This ‘The TEFL Academy certification review’ article uncovers the extremes that this program will go to, to present and maintain a positive public image. Fake Reviews | Affiliate Links | Ambassador Program | False Accreditation Claims.
The TEFL Academy certification review.
This is a long, informative article that we recommend reading through from start to finish before purchasing a The TEFL Academy/TTA ‘Level 5’ Online TEFL/TESOL course.
We will be looking at this program’s “accreditation” claims, how this program floods the internet with fake reviews, this program’s ‘Ambassador’ program, and the dirty tricks that The TEFL Academy employ to inflict damage on their competitors. And at the end of this article, in the spirit of karmic justice, we will be comparing The TEFL Academy with one of the programs that they have been attacking online: TEFL Online Pro.
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The TEFL Academy certification review.
The TEFL Academy Certification Review Part I: Fake Reviews and the spreading of misinformation.
- The TEFL Academy (TTA) brought in a new Marketing Director, Thomas Gibbons, in 2020.
- Not long after, Trusted TEFL Reviews (TTR) began receiving a lot of unverified TTA reviews, supposedly written by students of TTA. None of the reviewers could prove course participation. TTR took the correct decision not to publish the reviews because there was no way of knowing whether TTA graduates had written the review or employees of TTA.
- These reviews have since turned up published on other review websites, where there exists little or no verification process. Such websites include TrustPilot and Reviews.co.uk
- Thomas Gibbons contacted TTR to ask if we could delete a (verified) TTA negative student review on TTR. When we said that we wouldn’t, Thomas began pressuring TTR for a face-to-face video call. TTR politely declined the request.
- In March of this year, an individual left a review for TTA on TTR. The review was flagged for containing commercial content, and we soon discovered that the individual works for The TEFL Academy as one of their ‘Brand Ambassadors’ – earning 20% of all TTA courses purchased through their website. When we took a look at their website, we saw a website set up to sell TTA courses and a website full of exaggerated promises and misleading facts – such as the claim that teachers can earn $100 per hour teaching English online, and the claim that teachers don’t need a college degree to teach in South Korea.
- In response to our refusal to publish the above reviews, TTA decided to attack TTR. They have done this in two different ways:
- Through Black Hat SEO. As a direct result of our refusal to publish the above reviews, TTR has been receiving a large number of spam emails from x-rated websites. We know that this is because of TTA because we began receiving these emails from the time just after we exposed their Brand Ambassador for submitting commercial content to TTR.
- TTA has begun spreading the lie, via one of their Brand Ambassador’s websites – the Brand Ambassador whose review was flagged for commercial content – that TTR is run by TEFL Online Pro. This is a blatant lie and is one more inaccuracy on their commercial website. With regards to this second point:
Ian Leahy from ESLinsider was the person who first started spreading the lie that TTR is run by TEFL Online Pro. ESLinsider has also claimed that TTR is run by OISE University of Toronto. Ian Leahy from ESLinsider is famous in the TEFL world for his scams and deception. Just Google ‘ESLinsider Scams Asia’ and you discover a treasure trove of complaints and warnings.
This, btw, is the same (Ian Leahy) ESLinsider that has been exposed for making illegal purchases with the credit card details of some of his clients and being indirectly responsible for the imprisonment of western teachers in China.
You can read all about Ian Leahy’s ESLinsider well-documented scam here: https://trustedteflreviews.com/2020/02/03/eslinsider-reviews-scam/
It just makes us feel so frustrated when TEFL programs behave this way – spreading false rumors about TTR online – because we originally established TTR to be a genuine source of trusted TEFL reviews. Some TEFL programs are so used to being able to manipulate the reviews websites where they have affiliate marketing agreements with that they don’t seem to know how to behave when they are faced with an authentic reviews website.
TTR has noticed a pattern in behavior: A TEFL program asks for a (verified) negative review to be deleted from TTR, TTR refuses to delete the review, and the TEFL program responds with attempts at reducing the credibility of TRR – thereby, hoping to reduce the credibility of the negative review.
TEFL Online Pro seems to be the favored target of these attacks, given that TEFL Online Pro is an award-winning program on TTR. As well as OISE University of Toronto TEFL, CIEE TEFL and Maximo Nivel TEFL have also been the targets of similar claims. What do all these programs have in common? They are the highest-rated Online TEFL TESOL programs on TTR.
It is rather coincidental that when some Online TEFL programs receive negative reviews on TTR, they claim that the site is biased against them. And it is rather coincidental that the top-rated Online TEFL programs are the ones that are claimed to be the owners of TTR.
TTR is an independently-run Online TEFL/TESOL reviews website. We are not affiliated, in any way, with any of the Online TEFL/TESOL certification programs listed on this site.
If an Online TEFL/TESOL certification program has a high rating on TTR, it means that they are doing something right when it comes to the product they offer and how they treat their customers.
If an Online TEFL/TESOL certification program has a low rating on TTR, it means that they are doing something wrong when it comes to the product they offer and how they treat their customers.
The TEFL Academy Certification Review Part II: False claims regarding accreditation and the recognition of The TEFL Academy courses.
TTA boldly claims that their Level 5 TEFL courses are Ofqual and TQUK accredited. They also claim that they are ‘Accreditation Partners’ with QUALIFI, DEAC, and AQC.
