Home / TEFL in Italy- Meet Siobhan
teach in italy

Tell us about yourself. We would love to know about your background and what drew you to TEFL in Italy?

Hey! I’m Siobhán and I’m 22 years old. I grew up in Cork, Ireland. I always liked school and my mother used to be a teacher so I thought becoming a primary teacher sounded like a good choice! During my college experience, the pandemic had an impact on my placements, and I found myself not enjoying primary teaching as much as I thought. I have been working abroad for the past 2 summers, in a Canadian camp, and I fell in love with travelling and exploring. So I thought, why not combine my experience with teaching and my love of travelling! And so, the TEFL journey in Italy began… and the rest is history!

Tell us about your path to teaching abroad. Did you always know you would end up teaching in Italy?

When I signed up to complete the 120 hour TEFL course, I never really knew I would be working abroad in a language school. But here I am! In February, I attended an online seminar for international opportunities and European internships. One of the TEFL teachers living and working in Italy described her daily routine, experience in the school, and her tips for moving away. She was working in Italy, and seemed to be really enjoying it. The options were Spain, Portugal, and Italy. I think I was drawn to Italy because I had lots of friends and family who had been there on holidays and loved the culture, food, language, and sightseeing opportunities!

What was the most helpful portion of your TEFL certificate experience? Do you feel like you draw from your course experiences regularly in the classroom?

I would say that the most helpful part of my TEFL certification experience was having such clear links between theory and practice. There were several straightforward modules, followed by short quiz assessments, support from a TEFL.ie member (Shauna was super helpful to me), and of course a community of teachers to learn from and ask questions. When I applied for the Italian internship, I submitted a short video introducing myself and my background in teaching. I was asked for preferences of where I would like to teach in Italy. I was not super picky, as Italy is such a beautiful country and I would be happy anywhere. A TEFL member suggested Verona in Italy, and we went from there!

I then had an interview with the Director of Studies of an English school in Verona, which went really well as she was so informative and friendly. There were some Zoom trainings over the summer, where we discussed various aspects of the methods of the school. Emma, the coordinator was prepared with PowerPoints describing the practical elements of the move. These included, how to find accommodation (through Facebook groups and websites), what phone plan to use, how to network and find social groups in the city, various transport options, and other aspects  of living in Italy.

I was added to a WhatsApp group with the 9 other TEFL Italian interns, and we chatted together. We had 2 days of training in Florence, where we discussed methodologies, lesson planning, and what a teacher should look like. I then travelled to Verona, and I was added to the team in mid-September. I have been teaching in this school for 2 months now, and I have learned so much along the way.

teaching in italy


Tell us about your classes. Do you teach young learners, adults, or a mix of both? how do you manage your schedules?

My weekly schedule usually consists of about 25-30 hours of teaching English. The school is only a 15 minute walk from my apartment, so it’s really easy to get there. I teach mainly adults, with one teens class a week on a Friday evening. I usually work a morning shift 9 am-1 pm and an evening shift 5 pm-9pm, 4 days a week. The school opens 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday. I sometimes work on Saturdays, when the school only opens from 9am-1pm. I really love how flexible and varied my timetable is, giving me lots of time to relax, cook, travel to other cities, go to the gym and meet up with friends.

How much would you budget for daily expenses?

For daily expenses, it depends on the day. Usually I cook at home, but if I’m eating out or grabbing a drink or a coffee with a friend, I would allocate maybe €10 for a meal, €2 per coffee and €5 per alcoholic drink. I don’t take that much public transport, as Verona is very walkable. Sometimes I rent electric scooters if I am travelling home alone across the city. I generally take trains to other cities, which can cost anywhere from €10 return or €30 return (depending on the distance and the kind of train). Weekly groceries usually cost about €50-€60, and rent in around €550 a month. My phone plan costs €10 per month, with 150GB of data, which is great as my apartment doesn’t have wifi.

Can you share with us a favourite story or two from your TEFL time in Italy?

Hmm, I would have to say a favourite story of mine from my TEFL journey in Italy would be when a student surprises me with so much Irish knowledge. They even knew how to say ‘hello, how are you’ in Irish! They had been to Ireland a few times, and we really bonded over our mutual love of rugby, travelling, meeting new people and eating home-cooked meals. It was such a lovely way to break the ice, and made me feel right at home.

Another story of mine which I love to tell is when I was walking home from my very first day of school in Verona. I had only been in Verona, and I was still adjusting to the change in weather, lifestyle, everything! So I popped into a gelato shop to grab a pistachio ice-cream (my favourite!), and I started chatting to the lady working there, who had great English. She was a local, and could tell I was young, naive and had no contacts here. She gave me her number, and we meet up regularly for walks with her dog, or I visit her home and we eat pizza or risotto. The hospitality of Italians never ceases to amaze me! She is a dear friend, and was such a lifeline when I needed one.

One finally story which is funny is when my German housemate and I were walking down the steps of the Castel Pietra in Verona. It is a popular look-out spot to watch the sunset in the city. We had just watched the sunset and were walking down together, listening to music on her Airpods (I had one, she had one). We were listening to Irish rap (the Rubberbandits), and I was singing the lyrics of ‘Horse Outside’ a little louder than I thought I was. Suddenly, a couple walking in front of us turned around and laughingly asked, is that ‘Horse Outside’? I giggled and replied yes, I was showing it to my housemate. We laughed and joked all the way down the end of the steps about how random it was to bump into other Irish people by hearing them sing a classic Limerick song!

teaching in italy

What made your TEFL experience in Italy unique?

My TEFL experience in Italy has been unique, as it is so different to so many people’s first full time jobs! Yes, ive had part-times jobs, and summer jobs. But this is the real deal. I’m living in a beautiful, ancient city, which has so much history, culture, music and food. I am so lucky to be here, living abroad, and making my way through this experience. I’ve learned a lot about the English language (definitely didn’t know what a mods verb was before this job), about communicating with people, balancing life and work, building friendships, cooking good food and taking time for myself. I’ve learned a lot about who I am, and what I want from life.

Any tips for other teachers who are considering this internship?

I think an important thing to note when considering this internship is it might just be the best thing that ever happened to you. I’ve made new friends, learned new knowledge, heard new music, tasted new foods and seen the craziest of sunsets. I’ve left my comfort zone, and it has allowed me to build confidence in front of people, believe in myself and enjoy all the little joys of life!

What are your plans for the future? Continuing to teach or are you planning on moving home?

My plans for the future are undecided to be honest! I know I will continue to live abroad after my contract ends in June with my school. Whether that’s in teaching or not, I’m not so sure. There are so many other things that I’d like to do, like become a yoga instructor, be a tour guide or an author. The future is unknown, but I quite like it like that! All I know is that this is just the beginning…


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