Interview With Leo – Teaching English In Italy
Tell us about your life in Ireland and why you made the switch to teaching English?
I was born in Ireland, though I grew up in Canada. I first worked as an English teacher in Paris, where I had been living. Teaching really came to mind as a career option during my time at IBM where I was part of a training and development support team. I found teaching really enjoyable.
Did you always know you’d end up in Italy? What made you choose Italy?
I joined TEFL.ie during the summer of 2019 during which an advert came up for an internship in Italy. After speaking with their sales advisor I decided to apply. Following an initial interview, a couple of conversations and a few more thereafter, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse! So here I am, teaching in Treviso Italy. All in all, a good result.
Tell us about your TEFL experience? Do you feel it prepared you to teach in Italy?
To date, it’s been both great, and hectic! I haven’t really had time to think. I am really enjoying teaching. Also, the school has small class sizes with a maximum of 7 per class. So, the students being able to interact and to get on with a good degree of attention to all, it’s great.
How did you find orientation in Florence? Are you in contact with other interns?
Florence was great fun; I had a marvellous time. Orientation was fast with a high learning curve. There was a bit of pressure, but it was all good. As we met all our colleagues from Ireland, everybody was very welcoming and totally on board. We set up a WhatsApp group and from time to time we reach out to make contact.
What is your favourite class to teach and why? What age groups and class sizes are you teaching to?
I am really enjoying teaching beginners – A1 to A3. They’re great because they have such a great attitude when learning something new, like a new language in this case. I find all classes interesting in their own way, but for me, my beginners are the best!!
Describe a typical working day since you have been to Italy? How many hours a week are you teaching?
The majority of the lessons are between 18:00 and 21:00, but that’s not to say we don’t have classes during the day. There are lessons which focus on grammar and then there are focus activities which are to allow the students to learn new vocabulary and more independent speaking. At the moment, I am working on average 23-24 hours per week.
Tell us three things a future teacher in Italy should know before they go?
Firstly, you might be slightly overwhelmed just how beautiful Italy is – take your time to absorb the history of it all. You need to apply for their “Codice Fiscale” which is a government-issued number that everyone has to have, to do…well, just about anything.
Secondly, be prepared for some serious hospitality; the Italians are great.
Thirdly; on a slightly more serious note, depending on where you are based, it may be slightly more bureaucratic in the north as opposed to the south. If you thought the Dublin North/South divide was funny, you’ll love the Italian Northern/ Southern one just as much.
Would you have any tips for future TEFL teachers that are just looking into a career change?
In the school I’m currently at, we have a tree where we hang photos of all the teachers, past and present with a little “bio” describing who we are, where we are from and a motto, that we might live by. It’s a small tree. Mine now would say: “Just go for it”
Teaching is an extremely satisfying job and if you are a ‘people person’, even more so. Also, to suggest that you cannot teach English without first having a degree is frankly not true. It might also surprise some people to think that, from where you start in this sector, might not actually be where you end up. There are many opportunities that are waiting for you, it really is up to you.
Do you have any plans for the future, once your internship will finish? More English teaching perhaps? Or travelling?
Yes, at the moment I would rather teach, as opposed to finding another form of work. Unless, of course, I win the lotto. I would like to see how the online world is reacting to professional teaching. At the moment I need to finish my studies which I expect to complete within the year, and then, well, let the journey begin.