Browse By

UNI-Prep Institute Review: A Good Choice for TEFL & TESOL Training?

Vault50.com is an independent review guide covering business and educational products and software. This website contains affiliate links and we may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking these links.

preply review featured

Taking courses online is a big business in 2020, especially with the impact of the Coronavirus keeping a lot of us at home during lockdown. Many have used this time wisely to learn new skills and gain important qualifications.

As a result, there has been a surge of interest in TESOL training, with applicants looking to gain qualifications so they can begin teaching English to students of all ages.

One learning organization well known for such training is Uni-Prep Institute. Their TESOL Certificate and Diploma packages are what will look into today.

So without further ado, it’s time to lift the lid of this popular learning platform to see exactly what it has to offer.

UNI-Prep Review Summary

PRICING: 120hr TESOL Certificate: $195 / 250hr TESOL Diploma (includes specializations): $399 / All Course Access (includes everything Uni-Prep teaches): $999

The Pros
  • Extremely good value, fully accredited TEFL study program
  • Interactive learning platform (real-time discussion with tutors and fellow students)
  • Excellent flexibility on lesson scheduling allowing you to finish the course at own pace
  • Possible to combine with a full-time job
  • Also covers practical aspects of teaching (classroom methods, testing, etc)
  • 99% completion rate
  • Uni-Prep is well connected to help you find work after completing the course
  • They also offer specializations to further advance your skillset
The Cons
  • The level of feedback can sometimes be low due to the high take up on the course
  • Any technical glitches will interrupt live sessions
  • There is a lot of information for each module that the student has to orientate through
Overall, Uni-Prep is a high-quality institution for students looking to take online TESOL training. It offers a flexible way to learn at an affordable price (the current 50% discounts make the courses extremely good value for money). The learning system is intuitive, with the interactive sessions being especially rewarding. There is a lot to get through, so self-discipline is a must. However, the 99% completion rate is a great indication of how well the courses have been put together. Highly recommended.

A Brief Overview of UNI-Prep’s Services

girl on laptop

UNI-Prep Institute is a tertiary correspondence school that offers professional development courses which are delivered through hybrid learning methods, with this review focusing on the online learning method used in the MOOC programs delivered in the VLE/LMS.

It specializes in offering business, management, and English teacher training courses. This review focuses on the TESOL and TEFL training courses, which are designed to equip the learner with skills to teach English to ESL and EFL students, with the diploma program allowing the teacher to prepare the students to take IELTS and TOEFL tests.

It delivers its classes online through a combination of pre-recorded audio and video lectures, pre-written text lectures, and real-time video lectures.

UPI leverages EdTech and teaching philosophies, alongside the experience of its course tutors, to create lessons that provide experiential learning opportunities to its students (teachers-in-training). UPI is accredited by Accreditat.

The course content of TESOL offered by UPI includes all TEFL lessons, which equips the learner with skills to teach ESL classes using TEFL techniques to TOEFL students, as well as allows the student to choose whether to receive TEFL or TESOL qualification upon course completion. UPI offers 2 TESOL courses with each allowing for self-pacing of lessons and assignments.

Upon completion of the TESOL course, one receives an emailed electronic certificate or diploma, and the hard copy document is shipped to his/her address.

The TESOL Certificate Program

The TESOL Certificate Program is an accredited and internationally recognized online TESOL course that leads to the awarding of a TESOL certificate to the student who successfully completes the course and aces the certification exam.

This program is made up of 120 hours of coursework that allows the student to study at own pace, and work towards course completion within one year.

Even so, most complete it within 4 weeks, while the committed ones complete it within 2 weeks. A graduate of the course is then in a position to take on specialization courses.

Uni-Prep Institute's 10 specialization courses:
  • Teaching English Online,
  • Teaching English to Young Learners,
  • Teaching Teenagers, Teaching Adults,
  • Teaching Beginners,
  • Teaching English to Advanced Students,
  • Teaching Advanced Grammar,
  • Teaching Business English,
  • Teaching TOEFL,
  • and Teaching IELTS.

