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Teaching Scams & How To Avoid Them

Teaching scams and how to avoid themHello TEFLers!

Fancy yourself a TEFL adventure but confused about the endless warnings of scams and trickery? Never fear, the i-to-i TEFL team are here to put your mind at rest!

It’s true that scams do exist around the world – (sorry!) but these are very rare and, like everything, there are always signs to look out for. As a general rule of thumb, use your common sense, if it feels dodgy…then it probably is.

We’ve enlisted the help of our very own TEFL experts and have put together a guide for what to look for in employers and what to be wary of with TEFL contracts.



What a good employer will do:

  • A good employer won’t ask you to pay money directly to them before arriving.
  • Many TEFL contracts specify ‘airfare reimbursement’ as a great perk. Don’t be put off by the ‘reimbursement’ part – understandably, it would be a risky business for employers to offer pre-paid flights – what if an employee quit after a couple of weeks?
  • There should always be
    someone at the school who has a strong grasp of the English language ie. who runs you through the interview process.  If they don’t have a fluent or near fluent speaker of English at the school – question it.
  • In all formal contact, a good employer will always use letter-headed paper.
  • A reputable job should be able to supply you with websites, blogs and links to speak with current/previous employees.
  • A good employer will not pressure you into accepting a job – if something doesn’t feel right don’t feel you have to sign on the dotted line.
  • A good employer will provide their full address – be wary if they only offer you a PO box.
  • Be wary of an employer promising you a working visa after you arrive. For some countries, in South America, for example, getting a working visa in-country is extremely common but for others it is illegal and the repercussions can be steep.

5 things you should do for EVERY TEFL contract:

  •  Research your employer – a quick Google search should bring up testimonials and reviews. You might also want to search teacher forums (e.g. for honest information about people and schools.
  •   Be cautious with sending personal details
  • Think of how you found the job – was it through a respected jobs board? Did the site feel safe?
  • Get everything in writing!
  • Ask people you know and talk to fellow teachers on Chalkboard about opportunities they know about and where they’d recommend.

And remember!

All is not lost if you end up at a school you’re not happy with. Breaking a contract is possible, although you might miss out on an end-of-semester bonus and it could potentially affect your visa. This does all depends on the country – use a country specific site to get up to date country information. For example, for Thailand, read this article about breaking a contract.


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  • Heather King

    Thank you for this. I have been investigating TEFLing for about 2 years, and the answer is to always TRUST YOUR GUT. I have seen a school advertisement where one of the required documents is a copy of the front page of your passport. Being an African, I know all about corruption and Identity theft. I will not be sending a copy of anything about myself – apart from my CV & certificates – to anyone.