Online TEFL Course Reviews (The Red Pill or The Blue One?)

5 min readDec 21, 2019

Thinking about teaching English abroad and taking a TEFL course? Perfect. Then this post is for you.

You have to decide.

Do you want the red pill or the blue one?

Are you familiar with the red or blue pill?

From Wikipedia:

The red pill represents a life of harsh knowledge, desperate freedom, and the brutal truths of reality.

The blue pill represents a life of luxurious security, tranquil happiness, and the blissful ignorance of the harsh realities of life, basking in an (essentially dishonest) illusion.

What does the blue pill look like when it comes to TEFL courses?

It paints a pretty picture of gorgeous beaches in Thailand, temples in Chiang Mai and the Great Wall. It brings promises of an impressive certificate, a guaranteed job and higher pay.

  • It’s “internationally recognized”
  • It’s the experience of a lifetime
  • It comes w/ an exotic beach
  • It’s got a “guaranteed job”
  • It’s got a fancy certificate
  • It’s “accredited”
  • It’s “required”
  • It’s “legit”

It’s essentially fake and/or superficial.

What does the red pill look like?

I lied it’s not red.

It’s pink.

Hee hee hee

Just kidding…

I’m Ian. Nice to meet you.

Now about that red pill……..

The red pill comes in a different package.

It says…

Teaching English abroad is HARD.

And it asks…

1. Are YOU a legit teacher?

2. Are YOU willing to put the work in to learn?

You could be a natural teacher and teaching abroad could be easy for you.

And that “accredited, internationally recognized, 120 hour course” with a “guaranteed job” that’s wrapped in an exotic beach and garnished with lemon could work wonders for you.

But in reality you’re going to have…

  • yelling kids
  • crying kids
  • I don’t give an EF kids
  • I am not talking to you kids
  • disruptive kids
  • too many kids
  • ____ kids

And it’s not just kids.

Teens and adults can be difficult too.

And if you are unlucky you might have…

  • a boss who doesn’t pay in full
  • a boss who doesn’t pay on time
  • a boss who takes your tax money
  • a boss who takes your severance pay
  • a boss who puts you in an old moldy apartment

And you’ll probably find out…

  • there’s no vacation
  • there’s no beach (and only heaps of cough cough… pollution)

What reality do you want to believe?

The blue one sounds better: beaches, a vacation, more money, etc.

And maybe one of those courses will meet your goals...

But are your goals long term or just short term?


  • a certificate
  • accreditation
  • getting a job
  • a vacation
  • a beach

…are all short term benefits.

They are extrinsic rewards.

They might make you happy now, but they won’t last.

If you work full time for a year then you will probably spend 25-33% of your time at work teaching or preparing, 33% of your time sleeping (unless your superhuman), and 33% of your time spent doing ____.

And chances are if you are lucky you might get a week in the year where you can go to that beach in Thailand or Malaysia (which will be about 1–2% of your total time abroad).

1–2% of your time on an exotic beach and 98–99% of your time probably living in some big polluted city.

That’s the red pill.

If you really want to be happy you have to think long term and focus on intrinsic goals.

That’s the process.

And if you don’t enjoy the process — you lose.

If you want to get prepared to deal with the challenges that lie ahead and avoid the above problems then this course will teach you the tools and skills you need to overcome those.

But you have to make an effort.

Enter TEKA…

Here’s an online TEFL course called TEKA. I started with the problems that I had teaching abroad. For the first year or so teaching kids in Taiwan (where I started) was difficult. I did take a TESOL course prior to that, but I didn’t learn much of anything useful and I paid a $1000 for that.

I learned that the best way to learn how to teach was by watching other experienced teachers.

“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information (plus or minus 2).

Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.” — Dr. Lynell Burmark (Stanford)

Words from an experienced teacher who took ESLinsider’s course:

“It was one of the best investments I made. I had been teaching in Korea for six years up to that point and had to learn through trial and error on the jobs I worked which was not easy. Ian’s course is practical and based on actual experience in the classroom, not just dry theory. The videos were extremely helpful in the process and I still refer to them every now and then when I need ideas for class.”

“I really wish this course had been around during my early years in Korea because it would’ve helped so much more than the so-called orientation and training I did for a week in Seoul when I started with EPIK. I highly recommend these courses if you are serious about gaining practical knowledge of ESL teaching from someone who has been there.” — George P.

Those were taken from ESLinsider’s reviews and you can also see some others on ESLinsider here on Medium.

And you can find this specialized course here.

Related to TEFL courses:




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.