With all online ESL companies, the mock class is the most important part of your application. Whales English is no different and the mock class is the part of your application you should be putting the most effort into. The mock class helps to:
- Assess your proficiency to teach ESL students
- Experience your teaching style, attitude and enthusiasm
- Ensure you are professional in both appearance and your teaching environment
- Holds the most weight in the pay offer you will receive if successful.
Whales English have very recently streamlined their application process. They have done away with an interview altogether (yippee for new applicants!) and the whole application process can take as little as 7 days from start to finish to successfully become an online ESL teacher with Whales English.
The new application process comes in four stages:
Resume screening – Mock class – Contract signing – Launch
As you can see, it’s only the first two that you need to ensure you plan and are fully prepared for. The following two stages just require your signature and you’re ready for further training as a Whales English teacher.
For more insight into what to expect at each stage, check out the post Become an Online ESL Teacher: Apply and Teach with Whales English.
This post really isn’t about taking you into detail of what’s going to happen at each stage. This is more about providing you with as many top tips as I can cram into this post to help you feel at ease and know exactly what Whales English are looking for in potential teachers.
So, let’s get right to it starting with stage 1:
- Your application is going to be the first point of contact and impression Whales English will have of you. Make sure to fill in ALL required information, check for spelling mistakes and especially ensure your details are correct. Attach a professional but friendly photo, smiling along with your resume. Your resume doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it does need to be presented clearly and simply. Though staff are highly proficient in English, it won’t do you any favours adding lots of ‘fancy’ words or technical terms. Ensure to add everything required, so they can easily tick all of the boxes for nationality, experience, qualifications and technical specifications (aka computer specs, internet speed).
NOTE: Please remember, Whales English only hires Native English speakers from the following countries:
- The UK
- The US
- New Zealand
Unfortunately, they do not hire from South Africa due to technical difficulties surrounding the internet connection. Whales English do use an applicants passport to confirm their nationality.
It is also now a requirement, no exceptions, for applicants to hold a BA degree minimum. You do need a TEFL/TESOL certificate as well to be able to teach Chinese students, however Whales English will pass your application if you haven’t yet completed this but are willing to do so. (You won’t be able to teach with them until you have passed and have forwarded a copy of your certificate).
- Within your application, you are required to open at least 8-time slots, with a minimum of 4 being on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. You should be able to change these before starting to teach if necessary. But ensure from the start to select time slots which meet these requirements. They need to be able to see that a potential teacher can commit to so many hours per week, particularly at busy periods over the weekend.
Top Tip: By opening peak Beijing time slots, your booking rates can increase by at least 50%. Peak times with Whales English are Monday – Sunday 7-9pm BJT. On Saturdays and Sundays, these are between 9am-12pm and 6-7pm BJT.
Stage 2: Mock Class
Before going through these top tips, remember, the mock class is the most important part of your application. Do not rush this stage, allow yourself plenty of time to prepare before your appointment.
You guessed it, this is probably my most important tip I am going to offer within this post.
Preparation is key!
Being prepared could make the difference between gaining an offer to rejection. It could be the difference between $18/hr to $23/hr!
When you have passed your resume screening, you will be sent an email to book your mock class with a Whales English interviewer. Within your email will be a Google Drive link to certain documents that will help support you to prepare your mock class.
Note: Anyone who applies via my referral link AND emails me to confirm they have done so, I provide a personal one-to-one coaching service in order to help fully prepare you for your mock class. This includes:
- discussing your lesson idea and providing feedback
- the opportunity for you to practise your mock lesson
- providing you with top tips covering TPR, props, lesson content and
- also, an opportunity for you to see how you can use the annotation tools within Zoom to boost the effectiveness of your lessons.
Clear Learning Objective
When preparing for your mock class, the first thing to consider is what your learning objective is going to be. Are you focusing on adjectives, action words, vocabulary, antonyms, etc?
Whales English specifically want you to state your learning objective for your student (who will be your interviewer pretending to be your student). So start with this to ensure the lesson you plan and prepare helps the student achieve this.
