Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Island TEFL Scam - Update, July 2016

Island TEFL Thailand is a scam and Philip Dunne is a scammer.  This truth remains true as in my original post two years ago.  However, we also need to add Camp Thailand and Philip Crabb to this.  Camp Thailand and Island TEFL are the same company, just as Philip Dunne and Philip Crabb are the same person.  Don’t be fooled.  Onlineteflexpress is one more component of the Island TEFL scam.  Please also check out the Update tab and the list at the bottom of the page.

Originally, back in 2014, I posted to warn potential investors off purchasing the fraudulent franchises Philip Dunne was selling, because at the time that was Philip Dunne’s most blatant scam.  I saw a lot of good EFL people lose large sums of money and be completely humiliated by Philip Dunne in the process with his clever legal nonsense.  However, what this blinded me to was how seriously he was also ripping off his own students or TEFL trainees.  So I’ve now shifted my focus to what students can expect.  I’ve listed the main points under separate headings below.

No Job Guarantee
Arguably the single most important point is that there are NO job guarantees.  Really, this is just plain common sense.  In fact, the “guarantee” is a good example of sharp practice.  On his website, Philip Dunne may say that there are guaranteed jobs, but they could be for anybody.  For example, let’s say the placement agency has twenty places, OK there may be that many guaranteed jobs, but there’s no guarantee any of them will be for you specifically.  Always read the wording carefully.  See also the section on Terms and Conditions on the Update page.

No Accreditation
The second most important point to note is that the Island TEFL courses are in no way accredited.  They certainly have no international validity. Their only validity is in the limited world of teaching in Thai state schools, despite Philip Dunne’s loud claim of international accreditation.  Thai state schools are crying out for teachers and consequently the standards are low, and they will accept even an Island TEFL certificate.  Yes, even an Island TEFL certificate.  Just the fact you know something about EFL is enough.  More important for them is the orientation course given by the placement agency (see below).  Claims of international accreditation by any university are completely false.  Incidentally, a good TEFL/TESOL accrediting organisation is Accreditat.  Check them out.

Unqualified Teachers
As a corollary of this lack of official accreditation is the unreliability of the actual course itself.  It’s completely random who teaches it and what they teach. I know this because a few years back I myself taught a course.  Luckily, I have fairly high standards and taught what I thought was a pretty thorough course. But actually I wasn’t qualified to do teacher training, other than having a couple of years’ experience teaching.  Nor was there was anyone checking on me at any stage.  No one come from any officiating or accrediting body to observe.  I was given a course book to teach from, but stillI could have taught whatever I felt like.  I also noticed that large sections of the book were plagiarized anyway.  So any student signing up for an Island TEFL course has no guarantee of even receiving proper training.  The course will also fall well short of the 120 hours advertised.  It’ll probably be about three hours a day for three weeks.  The online course provided by Island TEFL, onlineteflexpress, is also severely sub-standard.

No Thai Students
As part of the training you should at some stage be able to hone your skills and teach to real Thai students.  However, Island TEFL’s main courses are held in April and October, when all schools are on holiday.  So where are any Thai young learners going to be found?  They might scrape together one or two isolated students, but you certainly won’t get a full classroom to practice on as implied in the advertising.

Online TEFL Express
This is another great example of the scam.  As mentioned above the course itself is severely substandard.  However, the way Philip Dunne pulls you in is by getting you to sign up for the orientation or placement course in Thailand as a follow up.  This is usually more expensive than the original online course, and is again just as worthless.

People who pay $1,000 or more are being completely ripped off.  A better route is to do an online course with a school with a proven track record (not OnlineTEFLExpress) and then get the free orientation course most of the placement agencies give.  Examples of two big placements agencies are Media Kids and AYC.  Google around for others. Then try to make direct contact with them.  Island TEFL itself is NOT a placement agency.  The $500+ extra you pay for their orientation course is money straight into Philip Dunne’s pocket simply for acting as a middle man.  It’s also a complete joke of a course with Philip Dunne often coming in drunk and trying to pose as an expert on Thai language and culture, and EFL teaching.  Most EFL schools would almost certainly turn down a job application from Philip Dunne.

