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.
In this post we’re going to talk about your peers getting paid to do reviews, people willing to write fake review$, how easy it is to buy a rep online, fake reviews on massive sites like Amazon and a whole lot of fakery going on in the TEFL industry.
So here’s a question for you…
Would you trust a review created by an employee of the same TEFL company you’re considering?
Because that’s basically what affiliate marketing is.
Affiliate marketing in TEFL is all over the place. It is used on third party review sites, on blogs, Youtube, Reddit and on Quora.
What is affiliate marketing?
This is when the author of the page you are reading leaves a certain kind of link and if you click on that link and then purchase the product (course) they will get some money.
It’s common in TEFL land.
You’ll find pages and pages of companies that offer this.
Basically I see affiliate marketing as a kind of bribe.
Your peers (the bloggers) who may seem independent and more trusting than a company are sometimes getting paid either directly or indirectly from a company with an affiliate program.
You can usually spot an affiliate link by the url.
Here’s an example.
Here’s a screen shot of a vlogger on Youtube using myTEFL’s affiliate marketing. 20% off, 35%, etc. TEFL course sales are a dime a dozen.
What do these links look like?
Here’s Matt Cutts a former employee of Google talking about paid links.
”…They link to something because it inspires passion in them, it’s interesting they want to share it… Now if someone was going to come to a newspaper reporter and say I am going to give you some money can you link to me in your story… that would be deceptive. — Matt Cutts
PEOPLE WANT TO “GET PAID” TO WRITE REVIEW$
Check this screen shot out. Here’s a bunch of people looking to make money writing reviews.
- 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)
Here’s an interesting video about online fakery.
There are MILLIONS of fake reviews…
Check out these figures on big review sites.
- Yelp estimates 25% of its reviews are fake.
- This source suggests Amazon has 200+ million fake reviews and here’s another interesting post.
- Some companies may offer discounts or pay customers who write reviews.
- Some companies hire PR firms or someone on Fiverr to write fake reviews that are either positive or negative. Sometimes people will try to make a company look bad by writing a fake negative review.
- There are even FAKE VIDEO reviews.
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.
- Why are they reading a script?
- Why is the video review on a company channel and not the reviewer’s channel?
- Why were multiple course reviews uploaded to their channel in a short period of time?
- 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 was found on TEFL online pro.
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:
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.
There is a difference between a “bias”, a lie and a fake review.
Don’t think you’re biased?
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.
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.
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.
Geez, all this fakery. How do you find a “trustworthy” online TEFL?
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. 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?
- 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.
I found this video recently that talks about some similar topics.
There are a lot of lies and misinformation on the web and it’s no different in TEFL land.
- Are paid or fake testimonials illegal?
- 50% of the internet is fake
- How much of the internet is fake? (a lot)
Hey, what’s going on?
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):
- TEFL accreditation
- Best online TEFL course in 2021?
- Reviews on ESLinsider’s courses
- Which TEFL course should you take?
- Internationally recognized TEFL certification means nothing
- An accredited 120 hour TEFL certificate isn’t going to solve your problems
- Top 3 TEFL courses to teach in Asia
- Learn TEFL online with a specialized course
- A legitimate, reputable, accredited, internationally recognized, 120 hour online TEFL course, that’s cheap with a guaranteed job!
- Welcome to TEFL! Do you know these tricks courses use to get you to buy?