The financial capital of Italy and one of the fashion capitals of the world, Milan is a thriving city of opportunity. Milan wears its history lightly, enjoying its medieval history as much as other cities but not focusing on its tourism as Rome or Venice.
Visit the Galleria, La Scala, the Duomo, and the Sforza palace. Everything about the city is beautiful, right down to the most impressive train station you’ll ever see. If you choose Milan, be ready to enjoy a thoroughly amazing city.
When you finish your training, you will find positions available in three settings: public schools, private schools, and language schools. They pay similarly, so the difference will come down to what age groups and levels you want to teach.
Private and public schools
These will provide you with very similar experiences. There are primary schools and high schools, so you can choose to work with young beginners or with teenagers at intermediate and advanced levels. You will be surprised how advanced high school students are at English. If you prefer one level versus another, the private or public schools are the way to go.
If you’re more discerning about age than experience, you should look at the language schools. You will be given all levels of students usually, but they are almost always adult learners (18+). For the most part, businessmen and professors are looking to improve their language skills at these language schools.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
Most schools do their hiring during the spring and summer since the school year starts in the fall. By spring, you should have your qualifications and CV ready. For the TEFL program, they usually request that you apply two to six months before you plan to study.
The qualifications are you must be a native English speaker, have a bachelor’s degree, and have gone through TEFL training. Italian schools and TEFL programs are not particular about what type of bachelor’s degree you have, though Art & Letters is sometimes preferred. Italian schools typically will not have any requirements for your proficiency in Italian since they want you to focus on speaking to your students in English.
Salary & Cost of Living:
The average salary for an English teacher in Italy is €1000-1500 per month. The exact amount depends on which school hires you. Bigger cities like Milan do pay more than smaller towns, which is good since Milan is an expensive city. If you decide you want a larger income, consider tutoring private sessions. Many English teachers find it is the easiest way to pick up extra spending money every month. You don’t have to add twenty people to your schedule every week; a handful of people should be enough. Your school might have people they can put you in contact with or tell you where to advertise your services.
Apartments in Milan are not usually cheap. You will definitely have to do some hunting on different housing websites or in person with one of the many real estate offices. It is possible to find a place for as low as €400 per month, but not very common. Most of the cheaper apartments fall in the €550-750 range. Don’t worry about the city center versus the ‘suburbs’. Milan’s metro and bus systems can get you most anyway at a decent pace.
Food in Italy is not very expensive, especially if you follow their diet. Most Italians eat a lot of produce and pasta, with the occasional fish or meat. If you cook for yourself, groceries can run as little as €150-200 per month. Foods you prepare yourself will cost you far less than anything frozen or pre-prepared. Going out to dinner at a trattoria or ristorante costs anything upward of €11 and a sandwich during the day will cost you €3-6.
Classroom & Work Culture:
How you present yourself to the world is very important to Italians. You will never see any Italian looking like he/she just rolled out of bed and ran out the door. Even their casual wear looks put-together. Business casual for work will be fine. Though, it is okay to dress more relaxed in a school environment.
Some schools will allow you to wear jeans to work, as long as you dress them up, not down. Clean jeans, without tears and paired with a blouse or button-down and a sweater, cardigan, or jacket, is acceptable for teachers.
How you speak to others is also important. The Italian language has “formals,” which you definitely should use when you first meet someone, especially coworkers, supervisors, and elders. Afterwards, they may invite you to use the “informal,” or the common way of speaking. When you first meet someone, shake his/her hand and say ‘Piacere’. It means ‘pleased to meet you’. Acquaintances often kiss each other on the cheek (or cheeks), but you probably won’t see that as much at work.
In your classroom, your role is a guiding type of control. Italian teachers do not just give lectures, but also focus on in-class discussions and group work. This is a good setup for language classes anyway, so you may as well embrace it. If your school expects anything else, they’ll tell you. Don’t be afraid to be in control; just don’t cross over into dictatorship either.
Things to Remember:
- When you kiss someone on the cheeks for hello and goodbye, you don’t actually kiss the other person. It’s more of touching cheeks and sounding like you kissed them. Sounds silly, but it’s how it’s evolved from actual cheek kissing.
- Even if you’re not a coffee fan before you go to Italy, try it when you get there. Many people find they like the Italian coffee much better, since there is a richer flavor and three-dozen ways of serving it.