TEFL

Frontier

I chose the Madagascar teaching project on a little bit of a whim! I knew that I wanted to teach English abroad and Madagascar, with its unique wildlife and tropical nature, just jumped out at me. And I’m so glad that it did because the month that I spent there was fantastic.

The kids at the primary school, Saint Marie, are amazing to teach. I’ve never met such enthusiastic children, all so ready to participate in lessons. Some of the younger ones struggle with learning English which is understandable as it’s a 3rd language for most of them. However, this doesn’t stop them from eagerly jumping up and down to be picked to write something on the board! At break time, all of the kids will cheer and run out to the playground (pretty similar to school in England). The bell will then ring again to signal the end of break time and this prompted all the kids to cheer again as they head back to their lessons (not so similar to England!)

During my time on the project, I gained a BTEC advanced certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). I went into the project having had no previous teaching experience at all and so I was quite nervous. However, when I got there, I was able to shadow a fellow volunteer for the first few days before joining in with teaching. After a day or two, we taught the lessons together, both taking on equal responsibility in the class. My BTEC required me to lead the lessons and through this, my confidence developed massively with regard to presenting and communicating with the students.

Program: TEFL
Location: Africa
Posted: Aug 9, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Frontier

Without a doubt one of the best months of my life. This was the first time I had worked abroad on my own and it was the perfect environment for me to have an experience where I was able to be independent as well as having enough structure to feel safe which was perfect for a first time traveller.
I loved every second of my time in Madagascar and really appreciated the range of experiences I had working on the community project; being able to work in a large school in Hellville, a completely different rural school and helping out in Youth Club.
I can't really believe how fast the month went, and how many completely unexpected and unforgettable experiences I have had. Ive made friends im sure i'll keep beyond this summer and will definitely be looking at Frontier for future trips.

Program: TEFL
Location: Madagascar
Posted: Aug 5, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Island TEFL Thailand

DO NOT SPEND A SINGLE PENNY ON THIS COMPANY. It's the most fraudulent company I've ever come across (and I live in Thailand). The main guy, [redacted], doesn't do any of the work but instead uses a free teaching agency and you pay [redacted] to essentially hook you up with them when you can do this yourself FREE. [redacted] is a poor business man, he was consistently rude and undelivered on every request I made, all due to his sheer laziness. Sister companies include Invasion and Thaijobs.co.uk, I would avoid these too, they're all set up to make a boat load of money from vulnerable and eager travelers.

Program: TEFL
Location: Thailand
Posted: Jul 28, 2014
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Comments

Sometimes the courses are quite good. It depends on the trainer. But Island TEFL itself is a bogus company. Anyone can create a website like that. They haven't even got their own school. Actually, it's run by just this one guy, [redacted], who spends most of his time in San Diego. There are much better schools out there, with proper set-ups. If you google "Island TEFL scam" lots of interesting stuff comes up.
Don't worry, Travel Girl, they will help you with the accommodation and the placement and everything. But there will probably be a few rough edges. And it's like TEFL Teacher says, you could have got it free, or at least a lot cheaper. But [redacted] doesn't do refunds, so my advice is just go ahead. The schools they place you in are all state schools, so they will be OK. [redacted] may be rude, but the placement agency itself will be really helpful.
The qualification they give you isn't really recognized outside of Thailand. It you want to work in countries like Japan, America or most of Europe, I would do something like the CELTA
I'm looking into doing something along these lines next fall. I was wondering if you have suggestions for better/more legit programs to go about getting TEFL in SE Asia?

Oxford TEFL

The course is really intensive and demands a full immersion in the process which is not an issue because you will find it interesting, enjoyable and extremely useful for your future job. You will learn what it feels like to be in the shoes of an unknown language student and that despite not being able to speak a word in the target language the students will still be able to understand the teacher and learn successfully. It helps a lot in the teaching practice because you stop distancing yourself from your students and prior to using any material or technique at the lesson you first try it on yourself and see what difficulties your students may encounter and how to overcome them making your lesson as motivating and effective as possible.
You will find that your students and you yourself can be the greatest resource to create the best language lesson where your students will be willing to speak and enjoy using the language in the classroom and you will feel satisfied to realize that now they are confident with the language you have taught them to use it outside the classroom. You will get acquainted with various teaching methods and techniques which will save you a lot of time while planning your lessons and rescue you in a tricky situation in the classroom. You will understand that this wide range of English textbooks is a good resource but they are not necessarily what YOUR students need and you will learn how to vary and adapt the materials for the needs of your students or even create your own ones. You will definitely improve your own language awareness and start to identify the difficulties of the language you may encounter teaching your students and how to cope with them teaching with pedagogical approach focusing on the use of the language and its main function i.e. communication.
I was honored to be taught by such great teacher trainers from OxfordTefl as David Young, Sinead Laffan, Sean Hayward and Adrian Marriot. Being highly professional and efficient they remain so human in the classroom that even being corrected it never feels like criticism , more like a great support of my senior and experienced friends. Overall I really enjoyed the course very much and would recommend anyone interested to go for it. I wish I could do it again! )) But life goes on and now it is the time to practice everything I have learnt there! Being a teacher is a hard but gratifying job definitely worth the efforts you put into it. You find you are happy when you see and hear your students speaking the language confidently or they tell you how successfully they use it at work or in the daily life.

Program: TEFL
Location: Czech Republic
Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Live TEFL Prague

I was really impressed with this course, it's a great way to get into teaching English. I had no experience at all before coming to Prague but this program set me up with everything I needed to teach and plan lessons. The instructors here are all experienced teachers themselves and I felt like I was learning from the best. The support in coming out here and finding a place to stay was also really well thought through, I didn't really need to do anything other than get on the plane, they even picked me up from the airport.
As an added bonus I was offered a job with the school after graduating and decided to stay in Prague. The atmosphere here is lively but very professional and I couldn't be happier with my choice. Prague is also an awesome city to study in, the architecture is stunning and there's loads to do and see on the weekends, if you're into beer then there is no better place to be!

Program: TEFL
Location: Czech Republic
Posted: May 19, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

VCD Nepal (Volunteer for Community Development Nepal)

Tefl teaching in Nepal is a must if you enjoy happy, enthusiastic, vibrant folk who are eager to learn, get on and want to assimilate the best of British including Manchester football clubs!
Teaching at the Monastery was brilliant. The students and staff are bright, clever and curious. It was a joyous learning curve to be immersed in a living, lively, loving Buddhist environ. The healthy food and glorious sunshine added to the feel good factor, likewise the opportunity to paraglide with eagles, trek and canoe (camel rides too in Pokhara!).
Teaching at the orphanage was heart warming and humbling. The children (Dalaits, untouchables) have so very little materially, we bought food, toiletries, cooking and washing utensils, books, paper, crayons and, so they grew inches in pride (as requested), a pair of blue socks each for school..... The Didis' (sisters) who care for the children are like them, spiritually resilient, loving, resourceful and healing their cultural wounds.
If you want to help an aspirational nation save its 'living faith', colourful vibrancy, ecological importance and beauty and change other less noble aspects, teaching English is a worthy objective and a truly enriching, life enhancing, memorable experience. Go and hug the Himalayas!

Program: TEFL
Location: Nepal
Posted: May 5, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10

Frontier

Tefl teaching in Nepal is a must if you enjoy happy, enthusiastic, vibrant folk who are eager to learn, get on and want to assimilate the best of British including Manchester football clubs!
Teaching at the Monastery was brilliant. The students and staff are bright, clever and curious. It was a joyous learning curve to be immersed in a living, lively, loving Buddhist environ. The healthy food and glorious sunshine added to the feel good factor, likewise the opportunity to paraglide with eagles, trek and canoe (camel rides too in Pokhara!).
Teaching at the orphanage was heart warming and humbling. The children (Dalaits, untouchables) have so very little materially, we bought food, toiletries, cooking and washing utensils, books, paper, crayons and, so they grew inches in pride (as requested), a pair of blue socks each for school..... The Didis' (sisters) who care for the children are like them, spiritually resilient, loving, resourceful and healing their cultural wounds.
If you want to help an aspirational nation save its 'living faith', colourful vibrancy, ecological importance and beauty and change other less noble aspects, teaching English is a worthy objective and a truly enriching, life enhancing, memorable experience. Go and hug the Himalayas!

