Teaching overseas has long been seen as a refuge for those who ‘aren’t quite ready to enter the real world' and those who are trying desperately to escape it! Whichever category you fit into – or if you are somewhere in between – teaching English remains a great option for those in need of a change, or seeking personal development opportunities. Those in search of fame and fortune are probably best to look elsewhere.
Rome is an obvious choice for those wanting to teach English, while living in a vibrant city.
One thing is for sure: you need to be prepared, because the standard expected of teachers has increased significantly. Long gone are the days when you could ‘rock up’ and proudly announce “I’m a native English speaker with a BA” and expect to walk into a job – in most cases at least. Not only that, but the current financial crisis (or la crisi), has had a significant impact on the nature of the teaching work available.
Don’t let Italy’s current economic crisis put you off – there is still plenty of teaching work in Rome
Times are tough, and in order to survive many private language schools are taking on contracts with state elementary and high schools, rather than surviving off contracts with companies wanting to provide in-house English courses for their employees. These state school contracts involve teaching remedial English classes and preparation for Trinity and Cambridge exams after school. It can be hard work, as the kids have already had a full day at school but if you enjoy teaching children and teenagers – Italy’s for you!
Times are also competitive – many private language schools are battling to see who can offer the lowest priced course, with sites like Groupon offering discounts of up to 80% for English language courses. The legitimate schools (rather than the cowboy operations) usually offer teachers a ‘project contract’, for the work undertaken – this is a short-term contract for actual ‘projects’. So, for example, if you take on a 60-hour company course with a school, the contract is only for these hours. If you take on another course through the school, you will need another contract. It’s not unusual for teachers to have a number of these ‘project contracts’ on the go when teaching for private language schools. Once you get a ‘project contract’ with a school, you will be able to organise your tax code (codice fiscale).
Permanent contracts for language teachers are rare, although not unheard of, in Rome. Once you get some work with a school, you will find that those seeking private lessons will gradually come to you. Word of mouth is big in Italy – I always found my best private students this way.
The hourly rate for teachers at private language schools is anywhere between 12-18 euros per hour gross was (and still is) the norm. Even though the cost of living in Rome has gone up, the wages have not.
Where to look for teaching work in Rome
There are a number of reputable schools in Rome, who are always on the lookout for qualified, experienced teachers. Here are a few to get you started:
The British Institute (http://www.britishinstitutesromasalario.com/)
International House http://www.ihromamz.it/
British School Group http://www.britishschool.com/
Training Club http://www.trainingclub.com/
One of the best resources for those looking for teaching work is the Wanted in Rome – a magazine for expats available both online and in print. Their classified section is a mine of useful information: http://www.wantedinrome.com/classifieds/jobs-vacant.html
A couple of tips from someone who’s ‘been there’!
Get your CV written and polished. There’s no need to get it translated into Italian as you will be sending your CV to the Director of Studies (DOS) who is usually a native-English speaker. Then take a look at the jobs on offer at Wanted in Rome, or try the schools above and email your CV along with a polite, well-written (you are applying to be an English teacher, after all!) cover email. If called in for an interview, treat it as you would one at home. Dress the part, turn up slightly early and be prepared to be tested on your knowledge of English grammar and/or your teaching ability. You may even be asked to teacher a trial lesson first, so be prepared for this!
Although the state of Italy’s economy is a bit gloomy, and doesn’t appear to be improving at any speed, don’t let that put you off if you’d like to spend some time living and working in the Eternal City. Get qualified first, adopt a flexible approach and take heart in the knowledge that the market for English-language teachers is still very much alive and kicking!