The TESOL Diploma Program

The TESOL Diploma Program is an accredited and internationally recognized online TESOL course that leads to the awarding of a TESOL diploma to the student who successfully completes the course and aces the diploma exam.

This program is made up of 250 hours of coursework that allows the student to study at own pace, and work towards course completion within one year.

Even so, most complete it within 5 weeks, while the committed ones complete it within 3 weeks. This diploma program is basically the certificate course plus all the 10 aforementioned specialization courses.

Because this diploma course includes the certification course, the graduate is entitled to receiving both the certificate and diploma after successfully completing the course.

Brief History of UNI-Prep Institute

uni-prep institute review

UNI-Prep Institute (UPI) is the subsidiary of UNI-Prep corporation that specializes in offering English language, Business, and Management courses online. It is an international online school that offers the aforementioned courses through distance learning.

For UPI, it has customized its online education to be flexible and practical, as well as affordable so as not to lock out people interested in learning the English language, Business, and Management.

UPI focuses on post-high school certificate and diploma courses, and hence can be described as a tertiary correspondence school.

Regarding its history, it was founded as a private training institute in Canada in 2005. This institute, then called UNI-Prep, focused on preparing students for their post-secondary education in Canada and the USA.

Later, it established an office in California and started offering English language classes as an in-class course, and this is how Ragip was educated by UNI-Prep.

Likewise, it was establishing its distance learning programs, whose courses were designed to allow for effective time management and fulfillment of professional (and even personal) goals.

Currently, UNI-Prep Institute (hereby abbreviated simply as UPI) is owned by the UNI-Prep Corporation, which is headquartered in San Diego, California, USA.

Relatedly, UPI is an institutional member of The College of Teachers and the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) which was founded in 1990.

UNI-Prep Institute Language Courses

english-language courses uni-prep institute

The English courses taught at UNI-Prep Institute can be categorized into the following:

  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
  • Teaching English in native speaking English countries to speakers of foreign languages (TESL).

As is evident, these are teacher training courses. Even so, how do these courses differ?

To begin with, one must know the difference between EFL and ESL. ESL stands for English as a Second Language, and this means that the ESL speaker lives in a nation where English is the official language, or one of the official languages of business and governance, while the national language is not English.

A good example – Anglophone commonwealth nations that are in Asia and Africa, e.g South Africa. If one comes from a nation where neither the official nor national language is English, e.g Russia, and China, then one will need to learn to speak English, and then use English as a Foreign Language (EFL) because English is considered a foreign language in his/her native country.

Now, teachers of English can choose to specialize in either teaching ESL students or students who come from nations where English is considered a foreign language.

If the teacher chooses to specialize in teaching EFL, then the teacher needs to be certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

Uni-prep institute global teaching

In nations where English is both the national and official languages, e.g United Kingdom and the USA, its people use English as a Native Language (ENL).

If a teacher wants to teach English to EFL students living in an ENL nation, then the teacher needs to be certified to Teach English in native speaking English countries to speakers of foreign languages (TESL).

It is called TESL because the EFL students will use English as their second language as they will be interacting with an ENL and international audience. If a teacher wants to teach English to both EFL and ESL students who live in their home countries or in ENL nations, then the teacher needs to be certified to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

Evidently, TESOL is wide in scope and covers both TEFL and TESL education spaces.

Of these certifications, the TEFL certification is the most widely accepted outside the USA and Canada because its course is the most comprehensive of the online English language courses.

Even so, TESOL is the most popular course offered by UPI because it is the widest in scope. In fact, the course content of TESOL offered by UPI includes all TEFL lessons.

This equips the learner with skills to teach ESL (classes) using TEFL techniques to TOEFL students. TOEFL is basically a test of EFL.

Taking TESOL Courses at the UNI-Prep Institute

girl on laptop

UPI offers 2 different TESOL courses. On its official website, it is indicated that it offers both TEFL and TESOL programs, but in reality, the TEFL program is included the TESOL program, hence only TESOL is the only English language course offered to students who want to train as English teachers.

