8 Lies That TEFL Providers Tell To Get Your Money

Summary – I have noticed that some TEFL provides say several things on their websites to sell their courses which aren’t 100% true. So this is my impartial and personal warning about what to be careful when choosing a course. With these same organisations and companies all claiming they are the best in the industry here are 8 white lies to look out for and be careful with.


Introduction – The main purpose of this post is because myself along with many people I have met wasted money on courses and then had to take a second course as the first was not what we needed, in spite of the promises made to us (examples will be given). The only thing I can say is that for me that first course did turn out to act as a good preparation for my CELTA course afterwards.
Although I haven’t done all the different types of jobs I have done a Weekend Course and the CELTA and have tried applying for jobs around the world. I have also met and spoken to lots of teachers and heard their stories. Thus everything here is based on my own experiences and other’s who I know. There may well be exceptions to this rule but generally speaking this will be the case.
To confirm this I have gone back to look at lots of these companies offering a veriety of courses to see what they say which I have learnt isn’t true. I will not mention names if I can as I don’t want to seem to be picking on certain companies. Thus I will make it as general as possible. If you do wish to know who said what I will be happy to tell you via e-mail (my e-mail is at the bottom of this post).
[Please Note – If you are interested in China, South Korea or even Japan most of this will be quite irrevelent. Some of the better paid jobs and a few Japanese jobs are picky but for most in these countries an unrecognised online TEFL is usually enough anyway.]

1 – The course is an ‘Internationally recognised qualification’
Well for some I am sure this is true as schools in parts of Asia recognise the qualification and probably have a few partners around the world but don’t think that this is going to be all schools around the world. If you look at job adverts on TEFL.com and similar websites (if you want a list click here), you will see that the only recognised certificate in every school around the world is the Cambridge CELTA, closely followed by the Trinity TESOL.
I believe there are varying levels of ‘recognised courses’, as there are some names which although not universally accepted as a qualification are more recognised names on the whole.

2 – The company and courses as are all accredited
One honest company actually states this on their website and I quote: ” You may have noted that we haven’t mentioned accreditation. The reason is that there is no official body for TEFL accreditation. For this reason we don’t claim that our courses are accredited, and you should be wary of any providers who do”.
[As you might want to confirm this yourself just for this I will tell you that I got this from: http://www.icaltefl.com/ical-tefl-course-150hr-with-teaching-practice?gclid=Cj0KEQjwxI24BRDqqN3f-97N6egBEiQAGv37hOje6hBDbQU7Eh0FnRQnNYdIxki5ERunnKA1DbAcPM8aAoNB8P8HAQ%5D
Before I saw this I started to wonder the same. Also the few courses which are most saught for and most recognised such as the Cambridge CELTA or Trinity TESOL don’t mention accreditation to any of these organisations that these other TEFL providers mention (compare them yourself if you wish). This to me is odd as you would have thought if they were a formal/offical TEFL accrediation(s) these big companies would have the accreditation as the small ones.

3 – An online certificate is just as good as a classroom certificate
Strangely enough many companies which sell online TEFL course (or a mixture of online and classroom based TEFL courses) will tell you that an online course is exactly the same but just more flexible than a classroom based course. In reality very few schools/recruiters outside China, South Korea and Japan will accept an online certificate as a valid form of qualification. Even volunteers are expected to have a classroom based qualification.
This is sometimes the same for CELTA. Many schools that ask for a CELTA will not accept an online CELTA, even sometimes the same for schools requesting other qualifications.
To add if you have an online certificate and can’t find a job after several months this is probably why. Many schools won’t even bother to reply/acknowldege an application if their qualification is online; I asked my boss about this because I was curious.

4 – You can use a Weekend Course/ Online Certificate in Europe and the Middle East (plus others)
When I did my Weekend course I was promised that this qualification would be accepted by loads of schools across Europe. I tried applying to lots of jobs in Europe in many different countries. Not a single one would recognise the qualification despite what I was told. It became quickly obviously that without a CELTA or Trinity TESOL I had absolutely no chance. When I worked at a summer camp as an Activity Leader I spoke teachers and directors who work around the work. They told me that most schools probably just laughed at me even trying to apply with that qualification. This is certainly the same for the Middle East too.
Asia is generally more lenient on the matter, but even countries in Asia such as Vietnam and Malaysia are getting stricter. The majority of jobs in these countries ask for a ‘CELTA or equivillent’.

