Home / Want to teach in Italy? Meet Sinead!
English Teacher by Tower of Pisa

Tell us about yourself! We’d love to know about your background, what drew you to teaching abroad, and more!

I’m Sinéad, I’m 24 and currently living in the very beautiful, but currently very cold Como in Northern Italy. I previously worked in a small, but widely known theatre in the heart of Co. Kildare where I managed the social media pages, and worked in front of house box office. I absolutely adore all things creative; music, art, drama, you name it! I have never been the type of person to stick to any one thing for an extended period of time and am always on the lookout for new and exciting projects. TEFL was something I have had on my bucket list since I was 16 and I finally decided to bite the bullet!

Sinead sightseeing in Italy


Tell us about your path to teaching abroad – did you always want to teach in Italy?

Funnily enough, no! I had no Italian prior to this. Though I studied French in secondary school and it was my absolute favourite subject. I studied in both an all-Irish primary and secondary school and also in my first year of university in Maynooth so I naturally had a flare for languages. What drew me to Italy the most was the rich culture, history, art and of course, THE PIZZA. When I saw that TEFL was advertising internships in Italy, I couldn’t get in contact quickly enough. Most days, I still look around and can’t believe it’s real

Pizza on Italy TEFL internship

What’s your school like?

We are currently a team of 8 empowered ladies! We hail from Italy, Ireland and England. The school I am teaching in is only just over a year old but is expanding at an unbelievably rapid rate. We mainly teach adults; however, I have students as young as 14, up to 70! We use the communicative method in the class, which is all about encouraging speech and conversation. It’s amazing seeing students of all ages developing friendships, and gaining new perspectives all while learning English. The layout of the classrooms is extremely relaxed with sofas and carpets as we try to make students feel as comfortable as possible in a ‘home away from home’ type of environment.

What were three things about your experience in Italy that you did not anticipate? 

  • Before arriving in Italy, I had been put in contact with another Irish teacher who was going to be working in the same school as me. We had booked an AirBnB for the first 4 weeks together as I thought it was going to be easy enough to find accommodation within that time but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I won’t lie, this period was stressful but we had help from our Director of Studies and even some of our students. Luckily, we managed to find an adorable little apartment that was within our budget. If I could go back in time, I definitely would’ve guaranteed a long-term living situation before arriving. 
  • This one may seem a little controversial but I wasn’t prepared for how forward Italians could be, despite being warned. This isn’t always a negative thing, in fact, I actually admire the honesty as us Irish tend to sweep any issues and opinions we have under the carpet. It is odd, however, being stopped in the middle of the street and being told off for wearing a t-shirt in October!
  • Lastly, I wasn’t expecting to make such good friends with my fellow interns. From day one of our orientation in Florence, we befriended each other and have a very active group chat to this day. It’s amazing and comforting being able to have these shared experiences with people who understand how you’re feeling. We lean on each other in times of stress, homesickness and achievement.

What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher abroad?

Teaching is an extremely rewarding job but I was expecting it to be really easy! I thought, “I’ve been speaking English my entire life, surely it can’t be that difficult”, I was so wrong! I practically had to relearn the entire language and grammar myself. However, there is no better feeling than watching your students grasp and produce something you’ve taught them.

What do you do on your day off?

A typical day off for me is usually spent prepping classes, going shopping and relaxing. On occasional Saturday nights, we like to indulge in some good food, spritz and karaoke at a local bar. When the weather is nice, there is no better place to be than strolling along the promenade overlooking the famous Lake Como with a gelato in hand and listening to the sound of chatter. There are so many beautiful sights to see in this small but lively city. One thing I would HIGHLY recommend is getting the Funicolare up to Brunate and taking in the most breathtaking views. From here you can take a gentle hike up to the Lighthouse. Equally, you can take the ferry to nearby picturesque towns such as Bellagio and Varenna.

We have also ventured to Monza to see one of Europe’s most famous parks as it is where the Formula 1 racetrack is located. The day we went, there happened to be a free rally and we couldn’t believe our luck. We had hot chocolate and walked around for hours. With Como only being an hour away from busy Milan by train, you will never be stuck for something to do. 

Was the interview process hard? & What did you need to have before arriving?

The interview process wasn’t hard at all. The first interview is a group interview in which we are informed about basic procedures and what the job is really like. As ‘homework’, we had to prepare a 10-15-minute demo lesson based on one of the slides provided. Once you’ve completed your first interview, you have to send off your demo lesson along with a list of your preferred teaching locations and they do their best to place you there. You must then have an interview with the school and they will decide if you are the right fit for them. We had a follow up zoom call with our DOS 3 weeks before leaving where we got our contracts and to make sure everything was in order.

Before arriving, you had to have completed your TEFL qualification, which was included in the internship price, however I had done my 300 hours previously, which is the highest TEFL qualification and is recognised worldwide. You also had to apply for your ‘Codice Fiscale’ which is your Italian tax number. This required contacting the Italian Embassy in Dublin and sending in the required documents such as; identification, proof of address and a previous payslip/ bill. It took about 2 weeks to arrive.

What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about doing TEFL?

Whether you are looking to gain life experience like me, have a passion for teaching and learning alike or just need a change of scenery then I think this avenue is for you. I was on the fence at first too, but I knew I didn’t want to look back in 5/10 years’ time saying ‘what if’? or ‘I wish I did it’ and instead I just sent the email and everything changed. I mean how cool is it being able to say “I live in Italy”? My advice is JUST DO IT! If you never try, you’ll never know. Something great could be waiting for you.

TEFL teachers night out

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