Demo Your Way to a Great Job

Tips for Acing Demonstration Lessons

Don’t forget to smile during that demo lesson.

Multiple choice question:

To get a job teaching English as a Foreign Language you will need to: a) do an interview b) submit references c) do a demonstration lesson d) possibly all of the above.

Did you pick d? (Hint: you should have!)

While interviews and references are normal parts of any hiring process, demonstration lessons are particular to the EFL industry in some countries where people apply locally for their teaching jobs – rather than applying from abroad. This happens more in popular destinations like Thailand, Spain or just about any tropical island! Demos (as they are known) are more and more popular with schools because bosses want to know not just what you’re like talking to them, but what you’ll be like in front of a room full of students.

Unfortunately, because they’re just a demo and not a real class, these lessons can feel awkward and artificial. Your “students” might be school office staff or other teachers who are pretending to be language learners only for the duration of your class. They might be instructed to give you a hard time, just to see how you’ll cope with it. You might get lucky and have “real” students, but perhaps those students are jaded because they’ve already seen four or five demos today.

Demonstration Lessons are a Great Opportunity

For the nervous applicant, demonstrations can seem like a serious roadblock to the glamorous life of an EFL teacher.  But, there’s no need for you to be nervous and no need for you to look at a demo lesson as anything other than a golden opportunity.

The demonstration lesson is a great chance for you to confidently share your skills as a teacher.  And the key to being confident is being prepared.

Be Prepared

When you find out you need to do a lesson at the interview, ask some questions to help you prepare for the demo.


  • Who will you be teaching?
  • What age group is the material intended for? Children? Businessmen? College students?
  • What skill level will they be?
  • What target language should be included?
  • How long should the lesson be?

Armed with these answers, then you can prepare an exciting, interesting, engaging lesson.  Make it fun. Don’t let the fact that it’s part of a job interview drag you down and make the class serious to the point of depressing. When you’re in the lesson, make sure the students are involved and having fun—that reflects well on you.

Smile! You’re an English Teacher

Most schools want to know, first off, if you are going to be friendly with your students. They want friendly teachers. Believe it or not, there are some people who want to teach English who aren’t friendly and this will come out in the demonstration lesson. So, show that you’re good fun, that you can interact with the students and engage them in your lessons.

Is There a Method to your Madness?

Secondly, the school will be checking to see if you use any particular teaching methodology. Are you using PPP or ESA?  They want to know if you are (and they hope you are!) an organized teacher who has reasoning behind the lesson plan.

When you go to give the demo lesson, bring two or more hard copies of the lesson plan so you can give a sheet to the evaluators who will be watching you. On your lesson plan, don’t forget to include sketches of your boardwork and any handouts that you’re planning on using.

When you teach the class, be confident and follow your lesson plan. Practice at home or with friends beforehand to make sure that you’re polished when you go in. That’s not to say that there won’t be any glitches when you do the plan—expect the unexpected and don’t let one minor foible ruin your whole presentation.

Prepare for a Surprise Demo Lesson

Also, even if you are going to interviews that don’t say they want demonstration lessons up front, come prepared in case they ask you on the spot. Some schools will tell you at the interview that you should prepare something in the next 10 or 15 minutes, and expect you to have a flash of brilliance.  My advice is to have a few lessons planned up in advance, and carry the plans and materials with you to any job interview you do. That way, you’ll be ready and confident if they ask you to demonstrate on the spot.  And, of course, just like it never rains when you carry an umbrella, it seems like once you’ve prepared a demo then you won’t have to do one. But if you do, you’re golden.

Here’s a great video by an academic director who does some real hiring based on demo lessons. Follow her advice!

TED’s Tips™ #1: Prepare your demonstration lessons in advance with a full lesson plan, including board work and handouts. Practice before the interview, and bring extra copies of everything so you can give them to evaluators.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Be friendly and be methodical in your teaching. These are the characteristics for which most employers will be looking.






Show off your Skills with a Demonstration Lesson

A No-Worries Guide to the EFL Demonstration Lesson

You’re a newly minted English teacher, and you’re looking for that first job. You get a call back, but—uh,oh—they want you to do a demonstration lesson when you come in for your interview.

Now, they said, “demo lesson,” but you’re thinking it’s more “demon lesson.”  Should you be scared? No, way.

While much feared by newbie teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL), a “Demonstration Lesson” is a common part of the hiring process in some countries, and is an excellent opportunity for you to strut your teaching stuff.

At first glance, a demonstration lesson is an uncomfortable scenario. Sometimes the school trots out some fake “students” (usually other teachers or school office staff) to watch your lesson and, occasionally, ask you typical learner questions. But really, this is nothing to be feared. Don’t worry about it, just show off what you know.

Prepare for your demo lesson knowing that your prospective boss isn’t just looking at your academic qualifications. They also want someone who is personable and extroverted, who smiles, and who is able to make a decent lesson plan and motivate and lead students through their tasks.

Know Before You Go

If you’re scheduled to give a demonstration lesson, here are some questions you should ask:

1. For whom is the lesson is intended?

2. What is the students’ skill level?

3. What target language or topic should you teach?

4. How long will your lesson need to be?

After you get the answers to these questions (and they might even let you decide those answers) you need to make a clear lesson plan. Bring two copies of it (not forgetting to attach any handouts) with you to the demonstration lesson. One copy is for you, and one is for whoever will be observing your performance.

Execute your plan with care, making sure your board work is clean and readable. Carefully keep your teacher talk time in check.

You need to realize that, for some employers, being amiable and good at working with others is valued as highly when hiring as your ability to teach. So, during your demonstration lesson, emphasize those attributes as well as your classroom skills.

When you go in, dress appropriately (don’t forget to put on your biggest smile, too),and look confident. They may want you to teach the full lesson plan, but often your prospective boss will see you know what you’re doing and will have you stop after only a few activities.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Practice, Practice, Practice

Don’t just wing it—practice your lesson over and over before the demonstration lesson. If you can, get an experienced teacher to observe you and give you some advice.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Do an In-country TEFL Course

If you take a teacher training course in the country in which you intend to work, you’ll have a great opportunity to develop and refine a “demo” lesson and get the input of your teacher trainer and course-mates.

Remember, be confident, wear your best smile, and you’ll be fine.

Teaching Internships in China