The TEFL Academy X Online TEFL Course Scams

TESOL Affiliate link warning.

4 star online tefl review

TESOL Affiliate Link Warning The TEFL Academy review, submitted by Caitriona Maria.

TESOL Affiliate link Warning! (ShareASale Affiliate program)

Trusted TEFL Reviews received this TEFL Academy review earlier today. After a quick initial check, red flags were raised because of the type of language used in the review. Upon further scrutiny, we discovered that the review had been written by someone who is earning money for writing and saying nice things about The TEFL Academy.

Caitriona’s real name is Caitriona McTiernan.

This is Caitriona Maria’s customer review, minus the website link (DELETED) where Caitriona has The TEFL Academy ShareASale affiliate link brazenly advertised on multiple website pages, and further notes and comments are located lower down the page:

I completed The TEFL Academy course in 2016. While this was a long time ago, the course provider was nothing but supportive.

The course has become much bigger and better since then. I am saying this because they are now a level-5 course, and this can be found on the Register of Regulated Qualifications, so you know it is legit.

Upon reflecting on the course, I think it was sufficient for my needs. In just three months, I was certified and flying out to a summer school in Spain. It didn’t teach me everything I know now, but I think a lof of what teachers learn occurs on the job, and it is tough to prepare fully for that.

My course included a weekend course, and I felt this was the most beneficial aspect. We became students and got to see what a typical class looks like by learning beginner Spanish. We also had to teach in front of the other teachers and got feedback. This was definitely very helpful, so I highly recommend getting some teacher training if possible.

The TEFL Academy also invited me to come back and tell others my story. I thoroughly enjoyed this course. I would have liked more support when I was applying for a job and how to avoid scams. While I didn’t face any job scams, I did face some poor working conditions in my first job. I would have liked more details about how to find a good job, as I used some third-party sites to find my job and not their official jobs board.

Also, I would like to mention my website, called [DELETED]. If you are looking to start teaching online or have any questions about TEFL, I do my best to cover it on this blog. Thank you!

Caitriona’s reply, after we realize that they are getting paid to promote The TEFL Academy courses:

Hi Mia,
Response to question:
I should have mentioned this disclaimer, so I apologise for that.
Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for The TEFL Academy. I was not paid nor told to write the review. This is an honest review.
When you complete the TEFL academy course, you can become a brand ambassador. This means that you can receive a small commission when someone purchases through your link. But no link is included for that reason.

Caitriona’s “brand ambassador” reply, when they realize that their TESOL Affiliate link Warning flagged review (and their subsequent comment) looks bad on the overall reputation of The TEFL Academy:

I think this is really rude. If someone works at something really hard and they want to share it with others, there is no harm in giving the link that allows them to earn a commission.
Websites have to make money one way or another, and it is a way for them to earn something in exchange for free information. They spend hundreds of hours on their articles, and people are told they are affiliate links, so they are not misled.
The reason I wrote to you today, was because I wanted to share my website. I write about amazing free resources for teachers, provide helpful guides for teaching abroad and online and do my best to give honest opinions and reviews at all times. If you have a problem with that, it is your problem and I want no part in that.
Your bashing has honestly upset me greatly, and I am very sorry if I offended you. But I want you to remove that review, as it no longer represents who I am and what I stand for.

Trusted TEFL Reviews wants to make it crystal clear that Caitriona submitted their TEFL Academy review of their own volition. It was only after we questioned the legitimacy of the review, and the commercial benefit of the review, that Caitriona suddenly decided that the review “no longer represents who I am and what I stand for” and that it should be deleted.

Sorry, Caitriona. Neither you nor The TEFL Academy gets to cherry-pick the review submission process.

Trusted TEFL Reviews strongly feels that the affiliate marketing business model is flawed. It is a great way for companies to make more money, but we see very little, if any, upside for the consumer.

MyTEFL and ITTT are two other companies that are well-known for paying people to recommend their courses. In the case of MyTEFL, when you search for reviews about them online, you can see how some people are almost desperate to recommend their courses. Some, have created entire travel blogs around the MyTEFL affiliate link commercial model.

The biggest downside when it comes to random people recommending a particular TEFL TESOL course when they are earning an affiliate fee for doing so is that you can never be sure whether the person a) took the course, and b) is providing a real account of the course.

The core motivation behind any affiliate link review is money, and some people will write literally anything just so that you click on that affiliate link, buy the course, and they get their affiliate money.

Trusted TEFL Reviews has a zero-tolerance policy towards affiliate marketing, and we always ensure our readers that no affiliate links are located anywhere on this site.

If we discover one, we immediately bring attention to it – as we have done so with the above TESOL Affiliate link Warning.

Here is some more information about why you can trust the reviews published on

A unique feature of Trusted TEFL Reviews, and something that clearly sets us apart from most other Online TEFL reviews websites, is that we don’t allow TEFL programs the possibility of being able to pay to delete negative reviews. What we do allow TEFL programs to do, however, is to respond to any of their verified customer reviews transparently.

Whilst most of the programs listed on Trusted TEFL Reviews treat a negative review as an unavoidable occurrence when running a business, some programs, instead, have chosen the route of trying to pressure us to publish only positive reviews of their program. A couple of programs have also tried to claim that we are somehow associated with the highest-rated Online TEFL programs, so as to try to make it seem that we are biased against them.

Trusted TEFL Reviews 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 Trusted TEFL Reviews, 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 Trusted TEFL Reviews, it means that they are doing something wrong when it comes to the product they offer and how they treat their customers.

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  1. I think it’s funny how this company has the nerve to call it a Level 5 TEFL course.
    Everyone within the industry knows that this is a load of marketing BS.
    A few years ago, no one had even heard of Level 5.
    Someone thought up that Level 5 title just as a way of getting more people to part with more of their money.

  2. Johnny.

    Yes, it is true that the term “Level 5” only came into existence a couple of years ago.
    It does, indeed, appear that the motivating factor behind the introduction of this new term was one of marketing purposes.

    We will occasionally have an email sent to us, by a potential customer requesting further information before they purchase a course by such and such a program, asking whether they offer the Level 5 TEFL course and asking our advice. Our response is always consistent:

    It really doesn’t matter what the course is called. What does matter, is that the course properly trains you to be able to teach English to paying students. What is also important is that the certificate lists the number of hours studied and that it must clearly define itself as being a TEFL and/or TESOL/TESL certificate.

    An online or bricks-and-mortar school won’t give two hoots if you have a CELTA, LEVEL 5, TEFL, TESL, or TESOL certificate. What they will care about is whether you can actually teach or not. This is one of the reasons why we really don’t recommend buying one of those really cheap TEFL courses for under $50. The training provided by those cheap-deal courses are just not going to teach you anything of value. Essentially, you are just paying for a piece of paper and the illusion that you are somehow a trained English teacher after paying $34 and completing a 120-hour course in one day.

    Always read the verified TEFL TESOL TESL reviews on Trusted TEFL Reviews. We monitor and verify each and every review before we publish on the site, and we have a zero-tolerance policy to fake reviews or reviews with a commercial slant.

    Another question which I am sometimes asked is why some TEFL TESOL programs listed on Trusted TEFL Reviews have so-so reviews, but on other review websites they have mostly 5-star student feedback. The reason for this is because those other review sites also work on an affiliates marketing model. It is simply in the review website’s best financial interest to ignore obviously faked reviews and just allow anyone to publish reviews on their sites. They then earn money from people purchasing the course, found on their reviews website.

    This was one of the reasons why we established Trusted TEFL Reviews – to provide a safe-space area, where people can read honest customer reviews that don’t have a hidden agenda behind them.

    This honest approach has taken some schools by shock-surprise, because they are just so used to getting their own way and being able to manipulate the reviews published about their programs. It was, therefore, of no great surprise to us when some of those schools began attacking Trusted TEFL Reviews online – trying to reduce the credibility of the site by spreading false information about us online.

    I have read all sorts of rubbish about us online.

    A few schools have tried to convince people that we are really owned and run by some of the more successful schools. The name of TEFL Online Pro has been brought up repeatedly, so has the name of OISE University of Toronto TEFL. When CIEE TEFL made the Top 5 Best TEFL list, they too were said to be the real owners of Trusted TEFL Reviews.

    At first, we responded to the accusations because it infuriated us that all our hard work was being undermined by outright lies. Now, though, we just ignore the accusations and let the offending TEFL programs get on with wasting their time and resources on their online alternative facts campaigns when they should really be focused on improving the experience for their customers instead.

    I am certain that The TEFL Academy will try, in some way, to reduce the credibility of this page. However, we did not submit the review. And we were not the ones who then came clean about being a paid agent of The TEFL Academy. All we have done is follow our review submission guidelines – basic guidelines that everyone is made aware of when submitting their review:

    Mia Williams.

