get nailed in the end. Private lessons pay very well if you have enough people who are willing to pay 20 euros an hour. Let’s not talk about schools they are all parasites but you need them in the end if you want to earn some cash. I work for three schools, two companies and do private lessons and i still have a hard time making ends meet especially in the summer. Here in Catania everything closes down and everyone goes to the sea. To sum up a few topics Italians love to eat, drink and waste there time doing nothing that’s why this country is or has been falling apart since I’ve been here, besides all the negs Italy is a wonderful place to live and visit, at least once in your life. If any doubts please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org Peace…
Hi, I have been living in Italy Liguria for over three years. If you do not speak Italian don’t bother trying to teach private english lessons. Anyone who has heard it takes 6 months to learn Italian ( don’t believe them ) It’s not what you know but who you know in Liguria, so if you don’t know anyone you will not get a job here ( in any sector! ) The weather is beautiful, the country is interesting but the job prospects are harsh! Good luck!
I am bemused by all the comments on how delightful the experience was for all those posting on teaching in Italy. I noted they had all left. Having survived here for 10 years (I married one of those Italians who as most above mentioned, pray on us sweet ignorant foreigners)
I’ve taught in just about every situation mentioned here and here are my conclusions:
When you arrive you wont understand the locals while they are smiling at you (and you are telling your family back home how charming they are.) you don’t understand what they are actually saying about you in your presence. you don’t know, that they consider, that foreign women are slags, yes puttana, the local women will detest and resent you for stealing one of their Italian, men. or just simply because you smile in public and wear sandles in May. its a minefield.
Working with Italian men if you are under 80 years old is seriously dangerous… they are chauvinistic in the extreme and will screw or at least try to screw anything that moves into their line of vision, that includes you! Don’t think for a minute that the workplace regulations that cover Italians and stop them from getting fired and having sick leave, will apply also to you, they wont.
Now How can I put this gently. You have no rights and unless you eventually become an Italian citizen, (good luck with that) you will work as a sweatshop worker and have to deal with loads of red tape to receive your money. If you are single you cannot rent and live on the pittance paid to you, whichever way you work. You will have to find a partner, and therein lies the cycle. If you come from egalitarian England or USA Canada, my God, are you in for a shock.
Yes the English are known for, binge drinking and eating crapola, and the USA made McDonald’s! there are lots of different shades in there too. These mass generalizations will be slapped on you wherever you go in Italy. when and IF you become part of an Italian family, you will see ITALY, and you understand why everyone runs away eventually to maintain their sanity.
So if you are rich, retired or following an international spouse who landed a great job with all the perks in a global company, its fun for a few years. if not…come for a holiday, and keep your eyes open.
To quote my good friend Italy is not third world its fifth world!
I have lived in Rome for 6 months and loved every minute. There have been some frustrations like the strikes on public transport and every Italian seems to be rife with resentment for their country but I have been home (for a holiday) for 3 weeks now and the same applies here (UK). Everyone is raging about something, be it the weather or the cost of living. British politicians and bankers are as corrupt if not more so than the Italians, the only difference is ours are better at hiding it. It is funny what is said about Italian men though – they really are pathetic. I am male and would never dream of behaving the way they do, I have pride!
Anyway, I don’t plan on staying in Italy forever, I’m just enjoying seeing the country right now. I am moving to Milan next month and I hope I am as lucky as I was in Rome to find a great job and a great landlady (though she was French).
I’m an Italo-Australian, meaning I have two passports, two degrees, bilingual… I have worked for a private school in Rimini that still owes me thousands of Euros, then closed down, only to re-surface with a different company name. … Italian law lets businesses do this …….. I have zilch chances of ever getting paid, because the justice system in Italy is a shambles. So, beware!! You can survive on private tuitions, but this also means that you are probably never going to have a stable professional life .. so … up to you … personally, I am on my way back to OZ.
Italy has to be one of the worst countries I taught English in! I lived in Italy for 8 months, but in that time never once received my salary. If you are thinking about going to Italy ensure your school or company will pay as stated in the contract. But this still didnt stop my employers, from schools to universities to companies no one pays! I am still owed money from companies 6 months since I left. You should really learn Italian as I went with only a little Italian and got judged for this by employers and given less work because of this! The people (well in Milan) are very tradition and were not open. I found making friends very difficult and ended up only having my boyfriend who was scottish to speak with. Also when finding a flat is impossible! Go to an agency the price will be high but its the only way as most people just live with their parents. I had to leave because of lack of money as no one would pay me it was a horrid experience with some of the most stupid laws and people I have ever met. If you want my advice pick a different country. I have taught in several and the best place so far was china, everyone was friendly and worked hard. I had no problems and it was a fantastic experience.
Well I can add my experience to the list of people living here and married to an Italian…if it weren’t for that I’d be back home in the States making 5 times more and actually putting something away for the future.
My experience with schools has been 50-50. The worst was after 5 years of illegal project contracts I gave up. I had previously been offered 40+ hours per week with a permenant contract for little more than 5 euros per hour and of course they recommended I get married first so that I could have a working visa. But I’ve also found schools willing to offer more with better conditions.
Private lessons can be a good source of income if you find the right clients. I’ve had my fair share of people who skip out on you and men who when realize they won’t get more than an English lesson never show up again.
Now I am freelance with a P.Iva and I work with an employers association. They pay really well, 30-50 euros p/h but they pay at the end of the contract. A 30 hour contract can drag out for 5 months, add 45 days from close of the contract and you do the math. The tax is extremely high. After already deducting 20% on each invoice you also have to pay 27% tax for the entire year. And if you go over 16,000 euros you also pay the estimated tax for the following year. Is it worth it? The real question is what’s the alternative?
And of course there’s also the lovely experience of being a woman and working with companies. I’ve had companies request a ‘meeting’ with potential teachers which was really a line-up to pick the most attractive teacher. It makes me a little sick. The pressure to look good can be high. But experience goes a long way.
Aside from the dissatisfaction with that part of the job I’ve meet some great people, made a lot of contacts and always have a lot of work. I don’t see myself doing this forever however.
As for the country itself, while it’s true that for women often it’s very difficult to make friends among Italian women (I only have one in 11 years) the people are often very friendly although more so in the south and not as much in Tuscany, where I live. I’ve given up lots of comforts coming from America. But on the whole quality of life could never be better. I worked the 40+ job for great money in the ‘no-vacation nation’ known as the States. I don’t miss it.
I checked this forum because I have been approached by neighbors to teach their kids conversational English. I am American, married to a duo-passport (Amer/Ital) Italian. I have lived in Italy (near Milan) for 2 nonconsecutive years and my Italian is still pretty basic. It is a very difficult language to learn, unless you are already bilingual or super young! I am basically just looking for ideas on teaching kids English on a private level.
Regarding life in Italy. Well, Dee and others have made some very relevant points. I love traveling throughout the country and have been all over….but yes, a holiday is very different than living in a place. Living here is no holiday! It is at least 40 years behind the US socially, in regards to chauvenism, racism, diversity, and its generally widespread narrow mindedness. (Well, for one thing, they are all the same religion, so anyone who is not Catholic is an oddball.) I have found that people of the south are far more friendly, outgoing and helpful – sadly how we Americans think of all Italians, which is definitely not the case. Oh yes, and they are very prejudice against their own re: north/south/etc.
Every task takes 5 times longer to do, there are zero customer service standards, and the general public comes off as extremely rude – rarely ever yielding on sidewalks or store aisles, or saying “excuse me” even if they ram into you, which they often do. On a personal level, our neighbors and vendors whose shops I frequent, are great. I guess they just need to know you before they deem you worthy of respect. There is a sense of constant suspicion (of everyone, not only foreigners), mistrust, fear, and extreme judgement.
Money does not buy you very much here either, so prepare to live in a place 1/2 the size of your American home and with zero ammenities and crappy appliances which cost twice as much.
Try to travel here a lot before you actually decide to live here and stay in a place long enough to actually see how real life goes. Probably the best option would be to live anywhere in Europe other than Italy…and then just travel the short distance here for holiday.
