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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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I hope you found part 1 with the first 5 top tips for passing your demo lesson helpful and have been able to put into action some of those points. Onto part 2, which focuses more on teaching style, skill and support materials that will help you ace your online ESL demo lesson.
6) Teacher / Student Balance
Sometimes when we become nervous, we can end up talking too much and filling quiet gaps during our teaching. It is important to remember, particularly in your demo lesson, that the focus is on your student to practise speaking English as much as possible.
Don’t overcomplicate with lots of verbal instructions and long explanations. Give out basic 2 – 3 worded instructions and lots of opportunities for your students to practise speaking. Though some lessons can be repetitive, that doesn’t mean they have to be boring.
For example, if the lesson you are teaching focuses on just three words apple, banana and orange, there are so many ways you can engage your student and get them to repeat this language more than once. Let them sound the beginning letters e.g. ‘a’ ‘a’ ‘a’. Recognise what letter they begin with. Give different ways of saying the word ‘apple’ – shout, quiet, fast, slow, x3 times, high voice and low voice. Once they have practised saying each word, you can test their vocabulary so they say the keywords independently by showing different pictures/objects of each word.
So, even though they may end up saying apple 10 times overall, it becomes a game by saying the word in so many different ways.
Using props in your demo lesson shows you are prepared and have looked at the materials provided. Companies love props to be used as they are a great asset to a students learning and progress. Making use of props can make lessons more fun, engaging and more meaningful.
Using a real apple, banana and orange has more meaning when you show an apple and say ‘apple’ than it does if you just say apple.
Using animal puppets and making each animal sound and name, has more meaning than just saying the names and sounds alone.
You can even use a puppet to demonstrate conversations e.g. ‘hello.’ ‘hello’. ‘My name is…. What’s your name?’ ‘My name is…..’ It is great for providing examples and then going on to practise the conversation with your student.
With shy and nervous students, using a cute puppet to talk through on screen can be a great way to build up their confidence and make them feel more comfortable, rather than speaking yourself. This is particularly great for very young students. Remember, many students, especially young students, may not have seen another individual outside of their own culture, particularly if a student from China.
Here are some of my favourite props I like to use:
8) Total Physical Response aka TPR
Total Physical Response is a key skill you should demonstrate whilst teaching your demo lesson. TPR, in a nutshell, is physically demonstrating as you speak what you want your students to do.
For example, if I want my students to say apple, I will point to my mouth whilst saying apple and then cup my hand over my ear and place my hand in front of me demonstrating I am waiting for them to say apple.
If you don’t know what TPR is, please research and watch some videos on Youtube. This is a great place to start, this ladies video is really clear and just in 5 minutes you can pick up some really easy and generic TPR movements.
TPR is great to use for all levels of students. It helps them to physically see what you are asking them to do. So, even if they don’t understand the instructions you are saying, they can see your instructions. Using the same TPR movements consistently, your students soon pick up what you need them to do or say.
TPR is great to use in conjunction with props. For the example above asking a student to say apple, beforehand I would have shown myself eating an apple and demonstrating the word apple. Then, I will go on to use TPR to ask them to repeat the word apple.
9) Show Your Skills
Your demo lesson is a great opportunity to show off your teaching style and personality. Every teacher has their own style and it is great to embrace that. Your students in the class will love seeing a bit of you and that you aren’t just a robotic teacher that reads from a script (which makes for a super dull lesson!)
If you love to sing, why not include singing some songs or even making up your own tune to help students learn the keywords.
If you love using puppets and bringing in different characters to help demonstrate role-playing activities, the kids love that and it really makes them laugh.
If you enjoy being really visual and lively on screen, go for it. Take the opportunity to be dramatic learning new words and demonstrating actions etc.
Many companies don’t actually book lessons for you, the parents choose the teacher. It is a great way to show a company and parents what makes you stand out compared to the next teacher.
10) Reward System
Though many companies have their own reward system that they like you to use within their lessons, it is always a good idea to have a secondary reward system in place. Your reward systems don’t need to be complicated, just as long as they are fun and meaningful for your students.
Here are a few examples:
Using a whiteboard and writing down each students name. Drawing pictures e.g. a star or heart for each reward.
Print out some characters e.g. Disney, Princesses, Marvel Superheroes. Each time they answer correctly etc, they can choose a character to add to their reward chart.
Simple sticker rewards – these can be actual stickers, or I like to use reusable stickers. These are great as you can use them for themed lessons such as learning about farm animals or jungle animals.
Print out an ice cream cone and different coloured ice cream scoops. Gain a scoop for every correct answer.
With a whiteboard, every time students deserve a reward, you can draw a line and by the end of the lesson, you will have revealed a picture. They could also guess what they think the picture is going to be.
These are just 10 top tips for passing your demo lesson to teach ESL online. I could honestly talk all day sharing tips for getting hired as an online ESL teacher.
The important thing is to just have fun and enjoy your demo lesson. Don’t get caught up with what if, buts and maybes. It is only natural to feel nervous before your demo lesson. But once you get started, you will soon settle in and focus on the person/students you are teaching.
Make it all about them, your students. If your students can see you’re enjoying yourself, your students will also enjoy their lesson. Teaching ESL online is such a fun and rewarding career choice. Demonstrating that you love what you do or want to embrace this opportunity will really help you gain that online ESL teaching position.
Go ahead and Smash it! I know you can.
I would love to hear how your demo lessons have gone after reading this series.