Program: TEFL
Location: Nepal
Posted: May 5, 2014
Overall:
5
Support:
5
Value:
5

TEFL Worldwide Prague

The program was pretty nice, i was convinced after I have read quite a lottefl online reviews about them.

The tutors in the program are very nice, fast response time for all your questions, literally no questions were unanswered.

The location was clean and organized and it was in Prague, which is a beautiful city. Was refreshing to be in a new place, while studying. It gives a preview on my future life.

The course was a little too intimidating for to be honest in the first week, however i become more confident and gain momentum, by the 3 week i was pretty relaxed about the whole thing

Program: TEFL
Location:
Posted: May 5, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

GeoVisions

Bill Keane's Ha Noi/GeoVisions Experience Summary

Major players:

GeoVisions -- The Company promising 15/week conversational English program in Ha Noi, Vietnam, including Private accommodation and meals.

Vietnam Resource Group (also called Viet Group) -- A US based company that acts as an agent For GeoVisions' placement of Americans teaching English in Vietnam.
PO Box 2163 Fairfax, VA 22031 202.271.8200

Randy LeGrant -- The GeoVisions Executive Director.

Jodi Standrowicz -- The Geovisions US representative working directly with me in establishing my program.

Mr. Trung Trinh -- Managing Partner of Vietnam Resource Group. A contact for me since March 2012, responsible for pre-arranging my specific placement in Ha Noi.

Ms. Hoa Dinh -- Works directly under Trung Trinh. She is a local resident in Ha Noi, and was my local GeoVisions contact in Ha Noi.

Dreamhouse -- A private school for primary school students, with locations around Ha Noi.

In basic:

1) I signed on to and paid for a "Conversation Partner" program of teaching conversational English to Vietnamese University/Business level students, for 15 hours per week, for the month of July 2012. At the very last minute I was switched to a program of teaching English to primary school students, but, in the end, this only involved an hour of teaching for the month. While in-country, arrangements were made so I could teach University level students at an English Club, but in the end, this engagement only totaled 10 hours for the month of July.

2) I was promised private apartment/hotel accommodation in Ha Noi, but at the last minute, I was placed with an un-vetted host family. The head of household in this family willfully forced me into a direct, illegal, and dangerous encounter with prostitution and drugs.

3) While arranging a new accommodation (which could have been provided all along) GeoVisions personnel listed above were largely evasive and revisionist in their approach to me in Ha Noi, and my wife in Connecticut. Eventually, I was offered a program fee refund, provided I sign a waiver. I did not respond to this offer.

Expanded details are set forth below…

-- Planning with GeoVisions since late in 2011, checking out a number of possibilities, I signed on, and paid for ($1,350. not including airfares) for a program of teaching Conversational English for 15 hours a week, in Ha Noi, Vietnam, to university aged/business track students.

-- Doing further research, and before making a final commitment, I found that July/August were traditional holiday/low season months in Vietnam, I raised this concern with GeoVisions, and was assured by them and then by Mr. Trung Trinh (GeoVisions' main Vietnamese contact person) that adequate opportunities to work as planned would be available in July (the only time I had available to me).

-- As directly requested, and assumed all along in planning, I was promised private apartment/hotel style accommodation for the duration of my month long stay in Ha Noi, starting June 28th, ending August 1st. Thus I completed payment to GeoVisions for my program and purchased my airfares in March 2012 (AEROFLOT: $1554.26).

-- On March 12, Jodi Standrowicz emailed to say, "It was so nice to speak with you Bill! 2 of the schools Trung is looking into for you are Ha Noi University Of Agriculture or Ha Noi International School." These are both consistent with the website promise and serve students exactly in my chosen demographic.

-- April and May passed, and finally, on June 2nd I received an email from Trung Trinh offering 2 options for the Conversation Partner Program (either IEC or Dreamhouse). I chose IEC as that is an adult based company working with business folks, and Dreamhouse works with small children. My choice was communicated to Mr. Trinh the same day.

-- June 2nd Mr. Trinh responded to my email of the same day and wrote, "Ms. Hoa will be working with IEC to arrange your accomodation and then your working agenda. Thanks and I am sure that you will enjoy your stay there."

