TEFL International Guaranteed Job Placement – Treat with caution

I’ve started researching for the piece I promised on how much (or not) TEFL International have polished up their websites since I pointed out the lies etc on TEFLlife.com. That piece is coming up soon, but there was one topic which came up that seemed worth a piece of its own, if only because many other TEFL course providers now try the same trick.

At the top of the main page of TEFLlife.com it says that “Every TEFL International student in both the TESOL Certificate Course and Virtual TESOL Course programs has the opportunity to qualify for a guaranteed TEFL job placement upon the successful completion of their training.”, but this is not in fact true. By looking at the specific page on that topic you will see that it is limited to “TESOL Certificate Course graduates from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.” and “is only available to students in the China, Thailand, Vietnam, or South Korea course programs.” Strange definition of “every”!

The actual offer is not much of an offer, either, seeing as any person from those countries who meets the visa requirements can get a job in Korea or China with no TEFL training at all, and in most of those jobs you’ll get no pay rise for having a TEFL certificate. Don’t know about Vietnam and Thailand, but in Vietnam they only offer part-time contracts for three months anyway.

If you don’t meet the visa requirements, having a TEFL certificate is not going to help you one little bit. In Korea, for example, in addition to having the right passport you will need to be a university graduate who studied in one of those English-speaking countries who can clear the criminal record and AIDS tests. The rules are different for people with Korean ancestry (“gyopo”), but having a TEFL cert ain’t gonna affect your visa application one way or another.

Like most other TEFL courses, TEFL International quite sensibly don’t ask you to take an AIDS test to get on their courses! As is also common, a degree is preferred but not always necessary to get on a course. That means that there are other people who they don’t mention who could get on their course but not be offered a guaranteed job, in addition to the non-native speakers, holders of other passports and people who take the course elsewhere who they already admit don’t count. That use of “every” gets stranger and stranger…

They are at least honest about the disadvantages of their system:

“Job placement will be in a school of TEFL International’s choosing. While we can guarantee you a teaching job overseas, we cannot guarantee that it is exactly the job you want or that it is in your preferred location.”

To summarize:

– Their main claim that everyone can get a guaranteed job is contradicted by other information on their website

– The less extravagant claims they make are also not true, because many of their graduates are excluded, including for reasons not mentioned on the site such as not being able to get a working visas in those places

– Even when it is true, it is not much of a claim because you could get jobs in those places (and often the same jobs) with no TEFL training at all, and maybe better jobs with a Cambridge CELTA.

– In fact, you might end up with a worse job by accepting their conditions.

To summarize even more:

– They guarantee a job, but only to people who could guarantee themselves a job (often the exact same job) without taking a TEFL certificate at all

The good news is:

– They say that teaching jobs in Korea are limited to 25 classroom hours a week, which is not the case for all employers in that country

– They say that they will help you out if you have problems in your job, which is fairly likely in those four countries (but decent recruiters also do the same thing)

– The pay rates given for Korea and Thailand are quite reasonable for a starting teacher

– Er, that’s it.

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42 Responses to TEFL International Guaranteed Job Placement – Treat with caution

  1. Eric says:

    Thank you for systematically debunking the fashionable, vague promises that plague far too many EFL websites. Scepticism, seldom a fashionable habit, seems like a legitimate occupational requirement.

  2. TEFLista says:

    And readers may also want to see a guest piece that I wrote for Alex on a similar topic:

    6 Ways TEFL Certificate Courses Try to Rip You Off – Part 3 – Guaranteed Jobs
    https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/tefl/tefl-ripoffs-3/

  3. Alex Case says:

    This job ad for Thailand (TEFL cert optional) suggests that what I wrote about China and Korea is also true for Thailand, being that you could easily get a job without their certificate, let alone without their job seeking help.
    LINK BROKEN SO REMOVED

  4. Susan K. says:

    Let the teacher beware. You’ve got to watch out. There are too many empty promises and bad employers.

  5. Danny says:

    First of all, it is advertising, right? We are all familiar with how it works.

