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Academia Linguistica Internacional (ALI) - Private School - Italy
Hi Guys, 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!
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
I got to write this lovely screen play of a soap opera. My favourite.
Did you read it??
Learn that we talk to each other, and our loyalties do not lie with you.
Hello! Having read some of the most shocking and clearly untrue, POSITIVE reviews about this school, I too felt it was so important to “right” a truthful review about this dreadful school, and place I called home for what seemed like eternity. I think it is telling that the truthful reviews are written in perfect English, and the overly positive reviews have basic English errors. Draw your own conclusion from this.
The teachers I worked with at ALI were mostly lovely and excellent teachers. Apart from two: the lying, faux-friendly boss, and an odd, creepy senior teacher who is overly and inappropriately affectionate with her teenage female students. I made excellent friends here, but I could have met them anywhere. Those inextricably tied to this school were horrible.
As for the bosses being supportive. No. Never. They feigned concern and interest to any problems, then did nothing. As for them being like family, they are not a family I would ever want to be part of, which is the major reason why I left. They underpaid me and underreported my hours.
The review below mine contained the following gem: “but you have to accept that it is south Italy.. not the centre of London! I did work long hours... but find me a teacher who doesn't work long hours? If you want to teach abroad and have a holiday.. then clearly tefl teaching or teaching in general is not for you. I'm now a teacher in the UK... the hours that I worked at ALI were an absolute dream compared to what I work now.”
Let’s get this straight. Teachers work shorter hours than any job in a similar pay bracket. How do I know this? I have several teacher friends, in the UK, who work in secondary schools. They have approximately 25 teaching hours per week. Not an absurd 35-40. For anyone to think that teaching 35-40 hours per week is a dream, they are either horribly deluded or not a real teacher. Teachers do not work long hours. It’s part of the draw. The bosses of this place will work you to within an inch of your life. You will be exhausted. It’s as if you needing to have a break to eat is an inconvenience to them. After all, each minute you work earns them money. A lot more money than they pay you. Working at state schools earns them a sizeable amount of money. Using some basic mathematics, I think I was paid around 15% of the money earned for doing state school work. The other 85% went straight in ALI pockets.
As for this gem: “Yes there is a language barrier sometimes.. but remember you are in their country! If there is a language barrier.. learn their language and give them the respect they deserve.” Maybe had the boss followed through on her constant promises of Italian lessons, I would have been able to. And anyway, I don’t believe any of the previous “negative” (truthful?) reviews complained of the language barrier. I myself attempted to accrue as much Italian as I could to get by. Lessons, which were promised but of course not delivered, would have been nice. Just another lie from the bosses.
“Also I absolutely loved travelling around to different schools whilst I was there.. I got to complete immerse myself in Italian life and culture.” This reviewer obviously had far more time off than I did. I was simply ferried between state schools, with no break, and absolutely no opportunity to “immerse myself in Italian life and culture”. Unless you consider seeing nothing but half-collapsed school classrooms immersive and cultural. I had zero opportunity to visit the doubtlessly wonderful countryside and historic sights. Part of the reason I decided to work in Italy was to see the ruins of the Roman Empire. I am immensely sad I was unable to do this.
The state school teachers who were supposed to aid me? A couple were helpful, a couple were rude and bossed me about, a couple disappeared soon after I arrived (I guess it was a chance for them to have a break and abandon me with unruly, uncontrollable kids).
The bosses never really informed me about what was happening. I had to ask for my schedule, which changed almost every day with little to no notice. One time I accompanied the boss to a lesson in a state school. She said the day before, “just a little speaking practice with the kids, help me with the lesson.” When we arrived there, late, and after she had got off the phone, she took me into the class and said, “ok, you can begin your lesson now”. Huh? A two-hour lesson with zero chance to prepare when all I had been told was “a little speaking practice” and that I would be there just to help her there. I thought it was part of training because I had never taught in a state school before. So much for support. She just abandoned me, she literally disappeared after about 20 minutes. The lesson was a disaster because I had no chance to prepare. Maybe if the bosses could actually inform their staff, a better job could be done. But hey, you can’t make wine from water.
