How to Become an English Teacher in Italy
Teaching abroad is an excellent career path for educators, travelers and people who speak many languages. Italy is a popular destination for English teachers who are looking to travel and work in Europe. Working in Italy as a teacher requires Italian proficiency, a teaching certificate, and money for living expenses and fees. Though there are a large number of teaching positions in Italy, it can be competitive to land a good teaching job and you must set yourself apart from the pack.
Getting the Necessary Qualifications
Learn conversational and written Italian.Before you apply for teaching positions in Italy, it would be beneficial to have basic Italian skills, including the ability to have conversations in Italian and to write in Italian. You should take Italian language classes in your home country before you embark on a career as an English teacher in Italy, as you will be expected to be able to converse with potential employers and your students in Italian.
- You should submit your resume and cover letter in Italian and be prepared to possibly respond to interview questions in Italian.
Obtain your Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate.You can also obtain your Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). If you have already received a degree in Education in your country, you may still need to earn a certificate; however, you may also have advantages in the Italian public school system or at International schools because of your advanced teaching qualifications.
- TEFL and CELTA certificates are usually obtained after a month of intensive classes that are centered around teaching grammar, speaking, customs and language awareness. Programs are available in most major cities in the United States and in Europe and they can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
Apply for your passport, if you don't have it already.You will need to allow at least three months to apply and receive this document, provided you submit the proper forms, fees and passport photos.
- Keep in mind having citizenship to the European Union will make it easier for you to live and work in an EU country, such as Italy. If you think you may qualify for an EU passport, you should apply for the passport through your EU country of birth. There are currently 28 countries that make up the EU and all EU nationals are permitted to stay in any EU country and can visit any EU country for as long as they desire.
Research your visa requirements.Where you are from will have an impact on how you get a teaching job in Italy. Research the work and tourist visa regulations in Italy before applying for jobs.
- If you belong to a country that is part of the European Union (EU), you will have an easier time living and working in an EU country, such as Italy. If this is the case, you will have an advantage over other non-EU teachers as you can travel to Italy and stay as long as you need to in order to find a job. You will not be weighed down by extra work visa requirements and you are likely to receive a similar exchange rate to your home currency.
- If you are a citizen of the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand you can visit Italy for three months or 90 days before obtaining a long-stay or work visa, also known as a type D visa. You need to submit documentation in person at the Italian consulate, including a completed visa application form, a passport that is valid at least three months after the visa expiration date, a passport-sized photo, a proof of residency in the area of the consulate, and the necessary visa application fees.
- You will also need to apply for a residence permit if you are staying in Italy longer than 90 days. You will need to report to the local police station in your town of residence within eight days of your arrival, and apply for the necessary permit.
- It is difficult for non-EU citizens to apply for a work permit in Italy and some schools may be hesitant to hire non-EU citizens as teachers. Many employers also do not want to have to complete all the necessary paperwork to sponsor a non-EU citizen for a work permit, as they will need to prove you are highly qualified and are not taking a position away from an EU citizen. Often, non-EU teachers in Italy will overstay their work visas and work for cash or they may obtain a student visa, which allows them to stay in Italy for six months.
Create a resume (CV) and cover letter in Italian and English.Make versions in both Italian and English that highlight your credentials, experience working with children, adaptability and responsible nature.
- You should also get business cards made in Italian to hand out to potential employers. Many employers will expect you to provide a CV, a cover letter, business cards and a sample lesson plan during an interview.
Save up at least a three thousand dollars for your expenses.Italy operates on the Euro, which means it can be fairly expensive for a Canadian, American or Australian to live on the exchange rate. It is recommended that you have at least ,500-,000USD in your bank account before going to Italy on a tourist visa.
- It may take you four to six weeks to find a job teaching English and during this time you will need to be able to support yourself on no income. Ensure you can afford to live in Italy by bringing enough for accommodations, food, and other expenses like new clothing for job interviews. You should also purchase all your necessary visas before you arrive in Italy and allot funds for a residency permit when you arrive in Italy.
Finding an English Teaching Position
Look for positions at public and private schools.The Italian school system is a mix of public and private schools, and has a school year that runs from September to June. Students who attend public schools are divided into three age groups: primary school (scuola primaria or elementare), lower secondary school (scuola secondaria di primo grado or scuola media), and upper secondary school (scuola secondaria di secondo grado or scuola superiore). Most Italian youths attend school until the age of 16, at which point they can decide to continue their studies or enter the workforce.
- The classroom lessons and materials in Italian public schools are delivered in Italian, so you will need to have a good grasp of the language to land a position in a public school. Most English teachers are more likely to find a job at a private school, such as an international school.
- If you have had previous experience teaching English in Italy, even if it was a temporary position, you will likely have a better chance of landing another position. Don't be afraid to use any existing contacts you may have in Italy, especially in the teaching sector, to help you secure a more permanent position.
Apply for a position at an English summer camp.Organizations such as The English Camp Company, Lingue Senza Frontiere, Scotia Personnel, Ltd, Canadian Island Florence and A.C.L.E. employ native English speakers for approximately three months out of the year to teach students aged 7 to 14. You may also be asked to be a camp counselor.
