The TEFL Academy Scam Warning, written by Mia Williams for Trusted TEFL Reviews.
The TEFL Academy Scam Warning!
We thought long and hard about whether we would go ahead and publish this ‘The TEFL Academy Scam Warning’ article. For many years, The TEFL Academy maintained a respectable presence within the international TEFL TESOL industry.
This stellar reputation, however, took a dramatic change for the worse when The TEFL Academy brought in a new Marketing Director, Thomas Gibbons, in 2020.
The first change that Trusted TEFL Reviews noticed was that we suddenly began receiving A LOT of reviews for The TEFL Academy. We counted 16 reviews received in one day alone. All of the reviews were one or two-liners, and not one of the reviewers was able to provide any proof of participating in, or completing a TEFL Academy course.
We did not publish any of the reviews because we couldn’t verify the content or sources.
Prior to this, The TEFL Academy had been receiving mostly positive student reviews on Trusted TEFL Reviews. There were a couple of two or three-star reviews, which is a pretty standard occurrence for most Online TEFL TESOL certification course programs.
One of the three-star reviews was published (before Thomas Gibbons revamped their program logo) on March 25, 2019:
The review isn’t a particularly bad review. In fact, it is overall a positive review. It, therefore, came as a bit of a shock to us when Thomas Gibbons requested that the review be deleted. When we confirmed for Thomas that we wouldn’t be deleting the review, he began aggressively pestering us for a face-to-face video call.
Thomas Gibbons eventually stopped contacting us.
On March 17th of this year, Trusted TEFL Reviews received a review of The TEFL Academy:
The review immediately raised our suspicions because it contained marketing language that you would expect to read in a school brochure. The reviewer was Caitriona Maria.
After a few emails back and forth with Caitriona, she eventually told us that she is a Brand Ambassador for The TEFL Academy. In other words, and to make this very clear to our readers, Caitriona Maria gets paid by The TEFL Academy to write nice things about The TEFL Academy.
Caitriona is part of The TEFL Academy ShareASale affiliate program.
For each person that purchases a TEFL Academy course through her website, Caitriona receives a 20% commission reward. This means that if you pay €448 for your TEFL Academy course, you are actually paying The TEFL Academy €358 and you are paying Caitriona a finder’s fee of €90.
Trusted TEFL Reviews decided to publish Caitriona’s review but without the direct link to her website, where she earns her affiliate money. We also added a note that Caitriona is a Brand Ambassador for The TEFL Academy.
Caitriona then decided that she didn’t want to have her review published on Trusted TEFL Reviews, but we left the review up because reviewers and Online TEFL programs don’t have the luxury of cherry-picking the review submission process.
It was then that we received a couple of pretty strongly-worded emails from Caitriona. One of the emails contained a threat. We then decided that we wouldn’t be reading any more of Caitriona’s emails.
However, we did decide to take a look at the website, where Caitriona promotes The TEFL Academy in her role as Brand Ambassador. We have decided not to publish the link to Caitriona’s website because we don’t want to promote her Brand Ambassador money-making business.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a person taking a TEFL course, genuinely loving the program, and then writing a fantastic review about that program. But when that person is being paid to write the review, we tend to see a lot of red flags going up. This is very much so the case with Caitriona’s website.
To begin with, Caitriona has begun reviewing Online Language Schools, and Online TEFL Programs. And as a TEFL Academy paid representative, it is no wonder that her review for The TEFL Academy is full of praise and that her reviews for other TEFL programs are so-so. She has even perpetuated the untruthful assertion, started by Ian Leahy from ESLinsider and furthered by MyTEFL, that Trusted TEFL Reviews is owned by TEFL Online Pro.
It is rather coincidental that when some Online TEFL programs receive negative reviews on Trusted TEFL Reviews, 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 Trusted TEFL Reviews.
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.
We write more about this here: https://trustedteflreviews.com/why-trust-trusted-tefl-reviews/
The main issue, though, with Caitriona’s website is the inclusion of misleading and untrue statements.
In Caitriona’s “reviews” of The TEFL Academy’s direct competition, she makes false statements; including the statement that some of the Online TEFL programs that she is reviewing are not accredited.
Anyway, how can someone review an Online Language School or Online TEFL Program if they haven’t taught for that Online Language School or studied on that Online TEFL Program?
One of the claims that she made on her website – a claim that has since been taken down – is that teachers can earn $100 US per hour, teaching English online. This is another outright lie. It’s a honey trap.
