If you arrive and are offered a shit apartment that has no heating and no internet you should just leave. These people show they have zero respect for you.
Better to stay at home, save your time and money.
The purpose of this review is just so it can save others going through what I went through.
Italy – beach, sunshine, 20-25 hours work, and lessons planned. Sounds perfect right? Wrong!!!!
All the negative reviews have stated exactly what my experience was, there is not 1 lie!
Forget the bosses not being friendly, the teachers were nothing short of a horror movie. There is competition, back chatting, back stabbing as if winning results in a free holiday or something.
Now, I was lucky enough to have met and lived with someone who became my friend and still is. It was because of this person that I lasted the short time I was there.
Violence, bullying, bitching and perving are all traits of the so called senior teachers there! You are told by these teachers that you are below them and must listen to them.
Again a LIE!
As someone who’s never worked abroad, it was the best thing ever! I couldn’t wait, leaving family and loved ones behind I was just excited about this wonderful dream like job I had gotten.
Freezing cold apartment, no internet, yet still you must plan lessons over the weekend for Monday… errrm please just please tell me how? Oh that’s right fairy godmother where are you!!!!
I won’t repeat everything as everyone here who has put a negative review has hit bullseye!
Moving on to the grizzly stuff: A teacher, senior teacher, harasses you to meet, makes you feel like you have to go then keeps complimenting you making you feel uneasy and in the middle of nowhere.. For all of you who have seen Jeepers Creepers, imagine going for a walk with the main character.. Yep me and my colleague/friend that’s how we felt..! Still can’t believe we survived it.
So if you fancy going for a trip down ROAD KILL and taking a WRONG TURN, followed by a walk through JURASSIC PARK, then drag whatever is left of you to THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and spend your time watching out for THE GRUDGE!
Then bullseye! This is the place for you. If however you prefer to stay amongst humans and have a normal life.. Only advice is.. Stay Away!
For those who read these reviews and reject an offer, you’re more intelligent than you think and very lucky. For the rest of you who have experienced and survived like myself.. Well done, you are not just a strong person, you are a WARRIOR!
Theme song: Exorcist theme song
Title credits roll.
An enthusiastic young teacher steps off the plane at Bari airport, full of excitement, and wonder about what lies ahead. (Happy music playing) FADE OUT
Teacher is led to a grotty, damp smelling, freezing cold apartment with no internet or heating. Teacher remains optimistic. Calls homes, lets everybody know that all is well and everyone seems nice. Teacher goes to sleep early, ready to start the next morning. FADE OUT
Teacher arrives at a dirty, soulless school. Still not put off, teacher goes about making friends. Almost everyone is lovely. CUT TO NEXT SCENE
New Teacher has first class. All goes well, all students are eager to learn and sweet. First few weeks go by quickly.
MONTAGE OF CLASSES WHILST WE FAST FORWARD TO A MONTH IN
(New Teacher is no longer looking so new. Signs of sleep deprivation are real, as are signs of the permanent cold NT has had since arrival due to poverty like living conditions. New Teacher is also showing signs of exhaustion, as they are working a minimum of twelve hours days with less than an hour lunch break. It is 20:00. Time for the final class of the day. New Teacher has zero energy, despite having had seven coffees today. New Teacher also has no motivation, due to being treated like a slave and having not been paid yet. This is New Teacher's fifth hour of teaching without so much as a five minute break. Whilst the class are entering, New Teacher slips out to use the toilet.)
(IN THE CORRIDOR)
BOSS 1: New Teacher, what are you doing???
New Teacher: I just have to pop to the toilet...
Boss 1: Can you not go after lesson??? There are paying for an hour and a half, which they are not getting!!
New Teacher: I can't wait
Boss 1: Hurry up then!!
(New Teacher rushes, and returns to the classroom. Boss 1 is stood in the corridor checking her watch and shakes her head disapprovingly as NT returns to yet another soul destroying evening class.)
(It is now 22:00. New Teacher knows to stay after lessons, even though it is without pay, otherwise Boss 1 will complain about NT to other teachers.)
Boss 1: Yes, good night, NT.
