How to sell a TEFL course without a certificate?

I am thinking out loud here. I recently made a change to my site and am in the process of updating and upgrading my course to improve it. And I removed the certificate.

Why?

Because everyone is just after the certificate. They are in it for the wrong reasons.

They are chasing the carrot.

Sure some of them may need it for a job, but the certificate doesn’t mean much. And that is why more and more people are saying just get the cheapest one.

They are in it for the wrong reasons.

They don’t realize what they are getting into.

But why should they take my course that doesn’t have a certificate when they can take another course that gives them a certificate?

Why?

They have to have a really good reason to do that.

Here are my reasons:

  1. Short practical instructional videos – watching other teachers is the easiest way to learn how to teach period. Although it does of course matter who the teacher is.
  2. Feedback. It’s a live course with feedback on assignments from me – someone with years of experience teaching in China, Korea and Taiwan. Oh, and I live in Japan now.
  3. It’s targeted towards teaching children (especially in Asia). Why does that matter? Because most courses out there actually focus more on teaching adults. I took one of those courses – actually 2 of those courses and I can say that they weren’t very helpful for that.
  4. Personality development. Many of the improvements that I am working on now are in this department. Teaching abroad is an experience and it’s not only a job. So how can people take that experience and make it a life transforming one?

Another reason is I give them long term access. Apparently scarcity sells and giving people short term access sells, but what happens when you take a course when you haven’t even started teaching yet, complete it, go abroad, jump in the classroom and start teaching and then realize oh man this is difficult what did that course saying about teaching vocab?

Or maybe how was I supposed to deal with these kids speaking in another language? Did it say anything about that? I don’t think it did.

So what I am supposed to do with that.

The experience with the courses I took had a very weak classroom management section. Teaching kids is not simple. You are going to need some skills and classroom management is one and “positive reinforcement” only goes so far.

Now how am I going to make money from this course without a certificate?

I removed the bait.

I guess it’s not for everyone and there are fewer people now that will be interested just based on that. So that’s partly why I raised the price and am adding value to it.

How am I going to make money from this course without a certificate?

Maybe if I targeted licensed teachers as they already have a qualification that’s considered higher than TEFL certification. AND they are more of the higher performance types compared to many of the low performers who are just looking for a job.

How would I reach them?

Who else?

Experienced teachers? Some experienced teachers have taken my courses, but were they taking the course to learn or get a qualification? IDK.

But some experienced teachers think that they don’t need it.

What about new teachers?

Maybe new teachers would be less likely to take a course without a certificate. They’re looking for a job and very unfamiliar with the territory.

Why would they pay more for a course that gives them less? No, it’s not less it’s more but there’s no certificate.

Do people assume that all TEFL or TESOL courses are the same? I think some of them do as you have seen on Reddit. That’s why they say get the cheapest or a CELTA.

There is CELTA and there are all the others. So they think.

Some people think courses are the same. I think many are actually too. How can they know the difference? You have to show and tell a different story.

What’s the value of this?

Why have you removed the certificate?

The value is the learning. The value is in the process. If you are seeking a fix to your solutions then a certificate is probably not the answer.

Wait. Maybe I am wrong.

Because if they want a job that requires certification then a certificate is a solution.

But what kind of solution is it?

It’s a short term solution.

Why?

BECAUSE GETTING A JOB IS JUST THE BEGINNING.

I don’t think they get that.

Why not?

Because maybe they are not abroad and they are not teaching so they have zero context or knowledge of what they are getting theirselves into.

It’s abstract. Teaching is not yet a real thing.

So then maybe you should sell to people who are abroad and leave a note for those to remember you when they get abroad and start teaching.

Why take your course and not another?

I mentioned the video, the feedback which also enables them to use their materials.

They have there eyes set on their problem which is getting a job and getting abroad. Hence why they want an “accredited TEFL certificate”.

They want the security even if it’s all for show. They don’t know that. “Hours” like that famous, lol 120 hour TEFL course are fake but they don’t know. Accreditation is for show. A certificate is for show.

