|All that glitters is not gold|
|The old story of David and Goliath has inspired all kinds of people down the ages, especially those who feel intimidated by apparently bigger and stronger competition.
How could a young shepherd boy too small and weak to wear body armor possibly expect to get the better of a giant of a man, a hardened and experienced soldier, a national war hero, who was armed and shiny armored to the teeth? Even David’s own side held out no hope for him whatsoever. Simple and effective tactics targeted on the big guy’s weak spot — his exposed forehead — did the trick, and the rest, as they say, is legend.“What are you getting at?” you may well be asking. If you are a teacher who has just arrived in İstanbul with your TEFL diploma fresh from the printer, or a long-in-the-tooth teacher flying in from some other exotic location ready to experience this great metropolis, or whether you are simply ready to change schools for one reason or another, some guidelines might be useful to find your way through the maze of language schools on offer.
If possible, it would first be useful to consider what kind of school you want to teach at and whether you have all the requisite qualifications. Bear in mind that state schools and universities insist on at least a BA in English; TEFL, CELTA or DELTA are an added bonus. If you want to teach young children, you will also need what in England is called a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). You will also need to get a residence permit, which they will often not help you to do. On the other hand, you should find the private sector easier to get into. Unfortunately it can often be too easy. (If they don’t insist on at least a TEFL type diploma, don’t accept, unless as a last resort before moving up to a “better” school.)
Trawling through the ads on the various Internet sites gives you some choices but no idea of what the school is really like. Top of your list, therefore, will be international language schools accredited by the British Council. Pay and conditions are usually good, but watch out for restrictive clauses in their contracts. Alternatively, there are dozens of Turkish-owned schools, but this is where it becomes a little more bemusing.
Many of the smaller schools are owned by businessmen who have an eye on the easy cash to be made selling English language courses. The demand is so high that it takes very little effort to get a “school” up and running. In general, however, these places are to be avoided like the plague as there are no guarantees that they are even authorized by the Ministry of Education, and one official inspection will catch you in the net as an illegal worker along with the rogue boss or bosses.
Then there are numerous medium-large-sized language schools that have been working more or less successfully for a number of years and have something of a “name” for themselves, so their reputation, whether good or bad, will be known around town. It is easy enough to check by asking around in the bars and cafés frequented by expat teachers. (Just follow the sound of loudly spoken English, laughter and orders for more beer — “bira” in Turkish!)
At interview with the director of studies, who should preferably be a native English speaker, make sure you establish some basic points:
1. How long a normal contract is for and if the school is authorized by the MoE.
2. Is accommodation provided free by the school or do they deduct rent?
3. Alternatively, whether a rent allowance is paid on top of the salary.
4. Does the school assist you with obtaining a residence permit?
5. What financial provision is made for a return trip home, or alternatively what holidays are permitted, whether they are paid for, and what, if any, other bonuses are included?
6. What is the length of a probation period and the conditions? (Insist on a probation period to ensure you and the school are happy with each other. Do NOT be rushed into signing — a very bad sign (literally) — it is your legal right to settle in. You are not obliged to sign anything before starting work
7. What exactly “Full-Time” really means. (About 25-28 hours is considered reasonable. More should be paid as overtime so be sure to clarify.)
8. What is the rate of pay, the pay day in each month, and do they pay it all, ON TIME! (Word-of-mouth will soon confirm if they are telling the truth.)
9. Take a look around the school to gauge its standard and the resources available, particularly if they use an internationally recognized and proven course book. If possible, try and talk to two or three foreign teachers working there before making any decision.
10. Finally, let your “gut feeling” about the place — its atmosphere, feeling, and your rapport with the people you meet there — guide you more than your potential bank balance.
There are of course many other things you might like to know and only the opinions of those who have been here a while and have some experience of the names on your list will be able to guide you further. Above all, beware of being blinded by bigness. Just because a school has lots of branches here or elsewhere, it is no guarantee of their ability to provide an excellent delivery of language education.
by Ashley Perks
Category Archives: tefl
At this point I am no longer in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) industry, but as I am still committed to good service and care about students, I feel compelled to continue fighting the corruption surrounding this four letter word, TEFL, and will until all I have to say is heard by the an industry that is obviously listening.
What’s in a name?
In a company’s case, everything.
A name of a company depends on a good brand name, a trusted brand name, one that carries a company through their product or service line and should extend the goodwill that they offer their buying community.