Your learning objective needs to be:
- Appropriate for a 6-8year old ESL learner
- Level appropriate
DON’T be dull and drab, reading off the slides for your interviewer to repeat back to you. This isn’t going to do you any favours at all.
Showcase the fabulous teacher that you are. Include your own ideas, elaborate on the materials you have been given. They want to see what you can do, what skills you possess and if you are capable to teach ESL students online.
I highly encourage you to prepare some relevant props and perhaps show a reward system you might use within your real lessons.
Here are a few examples of some simple and easy to find props and reward systems:
- Stuffed animals
- Printed pictures
- Video clips
- Magnetic shapes added to a whiteboard
- Draw stars, smiley faces, hearts on a whiteboard
- Use Zoom stamps on the screen
- Add apples to a tree
- Stickers to a laminated scene e.g. a zoo, space, farm
All of these props and reward systems can be created/found with little time and requiring not much preparation.
TPR = Total Physical Response
This is a MUST, do not forget to include any TPR during your mock class as you will not pass.
TPR is very easy to learn and practise if this isn’t something you have come across before. But it is a vital part of everyday lessons when teaching ESL learners, particularly young learners or beginners.
TPR helps students to visually see instructions or words simply by the teacher acting them out. TPR can be as simple as
- waving when you say hello
- Pointing to yourself and then giving a Thumbs up when saying ‘I’m good’
- Pretending to hold an apple by rounding your hand and then pretend to bite and chewing it for learning the word ‘apple’
- Placing your arm in front of your nose and waving it for the word ‘elephant’
- Cupping your hand around your ear and placing one finger under your mouth for a student to repeat back to you.
The Mock class session is only for 30 minutes, with your lesson taking up 10 minutes. The interviewers have incredibly busy schedules and other bookings, hence they cannot overrun the 30 minutes allocated for each applicant.
Your mock lesson needs to stick to 10 minutes. This will show excellent time management and planning skills on your part and help support your interviewer’s decision.
Of course, ensure you demonstrate professionalism at all times. It isn’t like a brick and mortar school, where you need to be suited up for your interview. However, you do need to showcase a professional appearance – no strappy, low cut tops, no pyjamas, and certainly no slogans.
Not only that but be very aware and careful of what can be seen on your camera. Zoom has a wide screen and can include a large area of background behind you. Make sure it is clean, clear of clutter and professional.
Remember, you are teaching young learners, so your background needs to be friendly, colourful and inviting. If you are able to do so prior to your mock class, grab yourself some colourful ABC posters, wall stickers or even print out and laminate your own background. I have seen teachers use whiteboards, flashcards, toys and even colourful banners as part of their background. Adding the Whales English logo, though won’t impact upon your interviewer’s decision, it can make a great impression.
Having your background set up for your mock class will help your interviewer see that you are prepared.
Additional Bonus Points
The points below are elements your interviewer will be looking out for. Unlike TPR and stating your lesson objective, if you forget to show some of the points below, you can still pass your mock class with Whales English. Remember, when you receive your email to book your mock class, you will have access to a Google Drive link. There is a document which shows what your interviewer will be looking for in your mock class. The following points are based around this document to support you further.
Within your online ESL career, you will be teaching a vast array of students, just like in any face to face classroom. Some students will be keen to learn, others require encouragement. Some students will be scared to even sit in front of the camera, with others bouncing off the walls.
Being a teacher who has a high level of energy and can bring this into the classroom can completely change the whole classroom environment.
Now, by high energy, I don’t mean that you too need to be drinking a gallon of coffee before class and bouncing off the walls yourself. I am referring to being positive, enthusiastic, friendly towards all learners, even the more challenging students. Being able to offer a fun and encouraging learning environment.
There is a complete difference between a teacher who sits still for the full 10 minutes, with a monotone voice who reads word by word off the screen. Compared with a teacher who offers different ways to learn just one word e.g. high/low voice, fast/slow, singing/robot voice, acts out words, uses TPR and props.
I can guarantee you teacher 2 would pass their mock class with flying colours.
This one is very much dependant upon the interviewer you have your mock class with. In theory, they should make a few purposeful mistakes for you to correct. Within real online classes with ESL students, they will, of course, make 100s of mistakes.