Hi, I actually came on here just to find out what the going rate is for private classes. I would like to just comment though on what has been touched upon in some of the other posts. I’ve lived in Italy (Liguria) for 3 years now. I’ve also lived in France, Portugal and Spain. I’m British but ethnic and wanted to say that my experiences of racism in Italy haven’t been too bad. I think there is a great deal of frustrating corruption etc when it comes to work. I also agree that people may well be smiling at you but saying nasty things when you don’t understand. In my experience however, France, Spain and Portugal were more racist. At least here I’m not followed around by a security guard EVERY time I enter a shop (Spain) and it’s never been assumed that I am a maid looking after a child rather than a birth mother with her daughter (!!) (Portugal on more than one occasion!) When I moved here I was terrified. I’d looked up ‘racism in Italy’ on the internet and feared that Italy would be hellish for me. It hasn’t been. I think it particularly helps if people ‘know’ you. The colour thing seems to then be of little importance. (This was also true for Spain). Please don’t be completely put off if you’re thinking of coming to Italy. I’ve been amazed at how kind and generous people have been here. I’ve also had no ‘in your face’ racist experiences. France was AWFUL in comparison. There I experienced full on racism for one of the first times in my life.
Each experience is different I guess but not all Italians are racist (or indeed corrupt!). The worst thing about living here is actually how expensive it is. REALLY expensive. If you’re looking for a reason not to come, then this would be it! All the best!
Hi, I’m from Australia and have lived in Italy for 4 years on and off. I would recommend it to any one with a bit of a spirit for adventure.
True, I never had a contract and never paid tax, was always paid cash in hand, but when you just want to move some where different and see and experience a new place who really cares??
As for all those people saying Italy is racist, sure there are racist people,just like every where else, just look at the race riots in the USA and the UK. Just ask an African American what its like to be black in their own country or most Australians views about the Aboriginal people if you want a closer to home dose of racism.
Is it hard for gay people? Maybe in some smaller towns like any where on the planet, I’m a gay male and the gay clubs and life in Italy these days are 20 years ahead of any thing I have seen in Australia. Including gay party beaches in the summer.
The wages are not great, don’t go there to get rich. Go because you love art, vibrant street life, crazy market and fun times,a never ending amount of things to do and see, great food and the list goes on.
I didn’t have all the bad experiences from all the posts above. I made some good friends Italian and International that are still living and enjoying it many years later.
Its not Italy and the Italians fault every time some one isn’t successful there.
That said Italy has the problems of any country and maybe some different ones, but if you are tough enough you will have a great time.
The moral of the story is don’t work for (most) schools and don’t work in cities where mother tongues are a dime a dozen. I have worked in Milan and Naples and would regularly turn down jobs that offered less than 15 (my rule was 18 for schools and 25 for privates…around 35 for private groups) On a good month I bring home around 2200 and 1600 on a slow one. Also find ways to supliment your income. Be creative. I found that you can’t live in Italy with an anglo saxon mindset. You have to learn to screw people over and be screwed (professionally). It’s how this country works. Also, after you are a fluent Italian speaker you can look for your own lessons. I know teachers who don’t work even an hour for the private schools and who have to turn away students. Advertise and most of all NETWORK! I really have found that you can make a fine living teaching and maybe having two or three other small (300-400 euro a month) souces of income (translating, e-commerce… there are so many).
I’ve read lots of the comments above and I can’t believe the atrocious spelling and grammar mistakes in every post. Seriously? You guys are English teachers??
I’ve lived in Sicily for nearly a year now and have found life quite idyllic. Of course I have no dependants and I don’t live extravagently, but I get to live in the sun and eat great food :)
I’ve been very lucky that I am working for a school which pays very well (20 euros an hour) and I only teach about 20 hours a week, but my flatmate has worked here for 3 years in other schools and hasn’t needed to kill himself to live decently.
I speak very good Italian but my housemate has survived 3 years with only English and it hasn’t made life difficult for him at all – except that our landlady constantly scolds him for his ignorance, to which he bemusedly smiles and nods.
The trick is to work in the south. The food is great and cheap and it’s lovely and sunny. Don’t get a car and be careful how much electricity you use because the cost is exorbitant.