An advantage of UPI packaging both TESOL and TEFL into a single course – that meets the requirements of both TEFL and TESOL courses – is that it allows the student to choose whether to receive TEFL or TESOL qualification.

The 2 aforementioned TESOL courses are characterized by UPI as 2 online TESOL programs – the certificate and diploma programs. These programs are discussed below.

TESOL Certificate Program

tesol_logo

This is an accredited and internationally recognized online TESOL course that leads to the awarding of a TESOL certificate to the student who successfully completes the course and aces the certification exam.

This program is made up of 120 hours of coursework that allows the student to study at own pace, and work towards course completion within one year.

This means that one can enroll for the course in January and take the certification exam in December, but the duration of the lessons will be 120 hours, and if tutor support is included, then the maximum length of study should not exceed a total of 140 hours.

Even so, most complete it within 4 weeks, while the committed ones complete it within 2 weeks.

These lessons are a combination of text documents and video lessons, along with tutor support. The primary focus is to train the learner on how to teach grammar to high-school and post-K12 students in classrooms.

As stated, upon completion of the course, the learner (who has now become a graduate) can choose between TEFL or TESOL certification. Also, this course package comes with an optional practicum for spoken English.

At the end of the course, the student takes the TESOL certification test. This test has 4 sections:

Foundation of Linguistics

linguistics

This is a test of applied linguistics where the learner is assessed for his/her knowledge on the basics of linguistics, languages, and learning of languages.

UPI teaches the student the basics of linguistics (including linguistic theory, the nature of grammar, dialectology, syntax, and word morphology), international phonetic alphabet, technical grammar, and an introduction to philology.

This section also tests the foundation of learning, and UPI teaches the students learning theories and pedagogy skills, including the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, grammar-translation, and task-based teaching.

Plan, Implementation, and Management of Instructions

These tests how one can plan a lesson and deliver it within a stipulated timeframe. UPI prepares the student well for this section and even trains the student on how to plan for an orderly lesson that has multiple points of entry, as well as how to use the beginnings-middles-ends style lesson plans.

Language Assessment

This evaluates the ability of the learner to assess his/her students/pupils. The TESOL-qualified teacher is expected to be able to identify and grade improvements in reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills of his/her students.

The TESOL lessons delivered by UPI are geared towards training the learner to be an English teacher for students preparing for TOEFL and IELTS tests; and as expected, this UPI-trained graduate is trained on how to use recommended assessment techniques to determine whether his/her students are ready to take TOEFL/IELTS tests.

Cultural and Professional Assessments

These assess how the UPI-trained teacher relates to people from other cultures, in both casual and professional settings. UPI stresses on training its learners to not villainize the first language of non-English people (or people whose first language is not English).

Moreover, UPI trains its learners to be advocates for the needs of their students, even if the students do not come from an occidental culture.

If the learner aces this test, then the certificate is mailed to his/her address.

Uni-Prep Institute Tuition Costs

TESOL-TEFL-Certificate-Accredited-Courses-250-UNI-Prep-Institute

The diploma and certificate courses have been packaged and priced extremely competitively, allowing students all over the world to enroll and advance the learning and career prospects.

At the time of writing, the 120hr TESOL certificate course is priced at USD195 (reduced from $300).

The 250hr TESOL diploma course with all of the specializations is an amazing deal at just $399 (reduced from $800). And if you wish to have access to all courses, (which includes language, business, and management courses), the fee is $999 (per year).

Specialization Courses

woman on laptop

The graduate of the certificate program is allowed by UPI to take any of the following specialization courses:

Teaching English Online

This trains the graduate on how to plan for online classes, and how to deliver these online classes. Likewise, the graduate learns the difference between traditional in-classroom English teaching versus online teaching, and who are the right audience for online classes, and what content can be taught online. This course is mostly aimed at teaching ESL students.

Teaching English to Young Learners

In this course, the graduate is taught about cognitive development theory, and who a young learner is, and the stages of cognitive development of this learner.