So you can’t compete with that.

So what do you do?

Maybe you should try to get people who have already started. Instead of trying to persuade people who haven’t go for people who have.

Figure out who you are talking to.

Getting a job is just THE BEGINNING. But that is all they are focused on. So IDK. Maybe focus on those that have started. But are those people looking for courses?

IF YOU NEED A CERTIFICATE AND A JOB THEN THIS COURSE IS PROBABLY NOT FOR YOU

At least not now…

Maybe this is a way to separate the people who are looking for a cert. and the people who are looking for a job.

Maybe they will remember you for later. Maybe. So who do I talk to? Maybe it’s better for people who have a job, don’t need a certificate and WANT TO LEARN.

Did I say want to learn?

But are those people out there? Or are all of most teachers abroad low performers who really don’t care about improving their teaching skills?

There are a lot of teachers out there. I think you are assuming they are all the same.

How I am living cheaply in Fukuoka, Japan

I originally put this post about living in Japan cheaply on my other blog ESLinsider. Here is the post…

How I am living cheaply in Japan

I just moved to Fukuoka, Japan about 5 days ago. I have wanted to live here for quite a long time. Finally, I made it. One of the things that kept me out of Japan was the fact that I thought it was so expensive.

I think that is what most people think, right?

Well, I think it can be, but it’s not that expensive for me as at the moment  I would say that I am paying about $7-800 a month to live here.

My rent

I am living in what is called a sharehouse. I basically share a kitchen and bathroom with 8 other people and have my own room. That costs about 30,000 Yen a month plus 12,000 for utilities which is about $380.

I saw other places in Japan that were close to that price, but without a long term visa most places won’t rent to you. Many also want you to have a Japanese friend to act as a guarantor. There can also be a lot of fees: like a cleaning fee, key money, guarantor fee, deposits, and you sign a contract for a year.

I had to pay a deposit of 30,000, but only signed a contract for 6 months.

It’s pretty wimpy construction, but it’s alright for now.

If you are interested you can find these online by searching:

(insert city name here) sharehouse

Food

Some things seem a little cheaper and others not so much. Eggs are less than $2, milk is also less than $2 a litre, vegetables vary, The only thing I noticed that was a bit more expensive that I usually eat was sweet potatoes. They were like a few dollars more expensive for a lesser quantity.

I haven’t seen much of a selection for cheese which was expected as that was the same in other places I lived in Asia.

I am estimating that my bills will be similar to before in San Fran or maybe a little less.

I have been making a lot of soups with miso or soba noodles.

Transportation

I got this great bike so my transportation is free. I paid 6,800 Yen for this bike. I have been using it quite a bit as most things I need to get to are far. It’s about 7 kilometers to jiu-jitsu and a similar amount or more to get to the center of Fukuoka (Tenjin or Hakata).

Japanese lessons

I feel pretty excited to have found some lessons that are nearly free. The city government has a volunteer program at different government buildings throughout the city. These classes are like a $1 a class or $5 a month or maybe $10 for 6 months of lessons (usually one day a week), but there are classes everyday of the week in different locations.

At this point I am trying to match up my schedule so I can take the classes near or around the same time that I do jiu-jitsu.

Jiu-jitsu lessons

They are cheaper than in the States. The cost at the place where I am planning on going to is 10,800 a month which is about $100.

How long will I stay in Fukuoka?

As of right now I am on a tourist visa. I can stay here for 3 months and then I have to leave. I will probably just take a short trip to Busan, Korea where I used to live and come back for another 3 months.

Then I will have to decide if I want to stay in Japan for longer. If I do want to stay in Japan for longer then I will probably need to change my visa status. To do that I would need a different visa. Some of the ideas I have are:

  1. Apply for a cultural visa
  2. Find a job teaching English in Japan

The cultural visa is more appealing to me as I may be able to get that by studying judo, but I have not found anywhere to do that in Fukuoka. You’d think it would be easy to do, but not so.