QUALIFI, DEAC, and AQC are organizations that simply confirm that a course meets certain criteria, whereby the student can be assured that they are receiving the education that is advertised by the course provider, i.e. they check if what TTA claims they are teaching in their courses is what TTA is providing to their customers. So whilst TTA claims that they are accredited by these organizations, they are not. At most, they should state that they are loosely regulated by them.
TTA also claims, on the TTA school website, that TTA is accredited by Ofqual and TQUK, and that a ‘Level 5’ TEFL certificate is the same as taking the 4-week, in-class CELTA certification course.
Ofqual and TQUK are often (incorrectly) claimed to accredit Online TEFL programs offering a ‘Level 5’ certificate. Some Level 5 programs even go as far as to claim that the Level 5 TEFL certificate is the same as the CELTA certificate. ‘Level 5’ refers to one of the levels on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In other words, it’s a United Kingdom qualification that means very little to anyone outside of the UK. Furthermore, a qualification assessed at Level 5 doesn’t mean that it is “equivalent to the CELTA qualification”. Instead, it means that the level of education, knowledge, and skills required to complete the course is the same as that required to complete the CELTA, i.e., to be over 18, and to have a level of English and education that is equivalent to the average UK high school graduate.
Ofqual and TQUK are regulatory bodies, not accreditation bodies.
However, and bearing in mind that there is no single accreditation body for Online TEFL/TESOL certification courses, Trusted TEFL Reviews considers courses regulated by Ofqual and TQUK as ‘Accredited’. This is because there should be strict guidelines in place which Online TEFL programs that are regulated by both organizations need to adhere to.
Ofqual and TQUK ‘accredited’ courses are not necessarily internationally recognized.
This is one reason why TTA is not considered to be a ‘Fully Accredited, and internationally recognized” Online TEFL course provider. They are merely ‘Accredited’.
More information on Online TEFL/TESOL accreditation can be found in The Accreditation Guide: https://trustedteflreviews.com/tefl-accreditation-guide/
Part III: Affiliate links/Brand Ambassadors.
Since the arrival of Thomas Gibbons, TTA has aggressively adopted the affiliates marketing model.
Like some other Online TEFL programs, such as MyTEFL, TTA also uses ShareASale to gain an advantage in the market.
If you Google search ‘The TEFL Academy reviews’ you will find unverified reviews on the reviews websites which we have already mentioned at the beginning of this article, and you will also find websites that have been created solely for the purpose of selling TEFL courses through affiliate marketing.
There are two types of TTA affiliate marketing websites:
- A travel blogger writes articles about many different TEFL course providers and agrees to also write an article about TTA. This person has never been a TTA customer and, therefore, knows nothing about the TTA customer experience. This person writes an article about TTA, and included in the article is a promo code – where the reader can get a TTA course discount when they use the promo code at checkout. The blog owner receives a commission on each sale when their promo code is used.
- A TTA Brand Ambassador – a sales rep for TTA – creates a website in the guise of someone wanting to help people with useful teaching tips and other TEFL/Teaching-related information. They begin reviewing other TEFL programs and also some online teaching platforms. The sole purpose of the website is to get people to click on a link, where the ‘Brand Ambassador’ receives a “small commission” for recommending TTA courses. This small commission is 20% of the sale. This means that if you pay €448 for your TEFL Academy course, you are actually paying The TEFL Academy €358 and you are paying the Brand Ambassador a finder’s fee of €90.
The big problem with people writing about a product that they may or may not have taken when they are motivated by the money that they could be receiving from what they have written is that they tend to exaggerate what the product or service can do for you. We have witnessed this with posts and websites created for TTA courses: unrealistic claims, and outright lies, about the results of taking a TTA certification course.
TTA Brand Ambassadors have two roles:
- Sell TTA courses through affiliate links and receive a 20% commission on every sale.
- Write negative things about TTA competition, and in doing so strengthen the brand awareness of TTA courses and earn a 20% commission if someone believes what has been written and decides to buy a TTA course through the Brand Ambassador’s website. The Brand Ambassador knows that by writing a critical post about a TTA competitor, it will show up in search results for that competitor. And TTA helps the post to climb to the top of the search results by asking all of their affiliate partners to link to that particular post in their travel blogs. This is what is known as ‘link farming’. And this last point now leads us onto our final part of this article – the part where we dish out some karmic justice.
Part IV: The TEFL Academy vs TEFL Online Pro.
- Both programs offer identical courses in terms of what is included in each course syllabus. This means that the information taught in TTA’s ‘Level 5’ 168-hour course is equal to the information taught in TEFL Online Pro’s 120-hour TEFL/TESOL course.
- Both programs appear to offer identical support services.
- The TEFL Academy is ‘Accredited’ and TEFL Online Pro is ‘Fully Accredited, and internationally recognized’.
- TEFL Online Pro has won the Teachers’ Choice Award two years in a row – 2019/2020.
- The TEFL Academy relies on affiliate marketing to win new customers. TEFL Online Pro doesn’t use affiliate marketing.
- TEFL Online Pro is a more affordable option than The TEFL Academy.
If we had to choose between The TEFL Academy and TEFL Online Pro, we would choose to take our international TEFL/TESOL certification course with teflonlinepro.com.
This ‘The TEFL Academy Certification Review’ article was brought to you by Mia Williams at Trusted TEFL Reviews.
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