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Looking for general info about Italy - location, money etc

 
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simon_porter00



Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 443
Location: Warsaw, Poland

PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:59 pm    Post subject: Looking for general info about Italy - location, money etc Reply with quote

Hello All - This is my first visit to the Italy part of this website!

I've got a few questions about the set up in Italy in terms of tefl. The wife's been banging on about living in Italy because of the climate and so I though I'd better do some background info. My brief background is that I'm CELTA'd up, I've 5yrs experience, 2 years experience at the British Council (where I still work) and have my own school/language company in Warsaw.

I write quite extensively on the Polish forum and have set up a website for teachers who want to come to Poland and teach so I hope I'm in a position to be well prepared in relation to finding work in Italy.

My questions are these:
In Poland everyone flocks to the big cities and looking through the Italy forum I guess you could say the same is true of Italy. I'm looking for a slightly more sedate lifestyle and quite happy to live in small town Italy or in a suburb 20km or so from a big city. If you're determined to search for work, will you find it? Or is the tefl industry concentrated in city centres?
In Poland the suburbs and affluent villages are fantastic pickings for anyone willing to take a gamble.

I can't find anything written about wages recently (if I'm wrong please point me in the right direction) and I was wondering what per hour teachers get in the city/suburbs/villages working with a school and how much you could hope to earn by teaching privates. Here in Poland we have the ever faithful złot and so in terms of Euros I'm completely lost.

I've read it's easy to set yourself up as a freelancer, albeit finding an English speaking accountant could be difficult, and being a freelancer you get more opportunities then otherwise. I definitely want to go down this road. Is the only way to do this is by speaking Italian? At this present moment in time I speak none.

The wife is Polish, speaks English fluently, will have a CELTA, is a tax adviser and hasn't got too terrible an Eastern European accent. Will she get employed in a city as a teacher or will she fare better in the suburbs/villages? Could she pass off as a Brit or are Italian schools clued up on accents?

Many thanks in advance for any advice you could give and if anyone wants any info re: Poland please send me a pm or write in the Polish forum
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1213

PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Simon

Welcome to the Italy forum!

Quote:
The wife's been banging on about living in Italy because of the climate


A bit perplexed by this. You might be disappointed if you move here just because of the fabled sunshine. Esp as we've not had a great deal of it yet this year.

Quote:
In Poland everyone flocks to the big cities and looking through the Italy forum I guess you could say the same is true of Italy. I'm looking for a slightly more sedate lifestyle and quite happy to live in small town Italy or in a suburb 20km or so from a big city. If you're determined to search for work, will you find it? Or is the tefl industry concentrated in city centres?


Yes, you'll find work, though it might be slow-going at first. I do a lot of work in the state school sector, and would be a little wary of pinning my hopes completely on this. First, you need to make contacts in the schools; and second - more worryingly - the public sector is facing massive budget cuts. One school still hasn't paid me for teaching I finished months ago, and I doubt whether they'll be back for more next school year. Work in the school sector might be drying up for non-permanent members of staff, though you can always ask around and see what EU or regional funds are available.

There are plenty of small language schools dotted around small / large towns and cities. Often they're the chain-type school, paying dismal wages. Check out tefl dot com for an idea of what they pay.

Don't fool yourself into thinking life in the countryside is cheaper or easier. I moved from Rome four years ago, and easily have the same - or higher - monthly outgoings. You'll be travelling much more (petrol and car insurance are wickedly expensive) just to get from one lesson / town to another.

Quote:
I can't find anything written about wages recently (if I'm wrong please point me in the right direction) and I was wondering what per hour teachers get in the city/suburbs/villages working with a school and how much you could hope to earn by teaching privates. Here in Poland we have the ever faithful złot and so in terms of Euros I'm completely lost.


Very difficult to give you an accurate picture, as it depends on where / who you teach, who pays the tax, and what it's all worth to you re cost of living. Expect more in the cities and the north, less in the countryside and south. To teach private students, you should be getting 20 and up. Teaching in state schools (without going through another language school intermediary) is 30 and up. Teaching in-company English (for a language school) should be at least 17 and up. (All these based per hour.)