Don’t be impatient, adjust your speed of life and be wary of who you work for.
I don’t think I’ll stay here forever, but 3-5 years would be just fine :)
Reading the comments above, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that there are some deeply dodgy individuals running businesses here. Still, that’s true of all the world. But it doesn’t mean that you need to join the victim queue!
If you’re a mothertongue English teacher there are a couple of sites which aim to help teachers promote themselves and to generate private work. Two are free, one isn’t, at the time of writing.
If you want to live and work in Milan, or the surrounding area, look MilanoInglese up on Google.
www.milanoinglese.it is not free to join. However, if you do a search on google which includes the words ‘inglese’ and ‘milano’ you’ll see that it comes top for more or less every search. What that means is that the site attracts more enquiries for English lessons than any other site in Northern Italy. There is a relatively small number of teachers registered on the site and if you contact them you’ll find out that they are all more or less fully booked. Aside from paying a registration fee and writing a semi-intelligent profile for yourself, all you have to do is wait for people to contact you, then arrange (or not) lessons. It’s phenomenally successful.
The ‘public’ site where students search for teachers is milanoinglese.it and the English-language teacher information and registration site is milanoinglese.com
If you’re based in Rome, there’s RomaInglese.it (and .com) which does exactly the same as it’s older sister site in Milano. Registration for mother tongue teachers is free.
Similarly, but much newer and far less busier at present, is torinoinglese.it (and .com) which covers the Torino (Turin) area. Registration is free.
If you register with either the Milan or Rome sites, and assuming you can teach in the first place and write a decent profile description, you can look forward to finding enough private work that you’ll not need to work for the local language schools.
You CAN earn a decent salary teaching English in Italy, it’s just that you’ll never do it working for a school.
Hi everyone, really interesting reading and I can agree with most of what has been written as I have also suffered at the unscrupulous hands of the Italians! I’ve been living in La Spezia, a small town in Liguria, for the past 2 years. I’m from Belfast, Northern Ireland and my husband is Italian, from Turin, though we met whilst living and working in London; I had been there 7 years and he, 10 or 11.
My husband had an idea to set up his own business (sailing orientated) and Italy, lacking in opportunities in the particular niche area, was the obvious choice as the UK already offered what he was planning to do. So on coming to Italy I had contacted several language schools asking what qualifications I should have (I have a degree in law and post-grad diploma in legal practice but no teaching English qualifications). A couple replied saying I must have the CELTA to be employed by them, but some said I didn’t need anything. As the CELTA is expensive and we had both quit our well paying London jobs, got married and moved there, we didn’t think it was a good idea for me to spend extra cash on the qualification if it wasn’t necessary.
I started teaching for a small independent school with no contract nor any idea of how much I would be paid at the end of the courses. I was given two Trinity courses to teach, in two different state schools, for a total of 4 hours per week. The courses took from November to March to complete; the school’s director gave me only a handful of photocopies from the textbook to teach with, and absolutely no training or teaching tips. When I sent my invoice for 450 euros for the total amount earned, the director refused to pay me citing that I needed to have a partita iva in order to be paid, something incorrect, as I had invoiced from my UK limited company which has no partita iva nor is obliged to! In the end, and several incredibly rude phone conversations later, where I was accused of trying to dodge taxes, my husband called up a favour from an old school friend lawyer who wrote a letter to the school threatening court action unless I was paid. This did the trick!
After that, I started working again part time a couple of evenings a week, 12 euros per hour,for another provider of foreign language lessons. This wasn’t as bad, but again no contract and every month I had to practically beg to be paid, several times. I got fed up with that after about 10 months and started trying to get private pupils. Though la Spezia seems very narrow minded and the pool of interested people so small to actually make it a feasible job.
So now I have decided to do the CELTA and if I pass it, apply for jobs with the more reputable schools as well as teach privately. I’ll not go into any of my shocking experiences dealing with the health system here, and will only add that it is true for someone coming from a country where things ‘work’, Italy does indeed seem like a place worse off than the third world. Many apologies to my in-laws.