NT: I was hoping to speak to Boss 2?
Boss 1: About?
NT: Getting paid.
IN WALKS FAKE SENIOR TEACHER. EXCORCIST MUSIC RETURNS.
Boss 1 shouts something in Italian to Boss 2. Boss 2 enters.
Boss 2: I no finish accounts. Sorry. Tomorrow.
NT: Okay, tomorrow morning? It's just that you've been saying this for about a week now.
Boss 2: I don't know when. Maybe morning. Maybe afternoon. I no finish accounts.
NT: Okay.... well.... good night....
NEW TEACHER WALKS AWAY AND BOSS 1, BOSS 2 AND FAKE SENIOR TEACHER ALL START TO LAUGH.
CUT TO NEXT SCENE
(NT returns home to vile apartment in a sketchy area after being followed home, again. NT looks around vile apartment and sighs, remembering that there is no food in the house and everything closes stupidly early here. Goes on to phone to use internet to use data and order a pizza. Data is finished. Again. Apartment without internet is living hell. NT goes to sleep wearing three pairs of PJs, two jumpers and every blanket in the flat. Still cold. Has hellish state school in the morning, then private lessons. Sunday is only day off and everything is closed)
CUT TO NEXT SCENE
(NT is struggling to get out of bed. After less than six hours sleep because of the noise from the dangerous neighbourhood, the air is painfully cold. Another 14 hour day ahead. Though today NT gets an hour break (unpaid travel time) and twenty minutes for lunch. Light in the bleak tunnel. Six hours in the chaotic state schools to get through first. NT assumes, anyway, as Boss 1 has not text with the timetable. But this is not unusual)
FAST FORWARD SIX HOURS OF UNRULY KIDS AND TEACHERS DISAPPEARING FOR COFFEE AND CIGARETTES.
NT is waiting for a student.
NT is waiting for a student
NT is waiting for a student
BOSS 2 ENTERS
Boss 2: I tell you yesterday student cancel.
B2: Yes. I tell you. I tell you yesterday. In morning.
NT: No, I don't think so.
B2: Well you no ask.
NT: Did you get a chance to finish the accounts yet?
B2: No. Sorry. Tomorrow.
(NT goes to get a coffee and silently fumes about what could have been an hour of relief from this hell.)
CUT TO NEXT SCENE
(Nothing has changed. NT is still begging for money. A relative has had to send NT money, despite NT having a more than full time job (not the 25 hours promised).)
(Still the same. Word has reached NT that Boss 1 has been gossiping about NT to other teachers. NT cannot say anything about this.)
CUT TO NEXT SCENE
TWO WEEKS LATER
(NT has finally been paid. NT thinks the bills are extremely expensive considering NT is never home. NT never sees a bill, it is taken from salary at source.
NT is still miserable, as are all the staff. NT enters reception to see The Newer Teacher arguing with the receptionist (who does not speak English) because the receptionist has not done The Newer Teacher's photocopies. As usual.)
(NT goes to the 'staffroom' to prepare a lesson. There is a lesson being held in the staffroom, so NT has now nowhere to prepare the lesson. When NT complains, NT is told that the lesson should have been prepared earlier. Despite NT only finding out about the lesson whilst traveling back from a state school.)
(NT doesn't know how much more NT can take.)
THE SAME WEEK
(NT receives some bad news about a family member. B1 tells other members of staff NT is over dramatic.)
(Other new teachers are arriving. NT is pleased to make friends. NT hears that B1 thinks NT has no mind of their own.)
CUT TO NEXT SCENE
TWO MONTHS AFTER ARRIVAL
(NT cannot take much more. The atmosphere could be cut with a knife. Fake Senior Teacher is insufferable and has started to bully a disabled member of staff. Word on the grape vine is that B1 knows about this and is choosing to do nothing. Nothing surprises NT anymore.)
(NT and The Newer Teacher are having a coffee and wondering how their lives came to this. They plot to leave.)
LATER THAT DAY
(A meeting has been called. All teachers except Fake Senior Teacher wonder why. The meeting is to scold teachers for gossiping and to blame people for all the school's problems.
NT has had it.)
