Europe Italy Teaching

Teaching at Liceo Bellini

October 11, 2013

So I have yet to really talk about what I actually do here in Italy for most of the time: teach. I work at Liceo Bellini a high school for Human Sciences. It’s hard to explain the school system here because it is so different than back home but I’m going to give it a shot.


First off, after middle school you pick what type of high school you want to attend: science, technical, human sciences, linguistics, classical (aka Latin and Greek), artistic, and I think that’s it. And high school is 5 years, ouch!

Second, the students do not switch classes! This blew my mind. The teachers are the ones who go from class to class and the students just sit and wait. At first I thought this was really inefficient, but I’m beginning to realize that if the students switched classes like we do in America they would never make it to class on time. So I think this works for Italy.

Third, the school day used to be Monday through Friday from 8:00 – 1:00 without lunch (because everyone here eats much later than we do) and Saturday mornings. This year, however, the schedule is Monday through Friday 8:00 – 2:00 with a 10 minute break at 10:00 and a 20-minute break at noon.

Fourth, the students have about 12 subjects a year, about twice as much than America, but they are in those classes for less time a week and their schedule is different everyday. I like that they have a wider range of classes that they take, but they can’t choose their classes at all.

Fifth, they all have to take English and most have to take a second language too. Italy blows America out of the water when it comes to languages. Personally, I think they might be better prepared for the global economy because they are all nearly trilingual, while most of us struggle with English. Let’s just say they put me to shame with how well they speak.

I can’t say which school system is “better” or “worse,” because they are too different and what works in America may not work in Italy and visa versa.

My job at the school is to be an English conversation assistant. I am most certainly not replacing a teacher! I do both English classes and other material where I help to translate parts of the lesson in English. For example, I assist with a few math and physics classes, and my primary job is to read out the numerical equations to the students in English as they do problems on the board. I am thankfully not teaching those classes, just allowing to students to hear how we say things in English. I also attend an Art History class and here I teach a little – last week I taught the whole class period because I knew the subject. Nerve-wracking but I think it went well!

Here is my general schedule below (but usually something changes every week):

  • Monday: 8:00 Ferigo (physics/math); 9:00 Pagani (english); 10:05 Dago (math); 11:00 Pagani (english)
  • Tuesday: 9:00 Lorena (english); 11:00 Lorena (english)
  • Wednesday: 8:00 Pagani (english); 10:05 Ferigo (physics/math); 11:00 Pagani (english)*; 12:10 Donati (english)
  • Thursday: 8:00 Pagani (english)*; 9:00 Paracino (italian lit); 10:05 Pagani (english)*; 12:10 Massara (anthopology); 1:00 Garzetti (english)
  • Friday: 8:00 Testori (english); 9:00 Testori (english); 10:05 Marchioro (art history); 11:00 Donati (english); 12:10 Donati (english)

* Every other week.

So this is what I’m doing most of the time, when I’m not travelling around!


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