ESL Teaching Guide - Italy

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Maura DeChesser - 2013

I came to Italy 10 years ago to teach English. Overall it's been a great experience and I wake up every morning to a job that I love. There are however, a few things you need to be aware of. Being able to stay and work legally in Italy means having a permesso di soggiorno. Most TEFL schools will tell you that you simply walk into a language training center looking for work and when the school gives you work, they give you a contract and that this contract is all you need to get a permesso di soggiorno. FALSE! VERY few schools in Italy give full-time contracts and it's becoming less common every day. The majority of schools will try to convince you to open a freelance tax account (PARTITA IVA). DO NOT listen to them as it's financial suicide. Since most schools pay maximum 15 euro gross per hour, you'll be taking home 10 euro or less per hour net, minus all your travel expenses as well since very very schools pay your bus fare when you're travelling to lessons outside the school you work for. You won't be able to get by on what you make.

Another thing to consider is that if you work freelance and work with a "contratto al progetto", there is always a risk that you may not get paid. The terms of payment are by EU standards, max 30 working days after the course ends, but many teachers often go unpaid and you have very little recourse in the matter. In June 2013 I finished a job for a training center that had sent me to do a course for a very prominent company. I was supposed to be paid by the end of August 2013. As of February 2014, I still haven't been paid the 800 euros owed to me. The person who hired me stopped responding to my emails and didn't respond to a letter sent by a lawyer. I have several colleagues who are owed sums of over 1000 euros.

Unfortunately it's very difficult to get permission to stay in Italy legally and I would never suggest staying here illegally because you put yourself at great risk to be taken advantage of by employers. If you're thinking of coming to Italy to teach, my best advice is to talk with someone who lives and teaches there. Living in Italy guidebooks are nice, but they will never give you all the real details you need to know.

Ilaria Ceruti - May 2004

I'm Italian and I teach English in my country. At the moment I organize and run lessons in private or public companies in the Bergamo area. My courses are both individual and group. They last from 20 to 80 hours. I like to do this because I'm passionate about the English language and culture and with such different courses I never get bored. The wages are good, I receive from 20 to 30 Euros per hour.

The negative aspects are that I travel a lot by car to reach all the different companies and it's not an "employee" job... I can never be sure of how long it's going to last!!

Sandy McGrath, Rome - May 2004.

I am presently working as a "mother tongue" lecturer in two Italian high schools. I am contracted yearly for stints of 20-40 hours per class per academic year. The pay is € 25.16 per hour and I can handle 6-8 classes. I work with the class room teacher and the situation runs from very creative collaboration to total indifference.

I love my students and try to wring as much spoken English out of them as possible in the hours I have. As you can imagine one has to be an EC member to work anywhere in Italy. There is also the possibility of being hired on a permanent basis in the schools but that means taking a government test and being put on a graduated list of candidates. This is only for those of us who are permanent here.

Tutoring is another option. Many of my friends survive on the private student but I find it quite tiresome as folk cancel and I can't budget my time or my money that way. Private lessons run from €20.00 to €50,00 an hour. Private schools like Berlitz and International House are possibilities. I don't know what they pay. Rome is a pricey city to live in and I doubt that anyone could support themselves on this income alone.

Suggested Reading

Living, Studying, and Working in Italy: Everything You Need to Know to Live La Dolce Vita
What's It Like to Live in Italy?
Live & Work in Italy, 3rd
Italy (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Fodor's Italy 2004

Martine Aulton - May 2002

If you're thinking of 'picking-up' work in Rome, the magazine (in English) 'Wanted in Rome', which comes out twice a month usually has lots of ads for TEFL teachers.

The pay varies enormously in the northern cities from hourly rates of between 15-35 euros. You need to be looking at a take-home pay of about 1000 euros a month to be comfortable, bearing in mind that a shared rent is around 350-400 monthly, much less if you get accom. out of Rome. For private, cash-in-hand work you can get between 20-35 euros an hour. - First Stop for Your Second Language Needs
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