-- I was due to start my trip on June 27th. However, on June 24th, I was informed by Trung Trinh via email that the prior choice I'd made of teaching adults at a firm known as IEC was not possible due to low enrollment. He wrote, "For your information, your host organization is Dream House – They have arranged your homestay at one of their staff families located on Nha Chung Street, near the main cathedral of Ha Noi. I understood that earlier you have expressed your interest in working at IEC. However, they just informed us that due to their summer schedule with limited number of students they do not have enough students to participate in the conversational program with you."

-- I simply forwarded Mr. Trinh's email to Randy Le Grant and Jodi Standrowicz, as they were most aware of my chosen and promised plan, and would be aware that this latest iteration was fundamentally different from what I'd agreed to and paid for.
-- In a phone conversation, Jodi indicated that, after she'd communicated with Mr. Trinh, she determined that there'd been a misunderstanding, and that I would, in fact, be staying in a private apartment, not host family accommodation, and, that while Dreamhouse did work with small children well below my agreed demographic, there would be adult teachers and parents who would be wanting to learn conversational English from me.

-- I really had no viable option, but to proceed to Vietnam, so I did, hoping to make the very best of the experience. My expressed sentiments were very positive.

-- However, upon arrival in Vietnam, Thursday, June 28th, I was taken from the airport by my local GeoVisions contact, Ms. Hoa, to a private home, set to stay with a completely unvetted host family. Ms. Hoa met this family for the first time when I did. I would come to find out the following week that this host family was led to believe, as were the administrators of Dreamhouse, that I would be a personal English tutor for their children, aged 6 and 9. Indeed, the first evening I was situated with the host family, I was left with the children, and a niece, while the parents went out swimming at a nearby hotel.

-- I emailed Jodi Standrowicz indicating that indeed I had been placed with a host family, and she responded in an email, saying, "I apologize for not understanding the living arrangement. When I asked Trung about the living arrangement he explained you would be in a private residence, I clearly misunderstood. I thought he meant your own private residence. Please let me know if you are ok with the arrangement." I did not demand a change because the family seemed nice, and it would have been a tremendous insult to arrive and then leave. I decided to stay and make the best of things, as I did not yet know that the host family had any expectations.

-- Meeting with representatives of Dreamhouse (named: Ngu, Thuy and Hoa), on Monday July 2nd, they told me that GeoVisions (presumably via Trung Trinh) placed me in a host family situation to "save money", and they were told that if they found and supplied room and board with a host family, I would be available to do pretty much whatever was asked (teaching the family children/teaching the kids at Dreamhouse). They also expressed dismay that I had come to Vietnam in July, as this was a time when things really slowed down and there would not be a whole lot for me to do in the classroom setting. Upon hearing what I had been promised stateside, they said GeoVisions had "mishandled" my placement. At that point, July 2nd, they offered me a brief, hour-long teaching interaction late that afternoon with small children at one of their schools far on the outskirts of Ha Noi, and they scheduled me for two engagements teaching primary school children on July 17th and July 19th (these engagements were later cancelled due to low enrollment). At that point, those were the ONLY specific teaching opportunities offered to me for the entire month. Ms. Hoa indicated that she was working on getting me some adult teaching engagements with students at English Clubs around Ha Noi. One possibility was an engagement on Sunday, July 8th.

-- After my conversation with Dreamhouse administrators, I spoke to the host family parents, saying there'd been a great misunderstanding, and I was not informed that I would be acting as a personal tutor/nanny for their children. I also indicated that this was an expectation I did not intend to fulfill. Much embarrassment was expressed all around, but there was a new level of understanding as well because they had wondered why I wasn't doing what was expected (daily classes with their kids).

-- While initially included in appropriate, very enjoyable, wider family gatherings, on July 3rd, the head of household requested I go away with the family for several days in the country. When I indicated that I had a potential teaching engagement at an English Club on July 8th (when the trip was due to be on) he said if I didn't go with the family, he would be "very disappointed". I avoided the issue by saying I would have to speak to Ms. Hoa. The possessive tone was disconcerting.

