Teaching in Italy is an appealing concept for many reasons. If you want to stay in this beautiful Mediterranean country for an extended period of time, teaching English can be a great way to do that.
Italy, on the whole, has a low level of English language abilities. There is an ever-increasing demand for English teachers here.
This is particularly true of native speakers. British and American teachers, for instance, can help locals learn the correct pronunciations and accents for words.
In an increasingly global economy, Italians are wanting to become conversational or fluent in English to improve their job opportunities. Being multilingual provides people with access to better-paying jobs in Italy. It makes it easier for them to relocate to other countries in Europe and the world and helps them when they travel overseas.
Still, there are requirements that you must meet if you are hoping to teach English in Italy. You should ideally have some form of teaching qualification. (At least a TEFL or a CELTA).
Most places require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree but that is not always required. Preference will always be given to teachers that have some past experience.
You should also acknowledge that culturally, Italy may be a different place to work than what you are used to. Bureaucracy is an issue sometimes.
Finding job opportunities and interviews, securing an employment contract, and working out matters of pay, can be a nightmare. But fear not. This article on teaching English in Italy is here to help you navigate the minefield.
Things to know about teaching English in Italy
From the grand cities of Firenze, Venezia, and Milano, to the most offbeat Italian villages surrounded by lemon groves and vineyards, Italy exudes elegance. The country boasts incredible architecture, a UNESCO-protected cuisine, and some of the warmest, most welcoming people in Europe.
This article has been written by someone who spent a year teaching English in Italy (in Naples). It discusses all of the key considerations that you need to think about if you want to move to Italy.
Opportunities for teaching English in Italy
Most jobs teaching English in Italy will be at private language academies. Alternatively, you may find work teaching English to adult employees at businesses, or coaching one on one.
There are some jobs available for teaching English in public schools. However, these are often filled by Italian teachers that teach languages.
A lot of Italian public schools simply do not have the budget to hire English Teachers. It is for that reason that English is not widely spoken in Italy, even in 2023.
If you are willing to broaden your horizons a little bit, you may find that there are more options available to you.
For instance, if you are willing to work with a family as an English-speaking nanny or au pair. Or if you are willing to take various part-time gigs teaching English in Italy.
(For instance, doing some private tutoring, some substitute teaching, etc.)
Many Italian language academies do have partnerships with Italian public and private schools. So, if the permanent language teacher should fall ill, abruptly leave or go on maternity leave, substitute teachers from the academy will be sent.
Requirements for teaching English in Italy
The exact requirements for teaching English in Italy can vary from one school and institution to another. As a general rule of thumb, you should have a degree and a teaching qualification such as a TEFL or a CELTA.
However, some schools are not particularly fussed if you are university educated or not, and will accept a high school education and a TEFL. Others may be willing to hire teachers even without a TEFL/CELTA.
Still, the more qualifications and experience you have, the more likely you are to secure a position. The most prestigious positions generally go to those who have a degree and a CELTA, as well as some prior experience.
It is good if you can demonstrate some experience of teaching in a classroom or being around kids previously. For instance, if you have ever worked at a kindergarten, volunteered with kids overseas, or babysat your friends’ and family’s kids, do make a note of it on your CV and bring it up in any interviews.
Italian schools and language academies want to know that you have experience in putting your TEFL skills into practical application.
Do you need a TEFL or a CELTA to teach English in Italy?
You should strive to make sure that you have some form of teaching qualification before setting out to teach English in Italy. Even if you are not sure if you are going to be asked to demonstrate it, such a qualification is worthwhile for your own benefit too.
As a native English speaker, it can be easy to forget about all the complicated aspects of the English language. For instance, you never stop to think about all the different verb forms that exist or what a gerund is, do you?
A TEFL or a CELTA course can give you the tools and information you need to learn how best to teach English to a non-English speaker. A CELTA course (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is the most prestigious course that you can do to teach English as a foreign language.
The course is sponsored by Cambridge University. It is more intense and more well-respected around the globe.
However, it is also more expensive to participate in. Prestigious Italian language academies and schools may prefer that you have a CELTA.
Honestly? If you are pretty set on making teaching English your lifelong career, it is worth the investment in yourself.
However, if you are just hoping on teaching English in Italy for a year or two before you move on to other things, a TEFL will suffice.
The differences between a CELTA and a TEFL
Institutes that offer a CELTA course are required to adhere to strict standards. CELTA courses are usually intensive, six-week-long courses that involve full-time study, coursework, and assessments.
Meanwhile, TEFL courses can be completed part time and online around your schedule. TEFL Course lengths vary from 20 to 120+ hours and may include a variety of teaching materials.