There are lots of places for jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka, but the “BJJ” community on Reddit doesn’t think I could since “Brazilian” jiu-jitsu and Japanese jiu-jitsu are considered a bit different. Brazilian jiu-jitsu evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu and emphasizes grappling on the ground and competition.

But I am still planning on asking my teacher about it after I have been training there a while.

As far as teaching English goes I have sort of been there and done that in China, Korea and Taiwan. Lately ESLinsider has been doing well and I have been able to live off of it. However, if something changes then I may need to get a job or perhaps a part time job that would give me a visa.

What does an online TEFL course involve?

What does an online TEFL course involve? Well, it depends on the course, but in this post I’ll focus on what ESLinsider’s advanced course involves.

The advanced course is “advanced” as according to research it uses the best methods to learn online. Some of these methods include the use of instructional videos and other visuals, feedback, writing, bite-sized learning, repetition, audio, etc.

Course syllabus

Here is a look at some of the topics in the advanced course.

  • Introduction (30 teachers share their experiences on video in Asia)
  • “Engrish” entrance exam (let’s make sure you speak English and not “Engrish”)
  • Teaching methods (7 different methods of teaching explored)
  • The teacher as a public speaker (How to captivate your students)
  • Learning styles (the old concept of learning styles & what to take from it)
  • Lesson planning (Learn 2 different preparation methods)
  • Presenting language (Learn how to introduce language to your students)
  • Teaching reading
  • Teaching speaking
  • Teaching writing
  • Teaching listening
  • Teaching pronunciation & phonics (Learn pronunciation tips for kids-adults)
  • Midterm
  • Grammar
  • Using games & activities (for enhanced learning & engagement)
  • Teaching with songs (How to use music to teach)
  • Dealing with problems in the classroom (Solutions to common problems)
  • Classroom management (How to handle the most difficult students)
  • Classroom management tips
  • Writing your resume (How to outshine the competition even without experience)
  • Finding jobs (Where to look, how to avoid scams and crappy employers)
  • Culture shock
  • Final exam
  • TEFL certification

Inside each level or topic you will find a variety of content that includes video, text, images and audio followed by questions and occasional assignments.

To proceed to the next level you need to maintain a grade of 80% or higher.

Entrance exam

This quiz is pretty short and easy if you are a native speaker. I also tried to make the course as entertaining as possible. Learning should be fun or interesting because if it’s not then you wont learn!

The same can be said for your future students.

Lesson planning assignments

This course uses images from common student books. You will be most likely using books that are similar to this when you get abroad. This course includes 4 lesson planning assignments with feedback so you can correct any errors that you may make.

Here’s one assignment focused on teaching vocabulary. Before you do the assignment you will receive instruction on how to do so. The feedback adds a little reinforcement.

Small chunks of reading

If you looked at the research above you will see that many people don’t actually read much online. So unlike some other courses that may be entirely text or require reading large amounts of text before taking quizzes, ESLinsider delivers content in small bits as to not overwhelm you.

And frequently there are instructional videos which make learning more enjoyable, faster and easier.

The videos are then followed by questions such as true or false or multiple choice. And if needed you can go back to the video and watch it again.

Learn more about the latest research on online TEFL or learn more about ESLinsider’s advanced TEFL course.

When Is The Best Time To Take An Online TEFL Course?

When is the best time to take an online TEFL course? This is a question that I don’t actually see people ask often or consider. Most people take courses whether they are online or onsite BEFORE they start.

But is this actually the best time?

Well, it improves your resume as it gives you a qualification, but as far as the training goes I don’t think it is for a couple of reasons.

The first reason why is because you haven’t started teaching yet and you have nothing to work with or compare it to. At this point teaching is still an abstract concept.

The second reason why is that there’s going to be a gap in between the time when you complete the course and when you start your job. So that is not going to help your memory of the course material.

If the online TEFL course wasn’t any good then that’s also not going to help your memory.