So why do TEFL companies often use far more names than major organizations, such as Nike, Stanford, and Coca-cola. I feel you will you see that the idea behind this marketing technique as dishonest and rife with corruption.
Plain and Simple. Many TEFL companies are built on an aggressive franchise & marketing blitzkriegs that leaves unassuming students clueless as to what, “TEFL” is and how to obtain it.
TEFL is not a certification, TEFL is not an accredited degree, TEFL is a methodology, but the industry does not want you to know that.
You don’t need your TEFL, because it doesn’t exist.
It’s experience that you need, there is no substitute for that. So get a grammar book from the library and volunteer at your community center, heck buy a $19.95 DVD and save $2,000.00. If you want culture take a language/immersion course and save $1000.00! Otherwise get a University accredited TESOL/TEFL degree unless the program has major benefits like immersion. TEFLocal offered dual certificate training for Cambridge & an independent TEFL organization. They were the exception to this rule, and see how the industry treated them here. So don’t spend over $1000.00 on something you have to earn back unless of course it comes from a university or getting a lot more than simply a
You see, for these companies to make profits, the industry has to capitalize on your ignorance regarding this point; they want you to feel required to get your, “TEFL”. When all you need is training from a trusted organization with one name.
There is not any academic TEFL body of accreditors anywhere and if a company or employee of a company tells you that, they are lying. They, my friend, are lying through their teeth.
That is why we have names like the world tefl school, travelling teachers, cactustefl, teflbuenosaires, teflegypt, and teflthisorthat bother me so much. Generally, They aren’t started by teachers. They are created by opportunistic marketers that prey on students to sign up and hope that their “TEFL” accreditation scheme works on you. Unless they clearly state they are connected, it’s a scheme, and boy are their a lot of accreditation schemes out there. Schemes.
Will you find this on Dave’s ESL Cafe? Not likely, they’ll zap your ISP & you’ll get kicked off. Try it.
Dave makes his money through rampant advertising, and fine, the cafe was his idea, he is entitled to accommodate students and gain profit from it, but be careful, there are almost as many marketers on that site as students. I’d trust someone I know, or an identifiable contact through Facebook before that chat board, and others like TESALL, and ESLBASE. I have no issue with them except that they are profit based and thus wont debunk the “international TEFL” Diploma that companies push on unassuming students. Here are a few classic examples of the massive rampant corruption in the TEFL industry to be wary of:
TEFLinteractive.com & TEFL SwindleNational.
TEFLinteractive was an idea the teachers our school was working well into last year. We even sent myself as a representative to test various systems in the United States as we had no other way to see interactive technology work than by going to the source code. Now, TEFL interactive was an idea of using new web platforms from a variety of services to give students the best platform for classroom success. Obviously we gravitated towards WebCT & Blackboard, expensive leaders in their field and some that I used in University myself. While there, I learned about many other, CHEAPER, platforms such as Sakai & Moodle most of which I blogged about in realtime with audio and even had time for a few snapshots with fellow professors and the CEO of Blackboard, Inc. Keep in mind I was one of the only people there from the private sector, and the only person there in the TEFL field. Moodle was the platform what I came away with, it was the platform TEFLocal could most afford, and I was eager to learn a new code after days actively teaching in our classrooms. We were a small company, this was a major expense. It was all in the name of finding the best platform for students regarding ease of use, accessibility, security, user-ability, etc. Man what an expensive undertaking, but a learning experience to be sure. One lesson I learned however is that you can’t trust ANYONE in the TEFL Business from taking your ideas and trying to take your money or make money out of your ideas, intellectual theft no?
Now understand that TEFL is a methodology, and that anyone can teach it that knows how, and anyone can learn it that is willing to try. Teaching is like becoming a doctor, nurse, carpenter, or any skilled person, it takes time, effort, and anyone can do it. However, if I started a woodshop called, say, meritvillelocal woodshop, and one day you showed up and it was just called meritvillewoodshop, you would likely think it is the same thing. Unless of course there was a big banner, sign, or notification that gave credit and history of how meritville got one of its first woodshops in the whole county.
If they didn’t have a sign and weren’t open about it, that would be pretty suspect for wrongdoing don’t you think, especially if they took a similar sounding web name using the world wide web.
What if they took the EXACT NAME AND IDEA?
I am not talking about How TEFL International took over the exact location and classrooms at TEFLocal Buenos Aires and called it TEFL Buenos Aires, nope. I’m talking about ANOTHER illicit act by a corrupt “certification” provider on a global scale.
