Before You Read Those Online TEFL Course Reviews… READ THIS.

Ian@ESLinsider
Jun 21, 2018 · 10 min read

Before you “trust” those so-called “unbiased” reviews I would read this so you can get the inside scoop as to what the TEFL course playing field is like. This post will cover some things that you should look out for in your search for online TEFL/TESOL course reviews.

Do you trust all of the reviews that you read online?

Do you think paid reviews are honest?

There are actually lots of “paid” reviews in TEFL and many don’t even look like it at first. And “accreditation” is actually the biggest paid review in TEFL that many people don’t even talk about.

They just assume “oh, it’s accredited”.

“Must be fine…”

But they know nothing about the people who “accredited” it, what they actually did or the fact that it could be a fake accreditation.

A video I made… Things you probably want to know about TEFL course reviews

Would you trust a review written by an employee of the company?

Affiliate marketing in TEFL is super common. It is used on third party review sites, on blogs, Youtube, Reddit and on Quora.

What is affiliate marketing?

This is when the writer of the page you are reading leaves a certain kind of link and if you click on that link and then purchase the course they linked to the person who posted the link will get some money.

It’s common in TEFL land.

You’ll find pages and pages of companies that offer this.

Basically I see affiliate marketing as a kind of bribe.

Your peers (the bloggers) who may seem independent and more trusting than a company are sometimes getting paid either directly or indirectly from a company with an affiliate program.

You can usually spot an affiliate link by the url.

Here’s an example.

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Here’s a screen shot of a vlogger on Youtube using affiliate marketing.

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It might not bother you, but I personally don’t like it as it’s not genuine to me.

Here’s Matt Cutts a former employee of Google talking about paid links.

”…They link to something because it inspires passion in them, it’s interesting they want to share it… Now if someone was going to come to a newspaper reporter and say I am going to give you some money can you link to me in your story… that would be deceptive. — Matt Cutts

PEOPLE WANT TO WRITE REVIEW$$$

Check this screen shot out. Here’s a bunch of people looking to make money writing reviews.

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  • get paid to write reviews
  • get paid to write “fake” reviews

Searches related too” are based off of what people are searching for. People are looking to make money by writing reviews and some of them don’t mind writing “fake” reviews.

But how legit is a paid review regardless if it’s “fake” to begin with?

If there is money involved then you are basically getting a review of the company or product by an employee.

There are MILLIONS of fake reviews…

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Check out these figures on big review sites.

What does a paid for video review look like?

Here’s a fake (or paid for) video review by TEFL online pro. It’s pretty easy to see she is reading a script if you watch the video. See my comment below it?

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Example of someone willing to write fake reviews:

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Does this look like a real TEFL review to you?

It was found on TEFL online pro.

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It’s not…

How do I know it’s fake?

Because I read that then did the math and knew the site was less than a year old and checked the Whois records.

How can someone take a course there and two years later be teaching abroad when the site is less than a year old? See for yourself.

If you found the site called, “Trusted TEFL reviews or TEFL online pro” then know that they are run by the same person. The owner of “Trusted” tefl reviews refers to themselves as “Mia Williams”, but that is a FAKE name.

Companies may also manipulate their customers to write reviews.

I remember I read a post once on Reddit that a TEFL course company held her certificate ransom until she left a review.

In TEFL some popular review sites are:

  • goabroad/gooverseas
  • teflcoursereview

These sites make money through advertisements (courses pay for a better position on their site) and affiliate links. The courses themselves also write some of the content there.

I doubt every review on those sites is real. I did not create accounts with them as am kind of adverse to 3rd parties and middle men.

No matter how hard you look you won’t find “unbiased” reviews

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The truth is that “unbiased” reviews don’t actually exist because everyone is biased in one way or another.

That includes you and I.

However

There is a difference between a “bias”, a lie and a fake review.

Don’t think you’re biased?

Search for:

everyone is biased

People who leave “anonymous” reviews or comments are hiding their identity for better or worse

Now it’s not always a bad thing. Some may want to remain private and I can respect that, but some create anonymous accounts because they don’t want any blow back and it’s easy to create a fake image.

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Da Vinci?

I would take any “anonymous” review or comment with a big grain of salt.

Anybody can write an anonymous review because they don’t have anything to lose when they can hide behind a faceless account. An anonymous review is often just as good as a troll’s review especially if it’s a negative review.

Why You Can’t Really Trust Negative Online Reviews

I’ve had internet trolls attack me, lie and write fake reviews on me, but of course they use anonymous accounts or fake aliases to do so.

