Thinking of zooming around on a vintage Vespa and throwing back an espresso macchiato on your lunch break? Take your English teaching experience to a part of Italy that will show you more than just scenic postcards and tourist menus. As the fashion and business capital of Italy, Milan is a whirlwind of stylish activity. With the architectural renaissance, an influx of ideas from Expo 2015, a competition of old and new art styles, a growing number of eco projects and green spaces, and a wave of international businesses, Milan is developing rapidly. Become a part of it by finding a teaching job in Milan now!
Though Italy is one of the leading economic powers in Europe, locals’ English skills are still lagging behind most neighboring countries. In realizing the importance of international relationships and cross-cultural communication, there has been a shift in priorities, and more and more Italians are gaining interest in learning English as a second language, for both the travel and business potential.
Your safest bet is to secure a formal, one-year, contracted teaching job in Milan at a public school. The average workload is 20 to 25 hours of instruction per week, but be prepared to put in up to twice as much time in lesson planning. The biggest challenge when attempting to inspire enthusiasm and earn students’ respect in Milan will be that there is usually an Italian teacher present in the same room for discipline purposes. While teaching in Milan, think outside-of-the-box, engage, and make lectures relevant.
Tutoring and private school teaching jobs in Milan are the most popular types of job opportunities among international teachers, as the hours are flexible, students are more motivated, and the pay is often better! However, these are also some of the most competitive teaching jobs in Milan, so be prepared to at least show off your TEFL certification and keep your lesson plans creative.
Be sure to stay away from cowboy schools, which sometimes require 12-hour days, underpay teachers, and have a tendency to break contracts.
Tell any Italian that you are going to be teaching in Milan and they will give you a distressed look, muttering in bocca al lupo and crossing themselves. To the rest of the Italy, Milan is somewhat of an ugly duckling: cold, boring, grey. But that mentality can work out great for you. Let the hordes of tourists flock to Rome and Florence, while you meet the real locals, savour the down-to-earth life, and explore hidden wonders found beneath concrete facades; you’ll be able to see the real swan hatch from a deceiving shell.
Being at the top of the UNESCO World Heritage List, Milan is bustling with art, architecture, history, and theatre. When you get tired of daytime culture, you’ll be able to check out the elegance of its nightlife too though. There is an excellent public transportation system as well as a bike share program, so you’ll be able to get around easily, and fill up your agenda from dawn to dawn without worries of how to get from point A to point B. Go see The Last Supper, enjoy an opera at La Scala, and be sure to pick up a free bi-weekly copy of EasyMilano, an English publication that lists all of the week’s events.
If you fancy a getaway for a day, there are many options; the Alps and Lake Como to the north, the romantic coasts of Cinque Terre to the south, and sinking Venice to the east, all of these are easily reached by a short, scenic train ride.
Still struggling with the conversion to the Euro? Time to face the facts: the cost of living in Italy is high and wages tend to be relatively low. Not to mention, Milan’s real estate is particularly expensive. Be prepared to spend at least $1000 a month for a studio apartment and $500 for a room in a shared house. Therefore, you’ll need to either come with additional savings or get ready to make new friends! The average monthly salary for teaching jobs in Milan is around $700. Consequently, many teachers tend to offer private lessons outside of school hours, usually charging around $25 an hour, to make additional money for daily living costs and spending money.
Fresh fruits, meats, and imported foods cost a bit above average in Milan, but the staples of the Mediterranean diet are cheap. Cooking at home can save teachers a lot of money in the long run. Have no fear though, there are many ways to save on food: stock up on snacks during aperitivos, take picnics, shop in immigrant neighborhoods, the list goes on. And then there’s the fact that a glass of wine costs as much as a soda…
As compact and bustling as Milan is, it’s easy to find free entertainment. From the plethora of architectural masterpieces (ex: the Duomo and Castello Sforzesco) and vast parks to the impressive street art, public concerts, and ever-changing exhibitions throughout the city’s museums, there are a lot of top-quality things to indulge in without paying a dime (er, dieci centesimi) in Milan.
Accommodation in Milan is as diverse as the city itself. Many teach abroad placement providers give teachers the opportunity to live in homestays. Living with a local family is a great way to save money and experience authentic Italian traditions (not to mention, taste a lot of delicious food!). Normally, food and rent is included in homestay accommodation, but your host family will likely expect you to do some chores around the house or teach a few free English lessons, and of course they’ll want to build a relationship with you.
If you want to be more independent, opt for a private apartment. Although it is very difficult to find short-term housing (and if you do, it will most likely be illegal) in Milan, it is easy to find apartments up for subleasing, which will most likely require you to live with roommates. Checking university bulletins or online housing sites are usually your best bet for finding places for sublease, or word of mouth once you start to make acquaintances. Get familiar with the neighborhoods before you begin searching and always ask if utilities are included!
While Italy provides a 90-day tourist visa stamp upon arrival, legally living and working in Milan is a bit more complicated. Prior to arrival in Italy, a work visa must be obtained by all individuals who wish to teach in Milan. Once hired, your prospective employer must file for a work permit, and, after proving that a local cannot adequately fulfill the position, wait for approval from provincial and regional authorities. This can take a few months to be processed, so plan out your visa processing well in advance. Once the work permit has been received, you can finally apply for the official working visa at an Italian consulate in your home country. It is recommended to check in with all parties throughout the process; the amount of back-and-forth and snail mail means that sometimes things get lost or pushed aside, so be mindful!
While residents of the EU do not need a visa to live and work in Italy, everyone is required to report to the local police station (questura) within eight days of arrival and declare their intention to spend a prolonged period of time in Italy. Upon completion of the standard forms, you will be presented with a Stay Visa (permesso di soggiorno). In addition to granting permission to work, this visa is needed for most everyday things: joining a library, opening a bank account, and hooking up cable.
Even if you do not leave Italy wearing high heels and the latest RayBans, you will come away with la bella figura; this concept of “the beautiful figure” is rooted in tradition and defines daily interactions. Whether it is how you dress or what you do, the importance is in always making the best possible impression. Once understood, this mentality tends to stick. You can begin adapting to the Italian way of life before you leave by reading up on simple Italian customs (such as how to buy bus tickets) and learning basic Italian (numbers, greetings). Also, be prepared to dress for the job. A little trying will go a long way and earn you a lot of respect in the workplace.
Whether you like it or not, while teaching in Milan you will have to learn to live la dolce vita. This is enjoyable when you are eating spaghetti alla Bolognese for three hours or when a holiday comes with a four-day ponte. Not so much when you read the limited operating hours of a bank or wait two days for an e-mail regarding clarification about something that was due yesterday though. However, the idea of slowing down and appreciating life’s simple wonders will become something that you will carry with you long after you are standing in front of a blackboard teaching in Milan.
Don’t come to teach in Milan expecting to make a fortune, but know that you will leave richer than you came. Breathe in the lyrical language, feast on never-ending gelato flavours, get to know your coffee, delve into culture and history, take day trips, and acknowledge the fact that you came here to teach, but, even more so, you came here to learn a new lifestyle: Milanese.