    And if they actually do exactly what they promise, exactly what is the problem? They apparently guarantee someone a job. So if I am going to Thailand for the first time and I am a bit nervous, they will actually make sure I get that first job. That may not be for everyone but it is probably attractive to some people.

    Whats the vendetta?

  6. TEFLista says:

    “First of all, it is advertising, right? We are all familiar with how it works.”

    Well, no — many are not, especially people new to TEFL. And an uneducated consumer is a used car salesman’s dream come true.

  7. Alex Case says:

    So, if I offered to save people from being killed by neutrinos if they sent my 500 pounds, would that be fair advertising? It would be true that they wouldn’t be killed by neutrinos if they paid me the money, so I wouldn’t be lying. However, they also wouldn’t be killed by neutrinos if they didn’t send the me the money. Same with TEFL International – the people they can really guarantee a job to are guaranteed a job anyway. That is intent to deceive, which along with lies is covered by advertising standards in most countries.

  8. Danny says:

    I respectfully disagree. Will I get a job if I take a TEFL course and then do absolutely nothing? No, I will not. I still need to apply and interview.

    One thing that is very attractive about these guaranteed jobs by TEFL International is they are often just 4 to 6 months. Its low risk and a chance to get the “lay of the land”.

    And you seem to forget there are people who have never traveled overseas before. And often parents are funding this, or at least need to give an OK. Having a guaranteed job is something that some people like and want. They can read all the forums about how jobs are a dime a dozen. No one is stopping them. But some people, whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not, want that guarantee. And, apparently, TEFL International are fulfilling their promise. In other words, they are a bit smarter than the CELTA.

    And that whole neutrino thing? You look like a fool when you write things like that.

  9. TEFLista says:

    TEFL certs attached to jobs are often very HIGH risk, not low risk. The cert is often given only after completing the job or a portion of it. So if the course and/or the job are bad ones or if they don’t like the situation, what is a person supposed to do? If they quit, then they don’t get the cert, plus they are out of the money that they paid for it and the airfare, too. In short, they could potentially end up in a very bad situation for a 4-6 month period.

  10. Danny says:

    First of all, where are you getting your information that the jobs are “often very high risk”? Are you just making assumptions?

    Next, if the terms are clear, things like teaching hours and housing, then what exactly is the problem?

    No matter what, someone can last 4 months on a job. I guess we know TEFLista is the kind of teacher that slips out in the middle of the night and leaves the students without a teacher.

    The things you mentioned should be considered but ultimately there will still remain people who want that guaranteed job. I think we can safely assume that you would not be interested. But that doesn’t mean that others would not be. Other than a few apparently cranky old men, whats the problem?

  11. TEFLista says:

    So again, what could a person do if a company didn’t keep their word or they ended up in a bad situation far away from home? Absolutely nothing — “no matter what”, and the course provider would have their cert and their money.

  12. Danny says:

    But there is no logic to your argument.

    First of all, these programs have a significantly reduced fee. So immediately the risk is reduced.

    Next there is no risk of spending one or two months without work. Again, reduced risk.

    Certainly its in everyone’s best interest that everyone finishes the contract successfully, correct?

    And a placement/training organization like this would have far more pull with an employer trying to play fast and lose with the contract than an individual–again, reduced risk.

    You guys just make stuff up, right? Nothing better to do? Really?

  13. TEFLista says:

    I see that you still haven’t answered the question.

  14. TEFLista says:

    Here it is again:

    What could a person do if a company didn’t keep their word or they ended up in a bad situation far away from home?

    Do you have an answer other than ‘continue to work for them for six months as a slave — no matter what’ ?

  15. Danny says:

    And a placement/training organization like this would have far more pull with an employer trying to play fast and lose with the contract than an individual–again, reduced risk.

  16. TEFLista says:

    Less risk? Says who? I’ve come across placement and training organizations that have intentionally put course participants on the wrong visa, just so it wouldn’t be a hassle for them and they could make a quick buck from it all. And according to you, course participants should probably just stay in such a situation and work illegally for six months — ‘no matter what’. Organizations can be the worst offenders.