Likewise, the graduate is taught teaching skills that apply to young learners, as well as how to deliver grammar and vocabulary lessons, besides being trained on how to discipline these learners if they err.

Teaching Teenagers

This course focuses on theories of learning as they apply to teenage and young adult students, as well as biological considerations that the teachers should keep in mind when delivering lessons.

It also trains the teacher on classroom management, building rapport with students, student motivation, and how to discipline errant students, as well as how to teach these students and the context of teaching.

Teaching Adults

learning

This course trains the graduate to understand adult learners, their types of classes, and apposite teaching methods, as well as difficulties associated with teaching this special group of learners.

Teaching Beginners

This course trains the graduate to identify the beginner language learner, how to teach him/her, and how to organize class environments for beginner learners. For this course, TEFL training applies the most.

Teaching English to Advanced Students

This course trains the graduate to identify the advanced learner, what and how to teach him/her, and how to organize class environments for advanced learners. For this course, TESL training applies the most.

Teaching Advanced Grammar

In this course, the graduate is taught how grammar is learned by a person, the different perspectives of grammar, and the methods, approaches, and procedures to teaching grammar.

Teaching Business English

This trains the graduate on how to teach English as a professional socialization language for meetings, negotiations, and presentations.

Also, one is taught the technical terminology, along with telephone language. Likewise, the graduate learns the difference between teaching non-business English versus teaching business English, and who are the right audience for these classes.

The graduate also learns about classroom management and assessment of English skills & knowledge.

Teaching TOEFL

This course trains the graduate on aspects of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), including the overview and different sections of the test, along with difficulties that students taking the test encounter. As expected, the TEFL knowledge applies the most here.

Teaching IELTS

This course trains the graduate on aspects of International English Language Testing System (IELTS), including the overview and the 4 different sections – reading, listening, speaking, and writing – of the test, along with how to teach IELTS to a low-level learner.

TESOL Diploma Program

uni-prep study

This is an accredited and internationally recognized online TESOL course that leads to awarding of a TESOL diploma to the student who successfully completes the course and aces the diploma exam.

This program is made up of 250 hours of coursework that allows the student to study at own pace, and work towards course completion within one year.

Just like in the certification program, this means that one can enroll for the course in January and take the diploma exam in December.

Even so, most complete it within 5 weeks, while the committed ones complete it within 3 weeks.

The diploma course can basically be described as the certificate course plus all the 10 specialization courses described above. In other words, the certificate program and the 10 specialization courses make up the diploma program.

It also comes with a Letter of recommendation that can be used to introduce the graduate to potential employers. Because the diploma course includes the certification course, the graduate is entitled to receiving both the certificate and diploma after successfully completing the course.

Expectedly, as compared to the certificate course, this diploma course comes with more written assignments, proficiency assessments, and tests.

Upon successful completion of this course, the Diploma is mailed to the address of the graduate. Usually, this shipping is done free of charge.

Equally, one is set to receive the electronic version of the mailed diploma or certificate via email. Relatedly, one can pay for notarization services from UPI so that the certificate or diploma is notarized.

UPI Blended Learning, CMS, VLE, and MOOC

As mentioned, online education requires at least 80% of the lessons to be delivered online, and this form of lesson delivery is called online learning.

If one considers that this is supported and facilitated by a robust information and communication technology (ICT) platform, then online learning is considered a form of E-learning.

E-learning allows lessons to be delivered via the internet to smartphones or other handheld mobile devices (e.g phablets and tablets), and this is described as mobile learning because the mobile device replaces the laptop and desktop PC.

If online learning is supported by physical student-to-educator interaction in a physical classroom, then it is called blended or hybrid learning.

Blended Learning

blended learning

The reason for mentioning blended learning is because UPI offers both online and in-class certificate and diploma courses for students who live near its camps in San Diego, California.

Even so, this review does not focus on in-class courses. Nonetheless, as expected, the in-class course is more expensive than the online course.

Online education is delivered using an online learning method. The basic purpose of any online learning method is to ensure that information is delivered from an educator (that is, i.e, the tutor) to the learner.

