The founding of Rome, the eternal city, goes back to the very early days of civilization. The city’s monuments and streets tell of a history filled with gladiators, looting, and devastation. Choosing to teach in Rome means choosing to walk alongside top-name designer shops next door to artisan workshops, admire St Peter’s Basilica, the centrepiece of the Catholic church worldwide, and explore the Colosseum or the Roman Forum on any given day or time. The artistic grandeur of the city, along with the humor and the simplicity of the Italian people, will make any teaching job in Rome memorable and worthwhile!
Teaching Jobs in Rome
Finding a teaching job in Rome can be challenging because of an overall high unemployment rate throughout the country; even so, English teaching jobs in Rome are still very widely available for native English speakers. Rome, and Italy in general, has a constant, high demand for native English speakers, as locals continue to desire English language fluency. Teaching English in Rome, whether in public schools or universities, is most often focused on grammar and writing skills, and less on conversation, as these are the linguistic areas that many Italian students have difficulty with.
Public Schools. Learning English is compulsory in Italy from elementary school onward. Until recent years, only Italian citizens were allows to teach in state schools. However, today, native English speakers can find a range of teaching job opportunities in public schools in Rome. Public school teaching jobs in Rome typically pay teachers around 25 Euros per hour.
Language Schools. There are a large number of private language schools in Rome that seek out native English teachers as well. Language schools usually start in September or October and finish in May or June. Some will require teachers that teachers have previous teaching experience, but most will employ teachers who hold a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate or equivalent, regardless of their work experience. Although TEFL courses can be found all over the world, learning how to teach ESL students “on the ground” (through TEFL programs in Italy) will help you build the right contacts needed to find and secure the best teaching job in Rome.
Universities. English is taught at all universities in Italy, so it is possible to find teaching jobs in Rome as a language assistant at the university level. As a language assistant you will have the chance to plan and conduct conversation classes with undergraduate students. Those who want to teach English in Rome at the university level should have a master’s degree and/or some college teaching experience under their belt.
Schedule. The typical school year is broken into two semesters with Christmas, Easter, and summer holidays. State schools usually have two months off during the summer, while private schools usually break for shorter periods. But, don’t worry, pretty much the entire country has a break for the month of August in order to enjoy the sun!
Life in Rome
Rome is a huge city, so getting around will require more than just a good pair of walking shoes! Before considering renting a car and driving yourself to and from work, you should know that Italian drivers and the overall chaos of traffic in Rome will require a large amount of bravery and skill. Although cycling is a wonderful way to discover the city, it is definitely not a good option for long distance commutes, which will be inevitably filled with narrow streets and uphill roads. All things considered, the quickest way to get to and from your teaching job in Rome will be the Metropolitana di Roma, which runs approximately every 10 minutes, from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. With a monthly pass, you can have unlimited travel on all Roman buses, trams, and subways for about 30 Euros. The many train stations and the two airports in Rome will allow you to easily visit the rest of Italy without any problem too.
Be aware that Italians take life easy and slow; they don't run all over the city with to-go coffees in their hand, instead they drink it at the cafe, even during working hours. Offices do not always open on time and events do not start promptly. Even the city’s nightlife starts late; the perfect time to head out for a night on the town is around 11 p.m., after a big dinner and a big discussion.
Make it a priority to learn some Italian before you head off to teach in Rome. Italians will appreciate your efforts, and you’ll find it easier to get around on a daily basis. Though it may sound odd considering the flocks of tourists visiting Rome every day, it will not be as easy as you think to find someone who speaks English fluently to translate something for you or give you directions.
Salary & Costs
Don't expect Rome to be cheap! As a teacher in Rome, you will probably earn enough to survive, whether you teach in a public school or at a private language school. In order to earn more money, you can always offer to do private tutoring lessons; you will definitely have no problem finding people who are looking to improve their English language skills. Generally, English tutors can earn from 15 to 30 Euros per hour.
If you avoid tourist traps, you can also manage to save some money and live without worrying too much about how you’ll buy your next meal. The cost of food in Rome will surprise you (again, IF, and only if, you manage to avoid the tourist traps). Eating in a traditional pizzeria is definitely an affordable option. You can spend around 10 Euros for both pizza and beer (did we forget to mention that Italians like to drink beer when they have pizza?). Don't forget that there is no such thing as Italian fast food! Instead, Rome is full of tavole calde, where you can find authentic Italian food, such as panzerotti, arancini, and supplì, for reasonable prices. While teaching in Rome you will also discover the joy of aperitivi, another Italian, low-cost tradition born as a pre-meal drink, which most of the time turns into a real dinner!
You will also learn that the popular place for Italians to shop is NOT the shopping mall, but the mercato, huge cheap outdoor markets that offer a wide choice of food, clothes, books, sewing goods, footwear, flowers, and more. A tour of these markets is a must if you want to discover the folklore of the city!
Don't count on using a credit card in Rome for every small purchase. Italians prefer using cash, so credit cards are not accepted in many places, which is why you will need to pay cash for coffee, a dinner, and even for rent most of the time. Note to self: talk to your bank before you leave about foreign transaction fees and ATM withdrawal fees.
Accommodation & Visas
You should take into account that flights, accommodation, and health care will not necessarily included in your teaching contract. When many schools provide teachers with pre-arranged housing, it is generally furnished and expected to be shared with other teachers, so don’t expect a luxurious suite at the Hilton with your own private butler. If accommodation is not provided, apartments are the most common type of accommodation that foreign teachers can easily find in Rome, thanks to the wide range of apartments scattered through the city. A one bedroom apartment will be the most expensive option, costing around 800 Euros per month. Living in shared accommodation, with fellow teachers or university students, will not only be more affordable, but also an easy way to meet new people. Be aware that it will be quite difficult to find a cheap room in the city center, the average cost of renting a room in a shared house is around 500 Euros per month.
If you prefer a full immersion, and want to get to know the Italian language and culture more effectively, then you should opt for a homestay with an Italian family. Sharing dinners and weekends with a local family will be your chance to learn more about the real Italian way of life and experience the great hospitality of Italian families.
To live and work in Italy, non-EU citizens must obtain a visa, which can be acquired at an Italian embassy in your home country. Once you arrive in Italy, you will have to register at the Questura in Rome in order to secure a long stay permit. Keep in mind that the Italian visa process can be a bit scary and overly bureaucratic, so just remember to keep calm and, above all, if your Italian is not good bring someone with you who is fluent. There is a good chance you will manage to get your visa without too much heartache, and an even bigger chance you’ll have an incredible time teaching in Rome!
Benefits & Challenges
“Rome is a poetry pressed into service as a city,” said Anatole Broyard. Rome has the mystery, the confusion, and the charm of poetry. Living and teaching in Rome, with the city’s extensive contrast between antiquity and modern life, will be a journey that will open your mind, inspire you, and enrich you. Thanks to the Italian way of life, which is void of stressing over little things and instead relaxed, you’ll be able to enjoy life to the fullest. Teaching in Rome may end up being more like a long holiday than a job, possible that much needed break from the stressful routine and worries of your life at home you’ve been looking for. On a professional level, teaching jobs in Rome are built on a great reputation of academic excellence within a multicultural city, which means they will provide you with a valuable experience for your career and your life.