On average it will probably be at least a couple of months in between when you finish the course and start working.

How long do courses allow access to the courses?

Well, it depends on the course. Most online courses allow less than 6 months. Here are a couple of examples.

So when is the best time to take an online TEFL course?

Now contrary to popular belief which is you take a course before you start teaching I would say that if you are going to take a course just one time then I would take it after you start.

Why?

Because you will have context. The material will seem less abstract to you. It will probably be more helpful too because you will remember more of it.

But don’t I need the certification to get a job?

You can get a job with an online TEFL certificate, but you can also get a job without any TEFL course.

But won’t my job be difficult if I don’t know what to do on the first day?

Sure, but I think it’s going to be a bit difficult either way. Ideally you should take a course before you start and then after again for review. Research shows that repetition and spaced intervals between studying leads to better memory and retention.

I don’t think your first week or so will be that easy regardless so yes, taking it before should help, but I think it will be much more helpful if you start after you start your job for the reasons mentioned above.

So now you know more about the best time. But what is the best online TEFL course?

Is an online TEFL course enough? What do you mean by enough?

Is an online TEFL course enough? What do you mean by enough? Do you mean can you get a job with an online TEFL? Or do you mean is it good enough for the training?

In my experience teaching in Asia: China, Korea, and Taiwan I would say that most schools there will accept online TEFL courses, however it does depend on the school.

The schools that don’t accept online courses are often more prestigious or in places like Europe or the middle east. Most first time teachers do not get into these schools anyways unless they have experience.

So despite what you might have heard having an in-class course is not going to make a big or any difference in your chances of getting a job or making more money. Having TEFL experience matters more.

The course is just a start.

Are online TEFL courses any good? Well, that is going to depend on the course as all online courses are not created equally. What you take away from a course or what you learn is going to depend on the course and you.

Is an online TEFL course for you?

  • Are you a self-directed learner?
  • Are you self disciplined?
  • Are you independent or introverted?
  • Do you want to control the pace?
  • Are you planning to teach abroad for just 1-2 years?

If your answers are mostly yes to those questions then an online TEFL course may be better for you compared to an onsite TEFL course.

Now let’s talk about the training.

Here’s why most online TEFL courses are not good enough

How do online TEFL courses work? Well, it depends on the course, but for a lower quality one you read passages and then take quizzes or answer multiple choice questions. Now you can learn by reading, but if you have no visual element to it you’re going to have an awfully hard time remembering what you are studying.

Studies show that people tend to only read 20-28% of a page. So if you only read that much then how much do you think you will remember?

If you don’t remember what you studied in a course then how well do you think you will teach?

You need a visual to learn how to teach. For me the best way to learn how to teach was by watching other teachers. Now you can do that in a classroom or you can do it online with video.

A higher quality course is going to use a lot of instructional videos because studies show that people learn better with video compared to text.

It’s also more interesting.

You may have read that online courses are useless or worthless, but the people who say those things typically fall into a few groups:

  • Traditional learners
  • CELTA snobs
  • They took a cheap/low quality Groupon TEFL course
  • They never took an online course and are just repeating what others say

If you read r/tefl on Reddit you will soon find out that many people there are pro-CELTA. CELTA is supposed to be a good course, but it’s not for everyone especially those who are not in it for the long run, don’t teach adults, don’t want to cram, or pay $2000.

On the other end of the spectrum on Reddit are those that recommend taking the cheapest online TEFL you can get so you can “check the box”.

These people are only focused on appearances and getting the job, but getting a job is just the beginning.

A cheap course is cheap for a reason. You tend to get what you pay for. As mentioned above you probably won’t get instructional videos, feedback or a quality course.

Going with a low quality/cheap course will likely continue the circle of people saying online courses are worthless. So yeah they are worthless if you take the wrong course just to get a job (“check the box”) and you don’t learn.

I think the biggest factor for a successful experience with an online course is to have a visual. You should watch other teachers teach the same or similar students as you are going to teach. If you teach kids then you need to watch other teachers teach kids.

