Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TEFL Scam #2

As promised, here's another TEFL scam I came across recently, this one for a job in Spain. You may have seen it yourself, as it's been posted (in various forms) on several ESL job boards in the past month. Fortunately, people who are familiar with English teaching in Spain have spotted the scam and flagged it whenever possible.

So here's the deal: There is a real program through the Spanish Ministerio de Educacion for North Americans to work as teaching assistants for one year in Spain. I talk briefly about this program in my post "Some options for North Americans to live and work in Spain for a year". Some scumbag has copied most of the text from the official website (you can link there from my earlier post) but changed the salary to a ridiculously high wage for English teachers in Spain (ranging from 3,200 - 3,700 euros per month in the ads I've seen). If you check the REAL site, you'll see that the real program pays just 700 euros per month. The scam ad asks you to submit your details to


Problem #1: Espana DE ministerio de educacion is not the correct name
Problem #2: Why would a Spanish site end in .tk and not .es?

Other than that, and the absurbdly high salary, the ad looks pretty legit, because they have copied the text from the real announcement. I did a little snooping around online and found out that when you respond to the fake ad, they send you an email saying you've been accepted and must send them 300 - 600 euros to arrange your visa. If you fall for that, they then tell you to send money to pay for your flight.

So here's the ad in its latest form. This one is taken from ESL Job Find, but I've seen it on several other sites as well. If you see anything like this elsewhere, please report the scammers to the website administrators!



The Ministry of Education of Spain (MEPSYD) announces over 1,200 openings for U.S. and Canadian Language & Culture Assistants ("CULTURAL AMBASSADORS") in Spain, for the 2009-2010 school year.The positions are offered in the K-12 public school system.

The ONLINE application has just been opened through PROFEX.
Candidates apply online and submit their documentation electronically. Please note that, in order for the application submitted to become fully validated, candidates ARE ALSO REQUIRED to mail copies of the application to info@espanadeministeriodeeducacion.tk only.
Positions available ALL OVER SPAIN!

The Assistants will have the opportunity to learn about the Spanish language and culture and use their experience upon their return to the United States or Canada, thus developing cultural understanding between the citizens of Spain and the United States of America and Canada.
The program provides Spanish students and teachers of English an opportunity to broaden and increase their knowledge of the English language and North American culture through interaction with native speakers.
The Autonomous Regions will assign all candidates, individually, to their city and elementary or secondary school. You may not choose your city. The we and some of the Regional Education Authorities will organize orientation seminars at the beginning of the school year.

Candidates will:
* Hold a U.S. or Canadian passport.
* Be an upcoming junior or senior college student or have successfully completed a BA, BS, MA or MS by the end of the current academic year.
* Be in good mental and physical health. Specific conditions of the grant
* A monthly allowance of € 3,700 after taxes, (USD $ 4,783.54 ; CAD $ 6,070.56 , as of November 24, 2008). The duration of the grant is eight 1 year, April 09 to May, 2010.
* Medical insurance.
* Teacher orientation course at the beginning of the school year.
* Official Certificate, issued by the Regional Government.
* Paid school holidays: Christmas and Easter.
* All additional expenses (such as lodging, transportation to and from the country of origin, and meals) are the assistant’s responsibility.
* In order to participate in the program, will need to apply for a visa at the Spanish immigration, once they have been accepted in the program.

Application procedure
* Applications will be submitted online and sent to our central server in Madrid. All applications will be processed electronically by means. Candidates can start their application process now by contacting info@espanadeministeriodeeducacion.tk
* Positions will be assigned on a first-come first-served basis provided that candidates meet all the requirements and conveniently support their applications. An application is considered "fully submitted" when our online interview form is fully completed.
* Accepted candidates will be notified of their assigned region in Spain by email within two weeks after the deadline and lists of assigned schools will also be available on Profex.
* Please note: Application for the Language and Culture Assistants program is free and no fees will be required, except for your visa processing.

Mr. Jorge Luengo
C/Alcalá, 36
28071, Madrid
Tell:(+34) 6286 77346


The TEFL Tradesman said...

Yeh, and I can find you a cushy job teaching English to Polish plumbers in London. Just wire me 900 dollars for your visa, and - abracadabra! - you learn one hell of an expensive lesson!

L.M. Burns said...

What I find worrisome is that even the real programs seem sketchy so you have to know a friend who has already made it through with their money and no identity fraud.

