Teaching Demo Classes — Have No Fear!

I have rarely had to give demo classes in my “long and illustrious” career as an ESL teacher in Asia. In China, most schools don’t require teachers to give demo lessons. Or least that is how it was in the past when schools were simply happy to get anyone that they could find. These days, with a larger pool of foreign teachers to choose from, you may be required to give a sample lesson to “seal the deal.” Training centers in China, especially, seem to insist on demo lessons prior to signing a contract.

I will readily admit that even with all of my teaching experience, giving a demo lesson makes me nervous. It’s not that I have doubts about my teaching skills. I know I can do well. It’s that feeling of not knowing exactly what the school is looking for and being thrown in front of a bunch of students that I have never met before. But really, when it comes right down to it, being asked to teach a demo lesson should not be cause for alarm. No one likes to be tested but a proper perspective about giving a demo lesson can take some of the nervousness out of the whole process. Here are some pointers that can help you:

1. The most important element of a demo lesson is showing that you are enthusiastic and energetic. You need to get up there and look like you are having fun. Smile. Talk to your students; even if they don’t talk back to you.

2. Move around. Don’t stand in one place like a sod of dirt. Make eye contact with your students and with anybody else who is watching you.

3. Don’t pay attention to the expressions on the faces of those who are evaluating your demo class. I have been in demo classes where the evaluators are half asleep, twiddling their thumbs, playing with their phone, or even talking to other evaluators. Believe me, they aren’t going to give you any indication of how you are doing while you are teaching the class.

4. Spend a few minutes introducing your self. It doesn’t matter what you are teaching. Tell your students where you are from, how old you are (optional of course), why you are in China, and perhaps one interesting thing about yourself. This can help you to connect with the students and the evaluators.

5. Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! School and training center administrators are looking for teachers who are going to be able to effectively teach English pronunciation. Repeating is a very important part of this process. No matter what you are teaching, you need to have your students repeating after you. This will also help you eat up some time in the demo lesson.

6. Speak clearly, loudly, and slowly. Assuming that your evaluators can speak English, you want to make sure that at least they can understand what you are saying.

7. Be confident! Look, you may have some bad luck and have to give a demo lesson to a crowd of students who could care less about English. Just keep it going even if they’re not responsive. Do your best to get them involved but if they won’t talk, don’t worry about it too much. The school should worry about that more since it is their students who aren’t responding.

A little adrenaline goes a long way when it comes to giving good demo classes so don’t try too hard to push those butterflies out of your stomach. Make sure you have eaten a good meal and take a bottle of water with you. Be confident when you go in and be confident when you come out. If you follow these pointers I don’t think there’s much of a chance that you’ll be told “no” after giving a demo lesson.

11 Responses to Teaching Demo Classes — Have No Fear!

  1. mae says:

    great help!thanks!

    [Reply]

  2. nana says:

    @Michael Danielsen
    if i were one of them, i would expect some relaxed conversations. like the culture thing ,food …..whatever that’s easy to open a conversation and carry on freely.

    just my opinion.

    [Reply]

  3. Michael Danielsen says:

    For a group of teenagers in a Chinese middle school who have basic english skills. Could someone give me some ideas on what i can do for a 10 minuet demo lesson?

    [Reply]

  4. Robert Vance says:

    @Agatha,

    Great point! There are plenty of ‘qualified’ teachers out there who wouldn’t last a day in an ESL classroom. I certainly was not a ‘qualified’ teacher when I first started here. You learn as you go.

    [Reply]

  5. Agatha says:

    in answer to Dave ” btw, how could you get an offer if not a teacher” many of us are not teachers. Here at my school, most are not and qualified teachers dont seem to cope very well. We are employed as teachers but really its to get the students to speak and then help correct their pronounciation.

    [Reply]

  6. Robert Vance says:

    @Dave,

    You are doing a demo by live video? Wow. I haven’t heard of that before. Did they give you any guidelines for how they want it done?

    [Reply]

  7. nana says:

    dave,
    are you gonna do this soon?

    actually after twice demos,i dont think it’s hard to give one .
    teaching materials you can go ask the school for….cuz if which is where you finally settle to teach you might wanna get familiar with thoz texts.

    btw ,how could you get an offer if not a teacher ?

    [Reply]

  8. dave says:

    I have to give a 15 minute demo my live video. I have to come up with a lesson plan first. I have never done this before. I have an offer to teach english in China. I am not a teacher. I need something I can put on paper and also do in a demo.

    [Reply]

  9. nana says:

    thank you thank you !!!!!

    but they tell me that i ‘ll have to teach the very book they offer .
    and they ‘ ll see how i define this text or anything in my own way…
    maybe i woundnt really see any “real” students ,in stead ,there’d be a group of
    english teachers to “check me”–chinese or foreign .
    class wont last long ,just like 15 min.

    i was thinking yeah i could still ask questions
    thank you

    [Reply]

  10. Robert Vance says:

    @Nana,

    The main advice that I would give you is this…Try to show the school that you can get the students involved in whatever it is that you are teaching. Most schools do not want to see a lecture. They want to see interest on students’ faces. Ask questions, play games, force students to talk. This will go a long way…

    [Reply]

  11. nana says:

    thanks
    very helpful!!!

    any advice to how to give a demo as a totally new teacher without much english teaching experience??

    [Reply]

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