Below I’ve listed some links to other websites that have commented on Island TEFL and Philip Dunne, as well as Camp Thailand and Philip Crabb.  Make sure you check them out!  Also check out the Update and Philip Dunne tabs

http://presumablylost.blogspot.com/2015_03_01_archive.html   scroll down to March 12, down to where you see the skull in flames (it’s a fair way down)

http://summercampthailand.blogspot.com/   mentions Camp Thailand in particular

Example of typical comment

I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with Phillip Dunne last November 2013. Long story short. We paid a deposit, arrived in Thailand to find that the school had closed two months earlier. Of course we were angry but wanted to get on with things so flew from Chang Mai to Phuket to meet Philip and see his school in Phuket. There was no school, he very ‘generously’ as he said, offered to do the course in our hotel bedroom or a beach bar. There were no other students. Needless to say we were fuming. Of course he refused to give our deposit back. He is a gangster, incompetent, unprofessional, sly etc. The only thing he is good at is fooling people. Since then we found and met various people who have been treated awful by this ‘man’. My advice is keep clear. But if you have paid a deposit I’d say don’t pay any more until you’ve been in the school, met the other students and fully completed the course. I have received ridiculous email correspondents that he sent to justify his actions. I know you don’t want to hear this now, but if possible keep clear. I’d be happy to give you further info if you wished.

Example of typical email 

To a student trying to get a refund on her deposit.

I am very disappointed that you have chosen to misrepresent the facts.  I wish to let you know that if you do not immediately rectify these misrepresentations with your credit card company you will leave me with no alternative than to file a lawsuit against you personally.  I suggest that you immediately seek advice from an attorney if this is the route we are going to take because just to defend the lawsuit will cost many more times than your deposit and when I secure a judgement against you, even in the event that you are forced into bankruptcy because you don't have the means to pay the damages, legal costs and penalties, your credit will be destroyed for the next 7 years and rest assured I will seek to have liens placed on any assets you own.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Island TEFL scam

Philip Dunne
Island TEFL Thailand is a scam and Philip Dunne is a scammer. This article is written primarily for potential investors.  However, trainees who want to get a TEFL certificate also need to beware, as the course he provides will almost certainly fall well short of expectations. For them it is only a partial scam. There are special tabs at the top for more details on each, as well as overviews of Philip Dunne and his company.  For a brief account read below.  Check also under the "Update" tab

First, Island TEFL is not an officially registered company in Thailand, but exists solely on the internet as a web domain.  Its success is primarily the product of skilful marketing and a developed website going back some years.  It certainly has no offices of its own, either in Thailand or USA, and is basically just a one man show, Philip Dunne working from a room somewhere.  He spends most of his time in America, but for a few months of the year comes to Thailand.  Island TEFL rents premises from other schools as and when it needs them, particularly in April and October, its busiest time.  For smaller courses Philip Dunne may use just a hotel or bar.  There's no company in the true sense of the word and it’s certainly not audited.  In fact, it's not an established business in any meaningful sense of the word.   Nevertheless, Philip Dunne sells franchises to innocent victims for sums ranging from $20,000 upwards, even aiming as high as $60,000 sometimes. He then proceeds to systematically trash them on all fronts, particularly if they fail to register quickly.  He aims to put them in breach of contract as early as possible, as a result of which most lose their money completely and probably will not even get any share of the profits.  He may well then threaten them with damages too.  This is the scam.

Trainees may be completely unaware of all this, as usually the trainers Philip Dunne employs are good enough for the job, and even the trainers themselves may not know the full background.  Most trainees will probably get their certificates and jobs, so if you're just looking for a job in Thailand you may be satisfied.  However, more serious students will notice the second rate nature of almost every aspect of the experience.  The premises are an obvious example, usually nowhere near up to the standard in the website pics.  You may also find the teaching practice fails to live up to expectations.  It may just be a few isolated students.  Trainers may not be fully qualified either.  Also the certificates have absolutely no international validity. They are not accredited by any official body.  No good private school will employ you based on this qualification.  However, the certificate will almost certainly be good enough for Thai state schools, where the standard is relatively low.  

Another thing is that the well-advertised partnership with the University of San Diego is purely for placement purposes.  It's not an academic one.  The tie-up has occurred simply because of Philip Dunne’s presence in San Diego.  Finally, most of the non-native speaker trainees (mostly Russians) work on Ed Visas, which is technically illegal.  If you're a native speaker with a degree you'll probably get a proper business visa.  But Russians and others should at least be aware of the risk they are taking.  If they are caught they could get a jail sentence.  It's unlikely that will happen, but it is a possibility they need to be aware of.

For fuller details, click on the tabs at the top.  Some of the information is duplicated on the tabs.