Here is my story and from what I have read online it is likely the story of tens, if not hundreds of honest people who have fallen for the Language House TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) honey trap.
I am writing this to warn others not to make the same mistake as I did.
In the Fall of 2013 I signed up for the February 2014 Language House TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) onsite residential course in Prague/Praha (which is in the Czech Republic.)
I chose this particular course over the many other TEFL course options in Prague because it seemed that simply everyone who took the Language house course in Prague had a 5 star review feedback of the program. I contacted the owner of the school who is the devil in sheep's clothing: Chris Westergaard. And he forwarded to me a few (25!) emails of past students who he promised would verify their Language House TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) graduate status; providing unbiased feedback of the course. So far so good. I thought...
Out of the 25 only half a dozen got back to me, but I thought hey, they are probably too busy teaching English to respond. It did seem strange a little that all 6 replies felt that they were written by the same person, but I just out that down to my extra cautiousness - it was stressful knowing that I would soon be parting with over US$2,000 of my hard earned money and after weeks of internet research I was beginning to feel quite jaded by forums and their conflicting information.
Well, all the 6 graduates of the Language House TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) wrote back with gleaming reviews. Something I should have kicked myself in the butt for not noticing back then was that they were available at almost any time of the day or night for a chat about the course. I did find it weird, but hey, I've worked in places before where I loved my job and didn't mind committing acts of kindness on behalf of the business. How wrong I was...
So, I arrive to Prague and the first thing I'm told at the low key orientation meeting is that the (private one room) accommodation I was promised is no longer available and would I mind changing to their 6-person dorm room. Urgh! I didn't want to cause a fuss. I was new in the city. I didn't want to be labelled the stuck-up student who made problems on her first day, so (idiotically) I accepted. A refund or compensation for the difference in accommodation prices I asked? No was the emphatic answer, coming with a warm sugar-coated smile that somehow made me feel personally violated.
OK Casey, you can do this. I'm sure the other 5 girls will be cool.
It turned out that 2 of the other girls were cool, 1 of the guys was cool, and the other 2 guys in the MIXED dorm were nightmares; drinking at all times of the night and making the rest of us tired for classes and needing to head out to Starbucks - spending unnecessary extra costs and time on expensive coffee (in the CZ it is) and homework assignments.
Even if there had been 6 girls in the dorm, the internet was s--l--o--w. A few times it needed to be rebooted. Skip did this but after the second time said he would add a charge at the end of our course if he had to come out again to reboot the router a 3rd time !!!!!!
The school is not how it is portrayed on the Language House TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) website. Not at all. I was expecting a classroom in a school. What we got was a tiny office space (50sqm) and a disgusting toilet which is shared with all the other other offices in that run-down building.
And here I don't want to come over as some spoilt girl who doesn't know any better.
I spent a year in Nepal, and another 6 months traveling southern India, so I know the relativity of hygiene standards.
What really got me though - besides the cramped classroom and disgusting restrooms - was that none of the school equipment seemed to work properly. An example: we had been studying Phonics and I asked if I could make 1 photocopy print of the Phonetic chart for my teaching class later that day. Skip looked at Chris and Chris (quite rudely I might add) said that the school printer wasn't working, but if I wanted to use the Photocopy machine then not a problem. For a 20 Crown fee !!!!! That's almost $1 for printing out one black and white sheet of paper !!!!!!
At first I thought he was joking, but he freaking wasn't.
They charge you for everything extra!
The course itself was ok.
I really liked the course coordinators and we met quite often for after class drinks and sports.
Some of them (the new ones) were satisfied with their lot, but the ones that had been there for a while were obviously tired of the way they are treated, and plainly embarrassed with the extra sucking of money from student's pockets. One night they told me the course was ok, but don't expect to go that far with it. This really reassured me.
One positive was that I had lots of teaching practice experience, but unfortunately 80% of my time teaching was teaching fellow TEFL students on the same course as me. It was useful, but I wish I had chosen a course which allowed me to teach real students all of the time; something I learned later on is a standard for reputable TEFL schools.
In the end I passed the course with flying colors, even though my roomie was at the same level of performance as me and he very nearly failed (guess if he was female with blonde hair then he would have passed as well as I did too?)
The shock though came when I began applying to schools.
I loved my time in Prague, despite the bad taste of the Language House TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) and my dream had always been to teach in Germany or Japan.
In all fairness to The Language House TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) about 60% of my fellow TEFLers found work within 3 months of completing the course, although 2 had to leave when their 3 month visa expired and when the promised visa support from The Language House TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) never materialized.
The saddest part of this story is that I eventually had to give up on my dream because it transpired that The Language house TEFL Prague (TLH Prague) certificate is worthless outside of the Czech Republic.
I am now back home. Almost US$5,000 out of pocket and with my dreams of teaching abroad crushed.
Last week a friend directed me to this site which pretty sums up my experience at The Language House TEFL Prague: https://ischriswestergaardguiltyoftaxfraud.wordpress.com
Ironically, on my last day in Prague I met a guy who took his certification online with a company called ITTP TEFL Online. He had a teaching job the Monday after course completion, and with another one lined up in South Korea 6 months later. Maybe they would be a better choice?
Please don't make the same mistake that I did. Please.
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