I found all this state school work, which made up almost all of my schedule, to be quite a surprise considering I was never informed of it prior to arrival. It was in no advert I could find, and in the interview, the boss only mentioned working in ALI itself, and nothing about working in distant towns requiring a 30 minute drive each way (sometimes twice a day. Yes, two hours of travel time, by car per day). Never mentioned. She lied by omission.
I felt the need to write this review to warn people away from this school. Do not listen to the positive reviews for the school here. I suspect they are written under command from the manipulative lying boss of this hellhole. If you are considering working here, don’t. You WILL regret it. I am “internally grateful” I escaped.
Everything The lying bosses The pay (low, and often wrongly paid because they conveniently forgot some of my hours) Forgetting to pay my overtime State schools Ridiculous travel time, 10-15 hours per week School is terribly run
Seek a different career. As professional liars. You are useless at handling people. Hence the haemorrhage of teachers in the past few years.
Having read some of the most shocking and clearly untrue, negative reviews about this school, I felt it was so important to right a truthful review about this wonderful school and place I called home for 2 years. I worked at A.L.I for 2 years before completing my teacher training back here in the UK. I can honestly say that it was the most wonderful 2 years, I learnt so much and made life long friends - those including the most supportive and kind bosses of the school. Towards the end of the 2 years, they felt like my family, which is why it is so horrible to read such negative reviews about 2 of the most caring and lovely people I have ever met! When I arrived at Bari airport I really didn't know what to expect, I was kindly met by one of my bosses who took me straight to my new apartment that they had got ready for me. It was the middle of the night but he didn't mind and made sure I settled in ok. The following months to come I met some fantastic people both in and outside of the school. Yes it was different... yes they run things in a slightly different way to the UK... but you have to accept that it is south Italy.. not the centre of London! I did work long hours... but find me a teacher who doesn't work long hours? If you want to teach abroad and have a holiday.. then clearly tefl teaching or teaching in general is not for you. I'm now a teacher in the UK... the hours that I worked at ALI were an absolute dream compared to what I work now. Yes there is a language barrier sometimes.. but remember you are in their country! If there is a language barrier.. learn their language and give them the respect they deserve. Also I absolutely loved travelling around to different schools whilst I was there.. I got to complete immerse myself in Italian life and culture. The students I met in the state schools were absolutely fab... they loved having a native speaker and yes it might have been quite large class sizes, but it was a great challenge and I really enjoyed my time spent at the different schools. The teachers in all the schools were always lovely and so grateful to have you there. My bosses worked 24/7 to keep the school running and ensured that we were always up to date with what was going on. When they weren't working they treated us a lot. They took us out on day trips to places like Matera and Alberobello... took us out for dinner and invited us to family events. Nothing was too much trouble for them. I was so sad to leave at the end of the 2 years and have such fond memories of working at ALI. Please ignore the harsh and cruel comments people have written about this school. Yes it is hard work and Italians might do business in a slightly different way to us in the UK.. but that's part of the experience of living abroad. Yes you might have quite long days of teaching and need to travel around a bit.. but that's teaching for you and believe me it was lovely to get out of Barletta sometimes and see different parts of Puglia. If you are considering working for this school please do as you won't regret it!! I wouldn't be where I am in my career today if it wasn't for ALI, and my 2 bosses play a big part in that. I am internally grateful to them.
Lovely school in great town Supportive, friendly and approachable bosses Opportunity to travel Fantastic students
Hello! Having read the farcical positive review below, I was prompted to write about my own experiences. The person below can only have been blind to the mayhem around him/her and a veritable buddha of patience descended from heaven; or asked to write a positive review by ALI themselves. Here are some of the things you can expect from this farce of a school:
A lift from the airport, which was late, and when it did arrive, was rude and dangerous. Later, I was expected, and pestered, to pay for this pleasure at a higher rate than bus, train or taxi. This is despite the fact, as I later learned, other teachers received this lift free of charge.