That above comment by “Da vinci” was left on eslwatch.info. That site plus China scam patrol, CFTU (China Foreign Teacher’s Union), China fraud patrol, Chin scam watch, China scam central are all owned by same person who used multiple fake identities to comment on his own stuff and create fake reviews and attacks on various companies, schools and/or people.

He also uses other forum sites like scam.com, realscam.com, reddit.com and other sites under fake identities to publish content that usually links to his stuff or attacks someone.

It’s all very similar to what is on “trusted TEFL reviews” and TEFL online pro. Never will you see a real person who is actually in charge of those sites.

You can buy “likes” too

It’s not only reviews. You can buy Facebook likes too.

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Geez, all this fakery. How do you find a “trustworthy” site/course?

I’d say look at who built the site and who runs it. Look at the about page.

The more you can find out about who actually runs the site/company then the more you know. Otherwise you’ve got a 100+ TEFL look-alikes.

Most courses out there are totally impersonal. You have no idea who runs many of them because they are not transparent about who they really are.

Many try to look and sound as if they are some large company or prestigious institution.

That’s blue pill TEFL.

How can you spot a fake review?

  • Fake reviews are often overly glowing or overly negative.
  • They often (but not always) lack detail.
  • They might be anonymous. Pay attention to the details of the review or lack of them and who wrote it. Do you know who wrote it? Is it a real person? Or is it anonymous or could it be a fake name?
  • Look at the user’s history. Sometimes they may “astroturf”, “shill” (example) or pretend to be a real person.
  • The writing style might all be the same or similar if there are more than one review.

Conclusion

There are a lot of lies and misinformation on the web and it’s no different in TEFL land.


Looking for a review on ESLinsider?

I started teaching in 2004 in Taiwan, then Korea and then China. I’ve been working on ESLinsider since 2009 and it’s been online since 2011 and the first course started at the end of 2012.

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Yep, that’s me.

So if you do a search for:

eslinsider reviews

You will find my main page for reviews here, an interview with Alex Case about a free course I used to have, an article on my personal blog about 3rd party reviews, maybe some social media pages and a few pages/reviews written by trolls.

Remember that 1st affiliate marketing pic above? The owner of that site didn’t like my review of his affiliate marketing…

So he created:

eslinsiderreviews.com

And I figured out the owner of myTEFL wrote it.

And again…

If you do a search for:

eslinsider reviews

You will also find some other posts on Quora, “Trusted” TEFL reviews and tefl.net written by the guy who runs “trusted” TEFL reviews. He calls himself, “Mia Williams” and also owns the site TEFL online pro where he calls himself “Paul Murphy”.

It’s not the first time he had a review scam.

Why am I telling you this?

Because if you search for “ESLinsider reviews” you’ll find those negative attacks by trolls (“Trusted” TEFL and myTEFL) take up a chunk of the search results for my brand.

And…

The difference between me and them is that I am not trying to hide my actual identity.

Meet George

This was written by George who has taught in Korea for like 9+ years. I actually met him here in Fukuoka, Japan.

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George P.

“I took Ian’s 120 hour (now called Advanced) course two years ago and it was one of the best investments I made. I had been teaching in Korea for six years up to that point and had to learn through trial and error on the jobs I worked which was not easy. Ian’s course is practical and based on actual experience in the classroom, not just dry theory.” — George’s review on ESLinsider.

In this video I selected what I consider to be some of ESLinsider’s best reviews and commented on them.

Aside from TEFL course reviews here are some undisputed facts…

Woohoo!

;-)

Not huge, but hey I worked hard on those teaching videos so it’s something.

You can see my snazzy infographic here with more numbers from ESLinsider’s channel (I even added the DISLIKES for good measure).

Is it self-serving of me to write this article since I also have a course? Well, like I said “everyone is biased” including me, but my course isn’t the best for everyone.

If you teach:

  • mostly adults
  • business English
  • TOEFL

Or…

  • you just want to “check the box” and get an easy certificate or…
  • you want a so-called “accredited” or “internationally recognized” certificate or…
  • you want an in-class course

Then I guess it’s not for you.

And…

That probably wipes most of you short term not so deep thinkers out. If you are more of a long term thinker then you can see that getting a job is the easy part. It’s just the beginning.

Doing your job is another matter. I’ve taken two other courses (not mine): a partly in-class TESOL course and a cheap online TEFL. They were not very helpful for me and here’s why.

Instead of focusing on short term results like getting a job and obtaining a fancy sounding certificate then start thinking long term about the teaching that’s ahead.

SO…

If you want to get clear and confident and learn how to teach English to mostly kids in East Asia (8 out of 10 jobs) then of course I highly recommend it.

And if you don’t here’s some more info on the fake internet.

Related:

Related to TEFL courses (here on Medium):

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