You're probably going to get scammed in TEFL because you don't know sh*t. I hate to say it, but that's the truth. I was there once too. If you found this article by searching for "online TEFL course scams" then I know you are new to the game.

First let's get clear on what a scam is.

So what is a scam?

According to Google a scam is "a dishonest scheme; fraud".

I don't think there are many outright scams with TEFL courses.

But it depends what you call a scam. 

I don't think anybody is going to take your money and give you nothing in return, but they might lie to you before you give them money.

"Lies" and telling half-truths like below is common with like 90% of TEFL courses.

So then you could say that most TEFL courses are a scam.

I think it's the same thing with college education.

There is a promise that it's going to do this or that and help you in your career, but does it? If it does then why are looking for a job teaching English abroad?

If your answer is, "well I want to take a year or two off to travel then you already started to believe one of the half-truths that I'll mention later.

Lies & half-truths with TEFL courses

Are all the claims listed below outright lies? Not necessarily. It depends. But they are mostly half-truths

  • "Accredited" TEFL courses
  • An "internationally recognized" certification
  • You NEED it
  • You'll get a better job
  • You'll make more money
  • You can teach anywhere in the world
  • Teaching abroad is a vacation
  • TEFL course hours: "60, 120, 150, etc. hour" courses
  • Guaranteed jobs
  • Fake review sites

I tried telling you about these lies before, but you didn't listen. You didn't listen because you want to believe the lie. Well, GOOD NEWS there are hundreds of TEFL courses out there that will sell you a lie like above.

They'll sell you what you want. And that's what you want right? So then I guess it's not really a scam. So then why are so worried about getting scammed?

It depends what you call a scam.

Now let's take a look at those half-truths.

Guaranteed jobs

You probably want a guaranteed job. I mean that's why you are thinking of taking a TEFL course right? Because you think you need it or it's going to help you get a job.

Who cares if you learn anything right?

There are a lot of jobs out there and you don't need a TEFL course provider to find you a job. I mean if you want someone to hold your hand then go right ahead.

But just know that you can find a lot more jobs out there on your own if you look. The TESOL course that I took offered "guaranteed jobs", but the reality was that they had only a few jobs where I wanted to teach.

That's going to be the case for all courses that offer "guaranteed jobs".

Another thing to consider is that if a provider is offering a guaranteed job then they are basically acting like a recruiter. Most of the time these course providers are not where you want to teach.

An accredited TEFL course

That's what you want right? Anything else would probably be a scam. Well, accreditation is not all that it seems, which is really the truth for the TEFL course industry in general.

There is no rule requiring accreditation nor is there any one body for TEFL accreditation. Did you think that there was one body that overlooks the whole TEFL industry in multiple countries around the world?


It's business.

A provider is going to tell you that they are accredited because that's what you want to hear. They may be accredited too, but who are they accredited by?

There isn't any one organization for TEFL. They are usually not organizations in the higher sense. They are businesses or you could say independent accrediting bodies.

In the worst case senario sometimes these so-called accreditors are run by the same people who are selling you a course except they name it differently...

You can see an example of this here.

Learn more about TEFL accreditation.

An "internationally recognized" certification

You want to believe that whatever course that you are going to take will be accepted abroad. But the truth is there is no course that guarantees that.

"Internationally recognized" TEFL certification is mainly a marketing term. There is no stamp of approval that makes one course internationally recognized or not. 

Again there is no one accreditation that makes it so. Internationally recognized TEFL certification doesn't mean much.

You NEED it

Plenty of TEFL providers or recruiters selling a university will tell you that you need it to teach abroad.

If you need it or not is dependent on the school that you are applying to and sometimes country. Some schools may require it, but many do not. The short answer is that it depends. 

Also to get a work visa to legally teach in much of Asia you do NOT need a TEFL course.

You'll get a better job

There is no guarantee that you will get a better job because of it. It's possible, but TEFL certification is normally secondary to qualifications like experience and it does not compare to a teaching license.

You'll make more money

Sounds nice, but across the board there is no guarantee that a TEFL guarantees more money. There are places where that is possible like for example the EPIK program. But in my experience I didn't make any more money than my non-TEFL touting friends.

Experience is much more likely to increase your salary or be a better negotiating factor.

You can teach anywhere in the world

You can't teach anywhere in the world with a TEFL certificate. It's not a passport and neither is CELTA. Did your degree guarantee you a job anywhere you wanted in your country?

You want someone to hold your hand

You want to trust someone, but TEFL courses are usually just an intermediate step to teaching abroad. They are more like middle men or recruiters.

It's like you are on a journey to teaching abroad and along that path you will meet many people who will try to "help" you or sell you something. 

Teaching abroad is a vacation

A picture of a beach in Thailand is a pretty inspiring thing. It's beautiful. Plenty of TEFL providers use that kind of marketing. But most of you will probably not be teaching by a beach so you might want to wake up.

You'll probably be teaching in a crowded city somewhere far from a secluded beach. But you don't want to believe that. You want to believe in the beach. But teaching abroad and traveling are not the same.

The review site scam

There's a review site out there owned by someone that writes fake reviews and who also owns an online TEFL course in the industry.

TEFL course hours: 60, 120, 150, etc.

Chances are that any online TEFL course and possibly some in-class courses are not going to be actually 120 hours or whatever they say. Now that may be a standard with CELTA courses or others where you actually spend 120 hours in a classroom (8 hours a day for 4 weeks), but there is no online course that is actually 120 hours in length.

It's an industry lie.

You'll probably hear that some employers want a 120 or more hours course, but that's just a perpetuated lie that is probably based on the fact that CELTA actually is 120 hours so many TEFL course providers just try to look more official by naming their courses that.

Don't believe me?

See what these folks had to say about the accuracy of TEFL course hours. Based on my experience I can tell you that it can happen with in-class courses too. Things are not what they seem in TEFL.

What about ESLinsider?

Who are you? I see that you are selling courses online. How can I trust you?

You don't have to trust me and don't take my course.

And you don't have to take any TEFL course to teach abroad for that matter.

Before I created courses I created instructional videos, because in my experience it's way easier to learn how to teach by watching other teachers vs. reading about it. And those have been free since 2012.

I also wrote articles like, "TEFL courses Are A Waste Of Money" and others.

I did that because I felt like I was lied to. The main reason why I felt that way was because of what I did not learn in the course.

Teaching sucked for me especially in the beginning because I didn't know what I was doing. 

Every TEFL course provider has a story and most of them are selling you a prestigious or what they say is a prestigious certificate that might get you a better job, make more money, etc.

Mine is that if you take ESLinsider's course (TEKA) then you are going to be better prepared and more confident to teach English to kids in Asia than if you don't.

There is no one size fits all

You are going to be told a story and the difference is going to be whether you regret it or not after you pay for your course, get abroad AND start teaching.


You will know how well that course actually prepared you to teach.

They still might have lied to you. But if you believe it after you completed the course and started teaching abroad then I guess you didn't lose anything. So you could get scammed and still win.

But if you believed what a TEFL course provider told you and after taking it you regretted it then you lost. 


TEFLies ebook cover