TEFL Scams: 10 Red Flags You Should Look For

It’s sad that there are people out there who take advantage of others who are simply looking for an online teaching position. For this reason, it’s important to know the red flags associated with TEFL scams so you don’t fall victim to online predators pretending to be recruiters. These red flags can apply to any online job as well as jobs abroad. However, I’m going to focus on online TEFL jobs for the time being.

Here is a short list of things to look out for during your search for online TEFL positions.

Online TEFL Scams

  • The company has no website.

    If an online company has no website, that’s a bad sign. Just simply forget about that company and start looking into other companies. Do note that the websites for some foreign companies may be a little tricky to find online, especially if the companies are new or if there are other companies with a similar name. Use quotations around the search term to narrow down your search and make it easier to find what you’re looking for. To narrow it down, even more, try searching the company’s name followed by ‘login’ or ‘teacher portal’.
  • There’s no online information about the company

    .. If you can’t find a digital footprint for the company, it’s probably a scam.
  • The email address isn’t professional.

    You wouldn’t be wrong to expect an online company with a website to have a matching, professional email address. For example, when emailing a member of the staff at GOGOKID, you can expect an email that ends with @mail.gogokid.com. A corporate company that uses a Gmail account is a bit suspicious.
  • The job posting or website is written in poor English.

    An English language company that can’t practice what it preaches is pretty fishy don’t you think? A typo here or there is normal. Nobody’s perfect. However, if the advert, website, or teaching platform contains broken English and nonsensical sentences, the owners shouldn’t be offering English lessons. They should be enrolling in them.
  • You can’t find any company reviews.

    If doing a simple Google search for reviews of the company turn up no results, be wary. First, try searching for company reviews using job sites such as Simply Hired, Indeed, or Glassdoor. If you still can’t find anything, they probably have something to hide and you should move on to another potential employer. If you do find reviews, read through ALL of them. Some companies try to bury the real reviews under a large number of glowing, overly doting, fake reviews. Use your instincts and better judgment to help you decide whether or not the reviews are too good to be true.
  • The company has a ton of negative reviews.

    If a company has a lot of negative reviews and low ratings, pay attention. Read the reviews. If multiple former and current workers are giving warnings to stay away and giving details of bad company practices, you should avoid the company.
  • You’re asked to pay a fee for the position.

    It’s safe to assume you’re applying to the job because you want to be paid, not because you want to pay the company. Right? You shouldn’t have to pay anyone for a job position.
  • You give up control of your device.

    So the company seems legit and you’ve made it to the interview stage. At some point in the interview, you’re asked to give the interviewer remote access to your computer. Why would the interviewer need access to your computer? Don’t do it! Even if the company is a legit company, don’t do it. I know of an instance where a teacher allowed a tech support member remote access to her computer after a classroom tech issue. The technician didn’t solve the issue but succeeded in deleting several important non-teaching related files from her computer. Don’t let that happen to you.
  • You’re expected to work for free.

    If a company asks you to teach students’ first lessons without payment, they are trying to scam you. You could end up never making a dime. Such a company will often assign you only first-time students for the duration of your time with the company. That defeats the purpose of having the job unless you don’t mind volunteering.
  • The company levies heavy monetary penalties.

    Penalties for mishaps like being late or missing a class are normal for online TEFL companies. A legitimate company might fine you around a dollar or so for being late or deduct 100% of a lesson’s pay for missing a class. However, a scam company has lots of unreasonable penalties that are almost impossible to avoid. Penalties for things like sneezing or your lighting not being considered bright enough should not result in hefty fines. If that’s the case, you should not waste your time with them. You will end up working for free most of the time.

Don’t let TEFL Scams Discourage You

Don’t let TEFL scams deter you from finding the right teaching position. Now that you know the red flags to watch for, you can feel more confident in your job search. If you aren’t sure where to start, visit my Become A TEFL Teacher page for some legitimate companies to which you can apply.

GOGOKID: What’s Required & FAQs

This post contains referral links. Clicking on them costs you nothing. In fact, clicking on a link may actually change your financial situation for the better! You can thank me later 🙂

This company has shut down due to the new China Regulations on online education.

GOGOKID is a great company. I’ve been teaching with this company since August of 2018. I’ve been making a great, steady income and I have fun teaching my GOGO kiddies while I travel. The company offers some irresistible incentives that you don’t want to miss. Not only that, but the lessons are simple, fun, and feature songs that will have you jamming like nobody’s business. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this company, too.