This online learning method allows online education to be delivered using one of 3 ways:

  • a virtual classroom,
  • software-based education,
  • and a software-based cloud learning platform (which is used by UPI).

The web-based virtual classroom is accessed through a secure password-protected online portal.

A look at the Uni-Prep Online learning platform

Relatedly, software-based education involves the provision of software – either as downloadable online content or stored in a removable storage media (e.g a flash disk or optical disk) – that contains the audio, text, and video learning materials. Installing this software in the PC allows the learner to access the lessons. These lessons include recorded video and audio lectures.

Advances in educational technology have allowed for the development of a learning platform that features both software-based education and web-based virtual classroom, and this platform is called the software-based cloud learning platform.

In this platform, the software is hosted and run from a remote server operated by UPI, and the learner accesses it through a secure web-based portal.

Basically, the education software is deployed using the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to deliver text-based lectures, video tutorials, and audio podcasts, as well as real-time instructions (delivered through audio or video feeds).

This SaaS-based platform also features monitored discussion forums that allow students to engage in discussions with each other, and sometimes with their tutors.

The key advantages of using this software-based cloud learning platform is that it allows for interactive, real-time learning, as well as allows educators to deliver timed or time-limited tests to their learners.

Interactive real-time learning is supported by online video conferences, live video chats, screen sharing, video lectures, and text-based chats in chat-boxes or comment boxes (and even email chats), as well as submission of documents such as completed assignments and quizzes.

Likewise, it allows the educator to provide feedback on graded tests and assignments to the students during a live interactive session. Moreover, live presentations allow the educator to grade the work of a student in real-time, and point out errors and how to avoid them.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

mooc online learning

If the course allows for lessons to be delivered through a virtual classroom, or web-based class, where learners watch video lectures (including real-time lectures) and can interact with each other (student-to-student interaction) as well as interact with educators, then this course is described as a massively open online course (abbreviated as MOOC).

MOOC allows for timed quizzes and multiple-choice questions (MCQ) tests to be taken online and submitted, which is analogous to taking and submitting tests in physical classrooms.

For the TESOL programs, this MOOC features asynchronous learning. Asynchronous learning means that students in the MOOC class have different knowledge levels in the subject, i.e some have advance comprehension of English than others. This is caused by allowing each student to set his/her pace of studying.

The software-based cloud learning platform is used by UPI to create a virtual learning environment (VLE). This is basically a SaaS-based learning solution that allows for lessons to be delivered through video, audio, and text media, as well as allows for the submission of assignments, besides allowing for student-to-student and student-to-tutor interactions.

This being a SaaS-based system, it is managed by an administrator who is responsible for assigning student accounts, controlling access to the SaaS platform, and monitoring communications done via the platform, as well as ensuring that lessons and learning materials are appropriately delivered through the platform. In UPI, this VLE is also called the learning management system (LMS).

Course Management System

laptop learning uni-prep

UPI also has a course management system. This is basically an aggregate of online tools for creating lectures, as well as learning materials – also called educational tools.

These tools allow the educator to create an online course that contains lecture lessons, as well as ancillary multimedia files (such as audio podcasts and video animations).

Thereafter, the educator can post this course online. In the course management system, the lectures are described as the course content. This allows for course content to be created, posted, and delivered via the LMS.

Accreditation

ccreditat Logo

Accreditation is provided by Accreditat, an accreditation body whose guiding principle is worded as Excellence via Competence. Accreditat moderates and accredits providers of TESOL and TEFL courses, and even offers TESOL certificates to students – from accredited training institutions – who ace their TESOL certification tests.

For UPI to be accredited by Accreditat, Accreditat has ensured that UPI has met the following stringent accreditation standards:
  • Exceptional service for Students
  • Professional course design and course evaluation.
  • Apposite course delivery.
  • Management accountability.
  • Good and practical policies and statements.
  • Professional administrative practices and procedures.
  • The adequate pool of professional and technical resources, including tutors, staff, and IT specialists.
  • Excellent financial practices and procedures.

