(I posted this on another topic board, but it’s really important)
It seems more and more prevalent these days that some TEFL providers are writing their own TEFL/TESOL reviews and even creating their own TEFL review sites. It should be a concern to you if you are researching courses and a sound way to pick the good courses from the bad.
The problem appears to be getting worse, but luckily there is a quick fool proof solution that you can use.
My advice is this – reviews and testimonials are great, but if they are not backed up by Facebook profiles or a clear way for you to contact these reviewers/graduates, they may be fake.
I know it sounds crazy (and it is) to think that there might be a 40+ year old man pretending to be a 23 year old Californian girl, but it’s happening and it’s happening a lot. Keep your eye out for this kind of thing. In today’s social media climate, there is absolutely no reason for a school to not be able to get you in contact with a few dozen graduates of the course. There are good TEFL courses/schools out there and there are bad ones. Both want/need students to stay in business.
Positive TEFL reviews for courses are great way to get new applicants and if a school is sub par they will have to resort to writing fake reviews about their TEFL program to compete with good courses that don’t need to. Believe me when I say that they do. Now it appears to even going to the point where some schools are creating their own TEFL review websites where they have complete control over everything.
Most legitimate courses have graduates that are happy to share their real experiences with you via email or Facebook, Twitter …etc because they understand the apprehension and anxiety that comes with packing up your things and moving abroad. They themselves went through it before. Real graduates of any course are happy to help and a quick email or Facebook chat isn’t much to ask for.
If you encounter a course with tons of positive feedback, but no way to actually contact these people, there’s probably something fishy going on. If a school can’t or refuses to connect you with graduate contact for whatever reason, they probably should be avoided. Best case scenario is that it shows the school is not connected with their graduates post course (which they should be for job/housing/networking help), worse case is that those testimonials might not be from real graduates at all. This doesn’t mean that you need hundreds of emails or Facebook contacts, but at least bit more than a handful of recent graduates should be enough.
Note to forum – I’m posting this based on first hand experience with this problem and from feedback given to me from new TEFL students. I’m not naming anyone or promoting anything. My advice is pretty clear – get in contact with graduates directly to check on the quality of the course and if what the school provides is true. I think we can all agree on that advice.