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The 5 Essential Character Traits For Teaching English in Italy

Are you an ESL teacher? Are you dreaming of “la bellavita”? You could be happy about teaching English in Italy, or you may be unhappy what will it be? Pay close attention to your personality and character before making the decision to teach English in the “boot”.

Below are the 5 traits you must have before considering going for English teaching jobs in Italy.

#1 Are you flexible?

If you answered “no”, it may be best to choose a different country. In Italy, things do not always go well or at the right time. At the Trenitalia local station in Salerno, it is typical to see trains coming in and out of the schedule. Meetings almost always start much later than planned. Your expectations of someone or something(even an employer) may be completely different from reality. Try to be as knowledgeable as possible, but do not be surprised if things do not work out the way you imagined it. Get closer and add it to your growing list of “learning experiences”.

#2 Are you assertive?

If you answered yes, then is good. You really have to “put yourself out there” to get anywhere in Italy, and that means even waiting in line at the post office (where Italians pay their bills). The Italian personality sometimes borders on the aggressive, and you have to be ready to assert yourself to get what you want. This is different from being aggressive. In general, Italians appreciate assertive types, but they hate aggressive. Stay within limits and you’ll be fine.

#3 Are you social?

Italians love being social. You can see them networked at business openings, playing cards in the local “square” and talking to acquaintances in the supermarket queue. They do not like being alone. If you are an extrovert and like make friends (learn how to here),and add acquaintances to your contact list, you will be in a good position to take advantage of Italy’s social networks. Who you know is so much more important. People who are very introverted are often neglected, or worse, become food for gossip. You do not want a bad or ambiguous reputation against you when you are trying to become an ESL teacher.

#4 Are you traditional?

Yes, you have to be a bit conservative/traditional. Italy is closely linked to its “roots” of the Catholic religion and close family units, especially in the southern part of the country in the regions of Campania, Calabria, Puglia, and Sicily. People who are very progressive may not have an easy time to carve their niche. Do not object to a crucifix in the classroom. Respect the family structure – and in Italy, this extends to the second and third cousins. Always treat people with decency and hospitality. If Italian visits your house, be sure to offer the standard cup of coffee (espresso in Italian style) and something to eat. That should be enough for you to get a passing mark from the Italians.

#5 Are you energized?

The Italians are very energetic and often even lush. They can be loud and lively. If you have any questions, sit down to lunch with an Italian family. Your ears will be ringing after the meal, and you may have difficulty remembering what was said, but you will have an appreciation of the importance of “drama” in Italian communication. If you are not very expressive or energetic, it may be difficult for you to relate to the Italian personality as seen here.

All are unique, but being flexible, social, assertive, traditional and energetic will help you navigate more easily in Italy. When making a decision about your ESL teaching destination, take a moment to analyze your character’s strengths and weaknesses. If you answered “no” to three or more questions on the list, you may wish to reconsider English teaching jobs in Italy.

Peter Christopher

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