Common EFL/ESL Interview Questions: A Guide For Newbie TEFL Teachers
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Job interviews are not many people’s idea of fun and a TEFL interview can be even more daunting if you have never taught before. We’ve all been in a job interview situation before but usually we are quite clued up on the field and have experience on which to base our answers, but what do you do if you don’t have any experience and you don’t really know what you’re talking about?
Well, the only thing you can really do is make sure you are as prepared as possible.
How can you do that?
Spend some time thinking about possible questions you may be asked and then consider different ways of answering them. Here, for example, are a few of the most common EFL/ESL interview questions and how we would answer them, just to give you some ideas:
Why do you want to teach English as a Foreign Language?
We all have our reasons for wanting to leave our 9-to-5 lives and embark on a crazy TEFL adventure, but those are probably not the reasons you should be giving a future employer! Rather think about what aspects of teaching appeal to you that are not related to running away, travelling or re-inventing yourself. They don’t have to be specific reasons – I love the idea of teaching Spanish kindergarten students – but can be more general – I’m looking for a job that will challenge me and allow me to grow and develop new skills.
How has your experience prepared you for teaching English as a Foreign Language?
Obviously if you have no experience teaching, you cannot reference your experience in the classroom. However, whatever career you are currently in or whatever you do have experience in should have transferrable skills which you can highlight. For example, if you work in customer service, this will have taught you how to deal with different kinds of people and probably how to have oodles of patience too, which are very good skills and traits you can use when dealing with students.
How would you motivate your students?
If you’re not sure about how you would handle any classroom situation they put you in, think back to when you were a student and answer the question from that perspective. Your students may not be very different to you so whatever worked for you could be just as applicable to them. Maybe you remember having a sticker chart when you were very young, trying to win competitions when you were a teenager or being motivated by your own progress as an adult – all of those are credible ideas for the EFL classroom.
Take me through an activity that you have done with a class that has worked well.
Obviously if you haven’t taught a class, this can be difficult. But you may have had some classroom training on your TEFL course with classmates or students and this is just as valid. Think of an activity or game which is relatively easy to explain and go through the procedure step by step. What the employer is looking for here is evidence that you understand the purpose of an activity – to present/practice/revise adjectives of personality/the present perfect/compound nouns – and know how to execute it.
Take me though an activity that you have done with a class that hasn’t worked well. How would you do it differently?
Again, if you haven’t had any classroom experience you may need to be a bit creative. Consider an activity that you came across during your TEFL course and think about how it might not work with a particular class. For example, a very interactive game may not work with a class that is very shy or low-energy, or a certain activity may not work because the abilities and knowledge of the class were over/underestimated. Be honest about the fact that this is a hypothetical situation and your employer will appreciate the fact that you can predict tricky situations and come up with solutions to anticipated problems.
How would you teach the present perfect/personality adjectives/the /Ɵ/ sound?
Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut for this and you’ll need to rely on your TEFL training for a good answer. Whichever language point or structure they ask you about you will need to have a few ideas up your sleeve as to how you could teach it. A good way to prepare for this is to come up a few activities for grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Then, to answer the question all you have to do is choose which activities would suit the language point.
If, however, you find you are not familiar with the language point and have no ideas, simply say that you would need to do your homework before the lesson to make sure you knew what you were teaching and to have some ideas about how to teach it. We’re not expected to know everything all the time but we are expected to be proactive and take steps to deal with any shortcomings in our knowledge.
How do you deal with discipline in the classroom?
Discipline is a controversial issue and how you deal with it will depend on the students you are teaching and the situation you are teaching in. For this question, it is better to be open-minded than to be set in your ways as to what works and what doesn’t. Instead, consider how different approaches may benefit different learners and also ways in which you might approach the classroom in order to try to prevent discipline issues from developing in the first place.
What’s your favourite age to teach?
While it is ok to prefer to teach a certain age group, you should not be adamant about which students you would or wouldn’t want to teach. Employers like to know that you are flexible and open to teaching all ages, if necessary. Of course everyone has a preference but make it known that you would welcome the challenge of teaching other ages too.
Why do you want to teach in Bangkok/Madrid/Cape Town?
This is your chance to show that you have done your research. Just as it would for any other job, doing your research into your employer shows that you are serious about the job opportunity and for TEFL this means the location. The location of your teaching position is part and parcel of the job so it is a necessary aspect to consider. Of course, you don’t want to make it seem like you are taking the job for the free flights but understanding the country and the culture you are moving to will help the employers believe that you are ready for the position and will be able to cope with any issues arising from relocation.
What challenges do you think you’ll face as a foreigner here and how would you deal with them?
Be realistic about this one. Not everything is all butterflies and roses, and no job is, either. There will doubtless be hard times and you need to be aware of this in order to be able to cope. Consider the difficult aspects of living abroad in this particular location and explain that you have thought about them and are willing to tackle these challenges – try to be specific. Plus, you can put forward some ways in which you can deal with those issues when they come up. Remember, the last thing an employer wants is a teacher who is going to fly home at the first sign of discomfort.
These are just a few ideas of questions which may come up in a TEFL interview. If you think carefully about these questions beforehand you will feel better prepared on the day and you won’t be faced with any unpleasant surprises.
Whatever happens, bear in mind that interviews are intended to ascertain whether or not you are suitable for a certain position. You may have to go through a few before you are successful but when you do you will know that it is the right job for you.
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2022
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We’ll only market other organisations’ products and services if you have said it is OK for us to do so.
You can ask us to stop sending you marketing information or withdraw your permission at any time.
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD retains personal information in line with our corporate retention requirements. Your data will be stored within the European Economic Area (“the EEA”) (The EEA consists of all EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, in some circumstances, part or all of your data may be stored or transferred outside of the European Economic Area (“the EEA”). You are deemed to accept and agree to this by using our site and submitting information to us. If we do store or transfer data outside the EEA, we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your data is treated as safely and securely as it would be within the EEA and under the GDPR. Such steps may include, but not be limited to, the use of legally binding contractual terms between us and any third parties we engage with, and the use of the EU-approved Model Contractual Arrangements. If we intend at any time to transfer any of your data outside the EEA, we will always obtain your consent beforehand.
Right to access personal information
- Under the law, any individual has a right to ask for a copy of the personal information held about them. This means that you can ask for the information that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD holds about you. This is known as the right of ‘subject access’.
- When making a request you will need to give us:
- a request in writing (by post or by email)
- We may need to ask you to provide:
- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.