In our next "Teach the World" segment, we caught up with Ioanna and asked her to share her experience of teaching English in Turin, Itlay. She has been living and working there for almost a year now! Read on to find out what opportunities Italy has for EFL teachers...
When did you take the TEFL course with Hello Academies? What country are you teaching English in? What got you interested in teaching English in this destination?
I took the TEFL course with Hello Academies in Prague last year 2017 in March and graduated in April 2017. At the moment I am teaching in the North of Italy, in Turin. I have been teaching here since October 2017 and am still going strong.
Living in London for several years made me realize it was time for a change. Soon after I graduated I was very interested in teaching in Prague as it is a magical city and there are many of job opportunities,especially to teach English. For personal reasons I had to return to the UK for a short time, fortunately my return allowed me to weigh my options. In this period I was contacted by an Italian friend who also happens to be a English teacher. She invited me to stay with her and suggested I try my luck. She seemed very positive about her recommendation which made me feel the same way. Knowing that I had a place to stay to, some savings in the bank, but also that I could return to London at any time, I took the opportunity and booked a ticket.
Turin is a growing industrial city in which Chinese, Indian, South Arabian and Iranian businessmen are closing deals with Italian businesses. Due to this fact, many companies require their employees to speak English in order to communicate effectively with potential clients/customers, so it’s a great location to teach English in!
Can you tell us about the school you teach at? What age levels and English levels do you teach?
At the moment I am teaching various levels, ages and also in different locations. I teach in an Elementary school twice a week which is not very far from the city center. In the first class, the students are between the ages of 7-9 and in the second class they are between the ages of 8-10. I also teach two children privately who are between the ages of 8-10 years old.
Twice a week I teach two different groups of teenagers aged 16. I am helping them prepare for the FCE exam. At at a language school, I teach a pre-intermediate group of 8 adults, who are betweent the ages 45-70, once a week where we focus on more conversational English.
Most of my time I teach business English at different companies to a variety of groups and levels. To do so I have to travel to get there but Turin isn't that big and it is well linked so the companies are easy to get to. Finally, I have 4 one to one students on Skype, which are mainly intermediate and upper intermediate classes. I like the variety I get teaching in Turin!
Can you tell us a little bit about the process you went through to move and work there legally? (housing, visas, interview process, etc.)
I arrived in Italy from Greece having bought a one way ticket that wasn't expensive at all! I have Greek citizenship, so since it is within the EU no visas are required for me to live in Italy. As mentioned before, I didn't have to search for housing as I was lucky enough to have a friend who had a spare room at the time.
I arrived in Turin mid August 2017. My plan was to arrive before the schools opened so that I could settle in, do some research, prepare my CV and get ready for interviews. I don't regret my decision of doing so but a part of me wished I was warned about what was going to happen. In August, the whole country goes on holiday, it's almost like everything gets put on hold for the entire month if not longer. Me on the other hand not having a guaranteed job/ placement I was sending applications like crazy. In mid September, I eventually started getting responses to my emails and the interview process began. By this time I started panicking that I would not be able to find a job in Italy so I agreed to pretty much all the job interviews I got. In fact, by the end of the interview process I had to turn down many jobs. One month later in October, the lessons finally began. I was looking at an extremely busy schedule, working long hours, and even working on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays to be able to prepare for the week.
If you are thinking of working in Italy you will have to register and apply for a Codice Fiscale (fiscal code), which is a tax code similar to a National Insurance Number. You also might want to consider applying for a P.IVA which is similar to VAT. This is necessary if you want to work as a freelancer. Both can be done by booking an appointment and don't let the bureaucracy put you off as it isn't as bad as expected.
What is your favorite thing about living and working in Italy and why?
When you hear the word Italy you can't help but automatically think about wine, food and sunshine. Of course I am enjoying all the above! I would say that Turin is not the most popular Italian destination for tourists, however I find that the location of the city covers all needs. The Italian Alps are a short drive from the city and so is the sea. The city itself has a unique character and even though being a large city it is stress free and not chaotic like other cities in Italy.
I love the fact that I have been living in Italy for almost a year despite the fact that I can't speak their language and I haven't had any problems! Arriving here I convinced myself that I would learn Italian very fast. Being half Greek, luckily some words are very similar so I can understand the gist. The truth is people here are very friendly and Italians in general are very chatty. I have never felt out of place or uncomfortable due to the fact that everyone tries to make an effort and talk to me in English. I have come to the realization that not only do they enjoy it but they also try to grab every possible opportunity to practice their English, therefore I can never practice my Italian!