i-to-i TEFL

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3.3 / 10 after 14 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings
Program website: http://www.i-to-i.com/

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I was very interested in the Vietnam paid internship and spent a lot of time on the phone to an adviser at I-to-I who was very helpful patient and kind and rang me up on regular occasions to reassure me and to answer the hundreds of questions that I had about the internship so that I felt confident enough to cough up the £750 fee which pays for accommodation and the orientation over in Vietnam.
One of my questions was about my appearance, I told them that I’ve got very neat, clean dreadlocks and facial piercings and an arm tattoo which covers a scar- but along with this I also mentioned that i intended to wear my hair back in a neat bun and that I was happy to take my piercings out and would obviously cover all tattoos. In response to this I got laughed at, and told not to be silly and that this was absolutely fine as long as I took my piercings out and covered my tattoos as intended.
One other question was about the accommodation Surprisingly I-to-I were not able to provide me with any example photos of what the accommodation was going to look like and considering you are making a home there for 5 months you'd think they'd have that covered.
Anyway my friend and I painstakingly make the decisions to leave our homes, partners, friends and families to make this massive exciting step towards our new careers. I am already qualified with a 140 hour TEFL qualification and have a degree in English literature so am more than qualified enough for this position so was confident that I was going to accepted and that his was the beginning of a new life for me.
I was shocked however after paying £750 to I-to-I to have absolutely no further contact from them after all of the reassurance, not a single word to tell me what would happen next or to congratulate me on my decision. I was handed straight to the partners in Vietnam who sent me an application form to fill out - which I did to a very high standard - I was very confident in the fact that I had all of the necessary qualifications and also had lots of other great qualities necessary in a teacher. I included details of my previous work experience working with children with disabilities. I sent all of this information off very promptly because I am a competent and organised person.
It came to sending my documents off which I did once again very promptly. We were asked to send a signed contract which made the entire experience sound awful. On reading the contract I was filled with doubt because it sounded so awful and I was left awake all hours of the night worrying that it was going to be so horrible that I didn’t want to go anymore. It stated that we may be expected to work over 6 days, that we were not allowed to plan trips, that we had to pay for a $75 mandatory invasive health check (which was not made clear by I-to-I it is in the terms and conditions but this should be should stated very clearly as an added cost!!! ) Also had to send them a picture which I did of course including the facial piercings I intended to remove on commencing the internship (not 3 months beforehand) and it was a very lovely photo too. I didn’t think this photo was very consequential I thought it was just to match up to the passport- wasn’t aware it was the main method of deciding on the success of an application.
Confident that I’ve got all the qualifications, reassured that my appearance isn’t an issue, I go ahead and tell my landlord that I’m going to be leaving in January to which he replies "that’s great I’m selling up then".
So a couple of days later I get an email very bluntly explaining that I have been rejected from the internship and that they refuse to give me any reason for this so that I should get in touch with i-to-i to organise a refund or to see if there is any other experience I can take part in. Excuse me? I am more than qualified and more than competent as I have proven and I have been entirely discriminated against because of my appearance? Which I made clear from the very beginning and was willing to comply with the dress code.
Had a very lucky escape because speaking to my teacher friends around the world i-to-i are renowned for messing people around and not sending them their certificates or ripping them off in one sense or another. So I go ahead and ring i-to-i about this and there was absolutely no sympathy, no compassion and I was treated and made to feel as if this was my fault in some way. I was not offered a refund I had to ask for it, I was not offered any other experiences I had to ask about them they did not try in any way to accommodate for the situation or to try and make it less stressful.
Now I have to move out of my home for absolutely no reason, am absolutely emotionally drained by the whole experience made to feel like less of a person because of my appearance? I’m sorry but what kind of joke is this ? This is the 21st century !? I understand cultures vary and that this was a professional job but when I’ve already made it clear about my appearance and my intentions to conform, i-to-i have a duty to inform me at least why I was rejected – But of course they can’t because they know this decision is not based on any fair grounds. The girl who talked to me basically laughed and said it’s all cultural and had a "what do you want me to do about it" attitude. A little compassion goes a long way when you’re dealing with human beings. I am absolutely gutted to be treated like this but I’m so relieved that I-to-I or sly-to-sly decided to mess me around BEFORE I got over there for 5 months !
Thanks for the emotional roller coaster sly-to-sly it’s been a blast! Luckily I’m a positive person so used this experience to grow, I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the process. I’ve reinforced in myself that I am more than what I look like, that I am a competent, organised, compassionate, enthusiastic, dedicated, qualified, educated, intelligent, kind, funny and above all interesting person with so much to offer to the right people so I think your partners in Vietnam have missed out on a great opportunity to have me teach their children so I'd like to offer my apologies cause its genuinely their loss.

