You love the language of Dante Alighieri. You are profligate in your use of Italian words and phrases and wish everyone could share your passion for the language and your ability to speak Italian.

Thus you have established an online profile, so that you can teach Italian courses online.

From what history tells us about passion and romance, living on passion alone is a short-lived proposition, at best.

That you will need to collect fees from your students for every Italian lesson you impart is a given.

How much to collect: there is an issue to debate.

The average private tutoring session costs around £20 per hour, regardless of subject matter.

Does that constitute an income you can comfortably live off of?

More to the point: At that rate, how many Italian lessons would you have to teach in order to earn a living wage?

After long observation of market trends in private tutoring, Superprof has compiled statistics and concrete numbers.

Read on to find out how to set your initial rates, grow your business and your income and, finally: how to make a lucrative living simply by teaching people how to speak Italian.

Food is only one common aspect of our country and Italy
The UK-Italy partnership extends far beyond food Source: Pixabay Credit: Katyasv

The Italy UK Partnership

We Britons already enjoy a number of Italian influences, not the least of which is the founding of our capital city.

We find Roman influence in our architecture, infrastructure and street layouts, in London and throughout England.

You might argue that the Roman Empire and modern day Italy have little to do with one another.

Let us assure you that ancient Rome was in fact a driving force in western civilisation, much of which prevails to this day. 

To underscore Italian influence on the world today, 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 the official economic statistics. Now, let us point out the cultural advantages brought to us by the Italian people.

  • Cuisine: 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
  • Art: while our humble island can boast of our share of artists, certainly none – save maybe Shakespeare or J.K. Rowling are as internationally well-known as Da Vinci, Benigni, Vivaldi, Michelangelo or Raphael.

We could also mention that Italy is the preferred destination of British holidaymakers. Of the twenty regions on our favorite Boot, Tuscany rates the highest.

All of these are practical reasons to want to learn Italian.

These are also all ways to draw clients into your fun Italian lessons.

Another great way to draw clients is to set enticing rates!

So You Want to Teach Italian... for How Much?

According to this Forbes article, people who speak more than one language are more valued as employees, and are suitably compensated.

Sounds unbelievable, but such a declaration is something to consider for anyone entering the job market – such as university students who are set to graduate, and those looking for tutoring jobs London or elsewhere in the UK.

However, let us be perfectly frank: recruiters are more eager for job candidates who can speak French, German or Spanish.

Currently, Italian seems to fall 4th on the list of desired languages in the marketplace.

That statement seems to beg the question: why learn Italian?

Indeed: why not learn to speak German?

According to this report by the British Council, Italian, though currently lagging on the list of the most in-demand languages, is set to rise to prominence in the next ten years.

People who can speak Italian will become vital to Britain's economy, as well as to non-economic concerns in our country.

In light of that information, we can (figuratively) thumb our noses at everyone who devotes so much time to learn Spanish, Arabic, German... all of those who want to learn Korean or try to speak Russian.

If you speak Italian as a second language, or are a native speaker of any of the dialects from the country shaped like a boot, you have a huge market advantage, just now.

It should be very easy for you to find students who want to learn how to speak Italian.

In fact, they should be fairly breaking down your door with their eagerness and urgency to learn.

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 yourself competitively?

As a website dedicated to education, Superprof compiles annual statistics in an effort to better help and guide any subscribers in shaping their tutoring business.

Analysis of mode value for any per-hour lesson fee given by a Superprof tutor is £20.

That includes fitness training, maths lessons, homework help and any other subject that people need or want to learn, as well as language instruction.

Pop quiz: do you think Italian language lessons are worth more or less per hour than any other subject?

this £20 note could be yours after one hour of language instruction
One session of Italian language tutoring could net you £20 Source: Pixabay Credit: Stux

Italian Learning: How Dear Are Language Lessons?

Thanks to statistical analysis, we have ascertained that, on the average, the price of one hour's instruction, in any subject, is £20.

Let us now drill down: consider only the rates set for language lessons. Any language, including the English language.

Of course, we could just project our numbers and you would be able to see for yourself what a reasonable fee for language instruction would be.

However, you would need to consider what exactly is involved in teaching this romance language, so different from ours:

  • 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; pluralisation, how to place and use adjectives and adverbs
  • Verbs: conjugation through all of the tenses
    • of special note: the Italian language has a formal 'you' that requires a different verb ending
  • 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, etc.

Considering all that is involved with teaching a language in general, and teaching Italian in particular: are you up to that challenge?

