All roads might not lead to Rome anymore, but if you decide that this amazing city is your next stop, you won’t regret it. Rome is undoubtedly modern with its thriving crowds and its busy, dangerous traffic (seriously, don’t step into the roads without looking). But this modernity is framed in the architecture of every past century in the last two and a half millennia.
Stroll down the Via dei Fori Imperali and you’ll see 20th century architecture, right next to remnants of the 1st century, like the towering pillars and structures in the forum and the famous Colosseum. Teaching in Italy is an experience you will never forget and where better to do it than in the ancient city of Rome?
Photo Credit: Chantel Lucas.
There are three primary types of teaching jobs available in Rome. You can work in a private school, a public school, or a language school. The private and public schools have students K-12, while the language schools are usually geared toward adult learners (18+). Consider whether you want to work with children, teenagers, or adults.
Think not only about your students’ ages, but also skill levels. If you want to work with beginners, look for a private/public primary school. Language schools will give you some beginners, but it’s much more likely you’ll have a mix of all levels. Private/public high school students will almost always be intermediate-advanced.
If you have extra time in your week and wish to make a little more money, supplement your income with tutoring sessions. Your school should be able to advise you on people in the community or neighborhood that might be interested, or at the very least, where you could advertise. Additionally, you don’t need to find two-dozen people either; a handful of students will be enough to give you a decent amount of extra cash.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
The peak hiring season for teachers is spring and summer, since the school year usually starts around September 1 and ends mid-late June. Some TEFL programs will have job assistance and can aid you in tracking down openings and lists of school to contact (as well as some CV help).
The qualifications to teach English in Italy are the same as in most other countries. You must have a bachelor’s degree, be a native English speaker, and have gone through TEFL training. There is no particular bachelor’s degree required, though some schools show a preference for Arts & Letters degrees. The TEFL training can be obtained through any number of programs in the States or in Italy.
Schools in Italy generally do not have any requirements for your proficiency in Italian. In fact, some will prefer that you have very little Italian skills. If you only speak English to your students, it will force them to pick up the language faster.
Salary & Cost of Living:
The average English teacher’s salary is €1000-1500 per month. The precise amount will depend on where you live and the hiring school. Salaries do tend to be larger at schools in bigger cities, like Rome, but between the three types of schools, it is impossible to say which pays more. If you want extra spending money, advertise for private tutoring sessions. There are always people looking for lessons who are willing to pay you.
Your apartment will be your biggest expense by far and there many websites and realtors who can help you find a place. The lowest you will find is €250 per month and it’s not uncommon to find one bedroom places for €350-550 per month. This will make the biggest difference in how much money you have to spend or save. Even the cheap rooms in Rome will still be nice and you’ll always be within walking distance of shops, markets, and restaurants.
Food is the other major expense you will have. How much you spend will depend on how often you eat out and what your diet consists of. Eating out is more expensive than eating in, that’s a no-brainer. Spaghetti marinara will cost you about €7 in a restaurant, but by spending €5 at the grocery, you can make yourself the spaghetti for five or six nights. A grocery bill can run as little as €150-200 per month, depending on what you buy. The cheapest way is to follow the “Italian diet,” made up of mostly produce and pasta with the occasional fish or meat dish.
Classroom & Work Culture:
Italians are all about how you present yourself to the world, through clothing, speech, and mannerisms. This will apply to your work and personal life. At work, business casual will usually be best. Depending on your school, you may be allowed to wear jeans, but only as long as you dress them nicely. That means you cannot pair jeans with a t-shirt or sweatshirt and they must be clean and without tears. A sweater/cardigan and a button-down/blouse will be fine. Also, Italians do not wear shorts or sandals in the city. Those are considered beachwear and wearing either will mark you as a tourist (which isn’t a bad thing – just a preference!).
Always be respectful of new acquaintances, elders, and business superiors. There are formal aspects of the Italian language; use them. It is very disrespectful if you use the informale before they invite you to. When you first meet someone, shake his or her hand and say ‘Piacere’ (the Italian ‘pleasure to meet you’). Attempt to say as much as you can in Italian before you use English. Italians are much happier with those who at least try to use some Italian in conversation.
In the classroom, you are the authority figure, but keep a fine balance. You will notice many Italian teachers set up their classes in similar fashions. There are lectures, but there are also a lot of discussions and group work. This will be to your advantage when teaching a language, since people do learn languages faster in conversation than in lecture. Keep control, but focus that control in a guiding direction.