Before moving into a permanent residence, being temporarily housed in a grim, dank apartment sans cutlery, sans plates, mugs, glasses, sans working shower, sans heating, sans everything really. Of course, you are expected to pay for this. Something we were not informed of prior to arrival.
Passive aggressive meetings where teachers are criticised, threatened, and 'expected to be flexible’. A phrase which here means, ‘work whatever we tell you, you have no opinion, you are a robot’.
Promises of change/support/help that never materialise.
Allegations of doctored official exams, and lacklustre holding of official exams by unqualified staff.
Working on a Sunday, with no option to decline and no extra pay for this inconvenience.
Working thirteen days in a row and constant exhaustion.
I made repeated requests to see and sign a contract. These were met with vague promises and sometimes laughter. It seems they have a complete aversion to having anything in writing. They will do everything to avoid this, preferring to meet and ‘discuss in person’. If these meetings do occur, they agree with everything you say, promise change and help, then do absolutely nothing.
It was not allowed in the contract I never saw or signed to work for any other school while you work for ALI. Obviously, this wasn’t worth the paper it wasn’t written on.
Being sent to state schools and working with lazy and/or meddling Italian co-teachers. Lack of training for large classes? It doesn’t matter. Here’s a class of thirty unruly, disinterested students. Some of whom have special needs. Not qualified? Who cares! Expect a headache from the gods after emerging from this hell. Also, state school work is not mentioned in any advert or interview. Beware!
8am to 9pm, five days a week. Sometimes six. Badly scheduled days meaning you can do little but remain at work for 13+ hours. Expect to have dinner at 10 or 11pm.
Schedules to be presented to you (if you are lucky), via WhatsApp, at 11pm on a Sunday night. Have fun planning your new 8am Monday lesson with zero notice! Sometimes you have to actively ask for your schedule if it fails to materialise on Sunday night because the boss ‘forgot’ to send it, and are met with a passive aggressive response about disturbed sleep. Professionalism is not a byword in this institution of patent inadequacy. Oh, and don’t forget last-minute schedule changes meaning you can never make any plans. When I mean never, I mean never. Got an hour off? Not anymore, you’re covering for Teacher X. Refuse? Where’s your commitment?
Working six hours before a twenty minute break, then another three to five hours work. Then your boss can have the gall to chastise you for including a fifteen minute break you had in your five hours of working at a state school. Laughing and saying, ‘you expect to be paid for that?’, and telling you not to do it again.
Strange residents of the town who stare at you and have no idea of personal space.
Mysterious cancellations that you know nothing about unless you ask, meaning you can sit there for half-an-hour to an hour, unpaid.
Not being allowed to operate the photocopier. The teachers’ photocopies were under constant surveillance and meticulously recorded. Do not expect to be trusted.
Ridiculous travel time on top of your 36-40 hours of teaching time, meaning a 55-60 hour week. You are, of course, not compensated for this excessive travel time. Furthermore, your lift is often late. More than once I was left in the freezing cold for over an hour in an unknown distant town. Unpaid. On one of these occasions, I developed a bad cough and cold that lasted about two weeks. I had one day off sick, which, of course, was unpaid.
Zero training. Just ‘Here’s the book’, ‘Here’s the report’, or ‘Ask someone else’.
Young Helen Doron students who should be following Helen Doron material, but weren’t.
Student/Class reports constantly disappearing making it difficult to give them consistent learning. This is your fault, according to the bosses.
All students, sorry, ‘clients’ (as they are called by the bosses) complaints are blindly believed by your bosses. Teachers receive NO support and are treated with a complete absence of dignity.