It is better to opt for one of the longer duration courses (e.g. 120 or 140 hours). A 20-hour course is neither really here nor there and may not be deemed as sufficient by many.
TEFL courses can be completed entirely online or partially online and partially in person. It is better to opt for the latter, as your course will include a few hours of teaching course material to TEFL tutors and your fellow coursemates.
Although this is not the same as actually teaching in a classroom, it is often appreciated by Italian schools if you do not have any real-life classroom teaching experience. (At least it is more hands-on than simply doing the course entirely from your computer at home).
Leading TEFL provider TEFLcourse.net is kindly offering High Heels & a Backpack readers a 15% discount on their TEFL courses. To apply for more information from them, click here. There is no obligation to sign up.
Searching for jobs to teach English in Italy
There are a few different ways that you can search for a job teaching English in Italy. A couple of important websites to note are ESL base Italy (www.eslbase.com/schools/Italy) and the Italian Yellow Pages (www.paginegialle.it).
There are thousands of schools and language academies scattered around the country. It is a good idea to establish a few places in Italy that appeal to you and then once creating your CV and cover letter, reach out to them via email and inquire as to whether they have any positions available.
If you are flexible and open to moving to one of several Italian cities, and you are able to cast a wide net, you stand a better chance of receiving positive responses. It also helps to ask around anyone that you know in Italy or to post in Italian expat forums and Facebook groups.
For instance, if you create a post in an Italy Facebook group for expats in Rome, expats in Milan, etc, somebody probably knows of an academy or a person that is looking for a teacher. Facebook groups are also very good for finding work as an English-speaking nanny, an au-pair, or a one-on-one teacher.
If you are open to tutoring on a part-time or temporary basis, create a post on Facebook groups or on platforms like Couchsurfing. Write some background information about yourself and share your qualifications and experience.
(So that the people seeing the post know that you are a qualified/experienced teacher).
Make contacts before you go, but be willing to fly to Italy
The process of applying for teaching positions in Italy is very different from applying for teaching positions in Far East countries such as Japan or South Korea. Whereas in Japan and South Korea, you may be offered an employment contract before you leave your home country, that is simply not the case in Italy.
It is a good idea to make contacts and get an idea of what the current teaching economy is like before you set out to Italy. So, sending out emails and inquiries to schools and language academies that you find via the Italian Yellow Pages, and connecting with other experts and locals in Italy via Facebook groups is it good start.
You need to get the conversation started with a school or two. Then, when you are partway through discussions with people and you can see that there are positions available, you need to think about traveling to Italy.
That way, you can continue the conversation and have an interview. Most Italian language academies in schools will not offer you a job or make any promises until they know that you are physically in Italy.
This is very different from applying for teaching positions in South Korea for example. As when you apply for teaching roles in South Korea, your employer will confirm a contract with you before you depart from your home country.
They will pay for your flights to Korea, and they will do all of the work for you in organizing your work visa. This can be quite daunting and stressful.
It is also a good idea to have some money saved so that you can support yourself in Italy for several months and have a plan B.
Make your CV Italy-friendly
There are some differences between Italian CVs (resumes) and British/American CVs. Being mindful of the Italian format, and adjusting your own CV accordingly shows an awareness of the way things are done in Italy.
If you have Italian language skills and you can translate your CV into Italian, even better. If not, don’t worry (as most people do not send Italian CVs in their applications).
Instead, send your CV in English in Italian format. Italian CVs expect more personal details than UK/US CVs so do write a thoughtful paragraph or two about yourself, your background, and your hobbies and interests.
Photographs aren’t essential but they usually are expected. Include a professional photo of yourself and place it at the top left or right corner of the document.
This should be a professional image of you wearing professional attire. (Think passport-style photo).
Your most recent employment and education should be detailed at the top of the CV. Then, list any other positions or qualifications in reverse chronological order.
If your Italian skills are pretty good and you decide to send your CV off in Italian, it is a good idea to still have a local friend check everything for you if you can. You should add a statement to the bottom of your CV which specifies that you are okay with your personal data being used and stored according to European GDPR law.
You can simply write “Autorizzo il trattamento dei miei dati personali ai sensi del D.L. 196/2003.” In other words: “I agree to disclose my personal information according to the law 196/2003.”
Ensure that you have some savings with you
If you plan on moving to Italy or any foreign country to become an English language teacher or embrace the Digital Nomad lifestyle, it is a good idea to make sure that you have some savings first. Set aside enough money to last you for at least 6 months in Italy.
Ideally, you won’t find yourself in Italy for 6 months before finding work. However, it is better to be safe than sorry and not put a lot of pressure on yourself.
The fortunate thing is that the cost of living in Italy is generally much lower than the cost of living in the UK the US and many other countries around the globe. So, your savings can go further here.
