Congratulations! You have made an excellent first impression and have been selected to continue with the interview process. You are almost ready to teach English online! Now, you are probably wondering what you need to do to prepare to teach the mock class. All candidates for online tutoring positions need to show why they are the right ones for the job. Companies are looking for a specific skill set, and they want to ensure schools and parents that their children will have an excellent tutor.
What is a mock class?
More than anything, it is an opportunity to show what you’ve got and to see what tutoring is all about. An evaluator will greet you and pretend to be a student or a group of students. He may pretend to be a child or he may not, so prepare for teaching a variety of ages. Beforehand, you will be given instructions on how to teach the mock lesson. These instructions will vary from company to company and could include downloading Zoom, the company’s teaching application or courseware, and reviewing the lesson plan. When you teach the mock class, it also gives the evaluator a chance to make sure all of your equipment is working properly with the company’s application.
Nine tips for taking your mock class to the next level:
1. Be on Time:
Show up on time. To be honest, it is better to show up a few minutes before class begins and set up the platform and courseware if that is an option.
Wear appropriate clothes: Most companies require their tutors to wear a specific color shirt, usually a polo-style shirt. The evaluator will check to see if you are wearing it. You may also want to wear work-appropriate pants if you are planning to use a standing desk while teaching.
Smile: The most important thing, the one that makes the most significant difference in one’s appearance is a SMILE! Smiling, even if you feel nervous, will help you feel better. It may feel forced, it may feel weird, but do it anyway because evaluators are looking for tutors who are friendly and outgoing. Think of it this way; if you have enrolled in an online language class and are expected to speak in a foreign language, you might be feeling rather nervous. If your tutor smiled and said “hi” in a pleasant tone, would you feel more relaxed?
Overall, appearance matters. It is the first impression you give the evaluator, and, if hired, the students.
2. Review the lesson to teach the mock class
Familiarize yourself with the content: Online English companies such as ALO7 use classes consisting of slides with the English material in written and audio form. It will often have animated pictures as well. Become familiar with the material, audio prompts, and the pictures. Know what is on each slide and what is coming. You will progress more smoothly if you can anticipate every part of the lesson.
Practice reaching the objectives: It is also essential to know what the objectives of the lesson are. What are you supposed to cover? Vocabulary words? Grammar concepts? Language structure? So, when you are in your mock class, and the evaluator pretends to be a student, be sure to guide him to produce the desired answer without giving it away.
Challenge your students: Throughout the lesson, don’t hesitate to challenge the student/evaluator. Ask questions that go beyond the lesson plan. You can even relate the topic to the students’ lives by asking them questions about themselves. For example, if you are talking about movies, ask them what their favorite movies are.
3. Engage the Students
Consider the age of your students: Also remember to consider the age group you are teaching. Talking to a five-year-old is different than talking to a twelve-year-old. A tween or teenager won’t respond to hand puppets or teddy bears or a tone of voice intended for a kindergartener. Your evaluator may pretend to be different ages to see how you change the way you speak.
Be carefree: You get to play up the best of yourself when you teach English online. That is what is so great about this job! Have you ever been in a meeting, in Conference Room B, at work and just felt like crowing like a rooster to get your colleagues attention? No? No one? Well, maybe it’s just me then. Anyway, you can do that if it means getting the attention of the student/evaluator. You can be silly, use puppets, toys, funny voices–whatever it takes to engage him. Keep in mind, though, that silliness works best as a tool for younger students.
What do you do to make English class more fun for your online students? Watch this video to find out! #teacher #teacherlife #ALO7 #tutor #onlinelearning #learnEnglish #teachEnglish #ESL #wahm #onlineclasses #educator #silly #funPosted by ALO7.com on Thursday, May 17, 2018
Use Props: Having props in a box or a basket nearby can be a lifesaver when you feel like you are losing the interest of the student/evaluator. You can turn the situation around by grabbing a prop, and your evaluator will most likely be looking for you to use props during the lesson. Props can be objects related to the class or they can be objects that you think the student/evaluator might find interesting. One ALO7 tutor likes to pick objects from her house that aren’t easily identifiable and then she lets the students guess what they are. For younger students, you will want to have toys or stuffed animals on hand to pique their interest.
Use TPR (Total Physical Response): TPR is a method of teaching language where the teacher models a vocabulary word or phrase by using physical gestures and facial expressions to get the student to mimic those actions. By doing so, this helps to create a link in the brain that associates the word with the action. For example, you can efficiently use your hands to indicate big and small, tall and short, or round and square. Using TPR is imperative when teaching language learners, and many, if not all, online English tutoring companies look for this skill during mock lessons.