Your interviewer will be looking out to see if you spot any error corrections and how you go about correcting them. These might be in the form of mispronunciation, missing plurals or simple grammar mistakes such as forgetting ‘a’ e.g. I am boy instead of I am a boy.
Being able to hear and positively correct errors students make is a really important part of an ESL teacher’s role.
High Student Talk Time
It can be really easy to ‘fill in the gaps’ through talking or adding in too much speech for instructions when teaching online. It is important, however, to gain a correct balance between teacher and student talk time within the class. A great balance is generally for students to speak around 70% of the time.
Ensure to not give too complicated and long instructions e.g. ‘Can you read this passage starting from the first word and finishing when you get to the bottom of the page?’ Instead, saying and demonstrating with TPR, ‘Can you read…’ and circle the passage to read or for lower level students, even just say the student’s name then ‘read’ and circle the passage.
If students do not respond to a question right away, it is ok to provide them with some thinking time before trying to ask them again or rephrasing the question. Remember, they are learning English as a SECOND language. It may take students time to recall the correct word or translate to themselves what you are saying in English to their native language.
Zoom is presently the online platform Whales English uses for their classes along with Powerpoint and Adobe. It can make a great impression if you are able to demonstrate some basic skills in using Zoom.
Whales English interviewers are very much aware that most applicants will have never used Zoom prior to their interview. They are extremely fair with this and do not penalise for not knowing how to use every tool or function Zoom has to offer.
However, it doesn’t hurt to demonstrate how you would use a couple of the annotation functions within your lessons.
A few examples might be to:
- Use the drawing tool to circle around part of a picture when asking ‘What’s this?’
- Use the circle or square shape over a selection of text you are referring to or would like your student to read
- Select a stamp shape to place next to your student’s image as a reward e.g. heart or star
- Use the spotlight whilst a student is reading to help them follow the text.
Extension and Questioning
This relates more to do with your lesson plan surrounding the material you have been given by Whales English. As I have mentioned, do not plan your lesson to just read through each slide with your student and briefly mention what is in each picture.
Extend upon what you have been given. Add in additional questions, with some aimed at reviewing things they should already know and others aimed to challenge them. This provides a good balance to ensure students remain confident with their learning rather than feeling bored, because it’s too easy, or disheartened because it’s too hard.
Check out the lesson example I have provided ideas for below. I have not used any material that is provided by Whales English for your mock class as they need to see what YOU are capable of as a teacher, not what I can do. But, it will hopefully provide you with some ideas of what you can do with your given 10 minutes.
This is JUST an example meant to provide you with some ideas to help you plan and prepare for your mock class with Whales English. This is NOT material taken from the Whales English mock class, nor can you use this for your mock class.
‘The elephant stomp stomp stomps.
Stomps on the ground.’
Lesson Questions and Ideas:
- What can you see?
- Teaching: Elephant. I can an elephant.
- Do you like elephants?
- Teaching: yes I do/no I don’t.
- How many elephants can you see?
- Let’s be an elephant
- Act out an elephant’s nose with your arm
- Can you stomp like an elephant?
- Get up and demonstrate stomping like an elephant. Each time you stomp, say stomp
- What sound does an elephant make?
- What other words start with the sound ‘e’?
- What colour is it?
- Describe the elephant.
- Long nose, big ears, Big elephant.
- Can you think of opposites?
- Big/small, long/short, fat/thin, loud/quiet
- Where do elephants live?
- In the sea?jungle?desert?city?
- What do elephants like to eat/drink?
- Have you seen an elephant? Where?
- Can link a video as an additional resource:
- Practise language acting like an elephant can you stomp?
- Yes I can. Can you fly? No I can’t.
If you really would like to apply to Whales English but are concerned about the application process, please do use my referral link to apply. I am very happy to hold your hand throughout your application and be there to answer your onboarding questions once hired with Whales English. Remember to send me confirmation via email to email@example.com so that I have a way of communicating with you from your resume screening.
If you would still like my support and guidance during your application process, but haven’t used my referral link, I can offer one-to-one consultations. Please email me to discuss personalised packages at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck and welcome to Whales English!