Why I quit my teaching job in Rome

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After completing the CELTA in August 2012, I set about finding a teaching job in Rome, Italy. I love Europe and I’m a capital city kinda gal and couldn’t imagine being based anywhere else in Italy and this made my job hunt  harder, as there’s more people available to teach English in the big cities. Be wary when searching for teaching jobs in western Europe, as they’re harder to crack for newbs without much experience and even harder for non-EU newbs with no teaching experience. As a minimum, you’ll need the CELTA and most prefer you to have one to two years teaching experience, but outside the capital you’ll have more options and schools will be more likely to take on teachers with no experience.

I’d received two interviews and started working for a TEFL agency in Rome, who could only offer me one month of half-time work-barely enough to cover rent. A lot of factors combined to make me leave Rome, but teaching itself wasn’t one of them. The class I taught was great, but the agency was terrible. As a newly qualified teacher, the CELTA stipulates that all qualifiers need additional training to develop as teachers; my school gave me a vague topic (hospitality) and no teaching materials. I’d had no prior experience (besides four weeks on the CELTA) and there wasn’t even so much as a textbook, syllabus or any advice given! So due to my inexperience and newness, it took me two hours to plan my two hour lessons.  I was only working part-time, but with the amount of planning (and I didn’t even know if my lessons worked well or adhered to the syllabus), this turned into a full-time job on half-pay. La dolce vita indeed!

On top of this my flat was a two hour commute from work. I’d let an elderly relative ask around to find me a flat in Rome, but in hindsight this was a mistake and I should have researched the neighbourhoods myself. It had poor transport links and so was impossible to get anywhere outside of the very centre of Rome. My route to school involved one slow 45-minute tram and then 2 buses in the countryside, amounting to two hours. The schools I was assigned to also happened to be 2 hours away. To top things off, I was living with a few immigrants to Italy, so wasn’t getting as much chance to practice my Italian either.

Another strange thing about my school, was that they’d lied to me during the interview. It was a small lie and doesn’t seem like much, but I thought if they were dishonest about the start, what could come later? The woman who hired me, pretended that all the other teachers who worked there were native English speakers, but out of a group of 14, I was only one of two native English speakers. Generally, to ensure quality, schools try and recruit native speakers and non-native teachers may have a harder time finding jobs, even though their grasp of English is almost always better (grammatically).  She also lied and said I would get a lot of help to begin with, when none was given at all.

Unfortunately, you can’t prevent this kind of thing happening, but you can ensure you’re informed enough to minimise the risk. I knew what the job market was like in Rome for newly-qualified teachers but was still determined to make it work. Now in September 2013, I’m moving back to Rome but with a British Council job as a Comenius Assistant; my role, responsibilities and hours are set and I’ll be trained and monitored from the beginning. For me, this is a fantastic starting point for a teaching English career and we’ll just have to see where this goes!

Ciao

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11 thoughts on “Why I quit my teaching job in Rome

  1. Best of luck with the new job 🙂

  2. Hey, I initially started out in Mexico teaching for a little while, I met tons of people involved in the British council, and they all had good words to say. Hope round two goes better for you!

  3. “Of course there will be some non-native speakers who are excellent, but they will always be the exception and not the rule”. This is not the case at all. As a CELTA trainer I can tell you that there are at least as many outstanding NNS teachers as NS, if not more.

    • Hi John, you’re right; the best two girls from my course were non-native speakers, but I was referring to the bias that schools show towards non-native speakers. I’m still not sure why that is, but perhaps students may see a native speaker as more of a “guarantee” of quality, but as we’ve ascertained this is not always the case.

  4. hey I live in Rome and the British council have a recruitment freeze on for… I don’t know how long.- How did you get the job? well done anyway and i’m sure things will go smoother

  5. Are you a european union citizen?

  6. Hello, could you write a bit more about your experience wit this British Council project? I have just looked it up on their website but it states that the candidate must not have previous TEFL teaching experience or a TEFL qualification and must be training for a teaching qualification (I’m assuming a PGCE).

  7. so how did it go with the British Council in Rome?

    • Very well 😀 I spent one year working in an institute in Rome through the Comenius programme and was paid a monthly salary and given a grant for studying Italian. I would definitely recommend going through Comenius or the general English Language Assistant programme if you aren’t sure about teaching English abroad and want to test it first.

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