Friday, January 29, 2010

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

Most of the time I've lived here I've worked as an English teacher. At the beginning I taught privately (this chapter of my life deserves a post all of it's own; my inexperience and some rather odd pupils made for an entertaining if not sustainable first stab at teaching). Then I taught for two years on and off in two different private schools. Unfortunately work in the schools is more "off" than "on" due to the nature of the extremely long (unpaid) holidays. I decided to save up a bit of money and try to build up my own private student list, which is what I'm doing now. In theory.

I have had a lot requests but not too many genuine prospective students up until now.
Let's start with the yummy mummys. These are the mums who usually live in rich areas of Rome and want a young mothertongue girl (becuase they think that she will be inexperienced/naive=cheap) to come and play with their little Luca or Ilaria in their bedroom speaking in English in the hope that they will magically absorb the language. I was that naive mothertongue girl two years ago and I can tell you that darling Alessandro refused not only to speak a word of English but also most of the time to aknowledge my presence. After two hours kneeling on the carpet talking to myself (and what colour's this lego piece? Red! Yes, red! Say Red Alessandro. RED, GOD DAMN YOU!!!) I would creak to my feet take my centesimi and run, praying that before the next lesson I'd have found another job. A fair amount of these requests have come through. Even though I advertise myself as a teacher, the mums often ask me to "teach English while playing with him/her" thinking that if they make it sound more like babysitting you will ask them for less money. Needless to say my "teaching english whilst playing" days are over.

Then there was the request from a man who asked me if I would go to the park with him and have a lesson whilst strolling round the park....could have been totally innocent but I'd prefer not to find out!

And the women who email me for information, and there I am gearing up with all my information for business english lessons and they then reveal they are emailing on behalf of their grown-up sons. Really!

Oh, and let's not forget those who have left their manners at the front door and email me a message saying something like "Hello i am looking for a old are you,where are you from?how long do you stay in italy.let me know.giorgia.

Honestly with entertainment like this who needs a job?


  1. hahah great post! I also have been the "english teacher while playing"... when I first moved to Italy I was paid (after I did some math since she paid me by the month) 5 euros per hour to play with her darling little girl while she shopped at Prada and had long lunches...

    yeah not cool... but you rarely know whats "normal" pay when you move to a country.. now I am sort of the negoatiator for friends in similar circumstances.. when in rome.. :)

  2. So glad I don't teach English anymore! I think it's hilarious that all those yummy mummies think you can teach their kid Enlgish in 2 hours of 'playing' per week. Much better idea to send their kids to an English language school later on or as an exchange student to an English speaking country.

  3. GG- Well done for acting as a negotiator. If people here catch you even the slightest bit unawares they'll take you for a ride! I think Romans have got craftiness down to a fine art!

    Kataroma- I know, it's ridiculous, possibly only a full-time foreign nanny would have an effect when a kid is at that age. But in two hours a week? All you get is a very confused kid and a lot of frustration!