    So in other words, you still do not have an answer.

  17. Danny says:

    If you are going to make up hypothetical situations then not only should no one take a guaranteed job program but no one should leave their homes! I can see why the TEFL guy does not come here to respond–no response is good enough for the two of you. You have made up your minds and nothing is going to change it.

    And Alex called him childish. That, my friends, is irony.

  18. Alex Case says:

    Um, guys, this post has nothing to do with jobs that are packaged in with TEFL courses. It’s about TEFL International (and many others, most of whom I believe have copied them) saying the fact that they can guarantee you a job after you finish their cert is a reason why you should train with them, whereas a recruiter in any of those countries could guarantee you a job (probably the exact same job) just for being a native speaker graduate. That means you could start work a month earlier with more money in your pocket by choosing a recruiter rather than TEFL International. Alternatively, you could take the CELTA and work for a decent school like International House from day one.

    Like my neutrinos example their “Guaranteed jobs placement” is not an actual lie, but I believe that most advertising standards agencies would see it as being deceitful nonetheless. The actual lies (listed here and elsewhere) just makes it worse.

    I can’t speak for TEFLista, who I have never met, but for me the reason why Bruce can’t convince me of his organisation being the same kind of professional educational non-profit organisation as Cambridge ESOL, for example, is (for all their faults) because of numerous examples of marketing and his own online words proving that TEFL International is just a money-making machine and/ or obsessed with expansion for its own sake. After saying he was never going to email me or read the blog again at least five times, Bruce has now started the email insults and threats again. If he stops wasting his time and energy on trying to silence his critics (as usual) and actually makes positive changes in his organisation, I will as always be happy to publicize them. In fact, he emailed me a copy of his letter to the British Council complaining about the fact that TEFL International certificates are not accepted in BC accredited schools in the UK, and I offered to publish it (or a version of it) here. He refused, adding some more childish insults to thank me for my offer. Nonetheless, the offer remains open.

  19. TEFLista says:

    All good points, Alex.

    Here is example of an complaint, and not a hypothetical one, where participants on a TEFL International course state that they were put on the wrong visa and later tossed out of their housing when they didn’t want to continue working for them:

    http://www.english-test.net/forum/ftopic28935.html

    Assuming that are native speakers, all of the hardship that they endured for a job could have been avoided if they had just chosen a reputable recruiter rather than TEFL International. It’s all very easy for people to get blindsided by this so called ‘guarantee’, which really exists completely independent of the course provider. For native speakers, getting an entry level job in China, Thailand, or Vietnam is like shooting fish in a barrel — it’s certainly not a reason to sign-up for a TEFL course. And as you’ve just pointed out, one could do much better on their own.

  20. Steve says:

    I have been following this saga with TEFL International for years, since it began in the TEFLWatch site, first from Thailand and now from China. I am going to post in a lot more detail but on this thread I want to make two points:

    1. Alex, no matter what Bruce sent to you personally you are one one publicly calling him names on your site. Its very unprofessional and makes you lose all credibility. If you think you are scoring points with anyone you are very wrong. Just the opposite is true. And this will be a major point in my longer post.

    And drop the nutrino example. See above.

    2. TEFLista, the thing I found most telling and useful about your link is the quote from Mr. bad Guy himself, Bruce V, asking any parties that felt they were cheated or abused to contact him directly to solve the problem or, if necessary, take the matter to the BBB. Everyone online more than five minutes knows a lot of what we read is just plain bullshit. And, as I will point out in this other post I keep referring to, most of the accusations against TEFL International have, in fact, turned out to be just that, bullshit.

  21. Steve says:

    OK how about this for a far better comparison.

    You go to a hotel and pay for their breakfast. Now you think its probably cheaper and maybe better to head out to the local IHOP, but you choose the easy and safe way and buy the hotel breakfast.

    That’s realistic and fair.