(NT uses school wifi to book a ticket home. NT resigns and is told to keep it a secret. As have all the other teachers who have mentioned leaving.)
CUT TO NEXT SCENE
(NT is beside them self with excitement to leave. It is the day before NT flies home. NT is of course, waiting for hours for their final pay. Only upon NT's final day, is NT provided with a contract. NT doesn't care anymore. Freedom is close.)
(NT returns to civilisation. NT had almost forgotten what normality was. All Italians NT meets tell NT that Barletta is the armpit of Italy and that the people there cannot be trusted.)
(NT gets on with life. Until word reaches NT that months later, NT is still being slated by B1. NT decides to write a review online. An honest review. It is not to detract from the reputation of the school or bosses, it is to warn other teachers that this is likely to be their experience if they accept a job offer. It is not the first review of the school. And it certainly will not be the last. It is not a bad review, it is honest. B1 goes crazy and starts reaching out to friends and ex teachers asking for positive reviews (whilst of course bad mouthing NT and other ex members of staff who were fortunate enough to leave). NT would not be surprised if B1 or FST soon start writing false positive reviews themselves. Because, that's what they will be. False.)
NEXT TIME ON ACADEMIA (MIS) ADVENTURES......
WILL B1 AND B2 EVER ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY AND STOP SCAPEGOATING THEIR STAFF??
WILL FST EVER LEARN ANY SOCIAL GRACES??
WILL THEY EVER CHANGE THAT MISLEADING JOB AD??
WILL FST HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR A NEWCOMER FROM NAPLES WHO IS AFTER HER POSITION OF CHIEF BROWN NOSER????
WILL WE EVER FIND OUT WHO IS INTERNALLY GRATEFUL???
WILL ANYONE EVER CLEAN THAT BATHROOM????????
FIND OUT HERE, ON ESLWATCH.INFO
After reading the newest review, and having forgotten to even post a review myself earlier, I thought I would chime in with my unique story with ALI Academia.
The teacher turnover has increased over the last three years. So much so that a group of students, upon hearing I too would be leaving (due to reasons listed below), asked me, 'Teacher, is it us? Is it our fault no teacher will stay?' No child should ever think the blame lies with them when it is very much with the management of the institution chasing away great teachers.
I have met many wonderful teachers in my time with Academia, but seen more leave than stay. I have heard horror stories including violent staff members in years past, a scathing reputation, and many weird things about teachers living together, that if you are offered shared accommodation (not paid for or included), then run a mile. Seriously.
Schedule / Timetable:
I would say the main problem is the cultural differences: Anyone from Britain, or the northern half of Europe, would be very used to a strict structure of classes, management, time keeping, etc. You will not find that here. I expected a fixed schedule, or at least one that would be updated and given to me as soon as it was available. You will get your schedule every Sunday night for the coming week (yes, as in tomorrow Monday you start the new working week, here's your schedule at 10pm). That is if you are lucky, sometimes you will not receive a schedule at all and have to guess based upon your week prior. The schedule is not emailed to you, simply sent via WhatsApp, so I hope you have good internet otherwise you are not getting any news.
BOK is right in saying that you are not given much in terms of breaks. It is slave labour, plain and simple. Back to backs are one thing, how about the state school travel time which you are not paid for. An hour and a half in a car one way, you are there for maybe two hours, and then have to go back an hour and a half. That's two hours paid work, for five hours of your actual time.
This leads to my next concern that if you want anything changed or done, sending an e-mail will get zero response. Why? Because they are clever in a devious manner in which they will not put anything in writing. You want a contract? Good luck. You want a template, a lesson plan, anything, good luck. You simply cannot get them to respond in writing. It will always be met with, 'Let's meet in person and discuss this.' If you DO agree to meet and talk things through, you will find that they are always late to your meeting. Sometimes by a mere fifteen minutes, sometimes they will have you waiting for over an hour. This is all unpaid, fine, but should they not understand your time is precious? Nobody wants to hang around work all day, let's be fair. When you do find yourself finally face to face with the main woman who co-runs the place, she will say yes, yes, great idea, then you will never hear about it again. Your ideas mean nothing.
