ian leahy eslinsider

My name is Ian Leahy and I am the creator of ESLinsider. My teaching experience started in 2004 and in 2009 I began working on ESLinsider which has been online consistently since 2011.

So what are my qualifications?

Before I tell you that, I'd like to share my personal take on qualifications. And that is they don’t actually matter. That may be contrary to popular belief, but they don’t (at least I don't think so in this case).

Seth Godin (someone who's inspired me) said, “You are not your resume”.


Take for example the many famous people who did not either attend college or even complete it and they still rose to success in their fields.

  • Anthony Robbins
  • The Wright brothers
  • Thomas Edison
  • Ray Kroc
  • Richard Branson
  • Steve Jobs
  • Bill Gates
  • Walt Disney
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Albert Einstein

And there are many many more...

Personally I would like to add another who've I've admired since I was a teen who is not well known in mainstream media. His name is KRS-ONE and he didn’t go to college.

And even though he didn’t go to college he's since given lectures in many of the top universities in the USA like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc.

Now if you read on some site that I don’t have a degree such as ‘Eslinsiderreviews.com’ which was written by a troll to attack me.

Then well, I do have a degree in fine art from Northern Arizona University. I also attended Brevard college as a freshman, two different high schools: Woodsville high school in NH and St. Johnsbury Academy in VT. I’ve lived in 7 different States, 4 different countries and traveled to quite a few others.

It’s not that I think qualifications don’t matter because mine are unrelated to teaching English. It’s that I think they just don’t matter. Even if I was a licensed teacher, had a MA in TESOL or some other English related degree I wouldn’t be bragging about it.

Experience matters more than any diploma, certificate or license (most of the time)

I’ve taught English and lived in Taiwan (2 years), Korea (3.5 years), China (6 months) and lived in Japan (1.75 years). That is far more relevant than any degree or certificate. They are relevant because I created ESLinsider which is focused on teaching English in these places.

I didn’t try to make a site for teaching English in Turkey, the Middle East, Zimbabwe or all over the world like other TEFL courses say that they do because I didn’t do that.


In these places I can also tell you that schools (employers that hire teachers) also value experience far more than any TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate.

Experience matters more than any diploma, certificate or license?

Assuming you have the basic requirements to get a visa which is usually a degree in anything and usually to be a native speaker (varies by the country and situation in East Asia).

How most employers look at it...

Granted you have the basics to get a job there most employers are going to take the teacher with a year or more of experience teaching in their country vs. a teacher with a TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, related degree or even a license.

A license?

Now there are certain places where you need a license such as in most international schools, public schools in Taiwan, but most schools are still going to prefer a teacher with experience teaching in their country.

I’ve taken two TEFL/TESOL courses:

  • In 2004 I took a course by Global TESOL college.
  • In 2016 I took a cheap online course by TEFL Full circle.

Again these are irrelevant qualifications. They were not very helpful courses. The first was a bit more helpful, but for a $1000 definitely not worth it.  

Why not?

Because I was ill-prepared to teach in Taiwan where I started. I remember learning two activities (1, 2) from that course, however not much more than that.

The second course I don’t remember anything from except a whole bunch of text. I completed it in 8 hours straight. Ohh, and it was a co-called “120 hour” course.

It was boring. 

I didn’t take it because I needed it I took it because I wanted to see what I would get for $40 and I wanted to compare it to the online courses I had created.

ESLinsider was built based on the fact that I learned after I started teaching that the easiest way to learn how to teach is by watching other teachers.

If you are looking for an accredited course then you are primarily focused on getting a job. So many courses out there know that and market to you accordingly. They’ll show beaches, exotic places and use lots of terms like “accredited”, “international recognized”, etc.

But I have to say being focused on just getting a job is short sighted. 

Doing your job is another matter. 

ESLinsider didn’t do what other TEFL courses did

I don’t do affiliate marketing, paid advertising and nor did I create accounts with 3rd party review sites.

And I didn’t put all of the training content behind a paywall. 

Most of the instructional videos used in ESLinsider’s courses are also available on Youtube for free.  

Some of these videos have over 100,000 views. 

  1. "Teacher Says" - warm up activity (201,000+ views)
  2. How to Teach English (ESL) w/ Games & Activities (167,000+ views)
  3. Icebreakers & Warm-Up Activities - "Line Up" (147,000+ views)

Here is one with over 305,000 views.

Perhaps that’s an example of what can happen when a background in art meets experience teaching children in Asia.

