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Teacher's Perspective; Managing the Italian ESL Classroom PDF Print E-mail

Teaching the English language to students of different cultures is a job that requires you to learn as much as you teach. Italian elementary school students can be a mixed bag; some are very ambitious and skilled, others are very ambitious but not so skilled, others are not ambitious but very skilled and yet others are neither ambitious nor skilled. Confused? Welcome to the Italian elementary ESL classroom.

There’s something to be said about the Italian personality’s pension for expressing itself. Even the youngest of learners make it quite obvious what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.I’ve developed a way of working with these different types of students that has proven beneficial for everyone involved (including me the teacher and my peace of mind), but it must be implemented as soon as possible.

You can usually spot the most difficult students on the first day of class, as well as the strongest ones.Make a note next to each student’s name after introductions to indicate which type of student he/she is.

For example:

Ilenia: 7 years old. A/S (ambitious and skilled)

Jonathan: 8 years old S/NA (skilled not ambitious)

Chiara: 8 years old A/NS (ambitious not skilled)

Paolo: 7 years old NA/NS (not ambitious not skilled)

Set up a seating chart where the students are in ideal pairs. Put ambitious and skilled students next to students with little ambition and skill. Pair very ambitious but not skilled students with very skilled but not ambitious students. Seat the stronger student to the right of the weaker student.Using the examples above, the first pair would be Ilenia and Paolo. The next pair would be Jonathan and Chiara.

In these pairs, the students will learn from reciprocating- whether it is ambition, skill, or both.In the case of the student with no ambition and little skill, you might notice that one or the other becomes less of a deficit after a few sessions.

The stronger student will most likely strengthen the inherent ability or ambition in the weaker student- in some cases both. The stronger students will continue to improve by reinforcing what they already know while helping their partner.In the case of the student with a lot of ambition but little skill, you might notice an improvement in ability after a few sessions.

 The students with more skill will find it difficult not to correct their partners during pair work, increasing the accuracy of the work produced. The ambitious student will undoubtedly encourage the other student’s motivation and self-confidence..

Of course, there is always the danger that the stronger students and/or the dominant personalities may “take over” the weaker ones. If you see this happening, try switching partners, but keep in mind you want to maintain the same support dynamic in pairs.I like the horseshoe shape for working with students- it gives me a chance to connect with each student individually without losing contact with the class as a whole. 

This is an example of managing an ESL classroom in Italy. Where do you teach the English language and how do you manage the different types of students and abilities in your classroom? What’s your favorite seating “algorithm”?


A Teacher's Perspective; Teaching English in Southern Italy PDF Print E-mail

Where do you teach English as a Second Langage?

Where do you teach ESL? Are you a native speaker of the English language?

I teach ESL in Italy.

Yes, it’s true, I’m very lucky. I teach English in Southern Italy, along the bottom of the Amalfi coast, on the Mediterranean (precisely Tyhrennian) sea. The stretch of land under the famous Amalfi coastline is actually an entirely different entity. It’s the coast of Cilento, and in my opinion it is equally beautiful if not more, and much less commercial.

Anyway, I’d like to give you some information about myself. I came to Italy in 2001 on a week’s vacation and met my husband (well, I didn’t know that then). We dated for about a year long-distance, and then I decided to make the move. And it was a MOVE. Not just moving to the other side of town, but the other side of the ocean, and it was really an upheaval.

First challenge was trying to learn the language (still working on that). Next it was trying to get my papers in order so I would be officially legal in Italy (took about 1.5 years). Then it was driving a car in Italy. I won’t even go in to that. Terrifying is the word that comes to mind.

But, I did it all. Right? So, now I can speak Italian (kind of), am legal (mostly) and can drive a car (very defensively). What more could I ask for??

Did you say work? A job? That‘s right- because I was not ready to sit for a crash course in Italian domesticity. Unfortunately, I have never had any natural domestic inclinations, and would be a horrible full-time Italian housewife. If you have doubts, ask my husband.

In my previous life I was an advertising sales representative. I wanted to look for something along those lines, but it was nearly impossible with my limited Italian language skills and no higher-ups to call on for a nice recommendation.

So, there was tension. And frustration. And it was getting bad.