  22. Alex Case says:

    Go on, find me even one example of me calling Bruce names. All I do is reprint what is on their sites and then tell people what is wrong about it.

    Here are some of the things he called me (or maybe sometimes others, it isn’t always clear) on this site (I don’t publish people’s emails without their permission, so those will just stay in my hotmail account):

    “you guys really are kind of jerks, aren’t you!”
    “this site is the perfect example. Mean spirited and often ignorant internet hooligans–tough guys with keyboards.”
    “I can only imagine how pathetic your life is to make you so bitter and sad.”
    “Hope you make rent this month, buddy.”
    “you are mean-spirited, narrow-minded person who…just generally dislikes people and things that have had more success in life than you have.”

    I have criticised many organisations for the content of their websites, e.g. all the people who claimed to be accredited by IATEFL (TI was not one). Many of them weren’t very happy about it, but none of them indulged in personal insults or threats, and none of their sites had as much b/s as TEFLlife.com still did after those changes were made. People can make their own conclusions about the organisation from that.

  23. Alex Case says:

    As I have pointed out several times, it is cheaper and safer to use a reputable recruiter without taking the TI course.

  24. Steve says:

    So you advocate no training for teachers? OK I know some people who think that training is a waste of time and money. I would not think you would be one of them. I always wondered why students should pay for someone who has absolutely no idea what they are doing. A four week course is not everything but i learned a lot.

    And having re read the post you do not call him names. You just insult him publicly every way you can without calling him a name. That’s semantics and thinking people do not buy it.

  25. Steve says:

    I started teaching without a cert and, in hindsight, I would have saved a lot of my own time and energy if I had first been trained in what to do. I would recommend to anyone–get a cert.

  26. Steve says:

    And they can certainly make assumptions about you as an individual as well. When was the last time Bruce V even posted here? And you still have to drag him through the mud every time, quoting posts from onths ago and referring to Emails he sent you that, I would assume, were supposed to be private. Did he ask you to write about them on his blog?

    Did you see what the guy went through on TEFLwatch? For nearly a year? You think he likes bloggers? They called his wife a whore, among other things. You need a bit of perspective.

  27. Alex Case says:

    22 April 2011. And he last emailed me about 3 days ago, and I certainly not because I had been emailing him, because I hadn’t. As I wrote, those insults are from the comments section of this blog, not from emails.

    I had no knowledge of the existence of TEFL Watch until long after it was gone. I read the words of Bruce and TI various places online and thought straightaway that it was one of the organisations that I would recommend avoiding, and wrote about it in a post on organisations that I have got a very negative impression of. Bruce responded, so I agreed to let him give his point of view in a four (!) part interview.

    As any regular reader would know, I recommend taking the CELTA because you can get better jobs than with any other 4 week cert and Cambridge, for all their many faults (many of which I have written about here), act like a serious educational organisation rather than as a marketing department with a TEFL course attached. However, if you can take a more serious qualification such as an MA with observed teaching practice or a PGCE, that is of course far preferable to any 4 week course.

  28. Alex Case says:

    So you re-read the post? So, how did you get that impression when in fact it does not mention Bruce or indeed any individuals in the organisation??

  29. Steve says:

    I think you are confused. There are several examples in the last few days if not in the past few hours.

    It looks more and more like conspiracy theory all the time.

  30. Steve says:

    I think most of us here would agree you are not someone we would want over to dinner.

  31. Steve says:

    I just ran across something very interesting. TEFL Interntional is now teaming with Disney to offer what appears to be a very good deal.

    –flight to Thailand
    –FREE TESOL Course
    –Flight to Shanghai
    –Job working for Disney Language earning about $2,000+ per month.
    –flight home

    i know i know, its a scam.

    You guys are a broken record.

  32. Steve says:

    Finally if you really do not see this as publicly dragging him through the mud you actually have a problem. We only have your word for the contents of his Emails and you are NOT very credible. You contradict yourself twice in this thread.