An example: A teachers' meeting was called and we were asked to come up with ideas. Coming up with a few, we were confident that these much needed changes were going to be changed and put into action. Months later, still nothing had been done.
Also, staff meetings are unpaid unless you specifically remind them to add it to your timesheet.
Your responsibilities / State Schools:
As a teacher, we are expected to do just that. Teach. One on ones, small to medium groups, and all ages. Nobody ever tells you about state schools until you're there in person, unable to do anything but agree since you've been backed into a corner. All the kids I ever taught were absolutely fantastic. Until you go to state schools. Here is where the monkeys live. At state schools you should (and let me just repeat that, SHOULD) have an Italian, state school teacher there.
Their job is to control the kids (there are a lot of them, 25+) and your job is to teach English. More often than not, half an hour in to the lesson, the teacher will leave. That's right. Leave. You are on your own. The best thing is that these teachers are the ones responsible for the safety of the kids, but with that teacher gone, they expect you to do their job while they go grab a coffee. That's not a joke. They get coffee.
NOTE: STATE SCHOOLS ARE NEVER MENTIONED ON THE JOB ADVERTISEMENT. YOU WILL NOT BE TOLD ABOUT IT UNTIL YOU ARE THERE. ASK IN THE SKYPE INTERVIEW (if you seriously still want to go ahead and see for yourself).
This is hilarious. You are told you will receive 950 euros net every month. It is hilarious because you are not guaranteed that income on a fixed date. This goes back to the cultural difference thing, perhaps, but us Brits / Northern Europeans are used to a fixed date for payday, usually the end of the month. ALI Academia's answer to Mr Bean heads up the accounts. Gianni will be in charge of paying you. Do you think an Italian bank account is set up for you? No. Cash in hand. Okay, but is it every end of the month? No. Sometimes Gianni will simply say, 'No done accounts', and you just have to say, okay. You get paid when they want to pay you, and as BOK said, sometimes that's not until two, three weeks into the next month. Keep a note of your hours worked, and your money paid to you.
It was brought to my attention by another teacher from outside the institution that state schools pay teachers between 20 - 30 euros an hour. You will not be paid this. You will still be paid your flat salary, which equates to about 9.50 an hour (950 net, over 100 hours a month). This means you're doing a job where you COULD be earning double, but aren't because to Academia, you are there to earn THEM money, not money for yourself. Also it is in your joke of a 'contract' that you cannot work for other schools whilst you're working for Academia. Okay, but if you work for yourself as freelance, then technically....
Arrival / Accommodation:
When you arrive to Bari airport (assuming that you do), you can arrange them to pick you up or you can try to navigate the trains and buses. I opted pickup but was then charged for it more than the train / bus option would have cost me. When I mentioned this to existing teachers, they said they got a lift for free. So as soon as you step off your plane, you've been swindled out of money.
My accommodation was temporary for a while until a new place could be found. The black mold infested, damp place was lacking gas and heating. Thankfully it wasn't too cold, but we were edging ever further towards winter, and I was worried I'd be stuck in there forever. A new place was found, but I won't go into that without bringing up more black mold memories.
Accommodation rent is always through the school unless you decide to find a private landlord (which, if you don't have any Italian language knowledge, is impossible). This is where it gets a bit funny. My place cost 300 euros, so deduct that from my pay and I'm netting 650 a month. A gas canister sets you back 20 / 30 euro every three months or so, if you use it daily, for tea (no, I didn't have a kettle), and cooking, etc. Electricity is an absolute disaster there, it's SO expensive, but water is about 20 euros a month too. Eating is cheap enough, so netting roughly 500 a month. It's not amazing, especially not for how over worked you'll be.
When you start somewhere new, you should have a clear hierarchy of who does what, who runs what. Here, there is no such thing. You have two bosses; Gianni and Angelica, a married couple. Gianni is the money man, Angelica is the manager. We also have a secretary. This is where it gets a bit odd. As a teacher, you cannot photocopy or print anything without the consent of either boss, and if you're met with a, 'Sure, go ahead!' then you can bet your measly pay package that that means you have to give the memory stick / email / book for the secretary to print / photocopy. You are a teacher and therefore you cannot be trusted, right? Right... Because wanting to print off anything useful for your classes is so untrustworthy, right?
