Giving Italian lessons is the perfect way to supplement your income if you are fluent in the language of Dante Alighieri.
As a tutor of the Italian language, you would have the opportunity to instruct young and older learners – all the way to senior citizens, if you so please!
That would include students from Key Stage 1 all the way to those preparing to intern at an Italian university.
How satisfying, teaching something you are passionate about!
With the gig economy overrunning the traditional workforce, you may want to consider cultivating backdoor options, should your current source of income explode like Mount Etna.
To help you along, these tips to find your place in the language learning marketplace.
What Profile does the Typical Italian Teacher Fit?
First, let us disabuse you of the idea that a good Italian teacher must fit any profile.
In fact, teachers of Italian come from all walks of life: they could be architects or zoologists, young or old, native speakers or people for whom Italian is a second language.
Let us now illustrate characteristics of Italian teachers.
Might you fall into any of these categories?
The English-Italian Bilingual
The teachers with this credential can be found all along the age spectrum. In fact, several people who meet this profile have retired from one career and are now embracing their greatest passion.
Their goal is to introduce as many lovers of Italian as possible to this most romantic of romance languages.
We are describing self-taught masters of la lingua italiana, of course.
The advantages of such a teacher are:
- someone so passionate about learning a language is bound to infect you with enthusiasm and a desire to learn.
- Such a dedicated language learner understands how hard and frustrating it can be to learn a language
- Someone who has never sat through Italian language courses is likely to have a unique teaching methodology
- A self-taught professor could actually teach you how to learn!
Students of Foreign Languages
Because the UK does not require certification or specialisation in any field to become a private tutor, it is not unusual to find university students supplementing their income by giving private lessons.
Thus it is possible for someone to engage his/her neighbour's college-aged Italian student to instruct his GCSE-level child in our favourite romance language.
Or that anyone would recruit a niece or nephew to teach their neighbour's child how to speak Italian.
Should you be such a student, maybe one preparing to matriculate at Università per Stranieri di Perugia, you could advertise your availability to teach the language at your local community center or library, ahead of your trip to Italy.
The Native Italian Speaker
This is the profile most coveted by those thinking of engaging a private tutor for Italian lessons.
While we understand the cachet such a teacher brings, bear in mind that s/he must be able to communicate in English, especially if the person engaged in Italian learning understands little to no Italian.
One other question to think about when considering hiring a native speaker: would this teacher understand the difficulties in learning Italian?
Any teacher native to the country shaped like a boot would be able to help anyone learning Italian as a second language, provided s/he has a bit of training as a teacher, and good oral English skills.
And provided that the regional dialect s/he speaks meets students' needs.
One note of caution before engaging any teacher: Which regional dialect does s/he speak?
Italy boasts more than thirty regional variations of speech.
The Sardinian dialect would be incomprehensible to someone living in Sicily or Rome, for example.
Someone from Naples would be completely lost, trying to comprehend native Venetians.
The Tuscan dialect is considered Standard Italian.
If that is what you learned, you should have no problem finding students to teach Italian to.
Fun and Effective Ways to Teach Italian
Obviously, how well a student learns is not all down to the teacher: the learner must have a level of motivation.
How can you insure that your students learn Italian quickly and fluently?
Would you think about basing your teaching methodology in fun? Do you hope to make your passion for Italian speaking contagious?
From kindergarten through business training, more and more enterprises and educators are realising the value of fun in learning:
- play makes learning a less stressful ordeal
- by its very nature, amusement brings a positive connotation to the studied material
- structuring learning as play makes students want to participate.
Whether playing games with words and phrases, during role play or using flashcards, making learning fun is a highly successful teaching method that the best educators all embrace.
Learn Italian Through Entertainment Media
According to a study conducted at the University of Edinburgh in 2013, using music to help hone listening skills is one of the best ways to incorporate Italian culture into language studies.
All you have to do is select songs that correspond to your students' ability to understand Italian.
Just watch how they are able to repeat lyrics after listening to the songs only a few times!
The same theory applies to watching movies in Italian, especially if you play them using the original soundtrack and display Italian subtitles.
Here again, you could make a game of it.
After showing a scene or two, ask your students what they understood of the dialogue, what they think is going on, and what might happen next.
You could also ask what part of the dialogue they can repeat.
We'd be remiss if we did not include Italian books in this section.
Italian authors have given the world excellent additions to literature.
Anything by Umberto Eco or Primo Levi could qualify, and let us not forget The Divine Comedy, penned by the father of the modern Italian language: Dante Alighieri.
For your littlest Italian readers, we suggest stories such as Pinocchio, the classic tale by Carlo Collodi
How to Set Your Rates per Hour of Teaching Italian
Thanks to the booming market in private tuition and the urgent call for Britons to diversify their language learning, competition is stiff for in-home tutors.
Very few native English people can speak Chinese, speak Korean and, of course, speak Italian, and their degree of mastery is uncertain.
How does a novice Italian tutor price himself competitively in a market that seems to prefer her people to speak German, or urges them to speak French?
How can you make a living out of teaching Italian vocabulary when, by all indication, language students in the UK lean toward speaking Spanish?
If that is indeed your contention, let us aver:
- Italy is the world's eighth-largest economy
- the UK ranks in the top five destinations for Italian imports
- Italy ranks in the top ten destinations for goods made in the UK.
Those are official economic statistics. Now, let us point out the cultural advantages brought to us by the Italian people.