Use your strengths: Are you an actor or actress? A singer? A comedian? A good conversationalist? Those skills will come in very handy as they can make the mock lesson and subsequent lessons more engaging. Are you not an actor or actress? Not a singer? Not a comedian? Not a good conversationalist? You don’t have to be because if you practice before teaching the mock lesson and move out of your comfort zone, the evaluator will never know otherwise. If hired, you’ll soon discover that your students will appreciate the effort you put into making the class more engaging, whether you sing offkey to help teach them a song or use less-than-perfect acting skills to illustrate the word, “crying.”
Give each student equal attention: The evaluator may pretend to be more than one student to test whether or not you give each student equal attention. Some students are shy or hesitant to speak in English, while others are quite chatty. The evaluator may pretend to be a variety of personalities to evaluate how you handle each situation.
4. Practice pacing yourself while teaching the mock class:
Be familiar with the platform: Most likely, there are annotation tools you can use to enhance the experience for the student. Learn how to point with the mouse, circle the object you wish to discuss and to type text on the screen. You may even want to enable the annotation features for the student, or perhaps you don’t. If the student/evaluator pretends to play around with the tools and distract himself, you can always disable the feature and direct him back to the topic.
Watch the clock: Being familiar with the lesson content and the platform means you will improve your pacing. The class should not go under or over the allotted time. Spacing out the material and advancing the lesson to meet the time limits is something the evaluator will check. Some teachers use their cell phone or computer clock to track time, while others may use the timer built into the platform. The best way to do figure out the pace of the mock lesson is to practice, practice, practice.
5. Anticipate Making Mistakes and Technical Hiccups
You can and should practice making sure you meet the objectives to make the class flow well…but, let’s face it, technical problems and human errors happen too. Everything depends on how we handle them.
Tech issues: For example, let’s say the mock lesson freezes: Don’t panic! Ask the student/evaluator questions and show him props while you reload the lesson. Keep him occupied while you work hard to find a solution. The evaluator will most likely applaud your grace under pressure, and it could work in your favor. If all else fails, the evaluator will appreciate your effort and can give you tips on what to do if this situation occurred during a real class.
Human errors: If you make a mistake, it is probably due to nerves. Just correct yourself and move on. Keep your sense of humor and don’t let them see you sweat. Show your evaluator how you can turn something negative into something positive.
The company you are applying to will request you meet the basic technological requirements. (Click here for ALO7’s technical requirements)
Camera: You must have a camera. Most laptops and desktop computers already have one.
Internet speed: Make sure your download and upload internet speeds are up to par.
Headset: A good headset matters! It can make the difference between an excellent experience or a poor one. You can give the best class of your life, but if you cannot hear your students or if they cannot hear you, your best efforts won’t matter. Noise-canceling headsets that connect via a USB port are an excellent choice.
7. Digital classroom
Remember that the personal space in which you teach is equivalent to a classroom in a school.
No distractions: It should be free of distractions like pets and bouncing children, distant and unexpected noises or people walking around in the background. It should be colorful and inviting.
Background: Make sure your background is clean and clutter-free. Place a colorful, educational poster on the wall behind you or consider using a virtual background.
Proper lighting: Ensure your face is well-lit by adjusting the lights in your room and checking your appearance on screen. In some cases, you may need to use an additional desk lamp or clip-on light.
Sit down or stand up?: The decision is up to you. Some teachers prefer to sit while teaching, while others prefer to stand. Having a classroom set-up that allows you to do both is the best of both worlds.
8. Do Your Research
Do you like children but lack much teaching experience? Do you have teaching skills but are hesitant about teaching online? Luckily, you can do some research before your mock class.
YouTube is your new best friend: Youtube is full of videos on how to teach English online and how to prepare for your mock class, such as this one from ALO7.
Another suggestion is to watch how adults behave when hosting or acting in children’s shows: They are very animated, exaggerate their movements, and smile all the time. YouTube is truly the best tool to use that demonstrates demo teaching, specifically teaching English online and not just in the physical classroom.
9. Positive Attitude
Embrace your inner cheerleader: Exuding positive energy goes a long way in keeping students engaged, and the evaluator will look for this quality during the mock lesson. There’s a big difference between someone who sounds and looks bored while delivering the mock lesson and someone who makes it a point to smile and be animated.
Most of all, HAVE FUN! You have chosen an exciting career path. When you teach English online, you will soon realize how much you get to play every day.
Susan knew she liked people, traveling, learning about history, reading, studying languages and sharing what she had learned with others, but she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life until her English professor suggested teaching. She was inspired!
Susan earned a masters degree in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language. After teaching in Texas, she decided to move to Mexico to immerse herself in everything she loved: a new culture rich in history, and the opportunity to improve her Spanish. Susan has worked in a university as an adjunct professor of English and in various schools as an English teacher, academic administrator, and coordinator of the English department. Today she resides in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, with her husband, daughter and little dog. She is an ALO7 tutor and loves it!