I've applied to the $700 euro/month program but have yet to find a program coordinator who can speak to me at length about the program. They communicate solely over email.

With 'real' programs like this no wondert people are so easily scammed.

musica said...

I agree, L.M. It's always risky dealing with things over the Internet, especially when it's impossible to talk to a real person! The importance of connections can not be stressed enough, especially when you're thinking of going to another country. All of my best-paying and most reliable jobs in Spain came through people I knew -- and even some of those jobs ended up being a little sketchy! I know there are Yahoo! Groups for people doing the legitimate N.A. teaching assistants program, so that might be useful for anyone looking to do the program. Though what's to stop these scammers from setting up a fake group for that as well???

adj said...


I am have been doing extensive research in getting TEFL certified in Barcelona and want to make sure I choose the right program. I was hoping you could help provide some information and shed some light on the programs offered in Barcelona.

According to my research, Trinity accredited Oxfordtefl.com is the most legit and reputable program. My phone interview with them is tomorrow, but in case of a rejection - do you know which other programs in Barcelona are legit, accredited, and reputable?

I have also researched TEFL International Barcelona (http://www.teflinbcn.com) and have gotten mixed reviews. From some, the course is legit and rewarding, others, TEFL International is a scam. It is located on Rocafort; do you have any insight on this?

Anything you can answer would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,


musica said...

Hi Adrienne,

Unfortunately I can't give you any extra insight. The course I did, which was in Barcelona seven years ago, ended up closing after receiving too many complaints! However, the fact that I went to a "bad" course didn't stop me from getting TEFL jobs. In fact, several of my earliest jobs came through the advisor at my course. Perhaps I'm cynical, but I honestly don't think it matters too much who you go with, as long as they are accredited in some way and you can find evidence of other people getting work after the course. My friends and I who have taught in many countries and studied at different TEFL courses (or didn't get certified at all) had the same experience: nobody ever asked for proof of our course, except in Asia. That being said, Trinity is well respected by both academies and teachers alike, so it's probably worth going for if you get in. The fact that you even have to do an interview with them is a good sign that they're much more serious than the rest! As for whether the course is rewarding, I think a lot of that will depend on you and how much work you're willing to put into it...
Good luck!

Rekzie said...

I did the Trinity CertTESOL course in 2010 at OxfordTEFL (in Barcelona) and I am very happy to have done so. Everyone is super friendly and supportive and all the work I had to do before moving there was very swift due to the help I got from them. The course is very complete and it's probably one of the best decisions I've made in my life! They helped me find a job less than a month after I was done with the course (and I'm a non-EU memeber) and I'm still here in BCN! I'd recommend the course to anyone, experienced in TEFL or not.

* I even met my boyfriend (who's a keeper!) through a friend from the course! hehehe =)

goodmorninglory211 said...

I'm saving up to take this TEFL International program in Barcelona. A friend of mine already took it, but I've skimmed through a little of your blogs and wanted to see if you heard anything about this TEFL program in particular.

This is the website:

If you have any advice to give, please let me know!

Rekzie said...

I've taken a look at their website and from what I can tell, they're no longer backed by Trinity College. When I did the course at OxfordTEFL I got two certificates: One from OxfordTEFL and another one from Trinity College. The extension courses they offer at TEFL international are just 2 days, whereas the ones at OxfordTEFL are 3 weeks long, and probably way more thorough. Once I finished the course, I could sign up to sub any classes at the language school they also run (Oxford House). It was great to be able to teach and get paid as soon as I got done with the course!

Hope you find this info helpful! =)

musica said...

Thanks for your comments, Rekzie! It's nice to hear a success story. :)

Goodmorningglory211, I would strongly encourage you to hop on some forums and try to find people who have done the course you're looking at. One thing to consider is what country you hope to teach in. If you want to stay in Spain to teach, get onto as many forums for Spain expats you can find, as well as forums for English teachers, and see if you can find people who've done that course. Ask them what kind of jobs they were able to get afterwards, and how much the school helped them to find employment. With the course I did, they advertised "guaranteed placement" when you finished. What they didn't tell you, until about 3 weeks into the 4-week course, is they could only guarantee placement in Prague or Asia. And that was only because there was such a huge demand for teachers in both places that they knew anyone could get a job there. Those of us who wanted to stay in Western Europe were pretty much left to fend for ourselves. They gave us the names of schools (which we could have just as easily found online), and left it to us to contact the schools and look for work.

Good luck -- and let us know where you end up!