Adventures of an English Teacher in Italy
Ciao ragazzi! Wondering how to teach English in Italy?
If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring the enchanting land of pizza, pasta, and picturesque landscapes while teaching English, then this blog post is for you.
Many people want to move to Italy to teach English because of the country’s beauty, relaxed lifestyle, and arts and culture.
First, Italy is truly picturesque. There is a reason the landscape attracted painters throughout history. I, too, spent a summer in Umbria during my undergraduate studying fine art (see my fine arts side here). The sunlight, in particular. It is a warmer color, which casts a different green across the hills and trees.
Then, people love the slow Italian lifestyle. For example, I once went to the open bank in the afternoon and though the doors were open, there were no tellers inside. So, asked some men playing board games outside the front door if they knew what was going on. They said the teller was visiting her mom around the corner and would be back sometime soon. Personally, this relaxed lifestyle really stressed me out, but many people are really yearning for that lifestyle after being burnt out in faster-paced cities.
Finally, there is the ars and history, of course. That deserves its own post so we won’t go too far into that. But, all of this is to say, there are an abundance of reasons people flock to Italy as expat English teachers.
Let’s jump right in.
Requirements to teach English in Italy
The requirements for teaching English in Italy can vary depending on the type of institution you wish to work for and your nationality. Here are some general guidelines.
Generally, to teach English in Italy, you should be a native English speaker. Some schools may even prefer British English to American English.
Italy is a desirable location. Many American and British teachers are excited about moving to Italy, so you are competing against native speakers. If you are not a native speaker, consider another country that has fewer native English speakers moving to it.
Most language schools and institutions in Italy require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. While it does not necessarily have to be in English or education, it is preferable to have a degree in either of these fields.
A Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), or Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) certification is commonly required. These certifications provide essential training and methodology for teaching English as a second language.
Non-EU citizens will need a valid work visa to teach in Italy legally. If you get hired at a school before moving to Italy, they will take care of this. If you don’t have an employer helping you, then it’s best to consult the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country for detailed information.
Speak some Italian
While not always mandatory, having a basic knowledge of the Italian language can be beneficial. This is especially important when teaching beginners or in certain contexts outside major cities.
Previous Teaching Experience
Experience in teaching or tutoring English, especially to non-native speakers, can increase your chances of finding a job.
Criminal Background Check
Some institutions may require a clean criminal background check as part of the application process.
References and resume
Prepare a well-structured resume (or CV, curriculum vitae) and have references available upon request.
How to Get Hired
Jobs: Teach abroad websites
Finding English teaching jobs in Italy can be done through various websites that specialize in language teaching opportunities. Here are some of the best websites to start your search:
ESL Job Boards
- Dave’s ESL Cafe (https://www.eslcafe.com/jobs/ is one of the oldest and most popular job boards for English teaching positions worldwide, including Italy.
- TEFL.com (https://www.tefl.com/): A comprehensive job board with listings for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) positions.
Online Job Platforms
- LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/): Create a professional profile and search for teaching opportunities in Italy through job listings and networking.
- Indeed Italy (https://www.indeed.it/): A job search engine that aggregates listings from various sources, including language schools and institutions.
Language School Directories:
- ESLbase (https://www.eslbase.com/schools/italy): Provides a list of language schools in Italy along with contact information.
- LanguageCourse.Net (https://www.languagecourse.net/schools–italy.php3): A directory of language schools in Italy that may have job listings on their websites.
Government Programs and Organizations:
- Cultural Ambassadors: The U.S. Fulbright Program (https://www.fulbright.it/) and other cultural exchange programs may offer English teaching opportunities in Italy.
- Local Education Offices: Check regional or municipal education offices in Italy for potential teaching programs and positions.
- Join Facebook groups like “English Teachers in Italy” or “TEFL Jobs Italy” for job postings, advice, and networking opportunities.
Jobs: English Language Schools in Italy
Several major English language schools operate in Italy. They offer language courses for both local Italians and international students. Try exploring these schools’ websites and also reaching out to them with a cover letter and resume.
Here are some prominent English language schools in Italy:
- British Institutes: With a history dating back to 1905, British Institutes is one of the oldest and most recognized language schools in Italy. There are a few locations. Here is one for Florence. They offer a wide range of English language courses for all levels, from beginners to advanced learners.
- Wall Street English: This global chain of language schools has a significant presence in Italy, providing personalized English courses focusing on speaking and communication skills.
- Berlitz: Known for its immersive language learning approach, Berlitz has centers across Italy offering English courses for individuals and businesses.
- International House: With a network of schools worldwide, International House has several locations in Italy, offering quality English language programs and teacher training courses.