Check out the infographic below to see if you’re a qualified candidate. If so, keep reading to find out more details and how to apply. If you sign up using my referral link, let me know and I’ll arrange a time to help you prepare for the interview and answer any questions you have via Zoom or Skype.

What benefits does Gogokid offer its teachers?

GOGOKID is one of the highest paying online ESL companies out there and offers some great incentives and benefits. Find out more here.

How does GOGOKID pay?

Teacher’s pay rates are based on a Base Pay + Credit Score Incentive structure aimed at enticing teachers to teach more classes. Base pay rates range from $7 per 30-minute lesson to $10 per 30-minute lesson. Your base pay will be determined during the interview.

*The following may be confusing. If you find your self getting dizzy, just scroll down or click here to view the official video explanation.

Credit Score Incentive ($0-2.5) + Base Pay ($7-10) = Earnings ($7-12.5) per class

The Credit Score Incentive is determined by multiplying your Incentive Base by your Incentive Percentage

Credit Score Incentive = Incentive Base ($0-$2) * Incentive % (0%-125%)

The Incentive Percentage is determined by your Credit Score. New teachers will start out at Level 1. Being on time, teaching more lessons, avoiding cancellations, and other positive behaviors will help you increase your credit score. Reach higher levels to increase your base pay.

Credit ScoreIncentive Percentage
Level 1: (0 – 59)0
Level 2: (60 – 69)0
Level 3: (70 – 79)100%
Level 4: (80 – 94)110%
Level 5: (95 – 100)125%

The Incentive Base is determined on a daily basis. If you teach 2-3 classes on Monday, you’ll receive an additional $1.50 per lesson. If you teach 5 classes on Tuesday, you’ll receive an additional $1.70 per lesson, and so on.

Number of Classes Completed Per DayIncentive Base Per Completed Class
2-3$1.50
4-5$1.70
6-8$1.80
9 or more$2.50
The more classes you teach, the higher your Incentive Base will be.

Okay, so let’s look at a couple of examples. You start at Level 1 with a Base Pay of $8.50. Since the Incentive Percentage for Level 1 is 0%, you do not receive any extra incentive pay besides the Incentive Base per class. Let’s say you taught 5 classes today. Today’s per lesson earnings will be :

$8.50 +$1.70 = $10.20/lesson ($20.40 per hour)

Now let’s say your Base Pay is $8.50, but your Credit Score is at Level 4. At Levels 3 and 4, you can take advantage of an additional pay incentive determined by multiplying your Base Pay by the Incentive Percentage.

$8.50 * 110% = $9.35

Now let’s add the Incentive Base for those 5 lessons you taught today:

$9.35 + 1.70 = 11.05/lesson ($22.10) per hour

I hope that makes sense to you. If not, please let me know. Check out the video below for an explanation with visuals.

How the GOGOKID pay structure works (Video)

Okay, so there you have it!

October is almost over, so don’t miss out on an easy $25 to get started!

My referral code: 4E9ZWUPA

The End is Near

In two weeks my five month ESL adventure in South Korea will come to an end. All resignation paperwork has been turned in. My luggage is packed. I’m ready and waiting.

I never did experience the honeymoon phase of coming here and it still hasn’t quite settled with me that I’m actually in South Korea. Things started out on the downside within a week of my arrival, so it’s more of an eking out an existence. I’m just…here. Which sucks because I waited several years for this! I plan to make up for this disappointment though, once I decide on my next international destination.

Thankfully, these last few weeks are during the school’s summer vacation. There are no lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations holding me captive on the weekends, so I’m able to get out and do a bit of exploring.  Since my coteacher is on vacation, I can venture about town before five in the afternoon on work days, after my first grade lesson, instead of being a prisoner in my apartment until after five.

I just finished up my last kindergarten class this morning. My kindergartners showered me with hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s”. I will miss them. They’re so sweet and incredibly cute!

My beautiful kindergartners and I posing during our last class this morning.

I’ll be saying my goodbyes to my Dochang boys after summer camp tomorrow, and repeating the process on next Wednesday with my Seomyeon kids.

I’m excited to be going back home while simultaneously dreading it. Of course I miss my family and friends, my car (and just being able to drive!), and the diversity of people and foods, but since I’ve had this international experience-the good and the bad- I know things just

aren’t going to be the same. I’m already feeling restless and I’m not even there yet!

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