Useful Tips for Teaching English in Italy

If you’re looking for a way to extend your travels or you simply wish for a career change that allows you to escape the corporate 9-5 then teaching English in Italy is a great option for that. Incredibly friendly locals, orgasmic food (yes, orgasmic!) and stunning scenery and architecture are just a few of the factors which contribute to making Italy a virtually perfect place to live.

So how difficult is it to start teaching English in Italy? Before I moved to South Korea, I had actually considered teaching in Italy as my first option however after doing some research, the various websites that I encountered painted a picture that it was incredibly competitive and difficult to find job there since it was such a dream destination. When I actually moved to Naples however, I found this to be a far cry from the reality of the situation.

There are several prerequisites to you securing a teaching position in this beautiful country, and a few things to be mindful of, however with those taken into account, you’ll be ready to go.

Be Open-Minded About the Location

It’s certainly true that there are heaps of people that dream of getting their ‘Eat Pray Love’ on and teaching English in Italy. Competition can be especially fierce in the major cities as the majority of people who wish to make the leap would prefer to live in dreamy locations like Rome, Milan or Florence. If you are open to moving to a more rural location, or relocating to the south of Italy then you are likely to find that there are fewer applicants per vacancy.

In Naples and Southern Italy in particular, many Italians (millennials and older) were not taught English at school, only to find that as they get older and progress in their careers, being at least conversational in English is a useful skill for them to have meaning that there is a lot of demand for tutors. The salary may be slightly lower in the south, but so too are the costs of living.

Where Can I Teach?

Looking down at Capri from Monte Solaro.. #travel #capri #italy #europe

Melissa Douglas(@highheelsandabackpack)님의 공유 게시물님,

There are a number of options available to people wanting to teach English in Italy. The majority of full time public and private school English Teacher positions are either occupied by bilingual Italians, or if they are searching for native speakers then they require you to hold a teaching Degree (e.g. a Degree in Primary Education or equivalent)

If you don’t hold a teaching degree, then there is no need to be disheartened as there are still plenty of options available to you. Provided that you have a TEFL or a CELTA certification then you can apply to numerous language schools and academies which offer English courses and one-on-one or group tuition. You can also find work as an au pair/English speaking nanny, and offer your own freelance private classes once you establish yourself in your community.

To give you an example of what I mean by language schools, the academies that I taught at in Naples were St Peters English Academy, and Shenker Institute, the latter of which is a nationwide English Academy.

TEFL/CELTA Required, Experience Desired

I’m a poet! I remember when I studied my TEFL way back in 2012, it was considered as a ‘less serious’ version of the CELTA qualification. From experience though, I’ve managed to easily secure teaching jobs in both the Far East and in Italy with my TEFL and I don’t believe that opting for a TEFL over a CELTA is any hindrance to you. There is a lot of demand for native speaking English Teachers across the globe and they certainly recognise the credibility of the TEFL.

Most positions in Italy require you to have a TEFL or a CELTA as a minimum prerequisite for working for them. A number of them may also request at least 1-2 year’s teaching experience but generally it varies from academy to academy. I feel as though it helped me having had experience teaching at a super strict Hagwon in South Korea, though equally, one of my coworkers at St Peters had simply taken a TEFL so all hope is not lost without experience.

Leading TEFL provider are kindly offering High Heels & a Backpack readers 15% discount off their TEFL courses. To apply for more information from them (no obligation to sign up for/pay for the course!) click here.

What is a TEFL?

A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification is a teaching qualification that typically takes 120+ hours to complete and can be completed online. The majority of teaching positions around the world require you to have a TEFL in order to be considered.
The course teaches you the practicalities of how to teach the complex English language to foreign speakers, and  provides you with the know-how to plan lessons, and deliver them in an interesting and informative way.
Although perhaps it sounds like a lot of hours, it’s fairly easy to just speed through the course in a matter of weeks.

Interview Upon Arrival

Teaching English in Italy
Please don’t believe everything you read about Naples being “dangerous” !

When you go to teach English in the Far East like I did, it’s customary to secure your job in advance before you depart your home country. Chances are that yourself and your employer will negotiate and sign an employment contract before you physically meet and they will also assist in your relocation costs. This couldn’t be farther from the truth in Italy.

Perhaps there are some rare circumstances where a school or agency falls in love with an applicant so much they want to sponsor their move (I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing happening) but typically, Italian employers do not want this level of commitment and as such they will only want to entertain serious discussions with you when you land. With that said, by all means reach out to schools and agencies before you set out, send across your CV and query as to whether there are likely to be any appropriate positions coming up in the near future.

What About Salary and Perks?

Perhaps the most substantial difference between teaching English in the Far East versus teaching in Italy (or other European countries) is that you have considerably less perks. An employer in the Far East will both pay for your flights to and from your host country, and provide you with an apartment. In Italy, this is all done off your own back.

The pay for teaching English in Italy is pretty good, and 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 an Academy, you can expect to receive 15 Euros an hour. For private classes, you can charge between 20-25 Euros per hour.

As I mentioned though, you really need to be flexible. You may succeed in securing a nice 30+ hour a week job but you should also be open to the possibility that you work effectively freelance, at least in the beginning. For example, I taught English 4 hours a day at a Kindergarten in the Mornings, then helped teenagers with their English exam prep during the afternoons, and had private classes with adult students a couple of days a week, and at the occasional weekend.

Do I Need to Speak Italian?

Essentially no, since the whole concept of the TEFL teaching environment is that the student is completely immersed in the foreign language (i.e. English) and therefore is forced to use it -the idea behind this kind of teaching method being that students supposedly learn faster if they are put into a situation where they have to speak in their new language.

I personally found it useful to be able to speak at least a little Italian, since many of my Italian coworkers and students spoke virtually no English when I arrived, however since I was living in Naples, where very few people actually speak English anyway, then my experience is likely to be different to someone who teaches in say, Milan or Turin, which are very wealthy, business cities that place more emphasis on the value of learning English.

Leading TEFL provider are kindly offering High Heels & a Backpack readers 15% discount off their TEFL courses. To apply for more information from them (no obligation to sign up for/pay for the course!) click here.

Do you have any questions about teaching English in Italy or overseas in general? Feel free to drop me a comment below!




Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

2 thoughts on “Useful Tips for Teaching English in Italy”

  1. Hi Melisa, I love your articles, I was wondering if you can advise me. I’m extremely artistic and understand a lot of techniques in art. I have a fashion degree which was never used and now wor in insurance. However my creativity is mocking at my door really hard. Reading your articles has inspired me in ways I can use my skill. I understand you have experience in teaching English, however are you able to provide some guidance for me. I’m very interested in teaching in Italy. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best Viv


Leave a Comment