With the exception of Milan and some exclusive areas in the north of Italy, it would be reasonable to say that you can live in Italy on a budget of a thousand euros a month. This would mean living in a modest one-bedroom apartment independently and would cover grocery and public transport costs.
You may find that you could live in Italy for much less if you are willing to live in shared accommodation. It can be frustrating to think about having to live out of your savings for several months before you start to see an income in Italy.
However, realistically, you may find that you are searching for work for a month or two. Then, when you do find consistent work, you will obviously have to wait a month to be paid.
Consider the academic calendar when applying for work
If you are going to be applying for teaching roles in Italy at local schools or at language academies that give extra English classes to students, you need to think about the Italian school year. The school year in Italy runs from mid-September to mid-June.
Italian children have two weeks off at Christmas, one week off at Easter, and a few public holidays scattered in between. Most hiring for school teachers is done in the summer months leading up to September.
You are more likely to find work if you apply for job roles before the start of the term. Still, teachers often leave, fall ill, or go on maternity leave.
So, if you are applying for a role midway through the school year, that is not to say that you will not be able to secure something. It is just that there will be fewer roles available than there are at the start of the year.
What to expect at a job interview for an Italy teaching position
If you send out a CV and a cover letter to an Italian school or Language Academy and they are interested in speaking to you, you will likely be asked to have a phone call or a Skype conversation. This is just to get an initial understanding of you and what you are looking for.
The interviewer will want to understand your qualifications, your experience, and the skill set that you can bring to the school. They will also discuss with you what the school is looking for, what the position entails, the school curriculum, and important matters such as hours and wages.
It is very unlikely that you will be offered a contract if you are outside of Italy. The school will usually want you to be present so that they can interview you in person and that they know that you are serious.
Expect to hear all of the standard interview questions during your face-to-face interviews in Italy. For example, you may be asked how you would deal with a child with behavioral issues, how you keep children engaged in your teaching material, how you would overcome language barriers if a child couldn’t understand something, and how long you see yourself staying in Italy.
(Because, after all, teaching in Italy is not just a way to have an extended vacation in Italy. Schoolchildren need stability).
Salary and perks of teaching English in Italy
The pay for teaching English in Italy is pretty good. If you are flexible about your schedule, you have the opportunity to make a decent living.
If you are teaching at a public school or via a language academy, you can expect to receive 15 Euros an hour. For private classes, you can charge between 20-25 Euros per hour.
Teaching English in Italy offers fewer perks than teaching elsewhere in the world, notably in east Asian countries. In some countries, your employer pays for your flights for you, assists you with your paperwork, and provides you with an apartment.
This is not the case in Italy where you have to do everything yourself. It helps if you are flexible with all aspects of your move from the onset.
For instance, you may succeed in securing a nice 30+ hour a-week job. However, you should also be open to the possibility that you work effectively freelance, at least in the beginning.
Perhaps you will need to spend a couple of hours in the mornings working as a substitute teacher somewhere. Then maybe you spend the afternoons offering private tutoring – at least until you find a long-term, full-time position.
Essentially, you do not need to learn any Italian in order to teach English in Italy. The entire concept of ¨ESL¨ (teaching English as a second language) is based on immersing the student in an environment where they are forced to learn and speak English.
The idea behind this kind of teaching method is that students supposedly learn faster if they are put into a situation where they have to speak their new language. You do not have to worry about learning Italian so you can communicate with your students.
However, it may be useful, for your own comfort and ease of settling into life in Italy, to learn a few Italian phrases. You may find that your colleagues and fellow teachers cannot speak English and without basic knowledge of Italian, you cannot speak with them at all.
Finding an apartment
It is a good idea to move into short-term rental accommodation when you first move to Italy. This is particularly true if you haven´t secured a teaching position prior to your arrival.
Airbnb is a good place to search for a place for a couple of months or less. However, keep in mind that the prices on this platform are often highly inflated versus what a ¨local¨ would actually pay.
As such, you should try and negotiate the list price with the host, particularly if you are staying for 28 days or longer. You may also find short-term rentals from private owners on Facebook groups.
Immobiliare, Casa.it, and Mioaffitto are the main real estate websites in Italy. Both properties to buy, and properties to rent can be found here. If you are looking to share a house and want to find a roommate, you can try ¨Easy Stanza¨.
Teaching English in Italy FAQs
Do you have any further questions or concerns about teaching English in Italy or organising your move to the Mediterranean? The answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic are detailed below.
Hopefully, you will find the information you are looking for there. If not, feel free to reach out!
How much can you make teaching English in Italy?
You can easily make between €1,500 and €2,000 a month teaching English in Italy. However, it can take a while to get established.