In closing
- communicate with people after they've paid you £750
- don't lie about appearance not mattering because it clearly does and make this very clear to anybody out there with a personality a bit more interesting than a wet flannel.
- don't treat people like it’s their fault they got rejected
- have a bit of compassion
- be a bit more polite
-dont make people who get rejected ask for a refund, you should be the ones to contact them- offerings support – advice and of course that refund!

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 24, 2016
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
Age:
22

I have recently returned from four weeks of volunteering with i-to-i in Xi’an China doing the Community work with children project. The project was not what I expected. When I first booked the project I was under the impression that it would be at an orphanage, as this is what it said on the website when I first booked it(October). I did, however, notice a few changes on the website but it still said under the description that we would be placed at an orphanage. However, when I arrived at the project, this was not the case. We were placed at a school/centre for autistic children; “Intelligence Island” Straight away, I started having my doubts. Obviously it wasn’t an orphanage; many of the parents came with the children and stayed all day. I, as well as the other volunteers were very disappointed about this as we had specifically booked the trip as we thought it would be at an orphanage. If we had wanted to go to a school we would have booked the teaching project. With the parents there the children did not need the attention as the parent was with them . When the website had been updated it said we would be at different projects so we thought we might be able to change. However, when we asked we were told we would be at the same project the whole time, but our role would slightly change. I asked about the Starfish orphanage which had featured in our orientation video but we were told that had closed down, as the owner had died. I would have thought they could have had the initiative to remove this from the video or at least tell us about this. We also contacted the i-to-i office base but they simply said they couldn’t do anything about it, it would have to be the in country team.
We were told we would be placed at the project which we were most needed at but that certainly could not have been the case. There were some classes where there was no parents which was slightly better but not much. In many of the classes we basically had to sit at the back of the classroom and couldn’t do anything. With the parents there, I didn’t really feel needed. Sometimes, there was far more adults than children so there was nothing for us to do. I was hoping that it would get better as they had said our role would change and we would get one child and the parents would leave, but this was not the case. When we actually got to play and help with the children it felt like such a novelty and we took full advantage of this whenever we could.
In many of the classes the children had to sit at the wall with the hands behind their back to discipline them, and we simply had to watch. This was extremely distressing. Sometimes we were given basic activities to do with the children but this got worse during the trip. By the third week, we were often told to sit at the back of the class to not distract the children, and were told we couldn’t attend one class, as we were making one child too distracted, and had to go to classes where we simply sat and watched the class being taught. This was very upsetting, as this was one of the classes for the no-parent children class, where we actually felt slightly more needed. On two occasions we were told to do art, which was fine, until we realised there was no children with us, we had to do the drawing! The centre simply couldn’t accommodate for volunteers. It was made obvious by some of the staff that we were not wanted . We were told that we were there to give the centre some Western influence, but this was rejected. The project was sometimes very emotionally challenging and hard. We would sometimes be sitting at the back of the class with tears in our eyes.
One of the volunteers who was booked for the exact same time as myself, disliked the project so much, she arranged to transfer to a teaching project for the second week then leave.
We spoke with the main i-to-i office who completely denied that the website had said anything about an orphanage when we had first been booking it. Really, it had been false advertising. We also arranged to have a meeting with our in country co-ordinater and she seemed completely surprised that we thought we would be going to an orphanage and said the website had been changed a year ago. However, this was not the case, as the website still said about an orphanage when I, and the fellow volunteers booked it. We were told we could do the teaching project instead, or could teach English to the guides at the terracotta warriors. This wasn’t really ideal as this is not I had in mind for volunteering. It was clear that we really wanted to go to an orphanage so the in country co-ordinator said she would try and arrange for us to go for a visit one day. We still pressed that we wanted to go there the whole trip but she said she would see what they said. I continued to go to the project for the next two weeks, and during the second week was told that the orphanage was actually a foster home and our project leader would be visiting there. They sounded very positive about it so I was very hopeful. After the second week, we had thought we would change project but were told we would not know until halfway through the week. Then, we were told this would not be possible any more as the foster home was too busy to accommodate volunteers at this point, which was very frustrating as the team had seemed so optimistic prior to this. We also found out that the reason we couldn’t volunteer at the orphanage any more was because i-to-i had had a dispute with the orphanage, which they had failed to mention before. We asked if the municipal orphanage would be an option. The team said this could be a lengthy process and the orphanage was 2 and a half hours away, but they would try. At this point, I was very disappointed as even if I did get to change, the majority of my trip would have been at a project that I was not very happy with. I basically accepted that I was not going to be able to change and continued at the project. A fellow volunteer, who was staying a week longer than me was given the option to go to an orphanage for one day, but decided not to go as one day was not really worth it. She was so unhappy that she decided not to go in for her last week volunteering. This was my second last day, so just wasn’t good enough for me either.
The website had said that books and resources were needed for the project so I had brought lots, but they really weren’t suitable. I eventually did give them to the project but felt they would have been much more needed at an orphanage.
Another point to mention was the break in the middle of the day. From 12 to 2, all the staff and parents went to sleep, so there was nothing for us to do, and was a waste.
There were two interns there who sometimes prevented us from volunteering.
I had expected very strict discipline, but it was still upsetting that we couldn’t really do anything about it. Children were often hit, and were left to sit in their clothes if they wet themselves. We had to take the initiative to change the children, as otherwise, I’m quite sure they would have been left. I think the staff were aware that we completely disagreed but not did not accommodate our “Western influences” which we were told we were there for.
We eventually had a confrontation with the staff, who said we had to be more interactive in class. This was very annoying as this is what we had been trying to do but we had been pushed away by some of the staff, who did not even acknowledge us or even told us to be quiet.