-- On the evening of July 4th, the head of the household in my host family, with other family members and friends (about 7 in total), invited me out, and late in the evening took me to an isolated Ha Noi neighborhood, ostensibly to sing Karaoki in a private club. We were directed to a plush upstairs private room with a large TV and audio equipment for singing Karaoki. However, within a few minutes the head of the household said he wanted me to have a "good time", and, soon after, four prostitutes entered the room, with one immediately, directly, physically and intimately subjecting me to unwanted, unsolicited encounters. As another prostitute jumped on my lap, the first one attempted to remove my shirt while kissing my body and face. When I didn't respond positively, the one who jumped on my lap, moved on to someone else, and the first one opened a purse carrying several blister-packs of drugs, showing me a variety of pills and asking me how much money I had to spend. I made no positive response to any of these solicitations, and directly stopped them, twice making the host aware I was not going to be participating in this aspect of the evening's entertainment. The prostitutes eventually left, and not very long after, we all returned home.

-- After arriving back at my accommodation, I took two Advil, called my wife, and Jodi Standrowicz. Jodi asked if I was OK, but expressed no interest in further exploring any specific details of my encounter. She indicated she would be bringing Randy LeGrant into the conversation.

-- Concurrently, I received an email from Trung Trinh (the Viet Group representative, then in the US) that referenced all the planning that had been done for my visit -- a sentiment completely at variance with the facts. I responded in as strong and derogatory a manner as I could (cc'ing Jodi Standrowicz), indicating my extreme displeasure at being a victim of a deliberate "bait and switch" scheme. I also referenced the prostitution encounter, which he never fully responded to.

-- The following morning, my time in Ha Noi, I phoned Randy, who remarked that it was a holiday in the US (July 4th), as if he was going the extra mile in working with me, and he was totally guarded in referencing any details of my previous night's experience. He made no specific mention of the incident. When I forced him to acknowledge the prostitution, he said he didn't want to be "drawn into discussing" the email I'd just sent to Trung Trinh. I indicated I wanted to leave the host family situation immediately, under a pretext related to Visa issues (because I didn't think the wife and wider family knew about the head of household's behavior, and I had no interest in provoking a domestic upset). Randy agreed, and said I would be contacted by Ms. Hoa later that day to enable a move.

-- Indeed, at 2pm, as per the plan, Ms. Hoa came by to move me to a hotel that I was told other GeoVisions teachers had stayed at previously. The pretext she offered was one related to insurance.

-- While the head of household and his wife left their residence upon seeing Ms. Hoa, a member of the host family threatened Ms. Hoa and me with police action if we tried to leave the premises. Upon request made by that family member, we waited for an hour and a half for the homeowners to return, so that we could say "goodbye". They did not return, and as we made it clear we were leaving, we were again threatened with the police. Ms. Hoa was quite shaken, moved to tears, and she called Trunh Trinh, who was in the US. According to Ms. Hoa, he advised Ms. Hoa to leave me in the residence, rendezvousing with me after I managed to get out on my own. I told Ms. Hoa this was a terrible plan, that she should not leave me alone, and that we would be going out together. This, we did, under more direct threats, and not without Ms. Hoa leaving her government ID with the very angry host family member.

-- Via taxi, Ms. Hoa got me to a hotel, but for most of the remainder of my stay, the original host family tried to discern my whereabouts. They repeatedly contacted Ms. Hoa to find out where I was staying. They never attempted contact with me directly, even though the head of household had my email address.

-- Upon my asking, Ms. Hoa expressed the view that the host family was "mafia". I cannot confirm this, but this possibility had crossed my mind.

-- The folks connected with Dreamhouse, were very upset at my change of residence (as they had arranged it). It was a major embarrassment.

-- I had left the host family under a pretext related to insurance. According to Hoa, Trung Trinh blew this cover story under pressure from a Dreamhouse representative who didn't buy it. I then received emails from Thuy and Ngu, asking about the prostitution incident (Mr. Trinh's rendition wasn't entirely accurate). This necessitated two separate meetings, one with Thuy, and the other with Ngu, to explain what had actually transpired. They both then understood my need to make new living arrangements, but Thuy said the host family was not one to take lightly, and that I should be "very careful" while I was in Ha Noi. Ngu also expressed serious misgivings about Viet Group, and their trustworthiness.

