Published 3rd January 2018

Amid all the excitement of getting your TEFL certificate and applying for your dream TEFL job in some exotic location on the other side of the world, you may not realise that sometimes your job interviews are not straightforward. For many jobs, a job interview will be a sit-down affair where your hopefully-soon-to-be employer will ask you a few questions about your employment history and the reasons why you want the job, and then you have an opportunity to ask your own questions. A TEFL interview includes all this, but there may be more to it; you may be required to do a demo lesson as well.

It makes sense, considering that you are applying to teach, that your future employers are able to see you demonstrate your teaching ability. After all, it’s very easy to say you are a great teacher but it’s a whole different story to be able to prove it. But being asked to do an observed lesson with students you don’t know is no easy feat, so it’s best you be prepared.

What do I have to do in a demo lesson?

If your interview is over Skype rather than actually being in a classroom, you may be asked to present and verbally talk through a lesson on a particular language point for a particular age group. If you are applying for a kindergarten position, for example, they may want you to plan a 45-minute lesson on colours for 6 year-olds. Once you have walked them through your lesson they may ask you questions about the logic behind your planning or ask you how you would react in certain scenarios.

If you happen to be in a face-to-face interview, they may ask you to demo with a class of students. This is where it can get tricky. Students are unpredictable and you do not have the luxury of time to establish a good rapport with your students and create a comfortable learning environment. You are going in cold and expected to make magic. It’s not impossible but it requires a lot of thought and preparation.

How can I make magic in a demo lesson?

The trick to demo lessons is that in order to make magic you should do as little as possible. Confused? Well, if you think about it, there is only so much you can accomplish in one lesson, especially in a lesson where you don’t know your students and your students don’t know you. They are not familiar with your style of teaching and will require very clear instructions, while you won’t know what teaching activities suit them. Instead of planning a super complicated extravagant lesson, go for a much simpler plan.

Think of an engaging warmer to start, where you can get to know their names. Don’t try to remember all of them but if you can remember a few of them you’ll definitely earn yourself some bonus points. Present your language point clearly and concisely – don’t forget to research your language point so you know exactly what you are teaching! Include a suitable practice activity. Finally, the focus of your lesson should be an energetic, lively free production activity. Get the students talking to each other and practising the language as much as possible.

That’s it. There’s no need for bells or whistles, just a nice, simple, straightforward lesson where you can showcase your talent for instructing, monitoring, error correcting, responding to your students and, above all, ensuring your classroom is a student-centred learning environment where your students have fun while learning.