As far as TEFL courses go ESLinsider is lesser known. ESLinsider is more popular amongst current teachers vs. aspiring teachers (who know less about what they are getting into).

Take a look at this screenshot from the backend that shows ESLinsider’s most popular pages. You can see the page views in red.

top 5 articles eslinsider

There is no accreditation. 

Why not?

It is something I looked into and have written a fair amount about. 

Some facts on TEFL accreditation:

  1. There is no “one” accreditation for teaching English abroad.
  2. Most of these accreditations that do exist are anonymous online businesses
  3. Some of these accreditations are fake.

If they are not fake then they all require a monthly or yearly membership fee. 

Now an “accredited” certificate might look better on paper than one that’s not, but similar to what Seth Godin said "you are not a piece of paper".

I chose to maintain ESLinsider’s autonomy instead of promote some other 3rd parties business and not be a part of this system of back rubbing. I just don’t believe in it. Also I took "accredited" TEFL courses that I didn't find very helpful so why would I want to fit into their system? 

My initial goal of creating ESLinsider was make learning how to teach English easier for you than it was for me. 

Not to just give you some “accredited” certificate. 

Are there any advantages to the fact that I don’t have fancy sounding degrees and qualifications?

I think there are.

One thing that both of those TEFL/TESOL courses that I took had in common was that they had a lot of theoretical stuff that went in one ear and out the other kind of like chemistry, biology, geometry, most history classes and lots of other classes I took.

It was all about memorizing useless data and jargon.

That was part of getting an "education". 

And if getting a college degree is so useful why are 40+% of graduates working in jobs that don’t require a degree?

Why are so many graduates in debt?

Most of them went to “accredited” colleges too.

That just shows you that the system doesn’t work (at least for a good chunk of the population).

The videos I created are very short and simple instructional videos that show you what to do. In the courses I’ve created there is little theory because I think it's useless.

Most of you who will teach English abroad will not do it for a long time. 

The average English teacher abroad lasts 1-2 years and then they return home. So what’s the easiest and fastest way to learn?

It’s by watching other experienced teachers teach.

It’s not by reading or taking a text based online course. Why not? Because research shows that people don’t read much online and they don’t remember much of what they read. People remember faces, people remember images and they remember words less. 

Monkey see, monkey do.

There is no sense in doing a deep study of teaching theory, English grammar, etc. because this is not going to be part of your daily work routine. Language learning abroad is about teaching your students simple and practical language that they can use.

If you have traveled abroad before then you know that the simple language is the important stuff.  


I think it is advantageous to the new teacher to learn from someone who can speak to them in terms that they understand. 

Not everyone is a natural teacher. Most people teaching abroad will not continue in the education field, but the truth is that everyone can learn how to teach English or at least improve their situation.

Everything I learned in this course about teaching I learned from other teachers in the places I taught, the books that I read (and turned into videos), workshops I attended, etc.

So those are my qualifications.

They are not super impressive on paper. Plenty of people out there have more impressive qualifications on paper or even more experience.

There are teaching positions abroad such as international schools that may require a teaching license. And there are teaching positions abroad at universities like in Japan or Taiwan that usually require a master’s degree.

Though most of the time in Asia aside from a degree and being a native speaker, experience will trump any certificate or degree. 

Chances are that if you are like the average English teacher abroad then you just have a degree in an unrelated discipline. 

That’s how I started.

I know what it’s like and I know the easiest way to learn and the kind of stuff you should learn to help your students learn. 

ESLinsider can be your guide to achieving better results in the classroom. Again it may not look the best on paper since I didn’t pay anyone for “accreditation”, but you might want to ask yourself: are you in this to just get a job or are you in this to learn?

If you just want to put a certificate on your resume then the truth is that any TEFL certificate will do (in the short term). In Asia most schools do not keep track of all the brands and “accredited” TEFL courses are a dime a dozen.

But why do you want to teach abroad? 

Is it because you thought you might enjoy it? Well, if you don’t learn how to teach and get prepared I don’t think you are going to enjoy it much.

If don’t enjoy teaching or put any effort in then you most likely won’t enjoy your experience abroad.

The other reason I built ESLinsider was to cut out the false claims I see other courses tell. 

I wanted to be transparent about who actually runs ESLinsider which is not something I see many other courses do.

ESLinsider is small. 

And instead of being a vague and anonymous “we” with “decades of so-called experience” it’s small and personal. If you have any questions about ESLinsider you can contact me or learn more about ESLinsider here.