-- In the meantime, Hoa set up a schedule for me to teach conversational English to college age students at one institution, the RES English Club, on 5 occasions (July 8, 15, 21, 22 & 29) altogether totaling 10 hours of teaching for the month. The other two previously scheduled opportunities at Dreamhouse were cancelled due to low enrollment, and indeed, according to Dreamhouse personnel, there were no adults, teachers or parents within their establishment, interested in learning English.

-- Late July 4th I also received an email from Trung Trinh, with attached "working agenda". It outlined about 7 hours of projected teaching activity with the RES English Club, and included the Dreamhouse July 17/19 plan (which never transpired).

-- In general, Randy LeGrant's emails to me from July 4th onward ran the gamut of attempted intimidation, to complete oblivious denial. There was a request that I should offer advise on improving the program (he mentioned other participants having problems), and then in later emails there were expressions of blatant, cynical revision of the basic facts. I repeatedly tried, via emails, to engage him from a standpoint of reality, but completely failed in this endeavor.

-- From July 4th onward, GeoVisions refused to respond to my wife's direct and pertinent questions relative to my situation, even after I gave them direct permission to do so. She was justifiably concerned for my safety, and communicated this. She also wanted to know why I hadn't been initially placed in the hotel that had been used before. Jodi Standrowicz said not responding was a "legal" issue, so it was then that we secured legal advise.

-- Randy LeGrant said, in emails, that he could only communicate substantively with me (since I was the program participant), and he would do so after compiling his own "report", but in the end, he refused to answer my questions as well.

-- Thus, my conclusion is that my encounter with GeoVisions was a dangerous and deliberate "bait and switch". It was a "bait and switch" they had been caught in and were being called on. While they may have hoped a decent program would be available in July, they took no responsibility for making any adjustments when it became obvious that no such program would be available. This explains the immediate, very guarded approach they used the instant problems arose. Claiming a lack of understanding with an individual (Mr. Trinh) they've extensively worked with before in Vietnam simply doesn't make sense. Teaching adults and private accommodation are not mysterious concepts in Ha Noi. Perhaps for his own benefit, Mr. Trinh made assurances to GeoVisions and Dreamhouse that he couldn't live up to, but it was GeoVisions' responsibility to ensure an adequate program and adequate safety. They did neither, and in reality, made matters worse.

-- My program quantity and initial accommodations were nothing close to what I had signed on for (15 hrs./week; Private accommodation), and GeoVisions' only attempt at restitution was a late offer from Randy LeGrant that I would receive a full program refund, provided I sign a "waiver". One gets the very clear impression they have been down this track before.

-- The Vietnamese people are great, and my limited interactions with the students at the RES English Club were wonderful. However, these late-coming teaching engagements were not arranged until after I was in country, they did not start until July 8th, and, as noted, they were fractional in time comparison to what was promised, and paid for. Ms. Hoa, I believe, did her best to attempt fashioning a reasonable program for me, but trying this in real-time, in July, was simply not feasible. This was particularly frustrating in that I sensed there would be a paucity of opportunity in July months earlier.

-- The original host family situation, arranged by GeoVisions/Trung Trinh-Viet Group with Dreamhouse directly put me in serious personal danger. The stress engendered, for me and my wife, was enormous, and the potential personal, familial and career damage… profound. Prostitution and drugs are highly illegal in Ha Noi. The risks of HIV/AIDS and arrest were aspects I never signed on for, and deeply, deeply resent having to deal with (this is not to mention the moral aspects). Added to this, the GeoVisions' willful and repeated attempts at denial and revision were and are blatantly reprehensible.

-- In general, I believe the negligence, deliberate deceit, and dangerous incompetence, merit far, far more than a simple refund of program fees. Our petition in this case needs to be a strong one to ensure that what was done to me will not be repeated ever again with anyone else.

Bill Keane

Program: TEFL
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Apr 26, 2014
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Balkan Canadian Association - Teach and Travel

my unfortunate experiences and interaction with ABC

Program: TEFL
Location: Turkey
Posted: Dec 30, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

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