Quote:
I've read it's easy to set yourself up as a freelancer, albeit finding an English speaking accountant could be difficult, and being a freelancer you get more opportunities then otherwise. I definitely want to go down this road. Is the only way to do this is by speaking Italian? At this present moment in time I speak none.


Not the only way, but probably the quickest. In the smaller towns and in the countryside, not many people speak English. If you want to market your services, negotiate and chase payment, and most importantly, build relationships, then you'll need Italian. The good news is that if you ever learnt French at school, Italian is very similar grammatically. Even better, Italians won't sniff at you if you make a mistake when you speak it (unlike you know who.) The bad news is that - like all languages - you need lots of practice and time to get anywhere near fluency. And specifically to Italy, if you end up in the sticks you'll also have dialect to contend with. Much of what my neighbour says to me is a mystery - and that's after four years here.

Quote:
The wife is Polish, speaks English fluently, will have a CELTA, is a tax adviser and hasn't got too terrible an Eastern European accent. Will she get employed in a city as a teacher or will she fare better in the suburbs/villages? Could she pass off as a Brit or are Italian schools clued up on accents?


Maybe better outside a large city. Possibly in one of the chain schools, or possibly teaching children. But is she entitled to work in Italy? I'm not sure she'd get a visa being Polish, though she might if she's married to a UK citizen. Worth checking this out first, I'd say.

I realise that this doesn't sound too encouraging, but if you're really set on Italy, you could always come over and tour around to see which locations tick your boxes. There are existing schools for sale (again, look at tefl dot com) which might be one avenue for you. But you'll definitely need Italian language skills.
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simon_porter00



Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 443
Location: Warsaw, Poland

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply to my questions - much appreciated.

I guess the wife has an idyllic, romantic view of Italian country life, probably towards the south of Italy somewhere, in a old style Italian country house with balcony views over fields or something with non-stop sun and virtually no winter. I hope I'm not as naive as her and having seen programmes like 'relocation relocation' and such like I know such moves can be fraught with difficulty, not least least with Italian bureaucracy (which is fabled to be worse than Poland's - if that's possible)

It's interesting to see that you get paid more in the state school sector than otherwise, I completely didn't realise. Here in Poland it's completely the opposite.

Poland is part of the EU, so I hope that the wife would be able to teach English without visas etc unless of course you need visas/licenses to work in specific employment areas.

Many thanks once again for your time and help.
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1213

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm - old style country houses are a money pit in terms of repairs and maintenance! But it's definitely worth a visit to see which locations are more suitable. Bear in mind, there's less work in the south of Italy, and some areas are economically depressed.

I haven't seen Relocation Relocation, but I know of plenty of horror stories of people coming over without having done much research. I also know plenty of people who have either returned, or are thinking of going back, just because it is so difficult to make it work financially. There's little to no safety net for you if you lose your job, for example. Here are just some of the things that make living and working in Italy a challenge:

- high taxes / NI contributions for freelancers, with tax payable in advance for current year's earnings

- enforced "holiday" if you work for a language school from mid July - mid September; around a month at Christmas, and a week or so here and there for Easter / skiing week etc

- high level of bureaucracy, coupled with vast amount of legislation

- inability to plan beyond lunch (companies at mercy of other companies' changes - often very last minute)

- high cost of living (coupled with low wages)

- difficulty of getting credit (unless you have a permanent job - very few of these on offer)

Obviously there are reasons which make Italy such a great place to live and work too, and there are always ways around obstacles. Just takes some cunning and determination.

Back to the points you raise:

You get paid well to work in the state sector if you have a contract directly with the school - rather than going through a language school. But to get to this stage, you need to know the teachers and school administrators... It took me a year or two before I started to work directly with state schools in my area. And you're only working six months or so of the year in state schools anyway.

I think it was only the UK and Rep Ireland that opened its doors to workers from the new wave of EU member states. The rest of the EU didn't, which might mean your wife needs a visa to work, whereas you wouldn't as a British citizen. She'd be able to work in the UK (as your wife) but not necessarily in another EU state. Do check this out though - it may be fine, or you may need to get creative with your planning.
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