IATEFL & the Accreditation Scam


Harverd TEFL CertificateWe had an enquirer write to us the other day asking about our accreditation and IATFEL.

He could not decide which TEFL course to take: ours or another one. And one of the factors which worried him was that the other TEFL course was “accredited” by IATEFL.

Now you’ll notice I put “accreditation” in inverted commas. I did that quite simply because it was a scam.

And here’s why…


IATEFL – as you may or may not know – are a highly respected organization of TEFL professionals. They organize conferences and have special interest groups so teachers and researchers into teaching English as a foreign language can keep abreast of the latest developments and meet other like minded individuals. All in all you can look on IATEFL as the good guys.

But one thing IATEFL do not do is accredit TEFL certificates.

In fact, they are at pains to point out on their website that they do not “act as an accreditation body for organisations offering language or teacher training courses, or teacher development services of any kind.” Which doesn’t leave much room for doubt.

But unfortunately the truth doesn’t seem to both some TEFL course providers.

Take a good look around and you’ll soon see that some TEFL course providers claim, as large as life, that they are “accredited by IATEFL” and they slap on their website the well known IATEFL logo. Along comes a regular person who just wants to get qualified and they see all this and are duped into believing that the TEFL course provider is respectable and trustworthy where, of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Accreditation by Proximity

That’s one approach, the outright lie. But there is another approach, too. Accreditation by proximity, I like to call it.

Here you come across a TEFL course provider who has a page on their website emblazoned with ACCREDITATION in big letters. They go on then to talk about how reliable they are and then mention in the same breath how they’re institutional members of IATEFL and have been for about a hundred years.

And all those prospective teachers think, “Wow, they must be an awesome company!”

They’re not lying outright to you, they’re just letting you believe something which isn’t true.

A bit like keeping a Walmart bracelet in a Tiffany & Co box.

Anyone can join IATEFL. All it takes is sending off a few dollars and it’s done. So some unscrupulous TEFL course providers do that, get their membership number and slap that on their website alongside the IATEFL logo and let the unknowing believe that they are fully accredited by IATEFL and they are the most wonderful school in the universe.

So here’s the final warning. If you see any TEFL provider telling you IATEFL accredit their TEFL courses, or see the IATEFL logo on any page listing accreditation, then run for your money!. It’s a rip off!

Useful Links

IATEFL – a page about IATEFL

How to Choose a Good TEFL Course – what to look for in a good TEFL course

Accreditation & Recognition for TEFL Courses – an article about accreditation

Accreditation‏‎ & TEFL Courses – a look at TEFL course accreditation in general

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