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I started a free TEFL course in 2012 and as of today 2016 I am done with it. I tried different ways to make money with it to support it, but...

Why I killed the free TEFL course

Here's why:

  1. Problem people. I can testify that people who want something for cheap or free are often more problematic. They complain more and just seem to be more difficult. 
  2. Too many low quality non-native English speakers. Sure some non-natives can speak fluent English, but see the comments below.
  3. People from 3rd or 2nd world countries like in Africa or the Philippines looking for a "qualification" or a ticket out of poverty.
  4. Too many free loaders.
  5. Little reward. Only a small % of all the sign ups on the site led to donations or to users taking a paid course.
  6. Image. It comes with some negative associations. People think you are a scammer or whatever if you give something away for free.
  7. Theft. People stealing content and putting it on their site.
  8. People who are not committed. Thousands of sign ups, but relatively few actually finish a course. That is common with many free or cheap online courses. 

Here are some of the comments that I received on the former free TEFL page.

"i am a teacher of English in Uganda. Is it possible for me do TEFL course freely online? Then get a certificate of TEFL. so much interested in your response."

"Hi I'm lia from Philippines. I'm interested to have a tefl certificate for free"

"M Amber from Pakistan. I got a job in a China.Its a very hgood job but cant get work visa because not a certified . Thanks in advance"

I am not a grammar snob and I don't care if people make typos or mistakes online. But in this case it just looks bad and I don't want to make anyone like that think they are "qualified".

There were too many people who made comments like "I really appreciate your course, but I can't afford to pay for a certificate. Can I have it for free?"

Then there were spammy people trying Western Union and Paypal scams. People who said they would donate after they get a certificate and so on.

Here's a comment from an email I got today.

"I can not pay by paypal. I can only pay by Western Union. Further, as I already wrote I am unable to pay such large sums. I earn $6/hr."

Actually if I add up all the hours and years that I put into making all the resources such as how-to videos and the courses then I would have made less than that an hour.

And another one

"Still waiting for the free review of my essay - which was way within time - regardless of what your computer program says..."

Geez, give them a free course and it's still not enough. They want service too.

Tired of giving away all my work for free

I am tired of giving my hard work away for free. It really wasn't rewarding. I have worked on this site for years. I started working on it in 2009. I created all the how-to videos in 2009 and 2010 and at the end of 2010 ESLinsider went live up until the current day.

I have given away a ton of stuff for free and I am tired of giving it away.

I have tried various ways of making money with it such as with ads, donations, crowdfunding, but none of them worked very well. It's not sustainable. Not now anyways.