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.”
– 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.