As world economies still struggle in the West, more and more English-speaking people who find themselves unemployed, or stuck in a boring job are now being lured abroad to Asia to teach with hundreds of “Work Abroad” ads. But with no teaching backgrounds they wonder about qualifications. But fear not future teachers, because for only $1,000 to $5,000 you too can buy your “qualifications” in the form of a “TEFL” certificate (Teaching English As A Foreign Language) or so the sales reps from a dozen on-line “TEFL Training” companies allege. They further tell you that if you buy one of their treasured certificates you can “earn a small fortune in China” and “be the first to be hired in Korea and Japan.” In reality however, the certificates they issue are worth little more than the paper they are printed on since 47 countries do not recognize nor accept these certificates, and those who have them get paid the same as any other teacher hired abroad unless you have a genuine university degree with a major in Education.
We do not have time nor space to evaluate all twelve of the online TEFL training centers, but onlinetefl.com appears to be quite typical of the bunch. They promise the world, even “paid internships” but deliver only that nice-looking but almost worthless piece of paper. We say almost because if you want to teach in Central America or Bulgaria, they will accept it as “proof” that you are a teacher. In Brazil, Germany, China, etc. they will just grin and know you are another fool easily departed from their money. As for the “paid internships” we did some investigation and learned that they will actually match their “graduates” with real teaching jobs they find online, and then cut a deal with that school to refer their TEFL students for a placement fee IF the school goes along with the scheme and confirms to the new teacher that the first three months are an “internship.” Crafty and creative for sure, but if the new “teacher” spent 30 just minutes browsing the China job classifieds they can find that same job on their own and collect the full salary!
Take advantage of people when they are down and out on their luck is especially despicable in our opinion, but these TEFL Certificate mills are doing exactly that – scamming those who can least afford to lose money. They are selling a dream of a great job and future career. Promising anyone that they “can earn a small fortune” in China is absolutely ludicrous, especially when it is well known in the expat community that foreign teachers in China are the lowest paid foreigners in China and most have not received a raise in over five years. Furthermore, 52% of foreign teachers in China reported being scammed by their own employer or agent. More truthful information about teaching in China can be found at these five links:
Indeed teaching is an honorable profession, and teaching abroad can make it more fun, rewarding, and exciting. But do not be so naive and gullible to believe that in the space of 120 days you can acquire the skill set to become a well-prepared and proficient English teacher. Thousand of students attend four years at proper universities to achieve this goal. There are very few shortcuts to a good education. Like most things in life, we always get what we pay for and when something seems too good to b true – it is. Great-looking websites does not make any product or service legitimate, and we have to admit that onlinetefl.com did a superb job with their misleading website – and all the bogus self-created review sites they created for themselves. BTW… only the Cambridge CELTA and Trinity TEFL certificates are internationally accepted and recognized. And to be crystal clear… NO TEFL CERTIFICATES ARE REQUIRED TO TEACH IN CHINA. To be fair however, a very small handful of international schools say in their ads “TEFL Certificate a plus”. Unfortunately most wannabe English teachers do not know the difference between a real TEFL certificate and one you simply buy online like we mentioned above. Hopefully now you do.