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November 20, 2005

ESL Italian Style

ESL Italy.jpg

"Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life." ~Anna Akhmatova

Greetings all veteran ESL Teachers,

In May, ESL-Lesson-Plan asked readers to tell us about their experiences teaching ESL in Greece (here).

This month, I'm seeking commentary from instructors who have taught or are presently teaching in Italy. Please share with us what it's like, how you found your Italian ESL teaching-post, the going Italian salary for ESL teachers and, naturally, if Italy is all that it's cracked up to be!

Submit your comments promptly if you'd like to be heard!

Until next time,

Lee Hobbs
ESL Instruct, Editor-in-Chief

Looking for more articles that spotlight hot travel spots and dream teaching locations? Click HERE!

Posted by lhobbs at November 20, 2005 11:56 PM

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» Call For Comments About Greece from ESL Lesson Plan
Are you teaching ESL in Greece? Tell us what it's like, how you found your job, the amount of your salary, and oh, how absolutely wonderful it is! [Read More]

Tracked on November 21, 2005 12:43 AM

» Looking for New Digs? from ESL Lesson Plan
Do espresso, antipasto and ferraris have a certain pull for you? If you love history, good food eaten s-l-o-w-l-y, expensive automobiles and chic people, Italy might be a great place for you to teach! [Read More]

Tracked on November 21, 2005 12:57 AM


Hey Mr. Blogger Boss:

I just so happened to be placed in Italy myself, how did you know? Umbria to be exact, it's great over here. Geez now we may actually have a real subject to talk about instead of all that abuse you were giving me. Maybe we can become friends

Posted by: ESL Nerd at November 22, 2005 07:44 AM


Note from Lee:

Well, ESL Nerd I don't see a real reason why, like the White Stripes' musical lead into the film "Napoleon Dynamite," we couldn't be friends. The Umbria area is one I am completely unfamiliar with.

Could you please share some of your ESL experiences with the rest of this blog's readers? (And, I do apologize for the abuse . . . I didn't realize I was dealing with such a sensitive ego!)

Posted by: Lee at November 23, 2005 05:24 AM

Dear Lee ,

Thankyou for the information !

Yours sincerely,


Posted by: Jonathan Mountain at November 26, 2005 05:04 PM


Sicily is the place to be, for Italy! That is a hidden paradise -- un tesoro segreto dell'Italia, secondo me! I lived there for a year and taught there for 7 months. Unfortunately, the only school in the area where they hire for English language teachers is run by a disreputable woman who mistreats everyone and cheats the students. She said she would apply for a work permit for me, but never did.

However, I made some good friends and contacts who helped me out tremendously, and was able to continue living there. I would have stayed but I wanted to get my legal situation sorted out, so decided it was better to leave whilst I could (I did not want to overstay my visa).

Salary-wise, I was fortunate in that for all this school director's underhandedness, she did pay me as promised, although the salary was quite low -- 600 euros a month -- with no taxes taken out. Unfortunately, she put me in a flat that was 400 euros a month because she led me to understand that I would be sharing with 2 other people. Those 2 never showed up, if indeed, they ever existed!

Cost of living where I was is quite low, and I did find a much cheaper, more reasonably-priced flat for 200 euros; although one could rent for even cheaper if one lived a bit further out.

Being in love with Italy and the Italian culture and its people helped sustain me during this time, and I certainly am planning to return there to live and work again and this time, I will never leave it!

Italy is all that is cracked up to be. The South is especially welcoming. The people are quite generous and warm. They tend to be more reserved in the beginning, and what may be seen as rudeness is mere taciturnity. But they are very, very patient, and take the time to listen whilst one struggles to be understood in their language. They take great delight when you do speak to them in Italian, and many will even help correct mistakes and pronounciation problems.

I found that on the whole, Italian people are gentle, kind and patient, with a flair for the dramatic, an eye for the aesthetic, a bit quirky but in a positive way. What is taken for rudeness or arrogance is not true. I came to understand and realize that because they tend to express themselves with their body and hands, the myriad of gestures and facial expressions can seem that way to the uninitiated.

And yes, it is true about the men. They look with a boldness and directness that most men don't do, and it can be a bit disconcerting at first. But after a bit, one becomes used to this. And also, one comes to see that it is more of a Pavlovian response, meaning, the men automatically just turn and stare at any FEMALE form: See a woman or a girl, and pfft! Eyes right(or left), look, stare, maybe say "ciao", and then move on. They don't really expect the woman to react; she may say hello back or she may not; it doesn't matter. Telling them to get away or shut up or behaving nastily towards them will only get you a bewildered or bemused look, and it doesn't stop them -- if they decide to be a bit persistent.

Unlike with American or British men, one doesn't feel threatened when Italian men behave boldly like this. Not to say there aren't nutters among them as well; but on the whole, they won't turn nasty the way Americans or British do, and call you names and cast slurs upon your rep if you ignore them. And if you do decide to respond to their calls, they will actually strike up a conversation with you, asking you all sorts of questions because they are curious to find out a bit about you -- especially if you are a foreigner.

Southern Italy in particular is a foodie heaven, and if you are vegetarian or vegan, it's the perfect spot for you. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound, along with diverse varieties of fish. Fresh meat, pork, and chicken is also available, although the meat tends not to be done quite as well, since most S. Italians don't eat it as much as fish. Chicken and rabbit are quite popular, and even horseflesh is eaten.

Many towns and villages have a community garden plot, as it were, where the people share little bits of land they can grow their own vegetables and fruits. Certain fruit trees and nut trees grow naturally, such as oranges, lemons, figs, pears, bananas, walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, edible plants and greens....it's absolutely wonderful.

Things are done very differently in Italy, and there are big cultural differences between the North and the South, as well as on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. As long as you don't live there or view life as though things should be done the way they are in your home country; as long as you are willing to accept the cultural differences and diversity offered there, Italy -- especiallly southern Italy -- is a treasure one can never tire of or forget.

Keeping me fingers crossed that I will be back there by March 2006!!


Posted by: Murasaki at November 28, 2005 10:34 AM


Note from Lee:

Thanks Murasaki for that insider's look into Sicily. This month's ESL Instruct newsletter highlights the city of Rome as a dream location for ESL teaching but, after reading your post, I wish I had gone for Sicily instead! An excellent contribution to this forum: we'd really appreciate it if you please visit us again with your other ESL teaching experiences in Italy or elsewhere.

Posted by: Lee at November 28, 2005 03:17 PM

Note from Lee:

Readers, for reasons of space, the comments for this post have been relocated to the English-Blog space. To remark on this article, please click on the following link HERE!:


Posted by: Lee at January 27, 2006 09:59 PM