But right now, we will fact-check – using screenshots of their website – what Caitriona writes, in her own words, about The TEFL Academy. And we will understand better The TEFL Academy Scam Warning:
Fact-Check 1: ‘Level 5’ is just another fancy term for ‘TEFL/TESOL’. ‘Level 5’ courses that began springing up a couple of years ago and sometimes they even falsely claim to be CELTA or Trinity courses. Your school interviewer simply won’t care how your certificate is branded. What they will prioritize is whether the course you took actually taught you how to teach English.
Fact-Check 2: Reviews for The TEFL Academy on Trusted TEFL Reviews seem to contradict Caitriona’s statement that “The TEFL Academy provides all the help new teachers need.”
Fact-check 3: The TEFL Academy courses are not “certified by both UK and US authorities”. The TEFL Academy is loosely regulated by a couple of agencies.
Fact-check 4: Non-degree holders can’t teach in over 50 countries and the vast majority of online jobs require a college degree. It is most definitely NOT possible to teach, without a degree, in South Korea. Try applying for any job in South Korea with just your TEFL Academy certificate and you will be wasting your time and money. This The TEFL Academy scam preys on people who are completely new to TEFL.
Fact-Check 5: The TEFL Academy courses are not de facto accredited. They are regulated, but not internationally accredited in the sense that you would expect other organizations to be accredited. There is no international accreditation body for Online TEFL certification courses. Further information regarding the question of Online TEFL TESOL accreditation: https://trustedteflreviews.com/2020/01/09/tefl-tesol-accreditation-101/
Fact-Check 6: The false claim that The TEFL Academy courses are on the same level as CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL qualifications. It can be stated that all 120-Hour TEFL courses are equivalent to the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL qualifications, as long as they follow the same syllabus as the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL courses. The TEFL Academy does not follow the same syllabus as the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL courses.
Fact-Check 7: Again, the false claim that only a Level 5 certificate will get you that TEFL job.
Fact-Check 8: Reviews for The TEFL Academy on Trusted TEFL Reviews seem to contradict Caitriona’s statement that “The TEFL Academy… help with finding jobs”
Fact-Check 9: There is no way on earth that “A recognized level-5 course is comparable to a diploma of higher education (DipHe) or a foundation degree.”
Fact-check 10: When anyone writes the phrase “Highly-Accredited” it just screams of overcompensating. In this case, the overcompensating is the plain truth that, again, there is no international accreditation body for Online TEFL TESOL certification courses: https://trustedteflreviews.com/2020/01/09/tefl-tesol-accreditation-101/
Fact-Check 11: The TEFL Academy is not accredited by Ofqual, Qualifi, or DEAC. The TEFL Academy is, however, loosely regulated by all three regulatory bodies.
Fact-Check 12: Reviews for The TEFL Academy on Trusted TEFL Reviews seem to contradict Caitriona’s statement that “The TEFL Academy has a helpful recruitment team.”
Fact-Check 13: Again, there is the misrepresentation of “Accreditation partners”. The TEFL Academy is not accredited by any of the three organizations listed.
Fact-Check 14: Whilst The TEFL Academy does have “countless reviews on its Facebook Page and other websites” it does need to be pointed out that those reviewers might have had an ulterior motive for writing their TEFL Academy review. In addition, the reviews website that The TEFL Academy claims they have an average 4.89 rating on, and with 3,236 reviews written about them, is a reviews website notorious for publishing unverified reviews: https://www.reviews.co.uk/ We took a look at some of the reviews on there, written about The TEFL Academy, and they were reminiscent of the avalanche of one or two-liner reviews that Trusted TEFL Reviews received back in 2020.
Fact-Check 15: This actually isn’t a fact-check, but a reality check. If someone is going to pay you to write something about a product or service, even if you thought it was poor or mediocre, it logically follows that you are actually being paid to write something nice about that product or service.
Trusted TEFL Reviews isn’t advising you to take, or not to take the TEFL TESOL certification course offered by The TEFL Academy. A majority of The TEFL Academy (verified) reviews published on Trusted TEFL Reviews are positive.
So why the scam warning at the top of this post?
Caitriona is a Brand Ambassador for The TEFL Academy. Therefore, she represents The TEFL Academy.
On her website, she openly publishes false information in order to convince people to take a TEFL TESOL course with The TEFL Academy. This is what is known as a ‘honey trap’. Another term for it is a ‘scam’.
This is why this article has been titled, ‘The TEFL Academy Scam Warning’.
Read more The TEFL Academy reviews