Teaching English in Rome: Interview With TEFL Couple Kate and Jake
Tell us about yourselves! What did you do before teaching English, and what motivated you both to start teaching English in Rome?
Hi everyone! We’re Kate and Jake. We’re a couple from Dublin who have been living and teaching English in Rome since September 2020. Before moving to Italy, we had just finished college with degrees in Film and Television. We had already decided that when we finished college, we wanted to move abroad. Teaching sounded like the best option to support us but also travel.
We heard about the TEFL Institute of Ireland from friends and family who had completed courses before. We thought the TEFL course would be the best fit for us because you can do it online and in your free time. This meant we would still have time to complete our final assignments while doing the course.
Did you look at other internship destinations, or were you sold on teaching English in Rome? What drew you to Italy?
Kate: I was sold on Italy from the start. I always had an interest in Italian culture and history, so it was easy to pick Italy. We briefly looked at the Thailand internship, but we wanted to stay in Europe due to the pandemic to be closer to our families.
Italy was hit particularly badly by the pandemic. What was travelling there like in September 2020? How strict were the restrictions in Rome?
Jake: We were fortunate to come over in September. Italy was on the EU green list, which meant we didn’t have to quarantine when we got there or have a COVID-19 test. When we arrived, the restrictions were quite relaxed. There was no curfew, and we only had to wear mask indoors. As the weeks went on, the restrictions got tighter. We did our best to make the most of the first few weeks, immersing ourselves in Italian culture and going to see the famous sights. Things are looking up again. We’re hopeful for the summer that we can enjoy a small bit of freedom and hopefully travel around Italy.
What does a typical teaching day look like for the both of you?
Kate: Each week is different as the working times are quite flexible. Sometimes we work in the morning and sometimes in the evening. We teach people of all ages from as young as 11, all the way up to 80. The students are all different ages and levels of English. Now, as in the beginning, we have a mix of online classes and in school.
How did you feel on your first day of teaching? Any advice or tips for teachers just starting out?
Jake: I was very nervous my first day, as it was a completely new job for me. As soon as the class was finished, I felt a lot better. My boss and fellow teachers were very supportive and gave me lots of constructive criticism. I’ve learned a lot from my colleagues, and everyone in the school is very supportive, so it gets easier straight away.
Kate: For new teachers, I would say be confident and use the material to help you. The students don’t expect you to be a dictionary with the right answer for everything. Everyone makes mistakes, including teachers. As an English teacher, you’re the expert in the classroom. Just speak from experience.
What is life in Rome like? What do you enjoy the most?
Kate: Life in Rome is fun. There’s lots to do, see and eat! The people are friendly and helpful; they like to have a laugh and drink – just like the Irish. The food is great, and so is the weather. Rome is no more expensive than Dublin; in some ways, it’s a lot cheaper, like accommodation and food and drinks.
Jake: My favourite thing about Rome is that there is a piece of history around every corner. That’s not an exaggeration! Everywhere you go, there’s a monument or building that’s been there for a long time. It’s always interesting to explore Rome as there’s so much to see.
What are some of the best and more challenging parts about going as a couple? Would you recommend teaching abroad with someone you know?
Jake: The best part of travelling with someone is that you’re never alone. If times are difficult or stressful, there’s someone to lean on and share the hard times.
Kate: If you can travel with someone, you definitely should. It’s so helpful to have somebody to rely on and share the experience with.
Despite COVID-19, are you glad you went? What does the future have in store for you?
Kate: Absolutely! We’re so glad we came here, and we feel so lucky that we got to experience a life abroad when so many people are stuck at home. We empathise with all our friends and families back home, but this makes us appreciate this experience even more. Not everyone gets an opportunity like this.
Jake: We’re still teaching English in Rome, and we plan to stay here for at least the rest of this summer. After that, we’re not sure where we’re going, but we’ll still be teaching for the foreseeable future.
How did you find the TEFL internship experience? Would you recommend it to others?
Jake: Through the internship programme, you also get a qualification as a teacher, which is ideal. You get connected with a school, so you don’t have to search for somewhere to work. The staff at the TEFL Institute of Ireland are very helpful and supportive even after you go abroad. It can be intimidating to move overseas, so having someone to help you is a big plus!
Kate: I would recommend this programme to others. It’s a great way to live abroad and experience a new lifestyle and culture.
What advice do you have for someone considering teaching in Italy?
Kate: The main thing about working in Italy is you need a Codice Fiscale. This is the Italian equivalent of the PPS card. You can’t work here without one. We had issues trying to sort this out when we first arrived, as the bureaucracy here is very convoluted. It takes a long process to do things that are much easier in Ireland.
To get a Codice Fiscale, you need to go online and find your local commune. You send your form to them, and you can have it in two days. I would also suggest coming to Italy a few days before you start working to make sure you have everything in order.
Inspired by Kate and Jake’s Italian experience? This could be you! Find out more about our teaching English in Italy through our internship programme today.