A despicable, strange senior teacher who has been lingering there like a bad smell for years. Apparently she acts as an ‘advisor’. This is despite the fact she NEVER speaks to her colleagues, ignores them, treats them with contempt, interferes unprompted with your classes (providing material for YOUR classes that is best filed in the bin), barges into your class and begins speaking to your students. In my time there, we may have exchanged a whopping three sentences. I took two of her former students who described her as lazy and useless, and thanked me for actually caring. She is one of the major problems with the school and instead of being excised like a canker, she is promoted! Nothing can better illustrate the cluelessness of the bosses than this. A completely disgusting individual.
High staff turnover. A bad sign in any company. Within a month, I was the third-most senior teacher. The boss blindly believes it is due only to low pay (it is low). Realistically, with the barest modicum of sense, it is obvious the bosses are chasing excellent teachers away with their malpractice, thereby badly impacting the education of their students, sorry, ‘clients’.
Regarding pay, don’t expect a regular pay date. You have to ask, several times, to get paid. Sometimes it can feel like begging. How dare you inconvenience the bosses of this storied academy of stellar education by requesting the meagre pay you have earned. Here, have an advance. How is it an advance if it is money I have been owed for two weeks?
Working extra hours and having to prove you worked those hours because you can’t expect your boss to keep a record of hours worked, can you? A low and lazy way of trying to screw you out of money. Keep a note of your hours worked! Your comical cross between Basil Fawlty and Mr. Bean of a boss is incompetent.
Stories of physically violent and verbally abusive former staff, a bad reputation in the town, and strange stories of an aforementioned senior teacher involving jars (you do not want to know).
Constant expressed desires from the boss for a DoS who would stay for several years. My advice: run the place properly, treat staff how they should be treated and not like expendable automatons, and you may attract a DoS who could whip the place into shape.
The bosses lie, gossip about you behind your back and ridicule other teachers to your face. I discussed my former employer’s practices to an Italian friend. His response was shame at being Italian and an offer to sue them.
Upon leaving I was presented with rather vague and dubious ‘pay slips’. They showed a higher pay rate than I received, and all monthly wages were mysteriously below the taxable threshold. This is despite my having worked well beyond what was stated. Expect to be unwittingly complicit in dubious practice, if not outright tax avoidance. Expect a complete lack of structure, organisation, hierarchy, willingness to improve or change, honesty and integrity. A farce of a school. I would rather flip burgers for Satan for the rest of my days than spend one more day in that stressful, spiteful, disorganised purgatory.
Experience on my CV
Almost everything. Lack of support, structure and honesty. Terrible and lying bosses. Low pay.
A complete and utter about-face is the only option.
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.
Students were lovely
Poor management, lack of professionalism, lack of clarity.
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.
The kids. They're all amazing.
Management. Lack of professionalism, shouting at you for no reason including in front of classes, undermining you at every turn, zero structure, lies, cons, and tax evasion. Having discussed their work ethics with an Italian lawyer, he said it is good I am leaving and that he is ashamed of being Italian.
- Introduce structure, training programmes for new teachers, and a proper hierarchy where it is clear who does what. - Hire that Director of Studies soon, rather than harp on about it when we are there. - If you want changes, implement them when you say you will. Don't take our ideas and claim them as if they are your own. - Stop gossiping about teachers behind their backs. We talk to each other too, and we as colleagues and peers are more likely to have each others' backs than bosses who lie and cause problems.
9/10. I spent two years working at this family-run school in a small town in southern Italy. In my opinion, working at this school was an ideal start to teaching. The variety of work, from teaching in-company to very young learners, gave me the chance to quickly gain experience in a wide-range of contexts. Having a mix from 1-to-1 lessons, to teaching larger groups of up to 30 students in school projects, gave me a chance to improve my classroom management skills and I learned a lot about teaching. In addition, Barletta is a great place to live. A friendly, historic town close to beaches with warm people and weather and great food. I made many friends and had a great social life outside the school. Working in a family run business, I felt part of the family and local community. The owners are committed to their business and expect commitment from their teachers, so if you're ready to challenge yourself, I would recommend A.L.I. as a great place to work, get experience and have a good time experiencing the culture Puglia.