If you teach adults then some stuff will transfer to kids, but not all and vice versa.

Here is an advanced course that is especially focused on teaching kids (5-14) in Asia.

Why doesn’t ESLinsider have any 3rd party reviews?

Are you searching for reviews of ESLinsider’s courses? Wondering why there aren’t any on many other sites? Or maybe you saw the reviews on ESLinsider and are wondering if they are fake or if there are any bad reviews of ESLinsider?

Not Well-Known, Yet Has Invaluable Information and…” Kyle

Are you searching for reviews of ESLinsider’s TEFL courses? Wondering why there aren’t any on many other sites? Or maybe you saw the reviews on ESLinsider and are wondering if they are fake or if there are any bad reviews of ESLinsider?

Towards the end of this article I’ll talk about the “bad reviews”, but now we’ll talk about why there aren’t any reviews on 3rd party sites.

But wait a second.

Actually there are on Youtube.

I’d like to point out that unlike many other courses ESLinsider actually has a lot of “reviews” if you want to call them that on its videos on Youtube. And those videos are used in ESLinsider’s courses.

Here’s an example:

280,000+ views

1,700 likes and 98 dislikes.

That video is on my channel with all the other associated ESLinsider videos.

Here’s a comment from one of the videos:

“I’m a new teacher and these videos really saved my hide (they still do) and my students like these activities a lot. I would like to thank you…” – Luiz Felipe

What about TEFL course review sites?

If you are searching for reviews on ESLinsider’s courses then I’ll assume that you are also checking out other companies too and you have probably been to some review sites like:

  • gobroad.com
  • teflcoursereview.com
  • gooverseas.com

They make money by referral links and advertising.

And…

You have to create an account there before people can leave reviews on your course.

I did initially create an account with either the goabroad or the gooverseas site (can’t remember which one as they look the same to me) a few years ago, but changed my mind and had it deleted for a few different reasons.

No, it wasn’t because of a bad review as I only had the account for like a week or two. But one reason was if I wanted a better position on their site and to be found there then I had to pay money.

So I decided to put the review software on my own site instead.

I don’t do affiliate marketing

Unlike most other TEFL courses, ESLinsider doesn’t have an affiliate program. Maybe I could make more money doing that, but I just don’t like it.

I don’t know about you, but to me it’s not very genuine. It’s basically like bribing people to write a review of you or link to your course.

So it’s kind of like a paid review.

Accreditation is another 3rd party

Accreditation in TEFL is also basically a paid review.

You may think accreditation is a sign of quality, but is it?

  1. It’s easy to fake or it’s paid for in TEFL.
  2. seeks to maintain the status quo on “standards”

And…

The question nobody seems to ask…

What do you know about the accreditor?

The idea behind accreditation may be good, but some say it doesn’t work.

I have taken two different TESOL/TEFL courses and both were accredited, but neither one was very helpful or practical.

And that’s the problem with “education”.

How many classes did you take in high school and college that were useless? I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember anything from geometry, chemistry, biology, most history classes, etc.

I have read that many of the reviews written online are fake and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are plenty of fake reviews in the TEFL course world too.

ESLinsider is small

It’s not popular maybe because I didn’t do what other people did, but on the plus side I think you’ll find it to be more personable. And one of my favorite quotes by Seth Godin was…

Regardless of how you measure ‘best’ (elegance, deluxeness, impact, profitability, ROI, meaningfulness, memorability), it’s almost never present in the thing that is the most popular.

It’s been up and online since 2011. It didn’t actually start as a course. It started with how-to videos and an ebook. There was no course until late 2012. It offers online training and resources for teachers especially focused on teaching kids in Asia.

All the reviews that are written on my site are written by people who have taken courses there. I also kept some testimonials (2012-2016) which started long before I set up the reviews on my site in 2016.

