6 TEFL Red Flags – avoid getting scammed on your course purchase.
6 TEFL Red Flags that the TEFL course that you are about to purchase may likely be a TEFL certification scam!
1. The company has a Facebook page but has turned off the Reviews tab.
The manipulation of reviews is a massive issue within the TEFL course industry, and this manipulation shows up in many forms:
- Almost all of the major TEFL review websites are privately owned and earn money via affiliate marketing – meaning that they exist because of backhanders from the TEFL companies that they publish reviews for. It is, therefore, in the financial interests of those sites to promote positive reviews – whether real or fake – and discreetly hide the negative reviews.
- Some TEFL programs employ “Brand Ambassadors” to promote their courses – also through affiliate marketing – and these TEFL program minions will write absolutely anything in order to get you to buy the TEFL course(s) they are promoting. Sometimes the blogger has taken the course and sometimes they have absolutely no experience of it whatsoever.
- Many reviews websites, such as TrustPilot, charge companies for the pleasure of being listed. TrustPilot is known for its relaxed attitude to not following up and verifying reviews. Some of the well-known companies that have TrustPilot listings take full advantage of this by flooding their listing with fake reviews. Companies listed on TrustPilot also have the option of paying to have poor reviews deleted.
- There are also TEFL programs that promote negative SEO, by publishing negative reviews online about their business competitors.
We don’t allow TEFL companies to manipulate their reviews on Trusted TEFL Reviews, and we don’t charge TEFL companies anything for listing their programs.
The only advertising allowed is granted to the TEFL program winner of the annual Teachers’ Choice Award. TEFL Online Pro is the winner of this year’s award, so they have been given the opportunity to promote any TEFL course discounts that they may run during the year. This additional exposure on Trusted TEFL Reviews is without charge for the TEFL program currently enjoying Teachers’ Choice Award winner status.
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As well as reading the verified customer reviews on Trusted TEFL Reviews, you can gain an equally realistic overview of what a TEFL program’s customers really think about them by checking their company’s Facebook page reviews. That is if they haven’t deleted the Reviews tab on their Facebook page in order to hide the real truth about their courses and services.
2. The company is falsifying its accreditation status.
There are legitimate international TEFL accreditation bodies, there are questionable international TEFL accreditation bodies, and there are made-up international TEFL accreditation bodies.
Having worked in the TEFL industry for many years now, it is easy for me to be able to distinguish between all three.
Regarding the latter, you can notice these from a mile away because they almost always tend to show generic stock-footage photos of businesspeople in boardrooms, wearing suits, and looking very serious about some type of business issue.
The people that run reputable TEFL accreditation bodies don’t hang around all day in boardrooms, wearing business suits.
To save yourself a whole load of wasted time and effort, we strongly recommend that you read the TEFL Accreditation Guide before parting ways with your hard-earned cash:
3. Level 5 TEFL courses.
Five years ago, no one had heard of a “Level 5” TEFL course.
You simply chose between an onsite or online TEFL/TESOL/TESL certification course – 120-Hours being the industry standard.
Then came along the first few mentions of “Level 5” and more recently it has become very popular to claim that a Level 5 course is the best TEFL course to take.
Employers don’t give two hoots whether you took an over-priced Level 5 TEFL course or not. “Level 5” is just another marketing gimmick – of which there are numerous in this industry.
Employers of teachers online and overseas, and government job visa departments, want to see proof that you have completed a 120-Hour TEFL/TESOL certification course.
If you already have teaching experience then a course covering fewer hours will often do, but the industry standard is 120 hours.
Should you wish to, you can also choose a course that adds a practical teaching component to the 120-Hour standard regulation – recalculating the total number of hours in the course to a maximum of between 140 and 150.
Any course consisting of more than 120 hours (or between 140-150 hours with the practical teaching component) is so unnecessary and won’t, in any way or form, increase your chances of landing a teaching job or getting your work visa.
Also, the Ofqual company that regulates the Level 5 TEFL syllabus – based in the UK – is not an accreditation awarding body. They only regulate the courses. This means that you can pay extra and take a Level 5 TEFL course, but that is no assurance that your certificate will be recognized by online and overseas employers.
It definitely won’t guarantee you better employment prospects over a fully accredited 120-Hour TEFL/TESOL course.
In any TEFL job interview situation, it is the 120-Hour TEFL/TESOL certification course that you will be asked to provide proof of having taken – i.e, the accepted industry standard.
Our advice is to place less importance on the brand of the TEFL/TESOL qualification and, instead, focus on whether the course is truly internationally recognized.
The vast majority of people reading this article will need to take a 120-Hour TEFL/TESOL course in order to teach English online or overseas.
Take a look at the TEFL Directory for guidance:
The top-rated schools in the directory are top-rated for a legitimate reason.
4. The course costs less than $50.
TEFL isn’t rocket science, but it does take relatively thorough training to become a TEFL teacher.
TEFL programs that offer dirt-cheap TEFL courses for under $50 are simply providing you with a piece of paper that says you are a qualified TEFL teacher. Claiming to be a TEFL teacher and actually having the skills and knowledge to be one are two completely different things.
Our advice is not to go for the really cheap TEFL courses.
You should treat your TEFL course as an investment, and not as a shortcut to getting qualified to teach English online or overseas – something you likely won’t be able to do anyway when you invest so little in your online education.
5. TEFL programs that try to undermine the reputation of Trusted TEFL Reviews.
Trusted TEFL Reviews publishes every review that has been proven to come from a reliable source – AKA a real TEFL graduate.
We never delete poor reviews – although we are constantly asked to do so – and some TEFL companies that are so used to manipulating their customer reviews online choose to try and undermine the reputation of Trusted TEFL Reviews when we refuse to delete a poor review, or when we refuse to publish a review that has obviously been written by a TEFL school’s staff member.
We recommend reading the Common TEFL Scams article to learn more about this:
6. The TEFL course is free.
We have noticed that a few relatively new online TEFL/TESOL programs are advertising their courses as “free”.
Given that businesses tend to traditionally operate on a business model whereby they create revenue in exchange for services rendered, our attention was piqued by this apparent middle finger to traditional business model marketing.
So, we did a bit of digging around to see how a business could run a profit by offering a free TEFL course.
Our conclusion is that the so-called “free” course is just a front for charging you throughout the course in the form of unexpected, hidden charges.
We also noticed that the free TEFL courses – all of them – are not accredited.
7. Bonus Red Flag: Affiliate Marketing.
The TEFL Affiliate Marketing Scam is a massive issue within the TEFL industry.
These TEFL program sales minions are extremely adept at stretching the truth and creating false narratives.
If you stumble across their website or blog, you will read about how such and such a program (always a program they earn affiliate marketing sales commissions from) is the best choice, and how such and such a program (always a competitor that doesn’t do affiliate marketing) is a scam or just not trustworthy.
If you believe their shtick and enroll in one of the courses that they are promoting, you will likely end up paying for a subpar TEFL course that isn’t fully accredited, and the friendly person recommending the program(s) will stand to earn a sizable sales commission.
No reputable, fully accredited TEFL/TESOL certification course program operates via an affiliate’s marketing campaign model. They just can’t because their accreditation codes of practice don’t allow it.
We recommend reading the TEFL Affiliate Marketing Scam article to learn more about this:
This ‘6 TEFL Red Flags’ article was written by Mia Williams, co-owner of Trusted TEFL Reviews (TTR) | Best Featured TEFL Articles
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