When I booked the project I was told that by paying to volunteer, some of the money would be given to the project, but I can almost guarantee this wasn’t true. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure where all the money went, apart from i-to-i’s pockets.
I did have an amazing time in China, despite the project not being what I intended. However, the project was what I was there for. The accommodation was very good, and I think the in country team did try to help us, as I can understand that they would not be aware of what we had initially been told. Also, the in country team were very good for helping us with other issues such as transport to tourist locations and booking tickets etc. They were very friendly and did make us feel welcome. The other volunteers were so lovely and without them I don’t think I could have done it, as I came by myself and if I had arrived to find the project was bad and the other volunteers were not nice, it would have been awful. We had great fun and I have some amazing memories with them. It has, overall, been an amazing experience going to China, but most of this is from factors not connected to i-to-i. The kids at the project were so great and I was crying saying goodbye to one of them, it definitely wasn’t them that made the project bad. I am still glad I did it and persevered with it, it was very emotionally challenging and eye-opening. It was rewarding, but not in the way I thought. However, I am very disappointed that I didn’t get to go to an orphanage.
Quite frankly, I want a refund as I did not receive what my contract suggested, and did not get what I booked for. I’m not quite sure what all the money went towards and think it is unjust that you should have to pay so much money to volunteer.
I wouldn’t recommend i-to-i as they gave false information, and do not give you your money’s worth, whilst the company itself are receiving the majority of the profit.

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 18, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
Age:
17

i-to-i and onlinetfel.com are apparently long-running scams that continued to fool people with a flashy website and fake reviews. Here are the link that tell the whole story and not just what they want you to know:

http://www.teflspin.com/2008/07/volunteer-to-be-sucker.html

http://teflblacklist.blogspot.dk/2008/01/i-to-i-tefl-up-to-their-old-tri...

http://internationalteflreviews.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/beware-onlinete...

http://eslwatch.info/china-2/scams-or-schemes-in-china/8415-red-alert-on...

