Is Hands on TEFL a good company?

I just saw a statement on the third year abroad Facebook page saying someone has sent a complaint about Hands on TEFL saying they aren't treating students properly. I have a placement with them starting in September. Could you tell me any more about the situation?

This question was asked by Jennie from The University of Liverpool , asked on 13th April 2015 and has been read 4835 times.

  • Tara · 7 years ago

    Hi Jennie.

     Here is my experience.  

    I started my  distasterous placement middle of January 2015 in Spain,  I signed up to a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teaching intern-ship with a company called Hands onTEFL. The placement was to be based on the mutual exchange of me giving no more than 32 hours english lessons per week, in return for receiving 8 hours Spanish lessons and accommodation with bills included. I was sold an Ideal placement which would cover me under Erasmus. 

    When I arrived it was nothing like I had been told; The accommodation I was allocated upon arrival - a shared house with two guys and a girl, contained no furniture other than the bed in my bedroom The mattress was soiled and after closer inspection I found that it was crawling with bed bugs; In addition to this the bathroom door would not shut properly, let alone lock, the toilet did not flush properly and there were no curtains or screening of any kind at my windows. It took TEFL 5 days to move me and 3 days after that to give me the new keys. They since moved more people into the accommodation without changing the mattress or fumigating the bedbugs, apparently the person before me in this particular bedroom had also suffered at the hands of the bedbugs. Upon talking to other people on Tefl placements my experience is far from uncommon, I have heard tales of people with no hot water or heating. Madrid is very cold in the winter. I have a photographic record of my accommodation. 

     I was given a working rostra by TEFL of 40 hours per week almost an hours ride away on the metro: my timetable was 10am - 2pm and then 5.20pm to 9.20pm. Which meant I was commuting 4 hours everyday and getting home extremely late, not to mention the cost of the travel. I was also expected to work a  Saturday each month for 4 hours. On my only day off, Sunday, I was expected to write an essay for homework for the TEFL qualification. As far as I could ascertain the company employs unpaid reception staff as interns. 

    The books we were expected to use as teaching aids were so poorly written there were English errors and the TEFL qualification we were promised is not equal to CELT as we had been told by the recruiter. 

     The Spanish lessons I was to receive turned out to be 2 hours per week not 8. The teacher was a young girl who had no training in teaching and although she was very nice she was not suited to teaching my level of Spanish. The same girl was asked to teach English to our students when we were short staffed and was told to lie to students and tell them she had an English mother which was completely untrue. 

     We were also promised health insurance while we were there. Which yet again turned out to be erroneous. We were given supposedly private health cards, however they turned out to be illegal as a student found out when she herself needed medical treatment, she went to A and E with her 'private health insurance card' but was told they would only give her the stitches she needed because she was bleeding heavily and that the card was illegal and she needed to make sure she didn't use it again. The next week when her stitches were due out and her EHIC had still not arrived she had to go to several different hospitals until a kindly nurse agreed to take her stitches out but she told the student she must not not tell anyone, because it was Illegal. 

     Hands on TEFL is badly organised, poorly run and is operating under false pretenses. I would not recommend a placement with them! 

  • James Richard Collins · 7 years ago

    Hi Jennie, 

    I am not a student but chose to take this placement by myself so I could join my girlfriend in Spain for her year abroad. She chose an alternative route to this placement and wouldn't have received a certificate. However I digress. 

    As my former colleague, Tara, has already stated, this is a dreadful placement option. When I left the company, I emailed them a scathing but constructive email which I understand has been completely ignored by the company. I also BCC'd this to Hands on TEFL themselves and received no reply. 

    To summarise my email for you. Individual managers of the academies are brilliant and lovely people and try to do the best they can with the staff and resources they have. Everything else is hopelessly mis-managed and there are elements of tax evasion which the Spanish government would love to look at. 

    Students joining the program are now NO LONGER PAID and have only accommodation to show for their 40 hour week. All other expenses are forced onto the students themselves with an average month costing anywhere between 500 - 1000 Euros depending on placement, food and any chance of actually travelling/tourism. 

    Under no circumstance would I recommend this placement and I would be severely sceptical of any other TEFL placement. The TEFL name has and rightly so been scandalised and disgraced. I would never hire anyone with a TEFL certificate if I was in a manager role due to this experience. The paper is not worth it. 

    Also please warn everyone that there are other companies who are offering this placement and the following link is one such example. Please anyone who reads this - CHECK the details and do not accept if they are similar. 


    If you want a suitable program try this following link for September. This it what I transferred too and it is much better suited for students and want-to-be Teachers (like myself). This is a placement run directly by the Spanish Government and has other intake routes via the European Central Government and British Council.


    I wish you look in your search. (but do try the auxiliares link its great fun! ) 

    Best wishes. 