“I can‘t stand staying in the house anymore. I need a job. I‘m going crazy. I can‘t just sit here and eat all the time. She (his mother) keeps making me eat.“

“Why don’t you ever listen to me? You can teach. Why don’t you teach English?”

“Because I’m not a teacher. My Mom’s a teacher. I’m a salesperson. I don’t know how to teach.”

“But you’ve got the language- you’re a mother-tongue”

“ Yep, but I don’t have a teaching certificate- and I’m not even an Italian citizen…”

“Who cares? You have the language- you have everything you need”

To make a long story short, he was right. Here, if English is your first language, or one of many that you speak fluently, chances are you can teach English in Italy.

What about the country you teach in? How important is it for an ESL teacher to be a native speaker of the language?

What about the country you teach in? How important is it for an ESL teacher to be a native speaker of the language
Teaching English in Italy; paperwork and procedures PDF Print E-mail

If you want to teach English in Italy, you need to follow these four steps:

1) Apply for a work visa (permesso di soggiorno - though no longer necessary for EU citizens)

2) Register your address with the local commune

3) Apply for your tax number (codice fiscale)

4) Obtain your national health card. Make plenty of copies of passports and other identifcation documents to avoid wasting time.

 Non-EU citizens need to start with step one in their home country - laws and requirements are constantly changing and there are many exceptions to each.  Securing the paperwork to teach English in Italy can be quite a frustrating procedure for those outside the European union. Consult your local Italian Consulate or Embassy for details of the application process, and check with the Immigration section of the Italian Ministry of Home Affairs new window.

As a non-EU citizen, obtaining a work permit after you have arrived in Italy is nearly impossible unless you marry an Italian citizen. Very few schools or companies are willing or able to sponsor teachers from outside the EU due to the cost, time and uncertainty involved. There are a limited number of visas available if your company sponsors you through a 'contratto a tempo indeterminato' and even fewer available for 'lavoro autonomo'.

If you want to work "legally" teaching English in Italy and you are not an EU citizen, it will take some time and a lot of persistence and patience.  Keep in mind there are plenty of schools who will hire you on "under the table" but let it be at your own risk. Another option is starting with summer camps, as they have temporary permits for all of their empoyees.  It may give you just the time you need to make the right connections and get another job lead for more permanent employment.

Teaching English in Italy's Public Schools; Have you got what it takes? PDF Print E-mail

Teach English in Italy; Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before Teaching an Elementary ESL Class

If you want to teach ESL in Italy, you’ll need to determine which students and which school are right for you. Teaching Italian students on the elementary level in public schools can be rewarding on many levels, but it can also be very difficult.

Here are five questions to ask yourself before committing to an ESL job with an Italian elementary school.

1) Have you got experience? If you have taught elementary school students in other countries, you’re a step ahead. The success of your past experiences should guide you in the Italian classroom. Keep in mind that, by nature, Italian students are very energetic and sometimes unruly. Make sure your activities keep pace with their exuberant personalities and energies. You can update your favorite activities by including Italian trends or celebrities to keep students interested. Include at least one session of TPR (total physical response), preferably near the end of class.

 2) Have you got authority? You absolutely need to have control of your Italian elementary class. Unfortunately, this sometimes means raising your voice because the students are conditioned to respond to loud voices.

The majority of their subject teachers raise their voices, clap their hands (or the teacher’s desk) to get attention and call order in the classroom. Until you have them settled down, you may need to employ the same tactics. The first lesson is crucial in establishing your authority in the classroom. Give them rules and consequences. Then be consistent.


3) Have you got a handle on basic Italian? Teaching English in Italy requires knowledge of basic Italian language in order to communicate with the class in certain situations. You will also be expected to communicate with subject teachers, directors, and other colleagues or collaborators on the project, most of whom will be Italian-speaking only.

4) Can you teach long lessons? Can you plan an interesting three-hour lesson and maintain a quick pace? Unfortunately, most English language lessons are after-school extracurricular activities, and come at the end of a full didactic day. The students are tired and so it is important that you make the lesson very different from their subject lessons. The hours should be planned with student-centered tasks and dynamic activities. If you lecture for any period of time or concentrate on teacher-focused learning, interest will drop and students will lose motivation. Make sure to schedule a break mid-lesson.