If their online TEFL business is a scam, I cannot believe their travel business is any more honest especially if they are swindling the elderly and unemployed

http://globalteflreviews.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/onlinetefl-com-is-sham...

Program:
Location:
Posted: May 12, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: Lee
Age:
32

I would NOT recommend anybody to go on any trips with I-to-I!
My sister and I went with I-to-I to volunteer for 4 weeks in China. The programme we went for was the 'community work with children' which stated that we would be in either an orphanage, a school for those with SEN or something else that I've forgotten. We both paid over £1000 each, this is for the placement ONLY, not plane tickets or visas or travel insurance etc. We were told we got airport pick up, accommodation and 3 meals a day.

Anyway, before the trip, support was great, people were always there to answer questions and were friendly and helpful. However, the trip itself was very BAD!

NEGATIVES:
1)We were first told we were going to be going to the orphanage to help. So my sister and I went and purchased loads of stuff to bring for the children. And then like 1 week before we go, we're told the founder of the orphanage is ill so we cant go there (which doesnt make sense as I thought they'd need even more help!) so we wasted the money purchasing the stuff!

2) when getting out visa, we wasnt told we had to provide proof of invitation from the organisation, so we weren't allowed to get our visas, but luckily they answered calls and sorted this out on the spot.

3) we were told we would get an orientation, turns out to be a talk around the dinner table and a 30 minute long video about all the projects they do.

4) the 'meals' they provide is the biggest scam ever. Breakfast was toast EVERYDAY! on the website, it said that toast will be available but I understood this to mean that 'we will provide authentic chinese breakfast with toast as an option' but no.. it was literally toast everyday... and then you get lunch provided at your placement which isnt too bad. but then dinner at the accomodation... there are 2 cooks, the lady is LOVELY, and her food is DELICIOUS, but the guy cant cook at all... so when he cooked, we often just ate junk food! ALSO, when there were left overs from the guys cooking, he would store them for like 4 days and then serve it again!! I DID NOT PAY OVER £1000 TO EAT INEDIBLE LEFT OVERS!
also, one day, we accompanied the nice lady to buy groceries for the nights dinner, and the total came up to about £4... and there was 4 volunteers and the 2 workers to feed... so about 65p spent on each person... and I paid over £1000 for this...

5) so yeah, last minute told we were going to be volunteering at SEN school, which was fine, but turned up at the place, and they didnt even need any extra workers! every student either had their parent with them or had an assistant already... so i spent about 80% of my time there sitting in the office reading a book. we weren't even allowed to go home if we weren't needed.. I didnt pay £1000+ to sit in an office and read a book! and because I am actually Chinese.. I could communicate with them a bit,,, but i cant imagine how an english person would cope because staff there didnt speak English.. ALSO, we spoke to the manager at the school.. and he actually said to us that if we come back to China, DONT go with I-TO-I... we told him how much we paid... and he said it was a massive scam! now thats sayin something if the school partner doesnt reccommend I-TO-I!

6) some of the money we paid was supposed to go direct to the school, and we were supposed to go with the in-country team to buy some materials for the school.. but this NEVER happened.. we were also supposed to use the money from the last volunteers who didnt have time to buy materials.. but this NEVER happened either.. so I dont know where that money went...

7) we booked to volunteer for 4 weeks.. and 1 of those weeks actually coincided with Chinas national holiday.. which is 1 week off for everyone so our placement was shut and so was everywhere else. when we booked our trip, we were not told about this, we asked the in country team what was going to happen, and they said our school would still be opened even tho the school themseleves told us they would be closed! so we called over to England to tell them we would not be staying at the accomdation during this period and we're leaving China, but they would only give us £70 refund rather than the full £100 because we're choosing to leave but they still have to pay for the accomodation in case we want to stay!! RIDICULOUS! absolutely crazy considering it was their fault for not telling us about national day!

8) while we were there, we were joined by some REALGAP travellers, who were treated like royalty whilst we were treated like rubbish! we stayed at the I-TO-I accommodation, but when REALGAP came, we had to move rooms for them! Also, the in-country team were completely focused on them and didnt have time to answer any questions we had. I didnt pay over £1000 to be treated like this! And considering I was over there to volunteer, and they were there for a holiday, I expected more help and better treatment! It is also annoying that they paid a lot less to get better things!