Then there's one teacher who, as BOK said, is pretty much part of the furniture, because they never ever talk to you. This person has been with the company for years and I maybe heard them speak twice? Don't expect a warm welcome from everybody.
Once you've got your head around that, you then have the remainder of the staff who are all teachers like you. Some will be Italian, some English, American, all diverse and incredibly social. All of these people found the job like you did; online, with hopes of a great start. All of them disappointed in a matter of weeks.
The bosses will gossip about you. They will lie to your face, and the faces of your colleagues. If you even get on the wrong side of one of your two bosses, the other will back them up blindly, and refuse to speak to you properly. There is no professionalism here whatsoever. If you didn't reset the classroom even once, you're in the doghouse. You ask for changes? Oh boy. You will be shouted at, in front of your classes, some aged under 10, and they don't bat an eyelid. If you want to clear the air, you'll be met with a door to your face. You just have to grin and bear it.
I would strongly advise against taking this job. My personal experience was not great. I bonded well with the kids, even some of the parents of the children I taught, but I was treated poorly by ALI Academia's two bosses, and by receiving such poor pay for the insane amount of hours (if you got a schedule) you do a week. Towards Spring / Summer the hours just get higher and higher, and you're not told until you get that all important WhatsApp message of schedule.
TEFL and ESL, and teaching in general, is about constantly adapting, but also learning, not just the job role, but you as a person. The two who run this farce of a school cannot and will not adapt or change, even if they pretend to seem interested to do so.
You are treated like a slave, and the students are referred to as 'clients' because 'they are the ones who pay'. I assume a 10 year old can't afford the class himself, but I won't get too petty.
You're seen as a robot, students are seen as customers, all are seen as numbers in the eyes of Academia.
Very sorry to read about your experience, BOK.
It's a good thing you posted about it; it will save other teachers.
I can confirm after recently leaving this hell hole institution, that absolutely nothing has changed. At all. The teacher turnover is absolutely ridiculous, yet they wonder why. I can offer a few reasons:
1. When you work for Academia Linguistica Internacional, you are not a person. You are a working robot. Six hours of back to back lessons without a break? What are you complaining about?? You're there to work!!
2. Working from 07:30 - 22:00 with only a twenty minute lunch break? Sounds harsh, no? Imagine doing it EVERY DAY.
3. Everything is your fault. Secretary not done your photocopies? They didn't tell you about a lesson? Told you the name of the wrong student? Well, you should have checked. If you don't ask if each specific student has cancelled, you'll never know. Do your job! (as well as the admin and secretary's).
4. You have to beg for your paycheck. Now, do you require money to live? Then maybe think twice before accepting an hour from this 'school'. In the civilized world, when you work for a living, you expect some sort of compensation in the form as cash? Correct? NOT HERE. 'I no finish accounts. Tonight. I no finish accounts. Tomorrow. I don't know when finish accounts. I give you advance.' How about you give me the money that I've earned??? At the start of the month and not the 20th???
5. Hostility is more common here than language lessons. Certain members of staff are what can only be described as hideous, and have been known to bully both students and other teachers. Do admin do anything about it? 'Just ignore it', they are told. These members of staff will lord it over you, as they are 'part of the furniture'. Disgusting, vile furniture that needs to be thrown out. A member of the admin staff has an issue with you? How will this be dealt with, you ask? A one on one meeting? A formal warning? HA! No, the admin staff will slate you to every single other member of staff until it gets back to you. Then it starts to make sense why he slammed a door in your face. Or why she was screaming at you for no reason.
So, in conclusion, if you value a healthy and communicative work environment, or have any self worth at all, do not get the last minute flight to find yourself in a grotty apartment with this as your reality.
I did not take up a position with ALI.
I was wondering if you've gone forward and are now working for ALI? If so could you provide me with some information on the company?
My experience at Academia Linguistica Internacional (ALI) in Barletta, Italy, was not what I was promised.