As of right now there are 27 (5 star) reviews on ESLinsider and 1 with just a 4 star rating, but no written review. I ask people if they can leave a review when they finish the course, however they aren’t obligated to.

There I do say that I may delete a review if they don’t use their name and email used in the course. But I only say that to prevent possible trolls or evil competitors from writing a malicious fake review like some of these people did below.

Does ESLinsider have any bad reviews?

Well, to be honest there are a few that were written by people who used anonymous accounts.

They didn’t take a course with ESLinsider although one of them claimed to.

One guy claimed that I was selling diplomas, perhaps he saw this drawing I did and believed it. But if you search Google for the keywords “ESLinsider diploma” you won’t find any place where you can buy a diploma.

And another guy really hated me and created the site “EslinsiderReviewS” and called ESLinsider a “spam machine” and that I “smeared” competitors which I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a competitor using an anonymous account because of his comments defending affiliate marketing and advertising.

I wouldn’t say that I “smeared” any competitor. And most of the articles of reviews of other courses that I wrote on my site aren’t actually my reviews, but quotes from other people that I took off of Youtube, Reddit and other sites.

Some of the articles that I have written were before I even had a course like this one on lies.

I criticized the TEFL industry then for it’s lies and still do.

I just tell it as I see it.

He also said something about a “free course scam”. I used to have a free course from about 2012 to 2016, but that was discontinued and that was mentioned in a blog post called, “Free TEFL is dead”.

He also said I did affiliate marketing referring to an old article and interview with Alex Case. You can see the link in that article is not an affiliate link and you can go ask Alex Case that.

He also criticized my “qualifications” or lack of them. True, I am not a licensed teacher, but I did graduate from Northern Arizona University and I have done 2 different TEFL/TESOL courses, but I don’t put that info on my blog because I think it’s irrelevant because they are just superficial qualifications.

Then…

There’s this other new site out there that claims to be “trusted” who wrote a fake review of my site mostly based on the above troll’s web page.

Aside from that…

Here’s a critical email I got once:

“I understand the level of difficulty between the courses. However, in the 20 hour course, when answering the questions, the answer could be easily seen in the text that was meant to be studied.

I would suggest more of a challenge where studying the context is mandatory to correctly answering the question. Not just searching for the match to the question.
That is my personal opinion. Other then that, the material was well put. Thank you.” –
Sarah Gilbertson

My thoughts on that are why should I make it intentionally more difficult to learn? I try to make it easy not hard. Some teachers make you want to work for no good reason.

Not me.

I intentionally broke up all of the text into mostly small bits because that’s a better way to learn AND I put the answer right there as I didn’t think hiding the answer would help.

Listen to Seth Godin’s comment.

“Open book open note ALL THE TIME. There is zero value in memorizing anything ever again. Anything worth memorizing is worth looking up.” – Seth Godin


“Not Well-Known, Yet Has Invaluable Information and Advice From a Great Teacher…

At first I was hesitant to take Ian’s Advanced Course, since there didn’t seem to be much information about it online. However, I can now say with full confidence that Ian has put together a masterclass catalog of teaching materials, each presented in a clear and logical way, with a great website to re-find anything if needed. The course pages seem to be frequently updated and Ian is incredibly quick to respond to submitted assignments or messages.

Direct communication with Ian is a huge plus. There are a few assignments to submit (Lesson Plans, mainly) and Ian gave me very detailed and meaningful feedback on every one. – Kyle P.

Read more reviews of ESLinsider’s online TEFL courses or ask me a question.

Also there are some reviews on a guide book that I wrote on Amazon and other related posts below:

THE HAGWON

This is my latest creative work that I posted on Youtube and on ESLinsider. It’s about teaching in Korea. If you are a first timer then to teach in Korea you basically have 2 options for schools to teach in.

You either teach in a hagwon or in a public school. Hagwons are private institutes. There are quite a few horror stories online about teaching in hagwons.

Yet they are not all bad, but I decided to make my own horror story to help promote one of the latest ebooks that I wrote.