9) After a day out, we were trying to get back to the accommodation, but it was pouring with rain and there were no taxis cos everyone gets taxis when it rains! and we didnt know which bus to get back! so we called the in country team who said they'll come get us! and then about 1 hour later in the pouring rain.. still nobody! so we call.. and then he says hes coming now! so we ended up waiting about 2 hours in the rain! luckily we borrowed an umbrella from a nearby restaurant!

10) we had to pay for every trip we made to and from the volunteer placement.. considering I paid £1000+, we expected like transfers or something! Fair enough they didnt say transnfer included, but paying over £1000, and only 65p spent on dinner for you, you'd expect transport! I wonder how much of the money even went on the project!

11) You only get treated nice if youre doing the Panda conservation... the rep for them was nice! we saw pictures were they did activities together and all! but for us.. it was just here's your dinner, good bye.

12) the site said bedding would be changed every week, or more if u requested it... throughout our stay.. it wasnt even changed once! You might think this is just being Petty, but when you spend over £1000, you expect to receive what the programme states!

13) when we were here, we had 2 volunteers join that were doing the Panda conservation. Because REALGAP joined us, there wasnt enough beds for the new volunteers so they had to stay in a hotel. THIS WAS AWFUL! they told us how there was peanut shells all over the floor, and fag butts in the shower and neither of them smoke, and the shower was literally a trickle of water... my sister and I went to see them in their hotel to try and ask for a room change for them.. but they wouldnt let us, so we got their panda rep over... and he was reluctant to change rooms... so the 2 volunteers said they dont mind sleeping on the flood in the apartment because the hotel was that bad! Another exmaple of how REALGAP get priority even tho its an I-TO-I apartment!

POSITIVES
1) the lady cook makes very nice food and she is SO lovely! i miss her actually :(
2) the school we went to had very nice staff! One lady even offered to take us around Xi'an =) but this has nothing to do with I-To-I
3) the in country team did offer some support and advice when we wanted to plan days out, but I dont think you would have gotten the same treatment if you didnt speak Mandarin.
4) because the REALGAP people came, we got to tag along to some of their events such as kareoke and THEIR welcome dinner which did make the trip much more enjoyable.
5) the rest of the volunteers were lovely! again, nothing to do with I-TO-I

ALL IN ALL I would not go with I-TO-I again! It was SUCH a waste of money, but I did have a great time... which i'm sure I could have had with any other company though!

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 7, 2013
Overall:
2
Support:
7
Value:
1
By: JennyC520
Age:
21

Comments

Sorry guys! I did put it in paragraphs but the format got changed after submitting!

My trip to Costa Rica started out extremely badly as my flights (which I organised myself) were delayed by about 9 hours, and when I finally arrived my luggage did not and I had to spend another 2 hours in the airport trying to sort this out. Despite all this when I left the airport I found an i-to-i rep waiting with open arms (though maybe a little tired from waiting for me for so long) and a sympathetic manner.
My luggage did not turn up for 3 days and I was quite miserable and frustrated but the i-to-i team constantly tried to cheer me up and track down the bag. After the first two days everyone had to go to their projects and I had to wait for my bag to arrive alone. But i-to-i helped me through this time, sorted out my accommodation for the extra day and finally got my bag delievered right to me.

Then, with i-to-i's help I started my project. Unfortunately I did not enjoy it at all and after some complications, including a skin infection, i contacted i-to-i and told them how miserable I am. two days later the same girl who had been waiting for me at the airport, came to my project, despite it being in the middle of nowhere and a two hour uphill trek from the nearest path. She talked to me about all my problems and we arranged for me to switch projects.
I did have to pay a little extra as the other project was more costly but a day later I was on the new project, very happy, making friends and had a fantastic experience.

After everything went wrong the people at i-to-i managedto salvage my trip and ensure I had a fantastic time, and I will always be grateful to them for that.

Program:
Location:
Posted: July 26, 2011
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
7
By: bbauer
Age:
New User

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