5 – All 120hr+ plus courses are equal
This is one that really annoys me as this is complete false advertising. Yes most jobs will expect this as a minimum but don’t think that you can apply to all jobs using every type of 120hr+ course. If the job asks for “120hr course or more”, then maybe you will get away with it. However if the job advert asks for “CELTA or equivillent” you could have a 360hr course (i.e. over double what is involved in a CELTA) and probably still you won’t be even looked at.
I am not saying this is all the same for all of these courses but to be considered as “CELTA or equivillent” certains things are required within the courses make up not just the fact is has enough hours involved. To be deemed similiar means the course must have at least 5 hours of observations and 8 hours teaching with evaluations and feedback. This does not include peer teaching! It must be to genuine students learning the langauge and in at least 2 different levels.
Be warned still even if a course matches this they might not be accepted. Like I have mentioned in previous blog posts, a friend/collegue of mine did a 4 week course which was a similar to a CELTA with a similar price too. Then had to do a CELTA afterwards as well as it wasn’t accepted by any school in Barcelona.

6 – You will easily get a job on their website
I remember thinking when I enrolled onto my Weekend Course that would be great as I could easily get a job afterwards. In reality this didn’t happen. It might be different for other companies but with this one I applied for lots of jobs. I didn’t even get recognisition it had been recieved. Years later they had the same jobs so I am not sure how old these jobs are or even if they existed. The one reply I did get was to say the job in Italy I applied for had now been filled but wondered if I was interested in a job in either China or South Korea. This makes me wonder if the only real jobs were in Asia. I also know one of the jobs I was qualified for as I was offered an interview but not through this website but accidently applying to the same job on an other job website.
Similarly I was looking at jobs on one company’s website and the jobs looked good but the qualifications asked for were not offered by this company. Which would mean that if you only took one of their qualifications you wouldn’t even be qualified to apply. Not sure what this was really about.

7 – A longer course is better
The other thing I have seen that companies say is something on the lines of; “If you really want a good course to look good on your C.V. why not take the 140hr online rather than the 120hr course”. When I was choosing my Weekend TEFL they tried persuading me to get the more expensive 3 day course rather than 2 day. I am so glad I didn’t take up that offer. When you start applying to jobs and looking into the process by asking questions you will realise that courses are broken down into catagories, such as “online course” or “Weekend TEFL”. Which means no matter how they talk about those extra hours make no difference at all! To an employer a weekend course is a weekend course whether it is 2 days or 3 days and an online course is an online course whether it is 100 hours or 320 hours. So if they don’t mind an online course for example they won’t care which of the 2 you have. In many instances they might not even know the difference. The one exception might be if the online course is only 20 or 60 hours.
This is what I meant earlier by if you apply to a good job you could have a 360 hour online certificate with far more hours than those on a CELTA but you will be the one who is over looked.

8 – You need more than one course
I would be really worried if you did need more one more certificate. So it makes me laugh when I see on some websites: “Take the combined course and get two certificates”. More does not mean better. In fact it probably just means they are useless and with 2 you might stand a better chance. With a recognised course it is one course and one certificate and is definitely enough. If you feel need more than this then just get a better course.
Similar don’t go for all the extra bolt-on packages. They aren’t needed. I suppose they might sound impressive to employers who know nothing about the course. Some of these bolt-on courses are what would be expected in a normal course and begs the question what was in your TEFL certificate and is it adequate?
The one exception is any one off course by the University of Cambridge (for reasons I won’t bore you with).

Conclusion – I don’t mean to imply companies who say the above are cowboys but you might not get what you had expected. So take everything you read with a pinch of salt and do you own personal research by asking those who actually did the course (Twitter and TEFL forums are a good way to do this). Plus look at job ads and even contacts schools you are interested in to see what they really see as ‘recognised courses’.
If you really want to get a true reflection of courses too, intead of reading the course providers websites read blogs and use websites such as goabroad.com who are impartial.

If you are researching these courses and want to hear from those who have done them before please join our Facebook GroupMore information about the group

To add: As always like all of these posts if you have any questions or need help please feel free to e-mail me on my personal e-mail address: sportycarlyb@hotmail.com.
Also if you want some general help with getting into TEFL you might find my post with my Top 10 Tip for Prospective TEFL teachers or all these different type of courses are confusing my post about different TEFL courses. If you can’t or don’t want a recognised TEFL and looking for alternatives you might want to see my ways of TEFLing without a TEFL (/CELTA).

5 thoughts on “8 Lies That TEFL Providers Tell To Get Your Money

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