Published 28th April 2020
Teaching English online can be weird. Even though the internet has been around for ages, talking to someone online is still be a bit unnatural and it can take a while to get used to it. Because you’re not in the same physical room as your students, you need to rely on facial expressions, body language, gestures and props a lot more than you would in a normal classroom. To help you, we’ve put together our top tips on how to make a kickass demo video for teaching English online.
But it gets even weirder than that. When you join an online company, or you sign up to a teaching platform, you will need to do a demo so that your prospective employers and students can see you and your teaching style. Sometimes it can be just an introductory video, which is easy enough, but sometimes it needs to be an actual lesson. It can be live (with a genuine student or an interviewer pretending to be a student) or pre-recorded.
The thing is, these demos are so important. They will be the reason companies hire you or not (or give you a higher rate of pay), and whether students sign up for lessons with you or not, so they’re a big deal. For the companies or schools, they use demos as a way to see your teaching style, lesson planning abilities and professionalism in action. For students, they want to see your personality and hear your accent.
Because this can be a bit of an odd situation it’s best to be as prepared as possible before attempting your demo lesson.
Have a plan
This is basically the first rule of teaching and you can’t ignore it, even for an online lesson. You might be given a level, topic and/or language structure or you could be asked to choose your own. Either way, make sure you have a plan for every step of your demo. This doesn’t need to be written down in detail on a formal lesson plan, as long as you are able to remember it. Sticky notes work well for some teachers, while some prefer notebooks or pieces of paper. You can write it on the back of a cereal box for all we care, as long as it is written down somewhere!
Keep it simple
Don’t choose materials or activities that are too complicated. Bear in mind that when employed you may very well be given lesson materials so the focus of the demo is more on you and your teaching than the materials. Make sure you are familiar with your materials before the lesson and are comfortable giving clear instructions for them.
Practise makes perfect
You might feel ridiculous but do a run-through of your lesson beforehand. No matter how well you have a lesson planned in your head or on paper, voicing it out loud can be very different. Going through the lesson a few times will help you remember the steps and help the lesson run smoothly. If possible, do the lesson in front of a mirror so you can see what your students will see, or ask a family member to watch you and give you constructive criticism.
Testing testing 1,2,3
There’s nothing worse than being halfway through a recording and your camera battery dies or realizing after the recording that your microphone wasn’t working or noticing that you are half out of the frame when the lesson starts. Check and double check your technology and equipment so that everything is perfect before the lesson.
It can be difficult to come across as friendly and personable on a screen, but what is a sure way to let people know that you are happy to be there (even when you aren’t!) is a smile. You don’t need to be cheesy the whole time, but a resting you-know-what face is not a good idea in these circumstances. Especially if you are teaching Young Learners, you might find you need to over-exaggerate your facial expressions to communicate more effectively.
Finally, try to relax! Since personality is so important when teaching English online, your demo needs to show off your fun-loving and energetic personality. Even if you’re nervous, fake it and give a big smile and soon you’ll probably find that you actually are enjoying it! Good luck!