    Bruce has now started the email insults and threats again. If he stops wasting his time and energy on trying to silence his critics (as usual) and actually makes positive changes in his organisation, I will as always be happy to publicize them. In fact, he emailed me a copy of his letter to the British Council complaining about the fact that TEFL International certificates are not accepted in BC accredited schools in the UK, and I offered to publish it (or a version of it) here. He refused, adding some more childish insults to thank me for my offer. Nonetheless, the offer remains open.

  33. TEFLista says:

    Steve wrote in a statement above, that is cases such as this, that people can simply ‘take the matter to the BBB’ if necessary should something go horribly wrong with TEFL International. This is in fact not true, as the BBB will not get involved with overseas job or employment disputes — and that is exactly what this is. The BBB will not accept a complaint about an employment issue, and as such, they also do not have records of those sorts of complaints on file.

  34. Alex Case says:

    Steve

    Your last comment truly leaves me stumped. Are you having problems distinguishing between the terms “post”, “thread” and “comments”??

    I mentioned Bruce in the comments because someone asked me why I didn’t contact them directly, and that was the reason why. I can’t prove that is what he is writing to me without reprinting his emails, and until I get his permission I believe that is stepping over the line. However, as he has publically insulted me on my own blog and said here three times that he would never read again and then done so, I can’t see why anyone would doubt that he could do the same through the more private medium of email. Given all that, I think I am still being remarkably generous to the guy.

  35. Steve says:

    First for TEFLista. I will lay a little wager on what you say. I say that the BBB would take a complaint against a guaranteed job offered by a member company that turned out to be illegal. I am sure they would accept this complaint. Shall we check?

    Alex, Bruce has been gone from this site for many weeks but its you that are posting how he did this or that, said this or said that, saying what he did was childish, etc. if you do not see how you look bad doing this then you have very low social skills indeed.

  36. TEFLista says:

    Is TEFL International illegal? No. Apples and oranges.

  37. TEFLista says:

    So if a course participant gets passed on to a local school in China for teaching (as they did above), and that local school is not a member of the BBB in the US state of Oregon, and the local school doesn’t keep it’s word and tosses people out of their housing, how will the BBB protect them?

  38. Alex Case says:

    You were the one who brought up Bruce V again, Steve, perhaps to deflect attention from my main point, which no one has tried to answer:

    “- Their main claim that everyone can get a guaranteed job is contradicted by other information on their website

    – The less extravagant claims they make are also not true, because many of their graduates are excluded, including for reasons not mentioned on the site such as not being able to get a working visas in those places

    – Even when it is true, it is not much of a claim because you could get jobs in those places (and often the same jobs) with no TEFL training at all, and maybe better jobs with a Cambridge CELTA.

    – In fact, you might end up with a worse job by accepting their conditions.

    To summarize even more:

    – They guarantee a job, but only to people who could guarantee themselves a job (often the exact same job) without taking a TEFL certificate at all”

    Those things are either true or false, whatever my social skills (?!) As no one has contradicted any of those points, we can assume that it is a fair summary of the situation.

  39. James says:

    The “experts” as usual, are wrong.

    I contacted the BBB to ask about this case specifically. Here is the response:

    “If this guaranteed job is a product being sold by TEFL International it would be subject to complaint and arbitration. Finally, having contacted TEFL International on this matter, they have agreed to this.”

  40. TEFLista says:

    Employment disputes and jobs are not are products, only their TEFL certificate is.

    From the BBB before you file a complaint page:

    “BBB generally does not handle complaints which are more effectively handled by other government or private agencies or the legal system, such as complaints involving employment practices…”

  41. TEFLista says:

    And again, they are passing people to a third party for teaching. Those schools are not members, and you can’t file against a non-member.

  42. Alex Case says:

    I’m not following this story very closely and it isn’t the kind of guaranteed jobs that I was writing about in this post, but “having contacted TEFL International on this matter, they have agreed to this.” seems pretty unambiguous to me, so thanks for the detective work James. However, it seems from that that at the time it was not accepted as such and therefore historically TEFLista has a point.

    btw, as I’ve never blocked your comments why do you keep changing the name you comment with???

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