8/10. The principals of the school are experienced and professional. On the teaching side, Angelica is highly experienced and, working both in the private and public school system, she is highly professional while at the same time giving teachers the freedom and support to develop. The school's academic quality is reflected in it's steady development as a Cambridge examination centre. While I was working there, there were opportunities to train as an examiner and we held regular staff meetings. On the business side, Gianni was professional, friendly and approachable. If you are used to working in a large, multinational school or company, you might need to adapt to working in a smaller business and to the culture of business in Puglia. As the school is busy and expanding, at times things get a bit hectic, but during my time I had no problems and felt the school was well-run.
9/10. Barletta is a wonderful place to work and live, and the school is located right in the heart of town. I came to Barletta from London, and the lifestyle and culture were very different. After getting used to life there, I loved my time and would love to go back. The school is about 10 minutes walk from the historic and atmospheric centre of the town and 20 minutes from the beach. The school comprised four classrooms and a teachers room on the first floor. All the classrooms had large windows and a balcony, which I frequently opened during the summer. The classrooms were large enough to accommodate small groups, up to 12 students, with one larger classroom equipped with an IWB. During my time, teacher accommodation was in a large apartment about 5 minutes away from the school. I also worked in-company and at projects in public schools. On most occasions, transport to and from other locations was by car.
9/10 Our apartment was on the eighth floor of an apartment block 5 minutes walk from the school. The apartment was large and comfortable, though traditionally decorated. We had a large kitchen / diner, living room, bathroom and four bedrooms, occupied by teachers. For most of my time there, I shared the apartment with two other teachers. For me the best part of the apartment was the balcony, extending around two sides of the apartment, with access from three of the four rooms and the living room, and a wonderful view of the sea on one side and olive groves on the other. There was a supermarket within 2 minutes walk and the train station was five minutes away. During my two years at A.L.I. there were seven native speaker teachers . After the first year two teachers moved on, one to return home and the other to another school. Pay and Benefits
7/10 Pay was monthly, in the second week of every month, in cash. It was on a level with other schools in southern Europe. Although working at A.L.I. won't make you rich and you might not have the opportunity to save, I found it was enough to live very comfortably. I dined out on delicious pizza a few nights a week and could afford an active social life. There was a programme of professional development at the school, and there were opportunities to become a Cambridge examiner. I took advantage of the opportunity to explore Italy; Rome is about 3 hours away by train. We also had a social programme, including trips to Matera (an ancient hill-town) and Alberobello, and an annual staff picnic at a local vineyard. There were also activity with students, for example quizzes etc.
Support and facilities
8/10 There is a well-stocked teachers room. Unlike larger schools, A.L.I. gives teachers a lot of freedom to adapt their own courses and resources, based on well-known textbook series, rather than operating with a set curriculum. While I was there, there was only one classroom with an IWB, however, with a small team, we were able to negotiate access to it if we required it for a lesson. I found Angelica always ready to offer suggestions and give support if I needed.
Health and safety
10/10 I didn't notice any problems and never felt in any danger in Barletta.
A great opportunity to gain experience and develop as a teacher. A friendly, family company in a welcoming, close-knit and historic town. A chance to immerse yourself in the rich culture, delicious food and warm hospitality of Puglia.
The hard-working owners expect commitment. If you want to cruise, this might not be the place for you.
I can confirm after recently leaving this hell hole institution, that absolutely nothing has changed. At all. In my short time there, I saw six teachers leave, most of which lied about their reasons to leave as a way to escape. 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 offer 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.
Everything. This place is a con.
Close down, you have no business skills and are terrible with people.
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