Accreditat, a division of the international learning and development professional body, Training Issues Limited, is registered under the United Kingdom Register of Learning Providers (UKRLP).

This means that Accreditat is a recognized accreditation body verified by UKRLP.

Requirements for Taking the TESOL Course

checklist

For one to be able to take any of the TESOL courses offered by UPI, (s)he must be able to speak English. Even so, UPI does not assess the English fluency of the applicant, as this will be revealed in the assignments.

The technical requirements are:
  • An Internet-connected personal computer (PC).
  • PC needs to have a webcam, either inbuilt or attached separately to it.
  • PC must have sound ports that allow the user to use both the microphone and headphones.
  • Both the tutor and learner to have a high-speed internet connection to support real-time learning
  • The quiet room that allows students to participate in online interactive sessions.
  • The browser must be installed on the PC.

As is evident, one does not need to have been a teacher in order to enroll in TESOL classes in UPI. Even so, it is expected that one has already obtained a high school education because UPI is a tertiary education institute.

Upon successful approval to join the course, one is emailed an enrollment letter that contains his/her login information, i.e the username and password to access the VLE of the TESOL MOOC.

This login information allows one to access his/her student portal in the UPI VLE. This student portal can be accessed at any time – and as expected, from anywhere – and it contains the learning materials.

Likewise, this portal allows the learner to complete the required assessment, which is mostly written assignments and quizzes that are then graded.

As expected, there is a minimum grade that the student must achieve in order to ace the course.

Uni-Prep Institute FAQs

Pros and Cons of UNI-Prep TESOL Courses

pros and cons

The TESOL courses offered by UPI afford the student many pros, and a few cons, which are described below.

The Pros

Accredited and Internationally recognized TESOL and TEFL certificates and diplomas

TESOL certificate or diploma offered by UPI are internationally recognized and allows the graduate to apply for an English teaching position in ESL and EFL nations.

Good Value

At the time of writing this review, there is a discount that offers the certificate course for USD195, the diploma course for USD399, and the unlimited annual courses for USD999. This is an unprecedented value in terms of TESOL training.  At this price, there is no reason not to study with Uni-Prep

Cost-effective form of study

As compared to traditional classroom-based TESOL and TEFL classes, the UPI online classes eliminate the need to travel hence eliminating travel costs and saving travel time.

Additionally, the tuition fees are cheaper as compared to fees of equivalent courses offered through traditional classroom-based lectures.

Flexible

This allows the student to set the class hours (flexible class hours) and determine how fast (s)he is going to complete the course.

Interactive Sessions

UPI offers online classes that allow the learner to interact with his/her educator, as well as fellow learners through the VLE.

This allows for peer networking, fast relay of examination results, and direct learner-to-educator interaction that allows for student’s questions to be answered.

Peer networking allows the learner to build a social circle that can help in getting job placements or professional references.

Combine with full-time work

Easy scheduling of classes and assignments allows the student to complete the course at his/her own pace, as long as it does not exceed the maximum timeframe set by UPI. This allows a working person or a traveling professional to still take lessons.

Covers practical aspects of teaching

UPI provides hands-on training for TESOL programs. Moreover, the TESOL lessons cover classroom management, lesson planning, learning assessments, and classroom tests.

99% Completion Rates

UPI prides itself in offering TESOL programs that achieve a 99 percent course completion rate, as well as allowing for peer networking and professional associations between its students and job search partners which create opportunities for ESL-related employment through job placement assistance.

The Cons
  • The level of feedback can sometimes be low due to the high take up on the course
  • Any technical glitches will interrupt live sessions
  • There is a lot of information for each module that the student has to orientate through

Bottom Line

Overall, Uni-Prep is a high-quality institution for students looking to take TESOL training. It offers a flexible way to learn at an affordable price (the current 50% discounts make the courses extremely good value for money).

The learning system is intuitive, with the interactive sessions being especially rewarding. There is a lot to get through, so self-discipline is a must.

However, the 99% completion rate is a great indication of how well the courses have been put together. Highly recommended.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *