Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) is a growing industry in Italy because many parents are pushing their kids to learn English. This year, I am working for three different language schools and each has offered me courses teaching children.
The courses I teach differ in the amount of time and in the number of students. Some language schools organize small class sizes of 4 to 8 children for once a week. Other schools are contracted by the elementary and middle schools from town to organize courses a few times a week during school hours. Either way, you can expect to work in the morning and late in the afternoon.
One of the good things about teaching children is that you generally get a contract for the entire school year, instead of finding short-term courses, which is what most adult students demand. The school year lasts from the end of September to mid-June. After that, there are always schools and organizations looking for English camp leaders during the summer. The only time you will not find work is August, and by that point you’ll probably need the break!
Each school is different, but the majority of elementary schools are interested in hiring a few native speakers. Schools begin organizing their courses in September, so if you are around at that time (or better yet, beforehand!) you can find yearlong contracts at elementary schools.
There is also a growing trend of teaching English in preschools and kindergartens. Another option is to Teach English to Young Learners at private European schools. These are private elementary, middle, and high schools that are not bound by the same regulations as public schools here in Italy, so it is a lot easier to find work in one of them.
One thing to keep in mind is that the hours and locations vary and often times you cannot get enough work from one school alone. Scheduling can become a hassle if courses are at different times and you have to travel from school to school. Working for three schools, I have received more than enough work and have started to turn down offers (Which is crazy in this economy!). At the moment, I only work about 15 hours a week, but my hours are spread throughout the day from Monday to Saturday so it feels like a lot more! Keep in mind that you will need to be very flexible if you decide to go down this route.
Schools give a lot of freedom in how to conduct courses and what material to use. Although I enjoy this freedom, I see a lack of organization on the part of the schools as only one school has outlined the objectives of the course. Furthermore, the schools I work for don’t provide materials to take to the elementary schools, so I must print out all the materials at home. Taking a professional TESOL course is key for surviving in this environment!
All in all, there are plenty of opportunities for native speakers who want to teach English to young learners in Italy, but there are definitely some pros and cons to consider beforehand!
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