5) Can you teach average-sized groups of children? You will need to manage a medium sized class effectively. You may have a small classroom and will have to make the most of the space. Most classes have a minimum of 15 students and a maximum of 30. Students can be mixed levels. Be familiar with seating charts and group dynamics to maximize the efficacy of your teaching. Be on the lookout for students with learning disabilities and make a note to seat them as close to you as possible.

If you answered yes to most of the above questions, you have the potential to teach English in Italy’s elementary schools.

How to Get Started Teaching English in Italy PDF Print E-mail

In order to teach English in Italy, consider investing in a TEFL/TESL certificate, or CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). There are several ways to earn a certificate to teach English in your native country, overseas or even online. Some programs and schools in other countries only want native English-speaking teachers who are certified to teach the English language, and other schools or teaching jobs require a bachelor's degree. Read the requirements of the job that interests you to under stand what’s expected before you invest in a TEFL certification program. You can also earn your certificate online at a training conference, or at a college or university.

Subscribe to TESL job board feeds and forums for job leads teaching English in Italy.

Look first at online ESL job boards where new jobs are posted regularly. You can also look at forums to ask about other teachers' experiences in Italy, or even find out about the reputation of a certain school or program you are considering via TEFL Some TEFL training programs offer job placement assistance and advice.

Look in pagine for English language schools. You will find small language schools or programs in Italy. Some small schools may just be listed in the Yellow Pages, and some may not advertise on large TEFL job boards. These schools may just look for teachers who have resumes posted on ESL job websites.

Kevin Revolinksi, a former ESL teacher in Italy, says that the best time to apply for jobs in Italy is between February and March. English language programs usually start in September/October and run through May/June, though there are summer language camps. Revolinski goes on to explain that, "British Institutes might be a two-birds-with-one-stone solution. They sometimes offer a program that consists of two months of distance learning (buying a few books and completing readings and assignments) and then two weeks of intensive training in Italy. Upon successful completion of the course, you are guaranteed a teaching job in one of their Italian schools for at least nine months starting in October."





Teaching English in Italy: Reward Your Elementary School Students PDF Print E-mail

Teach English in Italy: Five Ways to Reward Your Elementary School Students

Many students work hard for achievement, but almost all will work hard for recognition. Italian elementary school students particularly love their “moment of glory.“ If you give students a chance to stand out in the crowd they will most likely put forth their best effort. In an Italian ESL classroom, there are many ways to reward students for their English usage and classroom performance.

Here are five tried-and-true ways to acknowledge the stars in your ESL class.

1) Create a certificate reward and give one to the most outstanding student every time the class meets. For example, you might create a reward entitled “Star Student”, or “Super Student”. Draw up the certificate, or create it on your computer and print it out. You can leave it black and white for the student to color, or you can do it yourself.

2) Start a blog for your class and add an outstanding student’s profile to the content each week. If you teach English in Italy, you will need to be acquainted with the privacy laws; so don’t include last names or photographs of the students’ faces. You can, however, post drawings or projects they’ve created in class, and leave a comments section below each post for other who visit the page to leave their opinions.

3) Invest in some inexpensive “gadgets” to reward students, such as pencil toppers, temporary tattoos, erasers or mini-notebooks. You can usually find these items in bulk and they are big hits! If you want to give candy or gum, be sure to ask if any students are diabetic or have food allergies first.

4) There are many free templates online that allow you to create a magazine or newspaper cover. Add the student’s name and the reward title to the headlines and print it out. Announce to the class that there is a new celebrity on the circuit and that he/she is in the classroom. Invite the class to ask questions about the student celebrity’s identity to reveal the winner.

5) Stage a mini-Oscar ceremony every month and give rewards for best student and best supporting student. Mimic the suspense before the names are revealed inside the envelope, and encourage the students to give an acceptance speech at the podium (you may want to have each student write one in their notebooks at the beginning of the month so they aren’t at a “loss for words”). You can purchase mini trophies in bulk at convenient prices.

Teaching the English language to students in Italy should be fun for everyone on the elementary level. If you take the time to praise good efforts and outstanding students, language learning will become more rewarding.

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