  • Liam Imison-Harvey · 7 years ago

    This a true witness account of my experiences with this company, firstly to anyone considering doing this internship with Hands on Tefl then please DON'T !! as mentioned above this company is an absolute joke and they treat people unbelievably terribly.

    If anything good has come out of my internship (which also started in January this year) it is that I have learned a valuable lesson from the bad experience that I had with their Tefl course placement which is that if something seems like it's too good to be true then it is.

    I was on a Tefl internship there for 7 weeks in Madrid and my experience there was an absolute living nightmare!!. 

    For starters there was sewage leaking from the apartment above into our kitchen causing damp and mould. Needless to say that myself and a flatmate became seriously ill living there and I was hospitalised with bacterial pneumonia and sinusitis, my friend was ill with gastroenteritis. 

    Although our illnesses were directly caused by their negligence we had money deducted from our living allowance whilst we were ill and my total medical costs which were 90 € were not reimbursed by the company. 

    In addition to the horrors of the accommodation which may I add was in one of the worst areas of the city renouned for crime and drug gangs was the day to day mistreatment received there and the stress involved being in the middle of an illegal scam.

    We received no training, qualification course support absolutely nothing yet we were expected to teach professionals high level English grammar and exam study classes in addition to group and business classes all while under the assumed title of a degree qualified native English teacher which I was not.

    By the time you had travelled to and from different work locations which covered more or less all of the city we basically had a 12 hour a day schedule with insufficient rest and recuperation time so the work was gruelling and very unrewarding.

    The main issue with their company and this programme is of course that what they are doing is completely illegal, they pay no tax or national insurance in either the UK or Spain for any of their interns so all of their staff are effectively working illegally too.

     Considering that they are operating throughout Spain with a large scale scam and it's a wonder that they are getting away with very serious and high level fraudulent, criminal and moral offences that they are committing and they must be stopped as they are exploiting people in a terrible and harmful way.

    If nothing else please consider the fact that you are able to avoid the same exploitation, abuse, disappointment, inconvenience,  expense,  time wasting and personal suffering that many people have fallen victim to as you can still avoid it.

    I hope that you've found my account sincere and honest enough to take my advice as a gesture and kind word of warning that they are 100% dishonest and corrupt so please keep well away!!

    Best wishes,


  • Global Graduates · 7 years ago

    Hi all,

    Please can everyone who has posted on this thread (and anyone reading who has had a similar experience) please report any problems with this company (or any others) to your home university? This is very important (particularly if the company is not responding) as universities will listen carefully to their own students' testimonies, and will be able to share any concerns they think are relevant with their colleagues in other universities, Uni staff are constantly in discussion via their own forums on this topic, so it's very important that they know about this directly from students. 

    Thank you all so much!

    Love from the TYA Team :)

  • James Corner · 7 years ago

    I have just completed a six month internship with Hands-on-TEFL and all I can say is don't fucking do it. 

    Everyone that I worked with hated the company. Their work ethics are just horrendous. Here are some points:

    1) So the accommodation is paid for, sounds good right? No. When I moved into my apartment the shower was broken, the heating was broken, the oven was broken, and the kitchen was a state. Granted that's not the companies fault but it took them about one month to send someone out to clean it for me. 

    The shower was repaired after a month, and the oven? Well I don't even think it's repaired even now. 

    2) They give you next to no training, okay so let's just imagine you think it will be fine with no training because you speak English how hard can it be? Explain to me the difference between the two model verbs, have to and must. It's very embarrassing when I student would ask me something and I didn't know the answer to it so I had to train myself. 

    3) The work hours. You'll be working from 10am until 9:20pm with a 3 hour break in the middle of the day. But you will be working solidly from 10am-2pm then from 5:20pm until 9:20 and by solid I mean teaching classes one after the other no time to breath. 

    4) It is the most disorganised company where I have worked. For example I had to send 5 emails in the space of 2-3 weeks before I finally got a response from them about getting it fixed. I receive the response and they say that someone is coming on Thursday to fix it so someone needs to be at home to let them in. That's fair enough I can go home during my break so the shower is fixed, however he actually came on Wednesday. It wasn't the man's fault I asked him he said he was booked to come on Wednesday. Everyone that's ever worked for them has stories about their lack of organisation. 

    5) It's a very, very corrupt company. Before I moved to Spain I asked them if I would need to get an NIE number so I can pay tax in Spain. I was told no but I just thought it must be an English company then. How wrong I was. Four months into my internship they started to be investigated by Spain and I was told I needed an NIE. Back to their lack of disorganisation, I went to get my NIE thinking I had all the documents needed. Nope. I was missing a couple of things that THEY needed to give me so I wasted a whole unpaid morning to get nothing. 

    I could go on forever about this company and the many different ways it's corrupt but I won't. One good thing is I did actually receive my TEFL with 1,000 hours teaching experience. 

    No Hands-on-TEFL is not a good company; DO NOT WORK WITH HANDS ON TEFL.

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