How to Teach English in Italy

Italy is a beautiful country for tourists, as well as a highly desired locale for ESL teachers to live and work, and though there is competition for positions, there are opportunities available to teach English in Italy.

The Basics

There is a preference to hire English speakers from the European Union, so it is difficult but not impossible for a North American to get a position teaching ESL in Italy. Work permits are handled at the local level and your employer must apply for the permit. So to find a position, you will need to be a desirable employee:

  • native English speaker; in fact, most job postings will include madrelingua inglese, or English native speaker in the job title

  • possess an undergraduate degree and

  • have ESL certification.

Desired certification includes TESL certification or Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) certification, and you can complete this certification before you go abroad. This is recommended if you plan to make ESL teaching your career and it is not a small investment since many courses can cost more than one thousand dollars to complete.

If you aren't sure that you want to make ESL teaching your career, but you possess the other qualifications, think about the other skills that you have? Are you a tradesman, so you possess specialized English language skills. Many people taking ESL are trying to improve their businesses and career prospects, so if you are an experienced business person or student you can also capitalize on these skills. If you are already a teacher, you may be able to capitalize on your current teacher certification. Make sure you present these skills to a potential employer.

It is not necessary for you to speak Italian before you begin teaching in Italy, though it may help you to know some Italian to make friends while abroad.

Finding Work

If you plan to go the work permit route and have the necessary qualifications, you can look for a school that is registered with the Associazione Italiana Scuole di Lungue (AISLI). You would apply directly to the schools listed on this registry. You can also expect that their demands for qualifications will be quite high.

You can also look in the Italian Yellow Pages for a language school or use a vertical job posting engine, such as Job Rapido, which has an Italian job posting site. You can search online before you go, but you have a better chance of finding a position if you are in Italy at the beginning of the hiring season and can appear in person.

Hiring season usually begins in mid-September and most contracts run for nine months. There are some opportunities to teach English in camps for school-age children during the summer months.


Many positions are part-time and a good position should have no more than twenty-five instruction hours per week. You should be able to find a position that will pay basic living expenses, and it is less expensive in the south of Italy than it is in the north. Some teachers will supplement their income by taking on private students.