Viva Italia! Plentiful pizza, great weather, centuries of culture… what more could you want in a TEFL location? It’s no wonder that Italy is a popular destination for TEFL teachers, and private English lessons are more popular than ever. While Italians learn English in school, standards are typically poor and so the market for private language schools and freelance teachers is booming.
You’ll need a thick skin and a good sense of humour to teach English in Italy. Jobs are plentiful, and if you have experience and qualifications then you’ll have no trouble securing a bit of work, especially if you speak Italian. However, full-time roles are a rarity. Teachers have to put in a lot of legwork to secure enough different employment options to make ends meet. Many teachers work freelance for a number of different language schools as well as teaching their own private classes. Also, pay varies and can be a bit of a kick in the teeth if you’re used to earning more. Some schools try to get away with paying less than you deserve, but if you aren’t experienced or able to acquire your own students, you just have to grin and bear it in the beginning.
The good news is that the cost of living is low. Even if you aren’t making megabucks from the off, you can still afford a nice quality of life in Italy. With the freelance nature of the work, many teachers just plan to stay in Italy for a year or two rather than becoming a long-term expat, so it’s the perfect place for backpacking TEFL teachers wanting to put down roots for a year.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Sicily, Calabria and Puglia are top TEFL spots, as well as popular locations like Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples, Bologna, Sardinia, Adriatic Coast, Sardinia
- Average salary for EFL teachers: Salaries vary greatly depending on the type of school, location etc. However, a typical salary for a full-time position is around €1,200 to €1,400 (£1,054 – £1,229 / $1,312 – $1,531) per month. Salaries tend to be higher in northern Italy than in the south. Teaching Business English can be very lucrative and private tutoring is a great way to make extra money. Hourly wages vary, and some schools may try to pay you less than what you deserve. €12 (£10.54 / $13.13) hour is common but in some places you can expect more like €25 (£21.95 / $27.34) per hour. Summer school positions will pay around €250 (£220 / $273) per week.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL certificate is a minimum requirement.
- Prerequisite university degree: Many jobs have a preference for degree-holders.
- Term times: The academic year in Italy is made up of two semesters. The first semester starts in September and ends in February. The second semester starts in February and ends in June.
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Italian
- Teaching programmes: International Language Schools, Government Schools, Private Schools, Private Tutoring, Summer Camps.
- Age restrictions: None
- Previous teaching experience: Most jobs require some experience, and elite jobs will ask for several years of teaching experience.
Students in Italy learn English in school, but the education system is known for being a bit behind the times and so their language lessons can leave much to be desired. Native teachers are sometimes employed in schools, but curricula and teaching materials vary, so many students may have poor levels of fluency despite studying for several years. As such, taking English lessons in the private sector is popular for children and teenagers wanting to excel in their language skills, and business English classes are popular with professionals who want to get ahead at work.
Work permits are difficult for non-EU citizens to acquire. The market can also be difficult to break into because of the recent move towards freelance, part-time staff rather than full-time teaching positions. It’s tricky to get a long-term job in Italy, and many teachers will work freelance for several private language schools and also offer their own private lessons in their free time. British-run recruitment agencies are sometimes able to offer full-time positions.
When a company hires a permanent member of staff, the costly extras (like social security contributions and job perks) make it far more likely you’ll be offered a short contract of nine or ten months, running from October to May. Some teachers spend their free months between contracts doing summer school placements and travelling around Europe.
Requirements for teaching English in Italy
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Italy||£1,054 – £1,229
($1,312 – $1,531)
Think of a holiday in Venice or Rome and you might be led to believe that life in Italy will be expensive. However, while it’s by no means a budget holiday destination, life in Italy can be perfectly affordable, even on the relatively low wages that most TEFL teachers earn. Italy is actually one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe, and it’s especially noticeable when looking at things like the cost of groceries and eating out. Coffee, which basically counts as a staple in Italy, is cheap and available everywhere. There are discrepancies, however – look at the cost of a getting a pint of beer in a pub, or the inflated charge for a visit the GP.
As always, you’ll find small town living cheaper than that in big cities and bustling tourist destinations. Italian culture is a curious mix of a slow-paced lifestyle with a fast-paced vibe, but many expats find that embracing the low-key, easy-going lifestyle of the relaxed small towns is the best way to strike a work/life balance and keep costs low.
If you do live in a bigger city, make local or expat friends who are savvy about where to go. Obviously, a cup of coffee will be much cheaper in a little joint down a quiet alley than it will be from a café in St Mark’s square. Flat shares are good options in big cities, whereas in smaller locations you might be able to afford your own place. General costs are fairly consistent from region-to-region, and wherever you are you’ll get the most out of your experience by living as the locals do.
- Accommodation: £548 – £819 / $682 – $1,020 per month
- Utilities: £79 / $98 per month
- Health insurance: EU nationals can use their European Health Insurance Card to use the national healthcare system (SSN). Non-EU expats must have valid private insurance or register for the SSN. Visit to the GP: £75 / $94
- Monthly transport pass: £31 / $39
- Basic dinner out for two: £32 / $40
- Cappuccino in expat area: £1.29 / $1.60
- A beer in a pub: £4.43 / $5.52
- 1 litre of milk: £1.09 / $1.36
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.63 / $2.02
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)
“My TEFL journey has taken me to 6 different countries and all the way back again, to the UK. I started the adventure in Italy, where I worked in a young learner summer camp and lived with an Italian family in Inzago; a small village just outside of Milan in the north of the country. My days were spent teaching English through songs, games, and teaching basic vocabulary; a perfect introduction into dealing with various classroom situations and an unforgettable experience gaining a second family who I have since been back to visit.”
Billie, TEFL Org graduate
Discover more student stories from TEFL Org graduates.