  3. Page updated: Caitriona has complained that she meant to give a 4-star rating, not a 5-star rating. She insisted that the review be edited to reflect this. We have, therefore, edited the review to reflect that change.

    Mia Williams.

    1. 1. I never gave it a 5-star review. That was added without my consent. If I was to give a rating, it would have been 4 stars.
      2. It wasn’t my review but the initial description that you added to the review that didnt stand for who I am.
      3. You are publishing private emails and I don’t feel comfortable with that.

      1. Transparency is the name of the game, Caitriona.

        It is great that you have suddenly decided to respond to your The TEFL Academy review via the comments section, as opposed to bombarding us with emails – of which we only published the contents of two because they were important for the context of your review.

        Sorry, Caitriona. You submitted a review, of your own volition, and it was discovered that you are a marketing agent for The TEFL Academy.

        Please, don’t play out the role of victim.

        In the future, when you repeat what you have done here with Trusted TEFL Reviews – we are 99% certain that you will on other sites – try to be upfront and transparent from the get-go.

        Lastly, please let the head honcho in the marketing department at The TEFL Academy understand that we are not interested in joining multiple Russian dating sites. I’m sure they think that connecting our URL with multiple Russian dating sites is a wonderful way of trying to reduce the search credibility of Trusted TEFL Reviews.

        This behavior only reinforces what other reviewers have written about The TEFL Academy.

        You are now banned from the site, Caitriona Maria. If we receive any further abuse from The TEFL Academy, they will be given blacklisted status:

        We hope you earn lots of $$$$ and become famous, promoting The TEFL Academy’s courses.

        Mia Williams.

  4. Page updated: Trusted TEFL Reviews has suddenly begun receiving email notifications that we have signed up to multiple Russian dating sites.

    We wrote earlier today:

    I am certain that The TEFL Academy will try, in some way, to reduce the credibility of this page. However, we did not submit the review. And we were not the ones who then came clean about being a paid agent of The TEFL Academy. All we have done is follow our review submission guidelines – basic guidelines that everyone is made aware of when submitting their review:

    Mia Williams.

  5. That is real shady of the TEFL Academy.
    If I were you, I’d report them to Ofqual.
    Feel a bit sorry for this Caitriona though. I’m sure she means well.
    She is just going about it all the wrong way. And the Brand Ambassador title she was given by TEFL Academy just sounds ridiculous.

  6. Johnny.

    We also have our concerns.

    We have experienced issues with The TEFL Academy before.

    Late last year, coincidentally at around the same time The TEFL Academy took on a new marketing manager, we began receiving a whole load of The TEFL Academy student reviews – all one or two-liner reviews and all submitted within a very short time-frame. When we asked the reviewers to provide us with a copy of their TEFL certificate, for verification purposes, not one of them was able, or willing to. Instead, they just go onto other review websites, where they don’t have to provide proof of participation in the course.

    Mia Williams.

  7. Trusted TEFL Reviews has done a bit of digging around into the organization that The TEFL Academy claims accredits their courses: Ofqual.

    Here is their link:

    Ofqual is not an accreditation service. It is a regulator.

    What this means essentially, is that The TEFL Academy cannot claim that they are “accredited”, because they are not. However, they can (rightly) claim that their courses are “regulated”.

    Therefore, Ofqual is an organization that simply states that yep, a company is registered in the UK. Ofqual is not an organization that states that the company is accredited by them.

    Mia Williams.

  8. The pressure from TEFL Academy to write a review of their TEFL Course left me with a poor impression of this company. They wouldn’t issue my certificate unless I wrote a review. Would recommend avoiding this company, and treat any reviews with glowing feedback with extreme suspicion.

  9. Chris.

    That doesn’t surprise us at all.
    Also, we took another look through Caitriona’s (The TEFL Academy Ambassador) website and we did notice the pop-up ad; claiming that people can earn $100 an hour, teaching English online.
    There is very little likelihood of earning $100 per hour, teaching English online, and the claim is extremely misleading.

    Mia Williams.

    Update: 3rd April.

    Caitriona has since deleted the pop-up ad from her website.
    Caitriona has now begun reviewing Online TEFL course programs that are direct competitors of The TEFL Academy, and she has also decided that publishing disinformation about Trusted TEFL Reviews is probably a good way of reducing the credibility of this The TEFL Academy Review.
    We advise anyone who stumbles across Catriona’s website to take anything this person writes regarding The TEFL Academy, or their competitors, with a generous dose of skepticism.
    Caitriona is an employee of The TEFL Academy.

    Mia Williams.

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