Monday, July 7, 2008

Volunteer to be a Sucker

Following on the heels of the discovery that the TEFL certificate course I completed six years ago is essentially worthless, I'm in a nasty mood regarding all things related to TEFL training.


If the ostensible motive for any action is to help out those in need, basically anything goes. Even if the end result is huge profit for those making the supposedly altrusitic effort.

Take a look at this ad dressed up as a "news story." An outfit called i-to-i, a self-proclaimed "volunteer travel operator," will hook you up with schools in Cambodia, where you can teach without receiving any remuneration and feel as if you're making a difference.

The catch, of course, is that you cough up $1425 U.S. dollars for the privilege of doing this for three weeks. Curiously, the dollar figure has an asterisk next to it but nowhere is there an indication what the qualifier is. The payout covers a 40 hour online TEFL course, accommodation, meals and miscellaneous things like "24/7 emergency support."

I've always found that such hand-holding set-ups always play on any newbie's sense of fear when making their sales pitch. It would be interesting to know what this emergency support consists of.

Much of what is stated in the ad strikes me as disingenuous, misleading or just plain out of line.

This kind of arrangement takes away jobs from those who are working as English teachers. Someone might respond by claiming that isn't the case since extremely under-funded schools wouldn't be able to afford foreign teachers anyway. There may be something to that logic but if so, then no one should be reaping a profit from such an undertaking.

For anyone really interested in working with poor children in third world countries, there are numerous NGOs that could help to organize a similar experience. Or, you could simply contact schools online and offer your time or show up in person. Either way, many would welcome volunteers with open arms.

i-to-i (what does that stand for anyway, "ignorance to insipidness"?) should also answer a simple question: are they double dipping? In other words, together with the fees from the volunteers, are they paid by the schools or given government grants for performing such an honourable and selfless service?

They continue on with their misuse of punctuation and other language conventions at the end of the ad when a quote is provided: "The beauty of these projects is that the rewards are mutual..."

The problem is, the words are attributed to no one (presumably they are from the mouth of the individual mentioned five paragraphs previously.) It simply stands alone as if the fact that someone somewhere made the statement lends it credence.

I have no problem with an organization offering such a service and trying to make a buck. But I also feel it is my duty to point out the spin and absurdity.


British English Teacher said...

Interesting insight into the TEFL industry. I imagined that i-to-i sounded a bit dodgy but never imagined the extent of the extent of the scam. Thanks for your warnings!

Anonymous said...

leaving aside the volunteer aspect of i-to-i, what do you think of the actual certification they offer? if you don't care for that one, is there an online course that you would recommend?

Anonymous said...

I was recently very interested in doing one of the classroom courses, especially seeing that the price was so competitive. I was emailed the dates and venue of the courses in my city. I phoned the alleged venue and the manager said she has no record of this company holding a course there on those specific dates??

Anonymous said...

Why is it that when I phone the RSA number they advertise on their website (in order to make enquiries), no one ever answers. There is only a recorded message to say that all the operators are on the phone. I phoned the UK number, and it doesn't exist. Eventually, so fed - up, I requested a call back and the same lady who was on the voice recording phoned me. Are there even any real operators and advisors?????

ZcheK said...

Maybe others have had problems with them, but I am currently on thier Thailand internship and having the time of my life, yes they take money from you at the start and also from your pay, but they litterally look after everything for you so you can focus on teaching and having fun rather than accomodation, visas, power, travel, work permits etc. They are a service, if you dont want it you can just go get a job on your own, but for me the perfect intro to tefl.

Frankie said...

Just google "onlinetefl, i-to-i, china scam" and you will get the truth about this ongoing fraud that lies to people on a daily basis. Their internships are a scam and you do NOT need a TEFL certificate to teach in China. Furthemore, their TEFL certificate is not even recognized nor accepted in Asia and Most of Europe!

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