- Art: while our humble islands have certainly produced a large share of artists, certainly none – save maybe Shakespeare and J.K. Rowling are as internationally well-known as Da Vinci, Benigni, Vivaldi, Michelangelo or Raphael.
- Food: who does not enjoy a tasty dish of pasta al forno? Who doesn't love pizza?
- Fashion: Milan and Firenze are global fashion hotspots. Some of the hottest looks originate in Italy
We could also mention that Italy is the preferred destination of British holidaymakers. Of the twenty regions on our favorite Boot, the Tuscan region rates the highest for getaways for us and our compatriots.
All of these facts point to pertinent reasons for people to learn Italian grammar, phrases and expressions.
Another great way to draw clients is to set enticing rates!
So You Want to Teach Italian... for How Much?
If you are adept at speaking Italian as a second language – either self-taught or through lessons at a language school, it should be very easy for you to find students who want to learn how to speak Italian.
If you are a native speaker of any of the dialects from the world's biggest Boot, you have a huge advantage in the private tutoring market.
Students should be beating a path to your door in their eagerness to learn Italian grammar!
Here is the quandary: inasmuch as you are not governed, directed or protected by any institution or official body, how do you propose to price your services competitively?
Before answering that question, you need to consider what exactly is involved in teaching Italian as a foreign language:
- Italian alphabet – different enough from ours that it would require special instruction
- Italian grammar: word order, punctuation, gender assignment of objects, and so on
- Italian vocabulary: words and phrases; how to place and use adjectives and adverbs
- Verbs: conjugation through all of the tenses
- Pronunciation: syllable stress, accent, phonetics
- Translation – the effective and correct conversion of meaning and nuance, without the use of translation apps
- Italian for special applications
- Italian for business, Italian for juniors, Italian for travelers, Conversational Italian, etc.
If you are confident that your students will improve their spoken Italian to the point that a sojourn in Tuscany, Sicily or Sardinia would not strain their language capabilities, you could set your rates along the UK's mean average.
The mean average cost of private lessons in any discipline is £20 per hour.
As you teach your Italian learner from absolute beginner to fluency, you could increase your rate.
Another way to grow your business/grow your income is to gain experience.
We would suggest not pricing yourself much lower than the mainstream, just to break in to the market.
This is a common tactic that (erroneously) assumes that the lower the price, the better the deal, the more clients will seek you out.
The low price you set begs the question of quality.
In every expenditure but especially in private education, testimonials to the quality and veracity of your instruction may be overshadowed by the belief that value is always associated with cost.
You get what you pay for is an idiom primarily used to denigrate inferior goods and services.
Don't let such an idea be the start of your reputation as a foreign language teacher!
How Will You Find Students to Teach?
So far, we've discussed different characteristics teachers who give Italian lessons should possess, and how to get your students' buy-in, and the best ways to learn Italian.
Interactive learning is the way to go. Making every lesson a positive learning experience virtually guarantees retention and grows proficiency.
We've even talked about how to set your rates and grow your business.
What we haven't talked about is how to find people who want to study Italian!
By Word of Mouth
We Britons love Italy so much that we book on average more than two million trips per year to our favourite Boot, but can we actually say more than buongiorno, ciao! and grazie mille?
And will we venture out of the Tuscan region, to Sardinia? Sicily? Venice? Florence?
This is in fact one of the best ways you can grow your tutoring business.
Talk with the travelers you know: tell them you wish to help them learn at least Basic Italian before their next holiday.
You could even offer to give free Italian lessons, at least initially, if only to build your reputation and get some teaching experience.
Parents, grandparents; friends and neighbours, even colleagues: invite them all to learn Italian from you!
Even if they are not keen on the idea of growing their language skills, they may well know of friends and family who are.
Advertising Your Services to the Community at Large
Whether posting a handbill on your local grocer's bulletin board or placing an advert, either online or in your local paper, notifying the public of your ability to teach Italian is a great way to drum up business.
- Italian students wanted!
- Native Italian looking for students to teach!
- Key Stage 3 students needed for Italian language course!
- You could also advertise for other key stages, college students, and even adults
- Learn how to speak Italian!
- Learn to speak Italian from a native of Napoli!
- Italian is my native language. Do you want it to be your second language?
- Learn conversational Italian before your next Roman holiday!
These are all ways you can headline your avert. But don't stop there! You could craft all manner of enticing Italian phrases designed to attract anyone who has ever dreamt of speaking Italian.
Register to Teach Italian Online
You didn't think that we would omit this most obvious means of finding students, did you?
Every day, future polyglots scan the Internet: "want to learn French", "learn Spanish", "learn German", "learn Arabic"...
You had better believe those future bilinguals are also looking to learn Italian. These are only some of the search strings that crop up in Google's most searched terms: "Learn Italian language", "Free Italian Course", "Italian Free", "Learn Italian for free", "Italian course online" “Italian Language lessons” “Italian language courses” “learn Italian free” or "Learn Italian online" ...
All of those language learners warm our hearts, but you and I know that they cannot become fluent in Italian by doing a few grammar exercises online.
Those looking for free Italian lessons online may not be fully satisfied with their learning experience.
That is why it all comes down to you. What a great opportunity to offer online teaching jobs!
With these tips on fun ways to teach Italian, with a rough idea on how to set your rates; with a roadmap to highlight your particular brand of teaching Italian language and culture, you are fully equipped for success as a private tutor.
Dai, Amico! Dai!