Please see this press release dated & verified April 12th, 2006.
TEFL 2.0: Teaching English to create jobs and advance education online.
TEFL 2.0 is based on the idea that cyberspace and Web 2.0 tools are revolutionizing language education. TEFLocal™ utilizes these innovations with platforms like Blackboard™ and Moodle™ to tools like: podcasting and wikis for the benefit of students and teachers everywhere. – April 12, 2006.
Notice the (™) has turned into an unidentifiable “?” in the body of the press release, but is still intact on the summary page, and note that one does in fact follow, TEFLinterative™ at the base of the article. TEFLinteractive was effectively trademarked on April 12th, 2006 before the registration of TEFLinteractive.net selling the same very exact ideas we worked hard on.”
Now please see the creation date of the website for this website here:
Notice how the site was bought last year and registered for a few years. That means it wasn’t just some one year investment preying on internet name games like teflbuenosaires.com preyed on TEFLocal Buenos Aires, that is what upsets me, TEFLBuenosAires without meritville notification of owner exchange at the same exact location strikes me as false advertising. What do you think? Read on.
TEFLinteractive was procured on December 2006, and a press release was issued roughly 1 month (April 12th, 2006) after the Blackboard & Moodle (Feb-March) conference was attended by a member of our small independent organization.
And look what happened, on May 8th, 2006 >>>>HERE
Now go to the site we were working hard on, traveling around the world and spending thousands of dollars on.
What do you see? A TEFL International logo & (functioning?) site. The same unethical bunch of heathens that made it hard for TEFLocal students (young people moving abroad) to Buenos Aires in the location we help build and TEFLocal students created.
Does that remind you of the Meritvillewoodshop story? It should, but the case of TEFL Interactive case is far worse.
This is not only the exact same idea, but the exact same idea AND domain name!
Further, it looks like they have bought the name, TEFLEgpyt, so they feel they own Egypt, the site is set-up for click-profit monetization and if you type “TEFL egypt” into a search engine you get a whole bunch of names search engines that lead back to the same for profit organization. I don’t mean xyz.com, xyz.net, xyz.org – in this case, they are all completely different names trying to look like competition to each other, it is not true. They all funnel into the same bank vault.
You don’t don’t just get one name, like Coca-Cola, or University of Cambridge. You get a variety with some TEFL providers. Why?
This is to confuse you. Nothing more. Explain it otherwise? Ahhh unethical internet marketing to make more money.
This sure doesn’t sound like a non-profit to me. This seems much more like a corrupt bunch of capitalist thieves too me. Surely, you can make up your own mind.
Personally, this behavior has upset me for awhile. It is one of the reasons I started a socialist based organization like TEFLocal, we had no job titles at work, and all shared in the profits of the business while giving to charities and making everyone on the staff volunteer.
That is innovation. Taking the exact same idea and exact same domain is theft is it not?
Some words are considered general use, such as tefl online, but, tefl interactive, that is too specific to be by chance don’t you think? I believe it is quite TEFL intentional.
TEFL Diplomas & Degrees.
If you read this blog’s prior post you may assume that I wrote both the post and a response because the CEOs of TEFL International were being pig headed in a singular instance, you are wrong. I am an industry insider I know many such simliar stories, I know that many big names in TEFL are usually the ugliest and it is not only a small handful of problems that are to blame. The minion army trudges on too, I have received hate mail since my last post by lunatics that clearly must work for TEFL international or other corrupt companies that depend on this sea of dis-information to peddle TEFL “degrees” & such. I have also received student horror stories from students that have taken their classes and felt completely ripped off. Not in a “I wasn’t satisfied way, but much worse, I will let these stories bubble up on their own, there are many. I think many of the “TEFL provider” companies are garbage. They don’t compare to noble programs like Cambridge, International House, and SIT. The profit-first pioneers of the world have always been around and now look at TEFL as the wild west. Guess who the bandits are? The non-university certificate providers, those that are building and have built this irrespnsible “industry” and perhaps it can even be traced to a “one-man” accreditation schemes like that with with Dr. Allan Moller. Ask TEFL International about him, surely they have grafted a smooth answer about how an “academic board was more fitting”. Does this board go over your homework? No way.
Fact is, Dr. Moller’s TEFL service and most TEFL Online “Certificates were a dis-service to education because with the 1999+ rise of TEFL International, i-to-i, and other organizations are complacent in making the “TEFL” bone fide, and selling it as a “degree” and “diploma.”
