Reality check – TEFL Certificate Course

I will also add to this, “Give a man a fish and he’ll just expect to not work for any more. Make him pay a little and he’ll value that fish and his work to purchase it”.

I’m saying this as background to some reflection I’ve been doing based on the recent FREE TEFL Certificate course I launched.

It has always been my goal to provide free or low cost assess to knowledge and materials for teachers. I’ve worked night and day, year in and year out,  to counter so much of the blatant commercialism that pervades TEFL. Worked tirelessly to “fight the good fight” and use the possibilities of new technologies to the utmost benefit of hard working and low paid teachers. Sharing, community, can empower us.

However, both on my community EFL Classroom 2.0 and especially with the launch of the new TEFL Certificate course, I’ve learned an important lesson. If teachers get it for free, some really don’t value what they get. Not everyone but my guess is a good majority. Not blaming or accusing any one person – it is just human nature.

I won’t go into all the emails of support and so positive in nature. I also won’t go into how many emails I got from so many who seemed “entitled” and being very aggressive about why “this wasn’t there” or “there was a dead link, quit wasting my time”. Not going there. Want to relate something else.

With the low cost TEFL Course, I was gladly going to pay the cost/ student that is incurred. My paying it forward for education. However, never thought so many would take advantage of this (I expected 20-30/month – we now have over 300 and close to 200 students taking the course right now). But most importantly, never thought so many would just NOT watch the videos, think about the ideas but rather whiz through the quizzes, just trying to complete them and get the certificate.

The nice thing about the school’s LMS is that I see everything. Loads of student data. I can tell how long a teacher stayed on a page, interacted with the content. How many times they took a quiz, the results etc… To my amazement, over 70% of teachers were just clicking the quizzes and trying to run through the lessons like it was some video game.

Example: A great student.

Example: A “quick” student.

So, I tried limiting the attempts. Also, monitoring the time on task. However, still teachers are taking very little time watching videos and reflecting/interacting with the ideas in the PDFs. And there isn’t a lot I can do.

So I’m now going to make teachers pay a minimal user fee for the course. I think this will make it so they will value the community, the resources and the certificate that results. Sorry it has to be this way but I guess I have to learn the hard way.

All those who pay the $40 will get my Teach | Learn coursebook when they graduate + a great certificate of completion. Also, 3 months of access to the resources (and to complete the course). The course will also serve as a pre requisite to the 120 hour accredited certificate I’ll offer in Jan. 2012.

Those who’ve already signed up for the class will get it free. I hope they slow down and savor the lessons! All those presently doing the course will have a month to graduate. Good luck! I also think this course would be a great “primer” for any teacher training program and hope trainers out there might encourage their students to take it. Even plan a course around it.

I do hope all teachers understand and realize the truth of what I’m saying, where I’m coming from. I thank you all for your support and again, not accusing any one teacher at all.


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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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7 Responses

  1. Chiew says:

    Hi Dave,

    It is indeed a shame that it had to boil down to this, but why doesn’t it surprise me so?

    Everyone’s rushing everywhere and wanting everything for nothing.

    Thanks for all your effort!


  2. ddeubel says:


    Thanks for the comment and don’t worry about typos – I assure you, I’m worse!

    Yes, you make a valid point but I in my idealistic bubble (but I won’t burst it, it has its good points), didn’t see this coming. Live and learn. Some wise philosopher said, “our lives teach us who we are”. I might add, “our actions teach us who others are”.

    I was also struck by how many teachers are just like their students! Now that’s something to ponder.

    Thanks for the comment and good cheer for transparency.


  3. Dedene says:

    Your explanation seems reasonable, but it’s too bad that it had to come down to that.
    The price is still really a bargain for what you’re offering.
    Thanks for the hard work.

  4. David says:


    Yes, I’m torn by this. Maybe if I can find some way to make it more monitored, I’ll bring it back as free. Right now, think it’s between a rock and a hard place. Zero and a lot will take the course but not do it for the right reasons. If I charge $100 – $200, I’ll have people doing it for “value” but also not thinking of any thing but the result. Charging a few dollars to keep people honest, I’ll get very few teachers. But at the end of the day, I will prefer a few who “get it”.

    Thanks for the comment,


  5. Natallia Prakharenka says:

    Hello, Dave,
    i got this link from a friend of mine, an so far i can see you’ve started the new batch in Jan.
    i want to join in, ready to pay the fee (is it still 9.99?) and promise to work hard (to benifit myself first of all:)
    can you please guide me as to how to join the next batch?
    thanks, and have a very good day,

  6. David says:

    Hi Natallia,

    Sorry for the late reply. Please sign up for the School Of Tefl using the code “eflclassroom”. I’ll then enroll you in the class and you can start.

    I’m at a crossroads of what to do with this but always want to keep this course open to teachers who want it.

    No payment necessary but join EFL Classroom 2.0 too!


  7. guy says:

    Hello Sir,

    I do not have a degree.
    I have been to Thailand 3 times and love the culture the people and the country.

    I would like to teach English there. I have been a coach for many years but not a teacher in an actual classroom.

    If I take your course and gain the TEFL certificate will it be ‘Accredited’ and looked upon favorably by potential employers in Thailand?

    thank you,

    Guy V.

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