Monday, February 1, 2010

Demo Class Tips for teachers in South Korea

Here's the question:
I just had an interview with a kids hakwon and they told me I have to give a demo class. What the hell!!! I've never taught EFL to children and am totally freaking out! The demo class is only 10 minutes, so I just need a few ideas. Can you or your readers help?
Well, since you've presumably been in the adult racket for a contract or two, you know something about the industry. I don't think I need to go over lesson plans with you. It wouldn't help in a quick demonstration anyways. There are, however, a few tips that schools look for.

Before we start, I should say that the people observing these classes usually aren't fluent so they're forced to focus not on what you say, but how you carry yourself in front of a class. They will judge you based on how they think a teacher should act.

Enthusiasm is huge and always helps. I'm not talking about smiling more than usual though it doesn't hurt, but when in front of that demo class, you need to have a little more gusto. I recommend moving around the classroom more, engaging the kids equally and responding to the answers from each kid with an overly interested facial expression and tone. Some of you might be thinking that I'm telling her to do the 'dancing monkey' routine, but when you want to get hired, it works. After you get the job, then you can employ any method you choose.

Having the kids repeat after you is a simple way to get positive feedback from a prospective school. Those of us who have taught kids before know that it gets old and question its effectiveness, but there are very specific things that these guys are looking for. A short demo class allows for very little exploration into ones teaching methods and abilities, so just hit the basics.

Controlling students can be hard. Sometimes kids will try to take advantage of the new teacher. We all did it when we were in school and Korean kids are the same. Mix that in with the fact that many young students don't take English classes seriously and you could have a toxic combination for a demo class. When they start to get wild, don't tell them to be quiet or sit down; not in a demo class. Simply isolate the problem and bring them into the lesson. It might not work, but that's not the point. The point is that the interviewers are looking for how you handle that situation.

Making yourself marketable is important to you and in this case, it's even more important to your potential employers. We all know the hagwon game and it's the mothers who run these places. They can make or break a teacher and a school. Sweet-faced women and cute-faced men tend to do the best, but hair, make-up and clothing all play a role. However, marketability extends beyond appearance. After the demo class, they'll probably ask you what you thought of the kids or if you liked the material and you need to just BS the whole thing. Be flexible and overly eager.

Demonstration classes are nothing to stress about. If you play the game and understand what the school is looking for, you'll always get the job. Once you've settled into the position, then you can take root and test out some new, less superficial methods,  but you've gotta get the gig first.

Anyone else have any ideas?

2 comments:

Chris in South Korea said...

Remember that the demo class is just a formality - just like the rest of the application process. For better or worse, you won't be *teaching* the kids anything, and they're unlikely to learn anything. It's only 10 minutes (or in some cases, 5 minutes)... Smile, project your voice if needed, speak slowly / clearly, and dress a notch nicer than you think you need to.

The Expat said...

I guess I should have gone over a demo class for adults as well. Maybe I'll add it.

You're teaching kids now, right? Did you have to do a demo?