This sort of marketing screws up people’s lives. Young people are very impressionable and think they don’t have to go to college with this sort of marketing, it feeds their head that a one month workshop is equal to an accredited university degree, when their degree was really just accredited by one person that they never met and never saw any of their work ever.
This is how TEFL industry had grown, a feeding frenzy of dis-information. This lie-to-lie is rampant and growing, with some programs even born out of a 20 hour workshop labeled now as “Full Degrees!” into a multiple choice $200 “degrees!”
I strongly question the legality of selling, “degrees” and “diplomas” for $200 dollars or at any price when they are earned in a university-less, yet “100% internationally recognised & accredited certification.” Certified and accredited and recognised by whom? Blind Uncle Ben?
This along with some of the other behavior by companies based abroad saturating markets around the world and lining their pockets outside the walls of the United States should seriously be looked at, perhaps it is best they stay out too. Americans have ways of dealing with people that break the law and twist information for profit,one is freedom of speech, and is another way is a four letter word, and it is not TEFL.
Today (7.12.2007) has seen a higher level of traffic in the history of this blog, and up until now I have kept the comments off. People have been posting here. I Thank you for bringing quality news to the attention of the proper audience for students, teachers, and administrators alike. If you would like to leave a comment please do, but please back up your sources if you have any specific claims against a company, or organization that has harmed international education. Thank you.
Other resources to consider collecting & posting helpful information found below:
NOTE: The comments here validate the credibility of opinions of this post since entered (update 6/18/07)
It was remarkably unfair of TEFL international to take away student experiences by their most recent swindle without contacting our administration or upcoming students at all. What’s that? Oh the swindle of the TEFLocal offices & student community after we built it and they are now claiming it as their own.
The story I am speaking of is how a rival TEFL program took the TEFLocal classrooms, took our students, teachers, and even (ouch) our staple supplies.
It was also extremely bad form and unfair to the TEFL students that were going to take the TEFLocal program. The students signed-up for the independent TEFL program wanted immersion, well… what they get is hegemony. Why…
Why would TEFL international design their move into our classrooms any other way. The move was obviously designed to take everything from us, our students, our staff, our location, our Buenos Aires. They wouldn’t even accept the students that tried to get into the program that same month. How rude, how very, very shady.
This however was not unexpected. That is how that company works. Continue reading
TEFLocal was created as an alternative to the status quo TEFL industry. It was an idea designed to evoke the best out of people, teachers, and the local community. It had a pro bono approach to volunteering, culture, and making a positive difference. Today a chapter ends with the official closing of TEFLocal Buenos Aires. I thank the hundreds of people that passed through our doors and the community that keeps giving as we teach, and they they teach and so on. Extra special thanks to Margaret, Martin, Ceci, Katie, Rebecca, Lilly, Vikki, and Mina. And even to and Juan for helping the TEFLocal community live in the academy for a short while as we brought it back from nothing only to watch it taken without respect or the good ethics we tried to instill along the way. TEFLocal has achieved its dream with recognition along the way. We were voted social ambassadors for HELP Argentina, and donated thousands to the people and grassroots organizations on Argentina. There are other things too, like the conducive environment we created for students that got to meet life-long friends, countless trips into the community, volunteering in the rainforest, the barrios, the stimulation of the local economy, cultural outings, dancing, eating, drinking, and parties at employees and students place of rest. TEFL will still stand against corruption in TEFL abroad, but as of today the last students of our 3 year course will walk out into the streets of Buenos Aires and be free to teach, free to open minds, and free to travel the world and touch people with peace. Thank you TEFLocals. – A. Ryan Thompson, founder of TEFLocal & ESL teacher so happy to have helped.
Thanks for joining the Facebook TEFL group. We are the original group & also the best. It is worth your while to join, so that you can rely on accountable reviews. Please know that other Pure-for-profit companies have started their own Facebook group pages after our community driven lead. So, with this in mind go to the Original TEFL group for information from students rather than a company website filled with agents & marketers.
THiNK about it.
Ask other students from the original Facebook TEFL group before you think about signing up places. Or just ask us, we are open and community driven.
There is also an Original MySpace TEFL group, named, MySpace.com/TEFL 🙂
Wow. For anyone that has heard what has happened, please comment. TEFLocal was victim to a close-door agreement that effectively terminated our agreement with our landlord in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is a company i blogged about over a year ago considering i thought their ethics were SO unsound. Please ask around & make up your own mind.