Are you confident your students will improve their spoken Italian to the point that a sojourn in Tuscany, Sicily or Sardinia would not strain their language capabilities?

If so, you could reasonably expect your pay to increase as you take your Italian learner from absolute beginner to fluency.

In the meantime, as you are just starting out in your new career as an Italian teacher, you may think that compensation would be hard to come by.

No worries there: of all the subjects people study solely for enrichment, a foreign language ranks in popularity right behind music.

What are Language Enthusiasts Willing to Pay?

Studying Italian in primary school, taking Italian lessons online; signing up for intensive lessons several times per week or participating in linguistic immersion...

enlisting the aid of a private Italian tutor in-home.

There is no lack of avenues for Italian speakers at beginner level, or any other level, to pursue in their language learning endeavours.

Obviously, full immersion into the language, say by an extended stay in Italy and matriculating at an Italian school, is the best way to become fluent.

As long as one has the funds to do so, that is.

Failing relocation to Florence, the best way to learn Italian would no doubt be engaging a private tutor.

If you live remotely, it would be best to offer lessons by webcam
Where you live is a factor in how much you can charge for your lessons Source: Pixabay Credit: sasint

Factors that Determine Your Fee Schedule

Having already established that £20 is the average going rate for one hour of instruction, let us now see exactly what would be expected of you, and how you could command more.

Where do you Live?

Geographical location is of primary consideration when setting your fee schedule.

In compiling averages of income for independent tutors (of all subjects, not just language), we found that tutors in metropolitan centers such as London or Bath could command more, and were busier than those in smaller communities or in rural areas.

Posting an advert – “Progress rapidly in your Italian studies with a native speaker!”, “It's easy to learn Italian!”, “Learn Italian before your next trip to Italy!”, “Speak Italian fluently!”, on any bulletin board in any major city is sure to bring you greater emolument than in any village.

Online or In Person?

Perhaps you're a former Italian teacher looking for jobs for ex teachers? You could surely reason that a one-on-one Italian teacher would be paid more than a teacher who offers Italian language courses online.

However, the online language instructor would be spared travel expenses and save a lot of time, going from one tutee's home to the next – in the rain, snow, baking sun and during peak traffic hours.

Their clientèle is not limited to their immediate geographical area, either!

Here is another point to consider: people are busy these days; not necessarily available, even on a schedule.

That might explain the popularity of language apps such as Duolingo and Busuu!

And, people are not necessarily trusting enough anymore to welcome people into their home.

Thus, even though you might live in a major metropolis, you may consider diversifying your teaching methods to include online instruction.

You may well attract a larger client base online than by canvassing door to door!

Your Level of Teaching Experience

A teacher's methodology is critical to students learning a new language.

Your ways of imparting instruction depend largely on how much experience you have in doing so.

Are you a certified Italian teacher with years of classroom instruction under your belt?

What age groups have you taught?

What if you've only ever worked with college students getting ready to enrol at Università per Stranieri di Perugia?

Giving extracurricular lessons to five-year olds would be a decided change of pace, and require a new everything, from learning materials to teaching mannerisms.

Is Italian Your Native Language?

This question is not as straightforward as it seems.

If you are bilingual and Italian is your second language, you most likely learned Standard Italian, modeled on the Tuscan dialect – as opposed to the Roman dialect spoken in the country's capital.

Contrary to other countries, Italian's standard vernacular is not driven by its principal city.

If you are native Italian, you could well speak any of that country's thirty four dialects!

This is a critical point to consider when advertising your services and setting your rates.

If your student hopes to attend the University for Foreigners in Siena, teaching the Genoan dialect would not work for him at all.

Conversely, if she wants to go to Genoa and you are from Venice... not even your buongiorno would be the same!

The point is: merely stating you are fluent in Italian is not necessarily grounds for hiring, let alone commanding a high fee.

Citing any measure of teaching experience is not necessarily your passport to promoting Italian language and culture.

The best way to determine how much you could charge for helping people with their Italian pronunciation and comprehension is to match your language skills to the people who want to learn them.

To get started, especially if you are a novice language teacher (or, being native Italian, your English skills are still developing), teach only a particular aspect of the language, such as conversational Italian, or Italian for Beginners.

If your English language skills are still developing, you could propose a language exchange program wherein you both could learn for free! You would be gaining skills toward future earnings!

You could teach Italian in relation with some aspect of the culture: cooking, music or Italian opera.

As this would be a relative niche market, you may be able to charge more for your lessons!

No matter which way you go, your speaking Italian is a gateway to future earnings. All you have to figure out is the best way to access them.

Capisce, caro?

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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.