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This is a 3 parter series, focusing on the top tips for passing your online ESL teaching demo lesson.
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You’ve passed your online ESL interview, fantastic! But now what? The next stage with all online ESL companies is to complete a demo lesson. The demo lesson is probably the most important stage during your online ESL application.
During your demo lesson, you can get hired on the spot and seriously boost the hourly rate you are given. Up until this point, the ESL company you have applied with has gotten to know your background, qualifications and experience; but they haven’t been able to see any of this applied in a teaching environment. This is where your demo lesson comes in.
So, what exactly is a demo lesson?
A demo lesson is a stage in each online ESL application, whereby you are expected to teach a lesson as if you were already employed by that company. Each company has its own process for the demo lesson.
Most companies will provide you with lesson materials from the courses they offer and inform you of the age of your student and English ability. Sometimes, you will be required to teach a real student, most demo lessons I have completed, I have taught the interviewer role playing a student.
Some companies, however, will not provide you with any materials or student background. They will ask you to prepare a short lesson to teach within a given time limit. This isn’t very common, most companies fall into the first category. I have only had one company ask me to prepare my own lesson which was UUabc. There are some benefits to this, however, as it gives you complete freedom and flexibility to showcase your skills in a topic you prefer.
In most scenarios, you will actually complete two demo lessons during your application. The first being a short 5-10 demo lesson, which is held during your interview. The second usually occurs after you have passed your interview and is more realistic of a full lesson you would teach with a given company.
Related Post: Online ESL Interview Tips with Q and A Examples
Do not worry though! I am generalising all companies and though they follow similar application processes, they are not all identical. Whichever company you choose to apply with, they will inform you in advance of their application process. For their demo lesson, they will give you clear guidelines of their expectations. If they are providing you with the materials, you will receive these at least 24hours in advance, if not earlier, before your scheduled demo lesson.
All of the demo lessons I have completed have looked for the same teacher qualities. Knowing what these are before your demo lesson can really help you to know what areas to practice, which areas are already your strengths and how to maximise your performance during your allocated time.
As mentioned above, it is crucially important to try your absolute best in your demo lesson. I know it can be nerve-wracking – I still get nervous in interviews and demo lessons and I have completed 7 of them! But just give it everything you’ve got. It can seriously impact upon the hourly rate you are given upon being hired as an online ESL teacher. Being given a higher rate at the start really benefits your monthly wage, especially as most companies do not consider offering a pay rise until at least 6 months if not 1 year of working for the same company.
To help you along the way, here are 10 of my Top Tips to help you ace your Demo Lesson:
1) Check Your Equipment
I know you are probably thinking ‘well this is an obvious one!’ But, I have heard countless times where people lost the job opportunity due to technical difficulties. It isn’t always an option for a company to reschedule your demo lesson if the fault is your end.
Being an online teacher, having reliable equipment and a strong internet connection is a crucial part of what enables you to do your job. If from the onset a company can see you’re experiencing problems, they might not even consider giving you a second chance.
Ensure your computer is not due to update and is fully charged and plugged in.
Purchase a sturdy headset with background noise reduction and test both the sound and microphone are working in advance.
Ensure you have a HD webcam for a clear image and test its position before your demo lesson so that you are at eye level with the camera and there is no clutter in the background. Position yourself so that you are far enough away from the camera to use props and reach your computer.
Related Post: Equipment Needed for Teaching Online
2) Dress Appropriately
Most companies have their preference for what you wear, even though technically you are self-employed. For example, UUabc prefer you to wear blue, Dada and SayABC prefer sky blue, Itutorgroup wants teachers to wear red, etc.
This information should be given to you or if not, find out from facebook groups from someone already working for that company. Even better, if you have used a teacher’s referral code, ask them as they should be supporting you through your application.
Make sure not to wear strappy tops or throw on a slogan top. Though you don’t have to turn up suited and booted, it is still important to make those first impressions count. Dressing appropriately shows respect, and if you are wearing the companies preferred colours, shows you have done your research and made an effort going the extra mile.
As with your interview tips, ensure your background is clear and not distracting for students. Brownie point for going the extra mile making your background interesting and personalising it with the companies logo and your name.
Backgrounds don’t have to be really expensive. I have personally used a large wall sticker and ABC poster. As I work for multiple online ESL companies, I tend to put up their logo on the day of the week I am teaching with each company.
As you can see, it is simple and clear. My students are not overwhelmed with so much to see behind me, but it is interesting enough rather than just a blank wall. It is also relevant to teaching ESL as I have the ABCs on the poster and 123s are around the tree.
Here are some ideas for your own background. As you can see, two of these are ones I personally use. However, I have included the others as I also love them but don’t have enough wall space! They are extremely educational, bright and great conversational starters with your students e.g. ‘what can you see?’ ‘Here is where I live on the map’.
More experienced teachers may use an online program called Manycam. Whereby they can create their own virtual background and hence need a plain screen/wall behind them in order for it to function properly. If you are more experienced, you may wish to use this. However, double check first with the company applying for as not all ESL companies allow Manycam to be used.
I personally wouldn’t recommend using Manycam for your demo class. Be mindful it is another piece of equipment that could go wrong in your demo class if you aren’t used to using it. It is a fantastic program to introduce later on for a number of things from borders, backgrounds, visual props and rewards.
*If you are applying with Itutor, you may wish to keep a plain background for your interview or just use their logo. I believe with Itutor, they like their tutors to have a specific background set by the company.
Ensure you are 100% prepared for your demo lesson. As I said earlier, your demo lesson is the most important stage in your online ESL teaching application. Companies that are supplying you with their materials, will send them to you at least 24hrs before your demo lesson booking. Go through all of the materials to know what you are teaching, prepare any additional props to support your lesson and know what the objectives are e.g. by the end of the lesson, students should be able to say apple, banana, orange and the sentence ‘This is a/an’.
If you are required to make your own material, don’t fret. Choose a topic and stick to it. Don’t overcomplicate things. I personally recommend making a couple of slides using powerpoint or keynote, to help give your recruiter/student something else visual to look at. It also takes 100% focus away from you and provides you with prompts if you become nervous during your demo lesson.
For more support on creating your own demo lesson, check out:
5) Who Are You Teaching
Whether you have been given materials or not, you need to ensure you know what age and English ability your students will have in your demo lesson. It makes a huge difference in the way you deliver your lessons and materials to prepare if you have a 4-year-old with no English, to a 12-year-old with advanced English.
If you prepare your lesson to match your student’s age and ability, it shows that you are knowledgeable in this area and will help your lesson to run smoothly. Don’t worry if you get it slightly wrong in your demo, adjust your lesson according to how your student responds. If you planned for them to be a little higher in understanding, take it back a step.
I hope you have found these first 5 top tips beneficial and supportive to help you prepare for your online ESL demo lesson. Come back and check out the following 2 parts to this series: