How to create a TEFL demo lesson for teaching English online

If you’ve scored an interview with an online teaching company then it’s likely you’ll be asked to prepare a demo lesson or intro video. If you’re new to teaching then this can understandably be a daunting prospect! But don’t stress, we’re going to go over some great tips to help you ace it.

The demo lesson is a crucial part of the hiring process for online teaching jobs. In fact, there are some companies that will even determine your rate of pay based on your performance. Employers want to see your teaching style and personality to make sure you’re both competent and the right fit for their company.

Your TEFL course will have taught you how to plan and deliver effective lessons, as well as how to teach learners of a range of ages and abilities. You know your stuff, you now just need to show it off!

Research the company

The first thing you need to do is research the company you’ve applied to work for. Where are they based? Who are their students? How do they market themselves? Look them up on sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and read their reviews – both from students and employees. This is information that will serve you well during the interview, but can also help inform how you create your demo lesson.

Have a clear and focused plan

The company will likely provide you with instructions for creating your demo lesson. This should include the age and ability of the learner as well as the topic and length of the lesson. If they don’t, and allow you to decide yourself, make sure you’re absolutely clear in your goals and who the learner is.

Who are you teaching?

It’s key that your demo lesson is tailored to a specific learner, taking into account their age and skill level. Your interviewer might be a 40-year-old recruiter, but don’t let that distract you. It can feel a little awkward and strange but you need to forget about that and picture the target learner you’ve been instructed to teach.

What is the topic?

If you’ve been given a topic, or have the freedom to choose your own, you need to make sure to be focused. You need to have a clear idea of what the language point or skill you’re teaching is, as well as the aim of the lesson. Don’t be tempted to try showing off as much TEFL knowledge as possible, that will only result in a muddled and confusing lesson that’s unlikely to impress.

Make sure you’re not talking all the time

Interviews tend to be quite one-sided, with you doing most of the talking. But in the demo lesson you need to be conscious of teacher talking time and minimise it, just like you would in a real lesson. Your lesson needs to engage and involve the learner, you’re not being asked to do a demo lecture.

Stick to the time limit

You’ll be told how long your lesson should last and you need to make sure to stick to the time limit. Time management is a skill teachers need to master, and something your interviewer will be paying close attention to. You’ll need to keep an eye on the clock throughout the lesson and know when to move things along.

A child learning online from a teacher


Prepare your space and make use of props

You want to show off a suitable space for teaching that is tidy, quiet and free of distractions. Conducting your demo lesson from a cafe or in a cluttered room is a big no.

If the job involves working with kids then make a friendly and inviting space for them by creating a colourful and fun background. For decorating inspiration check out the videos other online teachers have posted on YouTube. And, particularly for teaching young learners, incorporate props relevant to the lesson.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice as much as possible. You want to make sure you know your lesson inside-out and feel confident about your delivery of it. Testing out your lesson on friends and family is a great way to get some feedback and make sure the lesson sticks to the allocated time limit.

Try running through it over Skype or Zoom with someone to better emulate the interview conditions. It’s a very good idea to test out your tech and make sure the person on the other side of the call can hear and see you clearly.

TEFL demo lesson examples

You can find lots of great example demo lessons over on YouTube. Simply search for the company you’ve applied to and you’ll likely find lessons specific to that platform, which will help give you a good idea of what’s involved. Below are a couple of great examples!


For more tips from Teacher Michael visit his website.


For more tips from Tim visit his website.

Some top tips for your TEFL demo lesson

Here are a few final tips to help you ace that demo lesson and get started teaching English online.

Appearances matter

We’ve already mentioned the importance of ensuring your background is tidy and organised, but it’s worth repeating. Make sure to dress appropriately too, just like you would for any other interview.

Lighting

Not only is good lighting much more flattering, it looks more professional. If your space doesn’t get much natural light – or your teaching hours are likely to be when it’s dark – you’ll want to pay attention to how you and your teaching space are lit. Overhead lights on their own don’t tend to be that flattering, so try moving a lamp close by. You could even invest in some lighting equipment to really look like a pro, which can be cheaper and more compact than you might think!

Use a good webcam and mic

Many laptops will have an in-built webcam and mic, but they’re unlikely to be as good as their external counterparts. They don’t have to break the bank and can make a huge difference to your picture and sound quality, making them well worth it. A fuzzy picture and crackling audio just isn’t going to work for teaching English online, so if what you’ve got right now isn’t good enough make the upgrade!

Refer back to your TEFL course

Your TEFL course is full of great material that can be re-purposed for a demo lesson! Look back at your previous assignments and the feedback from your tutor for ideas.

Relax and show your personality

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, we know. But interviewers are looking for confident teachers who are able to effectively engage their students. Try your best to relax and slow down, it’s easy to talk too quickly when you’re a little nervous. And let them see your personality – be yourself, be friendly, and smile lots!

Check out our Definitive Guide to Teaching English Online for lots more helpful tips and information to help get you started as an online English teacher.

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