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

Searching for reviews? If so then I would read this if you want to become more aware of the deception that’s out there. 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?

What do you think about paid reviews?

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.

So…

In this post we’re going to talk about your peers getting paid to do reviews, people willing to write fake review$, how easy it is to buy a rep online, fake reviews on massive sites like Amazon and a whole lot of fakery going on in the TEFL industry.

An okay video I made about online TEFL course reviews and there is more updated info below

So here’s a question for you…

Would you trust a review created by an employee of the same TEFL company you’re considering?

Affiliate marketing in TEFL is all over the place. It is used on third party review sites, on blogs, Youtube, Reddit and on Quora.

What is affiliate marketing?

This is when the author of the page you are reading leaves a certain kind of link and if you click on that link and then purchase the product (course) they 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.

Here’s a screen shot of a vlogger on Youtube using myTEFL’s affiliate marketing. 20% off, 35%, etc. TEFL course sales are a dime a dozen.

What do these links look like?

Some examples:

  • shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=712139
  • bit.ly/7CCm7ay
  • tephlcourse.net/?cu=sallygoesesl

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 “GET PAID” TO WRITE REVIEW$

  • 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.

Check this out.

Fake online reviews: How easily can you buy a reputation? (CBC Marketplace)

There are MILLIONS of fake reviews…

Check out these figures on big review sites.

Here’s someone referring to video reviews on TEFL courses on Youtube.

I have not seen very many of these on YouTube I have looked and looked and looked and all I can find a lot of them are the ones that are directly from the website you know like propaganda but not really propaganda… but they’re meant to sell it rather than it seeming like from a normal actual testimony.

Katie P.

I’ve seen reviews like that by myTEFL and TEFL online pro on Youtube. I think they were most likely paid to do those. For a few reasons:

  1. Why are they reading a script?
  2. Why is the video review on a company channel and not the reviewer’s channel?
  3. Why were multiple course reviews uploaded to their channel in a short period of time?
  4. Do you think they were paid or compensated for those videos? I do.

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?

Example of someone willing to write fake reviews:

Does this look like a real TEFL review to you?

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 I am kind of adverse to 3rd parties and middle men.

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

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

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

Geez, all this fakery. How do you find a “trustworthy” online TEFL?

The more you can find out about who actually runs the site/company then the more you know. But good luck with that because many of the about pages I’ve seen on TEFL course sites all look the same.

They 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?

  • 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.

I found this video recently that talks about some similar topics.

Conclusion

Related:

Hey, what’s going on?

Yep, that’s me.

I started teaching in 2004 in Taiwan, then Korea, then China and now I live in Japan. 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.

If you haven’t gathered by now I don’t do any affiliate marketing, pay for advertising and I didn’t pay some mysterious 3rd party for an “accreditation”.

I just try to focus on one thing and that’s helping you learn how to teach English to mostly kids in Asia because that’s where most of the jobs are and they are the more difficult age group to teach.

Related to TEFL courses (here on Medium):

I taught English in China, Korea & Taiwan. You can get the inside scoop on teaching in Asia at my site ESLinsider. Courses, how-to videos, a blog, etc.