- Remember that a summer camp position is a temporary position and will only last three months. Many camps may only be able to hire English speaking EU citizens. However, some employers will provide transportation, accommodation, and meals to their employees.
Look into a year-round position at a private language institute.Most teaching jobs in Italy can be found through private language institutes or schools. These schools begin in September or October and finish up in June. The average teaching contract usually lasts nine to ten months. Start looking for these positions in February and March, as many schools will start to advertise for open positions for the following school year.
- As most public schools tend to hire EU citizens and fluent Italian speakers, private institutes may be your best bet if you are not an EU citizen or a fluent speaker.
- You can also search online for English teaching contracts in public schools, private institutes, and summer camps. Visit Transitions Abroad and Teaching English in Italy online for a list of job opportunities.
Apply for a job in an international school.If you have an Education degree or extensive teaching experience, a year-round job teaching English in an international school may be the best option. Look at the Italy section of the Worldwide Schools website to see a list of Italy's international schools and consider attending a Council of International Schools recruitment fair.
Consider a freelance tutoring position.If you like having a flexible schedule, then tutoring English may be the best way to teach in Italy. However, it can be challenging to find employment as a freelance tutor in Italy. Often, you will need to work at a school or institute in Italy first to establish your connections and then branch out into freelance tutoring.
- You will need to have strong conversational English to be an effective freelance tutor, and be able to create an individualized curriculum and lesson plans according to your student’s needs. You should set your rates according to other local tutors, post your number or email on community boards and encourage referrals once you grow your client base.
- Some Italian companies may also advertise for a tutor for in-office English training. In these positions, you will need to assist your students with conversational English and proper pronunciation. You will also be expected to create lesson plans based on the company’s language needs.
Travel to Italy to look for possible positions.If you are interested in apply to work at an Italian public school, then you will have a better chance if you can interview for the job. You will need to invest money in your plane ticket and accommodations while you look for a job.
- Don’t be shy when applying for jobs in person. One option is to submit your resume and cover letter to the Head of English at local schools directly. Getting to know other English teachers who live and work in the area may also help you to be hired in the department. As well, if you have friends or contacts who live in the area, ask them to keep an eye out for open teaching positions.
- Consider volunteering for the school if you aren't hired during the year. If you work in a language school or you are supporting yourself with tutoring, you can also volunteer to help with a school play or after school lessons. This effort may put you forward for the next available position.
Going to a Job Interview
Dress professionally and appear well groomed.Italians are particularly sensitive to good hygiene and being well dressed, so do not show up to your interview appearing sloppy or unkempt.
- For men, this may mean an ironed collared shirt with a tie and slacks, as well as dress shoes and for women this may mean an ironed collared shirt with a long skirt and dress shoes.
Bring your CV, cover letter, and sample lesson plan.Many employers will ask you to provide a CV and a cover letter in Italian, as well as a sample lesson plan in English and Italian. In your position, you may need to create lesson plans based on the individual needs of your students. Your employer will want to confirm you can do this successfully during the interview.
- When you arrive in Italy, try to get a cellphone as soon as possible. You should then put this local number on your resume so employers can contact you.
Be prepared to do a mock in class lesson during the interview.Some employers may ask you to demonstrate your teaching ability by giving them a mock in class lesson in Italian. You should be able to speak in conversational Italian and present language concepts with confidence and expertise.
Vet the position before you accept it.It can be risky to accept a teaching position abroad, especially if you are not there in person to meet your employer or you have just received a job offer and are not sure how to confirm the position is all it promises. You should ask several questions of the employer to ensure the position is valid and will be beneficial to your teaching career in Italy. If the employer cannot provide the majority of these specifications, they may not be an employer you want to work for.
- Confirm if your work visa will be sponsored by the employer or if they will help you obtain one. If you are going to be working illegally for the employer, this means you will likely have lower pay, no health coverage, no holiday pay, and no legal protection. If the school cannot help you with your visa, they should try to offer guidance and cover the fee of obtaining the visa.
- Ask what types of benefits you will receive, such as health insurance. Confirm if the insurance policy is global or national to get a sense of how much coverage you are receiving.
- Check if your housing will be paid for or if you are expected to find housing on your own. Some schools may offer shared accommodations or have contacts for single housing. If possible, ask for pictures of typical employee housing and ask for contact information for any roommates or persons that will be living with you in a shared space. You can also ask to speak to the current staff at the school to confirm the logistics of working for the employer and the state of the provided housing.
- Confirm if the school or placement organization is a member of a language association. Belonging to an association means the school has to follow certain quality assurance guidelines and maintain good standing as an employer.
- Ask if you will be expected to provide teaching materials and if there is a curriculum you must follow. You should also check how much freedom you will be given in terms of deciding what to teach and how to teach your students.
- Check if you will be given a welcome orientation, be given guidance from more experienced teachers, and consistent feedback. Some schools may offer additional training and evaluate your performance.
- Beware of TEFL training scams. Many schools offer placement in a job, but retract the placement after you have paid money and are involved in a program. Research the program extensively before signing up for the program.
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