Starting a New Life in Italy Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Hello, my name is Diane and I am fifty five years old, about to retire from a long career in college administration. I am enrolled in the International TEFL Academy located in Florence, starting October 17th and am so excited.  I have been a college instructor as well as the Dean of Enrollment during the past 20 years.  I hold both a Bachelors and Masters degree, and in fact did my research for my Master's thesis in Florence during two trips in 2005 and 2006 respectively.  I fell in love with the country then and have returned many times since.

My long-time dream was to retire relatively young and move to Italy to teach English. I will be able to support myself with my retirement income relatively well but want to work so I can make a little extra money to travel and also working would integrate me into the local community as well. I am a little concerned that my age will be a factor in the hiring process but am willing to pursue any opportunities that may be available to me. My children are grown, married and independent so I am ready to do this!

I have located a place to live during my training and will return to the US for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday but hope to return in early January to start a teaching job.

Any help, advice or words of encouragement - especially about jobs would be greatly appreciated!

Hi, and welcome to the forum.
Apart from your very nice first post here, you're clearly going to be an asset to whichever school is lucky enough to hire you.
If I may be so bold, I suggest trying for a position in a primary school as the young kids learn quickly and the emotional reward of being part of that is likely to be very pleasing for you.
Just an idea.

Oh - thank you so much!! I like your suggestion and I think I would be very good with the younger children - I have four grandchildren and find teaching them so rewarding!


How exciting.  I have a few questions.  First, are you coming to Italy on a student visa?  Second, how long is your course?

When you arrive in Italy, you will be required to apply for a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay).  It is taking up to five months in Florence for that process to be completed.  So if you apply in mid-October, you mostly likely will not get your permesso until mid-March; for many students, the permesso expires before it is even issued.  Then the main question, especially in terms of travel, will be whether or not your visa is for a single entry or for multiple entries, as well as it's expiration date, and the 90-day stay in the Schengen zone until your permesso di soggiorno is granted.  For example, if your permesso di soggiorno is not issued until March, and you have a single entry visa, travel back and forth between Italy and the U.S., if making connections anywhere in the Schengen Zone, might be a problem after you've been in Italy for 90 days.  While Italian authorities understand the problem with timing, other countries aren't so forgiving.  I know of several people who, when trying to make flight connections within the Schengen, were not allowed to board the airplane.  Document dates and stipulations are very important, which is why I asked about your visa.

It is much easier to convert a permesso di soggiorno into a work permesso from a student permesso.  Getting a work permit all on it's own generally requires that you return to the U.S. and apply for a work visa, which has a lot of rules and red-tape attached to it.  Additionally, Italy has quotas on how many foreigners in every field can be hired per year.  If you can gain employment while a student, and convert your student permesso di soggiorno, that alleviates a lot of problems. 

To be blunt, it is difficult to find employment for folks in your age-range as businesses are given a tax break for hiring younger people.  Unheard of in the U.S. (it promotes age-discrimination), but it's a reality in Italy.  On applications/resumes in Italy, it is allowed to ask such questions as age, marital status, etc.  I don't want to deter you from trying; just be aware that you are up against that reality.

I live in Florence and have met many people attempting to do what you would like to do.  If you would like to message me, I'd be more than happy to meet up with you after you arrive and we can chat about everything; documents, work, important dates, and other issues.

Hi...met a woman from US some time ago..she sold her furniture (!!) and moved to Milan. Myself and my wife supported was hard but finally she got a scolarship to attend a master course ad found a job as English Teacher as well. She was working 8hrd a day and studying as well...but she was living in a small flat, having her own bank account, her mobile phone...

Do it. But choose an area where teaching english can let you survive..Milan could be one of those...

It is virtually impossible to find a teaching job in this country.  I have a Master's Degree in   Finance and business and have 30 years' esperience in the investment world in the U.S.A.  I teach English to private students in Italy.  However..I've talked with many school administrators and they simply will not hire non-Italians.  At least that's been my experience.  Furthermore..the banks and financial institutions  have an age-limit of 35.  The discrimination in this country against Americans is horrible.

Horseman2012, I don't think it's "against Americans" per se.  The laws apply to any foreigner from any country, especially from a country outside of the E.U.  The unemployment rate is so high (40% for young Italian adults under age 35) and they are struggling to get them into the workforce.  Tax laws make it prohibitive for anyone to offer full-time permanent contracts and businesses are given a tax break for hiring Italians under the age of 35.  The problem is, the decisions of the government regarding economic "growth" hasn't helped the situation and doesn't promote growth in general, and job growth in paricular.  Additionally, it's the same for every E.U. country; that of putting citizens to work first, which is why every country has job quotas regarding hiring foreigners and companies must explain to the government why they need to hire a foreigner over a citizen, and get approval to do so.

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