Assuming that you make €15-€20 an hour, and work 30-35 hours a week, your salary can quickly accumulate. However many schools and teaching agencies give priority to teachers that have been there for a while.
So, in the early stages, you may find that you are working for a wage at the lower end of the spectrum. (E.g €15 an hour rather than €20)
Is Italy a good place to teach English?
Italy can be a good place to teach English as there is always demand for teachers that are native speakers. Italy is a gorgeous country filled with warm, friendly people, unparalleled cuisine, and an abundance of travel opportunities.
So, during your weekends and free time, you can enjoy travelling around this gorgeous Mediterranean country. Not to mention, Italy’s location in Southern Europe means that it is a good jump-off point for exploring other countries nearby. (E.g. setting out on a Greece itinerary, etc).
The only thing to keep in mind is that the economy is different here. You will not earn as much teaching English in Italy as you would in a Far East country like say, Japan or South Korea.
Is it easy to become an English teacher in Italy?
Unfortunately, it can be tricky to become an English teacher in Italy if you are not a dual Italian citizen or an EU citizen or if you already have the right to work in the EU. Prior to Brexit, it was very easy for British people to relocate to Italy and become English teachers.
However, nowadays, it is difficult for English, American, Australian, and any other non-EU persons to obtain a work permit to be able to teach in Italy. There are a lot of schools that agree to pay people “under the table” and hand them cash envelopes each month.
It really is not a good idea to work illegally in Italy or anywhere in the EU. Not to mention, since non-EU persons can only spend 90 days in Italy and the wider Schengen zone in a 180-day period, it is hardly practical to only have work for part of the year and have to keep exiting and re-entering.
These days, teaching English in Italy as a non-EU citizen is only feasible if you have a second EU passport, you are married to an Italian, or you can claim Italian citizenship. If you are of Italian descent, you may be able to apply for an Italian passport or Italian citizenship Jure Sanguinis.
Do I need to speak Italian to teach English in Italy?
Speaking Italian is not a prerequisite for teaching English in Italy. After all, the idea behind TEFL teaching is to immerse the student in a foreign language so that they learn faster.
Still, for your own benefit, it can be really helpful if you learn a few words and phrases in Italian. English is not widely spoken in Italy, especially not in the south.
You may find it difficult to communicate and connect with your Italian colleagues and employers if you do not have at least some Italian language skills.
What city in Italy is the best to teach English?
The best city in Italy to teach English is subjective and affected by many variants. Rome is a good place to teach because there are a lot of international expats living there.
But at the same time, everyone wants to relocate to Rome and so there is a lot more competition and far fewer positions. Cities in Northern Italy like Verona, Bologna, Milan, and Bergamo often pay the most competitive salaries but the cost of living in these areas is higher.
Bari, Naples, and Southern Italy are often overlooked so you may find it easier to find work here. However, salaries are often lower in the south than in the north.
Are English teachers in demand in Italy?
Native English speakers that work as English teachers are in high demand in Italy. English is not widely taught in Italian schools and if it is, it is usually taught by Italian Teachers that have limited knowledge of the language themselves.
British, American, Australian, Canadian, and Kiwi teachers are desirable. However, it is unlikely they will be given a work permit if they do not already have the right to remain in the EU/dual Italian citizenship, etc.
Can you work in Italy if you only speak English?
You can work as an English Teacher in Italy if you only speak English. In your day job, you won’t need to communicate in Italian.
However, having zero Italian language skills can make it tricky to develop relationships with your colleagues. For most other lines of work, you really need to be able to speak Italian.
A lot of Italians cannot speak a good level of English, especially as you go further south. Additionally, in many corporate jobs, highly skilled Italian employees speak fluent Italian, English, and perhaps other European languages.
Why would foreigners who can’t speak English be hired over multilingual Italians? You may be able to find work in tourist positions – e.g. as an English-speaking tour guide or activities coordinator.
But these jobs are like gold dust and can be very seasonal. (Most tourists plan a trip to Italy between May and September).
Are teachers respected in Italy?
If you teach kids in Italy, you may note that you have a lot of rebellious children in your classes, or children with behavioral issues. This may or may not be something that you have experienced elsewhere depending on where you are from.
(Classrooms in the UK and other European schools can be chaotic.) Unfortunately, teachers are not well respected in Italy.
A study by the Global Teacher Status Index indicated that teachers in Italy were among the least respected in the world. They ranked number 33 of 35 countries surveyed.
Final thoughts on teaching English in Italy
Do you have any additional questions about teaching English in Italy? I spent a year teaching English in Naples.
I am happy to assist with any questions and concerns you may have. Feel free to drop me an email at [email protected].
Safe travels! Andiamo! Melissa xo