- The British School: Operating in various cities in Italy, The British School provides English language courses for adults and children, along with Cambridge English exam preparation. Here is a link to their Milan location.
- English International School: Catering to students of all ages, English International School focuses on English language education and Cambridge exam preparation.
Join me on a roller coaster ride of cultural immersion, linguistic discoveries, and hilarious misadventures as I navigate the delightful journey of teaching English in Italy.
When English Met Italian: Focus areas when teaching
Italian learners of English often face specific challenges due to differences in grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary between the two languages. Here are some aspects of English that Italians may find challenging:
English has a diverse range of vowel sounds and consonant clusters that are different from Italian. Italians might struggle with sounds like “th” (as in “the” or “think”) and “r” (especially the American English “r” sound).
Articles and Gender
English uses only “the” as a definite article, while Italian has masculine and feminine articles (“il” and “la” for singular, “i” and “le” for plural). Additionally, assigning gender to inanimate objects can be confusing for Italian learners.
English verb conjugation is generally simpler than Italian, but some aspects can be challenging. For instance, the correct use of present perfect (“I have done”) versus simple past (“I did”) can be difficult for Italian speakers.
English frequently uses phrasal verbs (verbs combined with prepositions or adverbs) that have idiomatic meanings. Learning and understanding these combinations can be daunting for Italian learners.
Italian has a more flexible word order than English, which has a more rigid Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) structure. This can lead to difficulties in constructing sentences that follow English syntax.
English often has consonant clusters in words that are not common in Italian. For example, words like “strengths” or “squirrel” can be challenging to pronounce.
English has many unstressed and reduced vowel sounds that Italians might find challenging to recognize and produce.
Phonetics and Spelling
English spelling and pronunciation are not always consistent, which can be frustrating for Italian learners who are used to more straightforward spelling rules.
Understanding idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms in English can be difficult, as they may not have direct equivalents in Italian.
English modal verbs (e.g., can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would) have various functions and uses that might not directly translate from Italian modal verbs.
There are many “false friends” between English and Italian, where words look similar but have different meanings. For example, “library” in English means “biblioteca,” not “libreria.”
Avoid Cultural Faux Pas: Oops, I Did It Again!
When traveling or living in Italy, it’s essential to be aware of cultural differences. This way, you can avoid unintentionally offending locals. Here are some common cultural faux pas Americans (and other foreigners) might make in Italy:
Unlike in some countries, tipping in Italy is not as common or expected. In many cases, a service charge is already included in the bill. If you do decide to tip, it’s usually a small amount, and it’s not expected at cafes or bars.
Being too Informal and Misusing Italian Greetings
Understanding Italian greetings is crucial. For instance, “ciao” is informally used among friends but may be inappropriate in a formal setting. Use “buongiorno” (good morning) or “buonasera” (good evening) for formal situations.
Dressing too casually
Italians generally dress well, even for everyday activities. Wearing overly casual or beachwear-like clothing in cities or formal settings might be considered disrespectful.
Ordering cappuccino after breakfast
It’s a common belief in Italy that milk-based coffee like cappuccino should be consumed only during breakfast, not after a meal.
Eating on the go
Italians typically take their time to enjoy meals and prefer to sit down to eat rather than consume food while walking.
Misusing the “OK” hand gesture
In Italy, if you make the gesture where the thumb and index finger form a circle to indicate “OK” , people consider it offensive. It looks like… a butt. Eh hem…
Expecting fast-paced service
The slow service in restaurants, bars, and shops often surprises Americans. Indeed, as I mentioned above, I am a very high-strung person who sees time as money, so the Italian laid-back attitude to service made me livid. If you choose to move to Italy, don’t be me. Take the opportunity to ignore your to-do list. Italians value quality over speed, so be patient and enjoy the experience.
Not respecting historical sites and artworks
Last but not least, respect Italy’s history. This should be obvious. Follow all guidelines regarding historical sites in Italy. Then, there is another issue that might be less obvious. When visiting churches, museums, or historical sites, dress modestly. Italians can be quite conservative. Dress like a local to show respect for their cultural heritage.
Cultural Exchange: Learning through Celebrating Festivals
If you are teaching English in Italy, consider joining the country’s vibrant festival culture. This will help you learn about Italians and better connect with your students. I suggest enjoying the frenzy of Carnevale, the dazzle of Ferragosto, and the magic of Natale as we embraced the traditions, costumes, and joyous spirit of these celebrations together with my beloved students.
So, if you’re ready to embrace the enchantment of Italy while sharing the gift of English, get your passport ready. Let the journey of a lifetime begin! Alla prossima avventura! (Until the next adventure!)