I was contacted in December and asked to come urgently at the beginning of January. I was emailed a rather informal "contract" which outlined that I would be working 100 hours per month, and that "some" of the hours would come from working at state schools (public elementary and high schools). Before I arrived, I had a brief Skype conversation with my employer and exchanged some messages. I was told I would be teaching mostly teenagers and adults, at which time I also explained that I prefer not to teach children, as I do not have experience or additional qualifications for teaching young learners.
I also tried to look online for apartments in the town before I arrived, but was urged by my employer not to do so as she said she would "help" me find accommodations. I arrived in Barletta and was met by my employer and by her husband, who runs most of the day-to-day operations of the school. They took me to view two apartments and I liked one of them. My employer told me she would handle all transactions and interactions with the landlord, but at no point was it stated that the apartment was connected with the job. Rent for the one bedroom apartment was €350/month plus water and hydro expenses which were around €90/month. This amount was then subtracted from my paycheque each month. Unfortunately, the apartment was not heated, and I had the additional expense of paying for gas canisters, approximately €50/month.
My interactions with the students were generally positive (I had both one-on-one and group classes). However, from week to week, classes frequently changed teachers "for scheduling reasons" (so that every teacher worked exactly 100 hours per month so no one needed to receive overtime). This made it difficult to really have consistency with a class's learning. This problem was made worse by the fact that there were never any staff meetings. The "contract" we were sent by email clearly stated that "monthly meetings are held". Although we repeatedly asked our employer for these meetings, as we wanted to discuss some issues with scheduling and make sure we were on the same page for our teaching methods, we were told that she "didn't have time" and that if we had an issue we could come see her privately. These private conversations never resulted in any change.
The most frustrating part of the job was the scheduling. On an average day, I would work 4-9 hours, spread between 9am-9:30 pm with several short (30-90 minute) breaks that were not long enough to really do anything besides remain at the school. The schedule was different every week, and we usually were not given our schedule until Sunday night or Monday morning, which meant that we couldn't make any plans. This was made worse by the fact that we were often given new classes or schedule changes at 9:30 pm for the following day (for example, if I was originally told on Monday that I would have a break from 3-5 on Thursday, it was not unusual to be told Wednesday night that I had new classes filling up that time, or that classes had changed times/teachers with no reason given to us). Furthermore, the school has no cancellation policy in place which means that students frequently don't show up and don't give any warning that they won't show up. This resulted in several hours per week that I came in to teach a student, and was not paid for the time that I came in and waited.
It is important to note that ALI gets a great deal of its business from sending teachers to state schools in Barletta and neighbouring towns. The full scope of this was not explained clearly enough to teachers before arrival. Some teachers are sent to 4-6 state schools per week, where there are up to 35 unruly children in a class, and the pay is the same as teaching one student or a small group of students at ALI (€8.50 per hour). Furthermore, some schools are quite far away, requiring up to 75 minutes travel time each way by bus and/or train. While teachers are given bus or train fare, they are NOT compensated for the travel time, which means that, for example, 2 hours of teaching at a school in Canosa can take up to four hours of your time and pay you only €17. The state school teaching may suit some teachers who specialize in YL teaching, but it was not clearly explained to us before we arrived, and I felt that the compensation was wholly inadequate.
My experience at ALI was also characterized by poor, often hostile communication from my employer's husband. We were often confronted aggressively about trivial matters such as photocopying, lights, and internet usage. (Furthermore, his lack of knowledge of English presented great problems for other, non-Italian speaking teachers.) This, plus the other issues mentioned above, compelled me to quit after a few months at ALI.
Finally, although my employer insisted that the apartment tenancy was not connected to the job, my rent payments for subsequent months were subtracted from my monthly pay. When I quit it was mid-month, and although my full month's rent had already been taken from my pay, I was told by my employer I had to vacate the apartment within 24 hours. As I had not had any contact with the landlord and didn't know how to get in touch with him, I had no option but to leave. I was also not paid the correct amount when I left, and was only given my OFFICIAL contract to sign upon leaving (it was dated two months prior). My earnings over 2.5 months did not come close to covering the cost of a last-minute flight to Italy, let alone living expenses while there.