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Opening A School In Italy

 
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JRCash



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 82

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:37 pm    Post subject: Opening A School In Italy Reply with quote

Hi,

I'm interested in opening a school in Italy. I have a number of years experience in various countries, not Italy but I speak good Italian and would like to live there long-term, and am well aware of the difficulties of running a business in il bel paese though I travel there often and am sure I want to go there basically to live.

Basically, what I am interested in is what is the market for English language in Italy at the moment? Has it slackened because of the recession as it has in Ireland/UK, or has it grown as it has in other European countries due to people wanting to learn English? I'm particularly interested in the south of the country as I would find it a more pleasant area to base myself than the north.
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1202

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live in the central part of Italy, in Le Marche. Here there's strong interest in learning English, and there are often schools for sale (via tefl dot com).

I used to work for a small language school and know the owner well, so some of this is advice I've gleaned from her.

Be careful of costs - especially rent and taxes. You may find it easier working freelance first, to suss out market and so on, before you commit to buying or opening an English school.

As I said in a different thread, the main areas of private language school teaching (at least in my area, probably in the south too) are:

Young Learners
Recupero lessons for school students
Exam preparation lessons (KET, PCE, FCE etc are big in Italy)
Individual / group lessons for adults (mainly evening work - most Italians work long hours)

In the south, you might also get more PON-funded courses. This mysterious entity that pays teachers phenomenal hourly rates to inject skills and cash into the poverty-sticken regions. Up here, how it works is that you contact a provincial training-provider. How it works in the south is anyone's guess.

Obviously, the more teachers you employ, the higher your profits, but this is something that will develop over time. Either you buy an existing business, or you start on the ground, making contacts and building up your school.

I don't mean to put you off too much, but beware organised crime anywhere south of Rome. As a foreigner you might avoid the "pizzo", but don't bet on it. You're under the radar as a freelancer. Definitely above it if you run a business. And have lots and lots of cashflow. Students don't always pay on time (even up here!) but you still have rent (and possibly salaries) to pay.

More unasked-for advice (sorry!) Contacts and referrals are currency here, possibly more so than anywhere else. Concentrate on building your reputation as your number one priority. Be disponibile - always. That will help you get customers and repeat business - the bread and butter of any language school.

Good luck! Whereabouts are you thinking of in Italy?
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1202

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, come to think of it, I think my last post was completely over-optimistic.

I wouldn't open a business in the south of Italy unless I:

- had excellent language skills.
Not just standard Italian, but regional dialect, like Napolitano for Napoli, Siciliano for Sicily, etc

- knew the local culture exceptionally well.
Who's who, who's related to who. That's the sort of stuff you can only get from being on the ground.

- didn't mind the very real annoyances of living in an under-funded (and soon to be floated-off completely if the Lega Nord has its way) region with underpar services.
We're talking about your rubbish not getting collected in Napoli, hospitals not properly run in Calabria, roads not built or repaired (hello, autostrada della sole) and nobody in local government being in the least bit accountable, or least bit interested in your concerns.

I haven't started on the corruption and inefficiencies. That would probably be the biggest worry I'd have for opening a business in the south. And don't imagine that you'd find a cute little town where the tentacles of organised crime don't reach. There's a reason why the camorra, 'ndrangheta and casa nostra are super-rich and super-powerful, and it's not because they limit themselves to large cities.

(Sorry to all living and working in the south. This is not a rant against you. More directed towards a government that doesn't care, and doesn't have the power or coglioni to improve quality of life.)
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JRCash



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 82

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teacher in Rome wrote:
Actually, come to think of it, I think my last post was completely over-optimistic.

I wouldn't open a business in the south of Italy unless I:

- had excellent language skills.
Not just standard Italian, but regional dialect, like Napolitano for Napoli, Siciliano for Sicily, etc

- knew the local culture exceptionally well.
Who's who, who's related to who. That's the sort of stuff you can only get from being on the ground.

- didn't mind the very real annoyances of living in an under-funded (and soon to be floated-off completely if the Lega Nord has its way) region with underpar services.
We're talking about your rubbish not getting collected in Napoli, hospitals not properly run in Calabria, roads not built or repaired (hello, autostrada della sole) and nobody in local government being in the least bit accountable, or least bit interested in your concerns.

I haven't started on the corruption and inefficiencies. That would probably be the biggest worry I'd have for opening a business in the south. And don't imagine that you'd find a cute little town where the tentacles of organised crime don't reach. There's a reason why the camorra, 'ndrangheta and casa nostra are super-rich and super-powerful, and it's not because they limit themselves to large cities.

(Sorry to all living and working in the south. This is not a rant against you. More directed towards a government that doesn't care, and doesn't have the power or coglioni to improve quality of life.)


Thank-you for all your information. It was certainly very helpful. I was initially thinking about the Bergamo area as this is my favourite part of Italy but I have also been to the south and found the cost of living far cheaper which is why it attracted me as I would be living on little whilst trying to get my business off the ground. I was also aware of the problems of il mezzogiorno but I didn't actually realise they were as bad. Perhaps its better I focus on the Bergamo area and try to find a city up there that's not flush with schools. I'm a massive Interista so at least I'd have that as something to take my mind off the initial stresses Very Happy although I'm not so sure how much business the Atalantini would give me if I let that one out of the bag lol!!! But seriously, thanks for your help, it has opened my eyes to the south a little. Do you know if business is still strong in the north?

P.S. I know this sounds a little extreme, yesterday I was thinking of the south, now of the extreme north, but as I said it was the cost of living which enticed me to the south.
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Afra



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 389

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a property in Basilicata which I'll be moving to permanently in a few months. I have found people extremely helpful. They are very keen for new blood and new initiatives to revive the region and English is seen as important. Almost everyone I spoke to can use standard Italian although they may use dialect when speaking together. I've thought about opening a school, starting small to see how things are, with maybe a coffee area and some English language magazines, etc. for people who might just pop in out of curiosity.
Basilicata does not have the problems of organised crime that the surrounding regions have, rubbish is collected daily, there was eight inches of snow in January on my land but all the roads were clear. The A3 is being upgraded and additional tunnels put in. Even small towns of 10,000 people have excellent facilities. This was a very poor area but it's now having money spent and towns such as Matera, cleared by the government in the 1950s and 60s, are being promoted for tourism and investment and there are plans to open an airport in Pisticci soon.
The lifestyle is very attractive, local produce, national parks and no pollution. Canít wait to get there!
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1202

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Basilicata does not have the problems of organised crime that the surrounding regions have


That's a very bold assumption!

All of Italy suffers one way or another.

I'm glad that the region is being "developed" and hope that will have an impact on what used to be the greatest levels of poverty in Italy.

Starting small is definitely a good idea (if you're thinking of opening a language school). Good luck with your plans.
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