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absconditus Sep 12th, 2014 04:14 pm

Help with demo lesson
Hi everyone,

Following a recent job interview, I was invited to give a demo lesson. As is mostly the case, I suppose, the hiring staff are going to pose as students. The school did not give any specific instruction except that it should be between 10 and 15 minutes. By asking, I found out that competence levels of starting students range between A2 and B1 (CEFR).

The way I see it, I have two options: either to fully address a simple theme that could lend itself to being taught in 15 minutes; or to partially tackle a more complex topic. At first I was leaning toward the latter, because it would allow the committee to decide how successful I am at breaking down complexity. A much more experienced teacher than I am also advised me to take this route: ‘If I was a hiring manager, I would definitely give you extra points for not choosing something simple.’ I was thinking of doing the difference between the present perfect simple and past simple. But then I thought that such a lesson would have to assume the students are comfortable with a wider range of structures (Affirmative, interrogative and negative structures of both the PP simple and past simple; irregular verbs; WH-questions, strong and weak forms …). It would not go well if, after the lesson, each time the committee asked me why I did not address a certain point, I responded by saying I ‘assumed’ the students had already learnt it.

Now, I am considering going with the first option. I am thinking I could do some/any, gone/been, should/shouldn’t … These subjects require much less background knowledge and can fit a 15-minute time frame.

Here are my questions:
1. If you were in my place, which option would you go for?
2. Could you suggest some additional topics?

Any general advice would also be highly appreciated.

Many thanks,

little sage Sep 15th, 2014 04:13 pm

Re: Help with demo lesson
Hi absconditus,

I think if the school wanted to evaluate how you'd cover a complex topic, they'd allot more than 15 minutes for your demo lesson :)

If I were in your place, I'd choose one of the simpler themes you suggested. Teaching comparatives might also be a fun. Whichever topic you go with, just aim to present it clearly and choose one or two brief activities to get the "students" involved. Just pick something you like to teach that would be appropriate for the students at this school.

I only ever had to do one teaching demo. I don't remember how long it was or what topic I had to teach, but I do remember one horrific detail: one of the panel members interviewing me, the school director no less, slouched and kept her chin rested on her arm during the entire lesson. I'm not sure if she was acting like a disgruntled teenager because that's who my true students would have been and she wanted to see how I'd engage them, or if she was truly bored out of her mind. Anyway, I'm sure it threw me off.

The general advice I'd give would be to just practice your lesson several times beforehand so you're very comfortable with your lesson plan and can deliver it as naturally as you would in a real teaching situation.

I hope everything goes well!


Heikezelle Sep 20th, 2014 05:38 pm

Re: Help with demo lesson
Dear Absconditus,

I had to prepear many demo lessons because I constantly lost my jobs and had to apply for new ones. What I also learnt in my 20 years of teaching career is that games and game-like activities are the most powerful means of teachers to gain the attention of students and to provide a high level of involvement and practise. Apart from that, there is also a strong recommendation of the 'ludic approach' in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
So what I suggest when planning a demo lesson: Prepare 5 minutes introduction of an item - let´s say should or shouldn´t, comparison, past tense - just anything relevant on the A2-B1 level. You can do it by powerpoint representation or neatly prepared handouts. The presentation or hand-out can consist of either a short text and some gap sentences which make the students find the rule of how to use the structure e.g.: We use any/some with uncountable nouns. We use some/any in questions etc. Or present some model sentences illustrated by pictures and add some fill-in-the-gap-sentences with a clear rubrics.
Then use a game to get the whole audience involved and to practise the structure. I have found this source when preparing for a show lessons very useful:
ESL for Adults - Activities and Games to Make Learning Easy (it's also in paperback You can use e.g. activities: 'Decision Time' for practising the conditional, 'Comparative to get in Order' to practise the comparative, 'Alibi' to practise past simple questions, 'Guess the Action for present or past continuous', 'Grammar Knock Out' for any other structure. Plan the activities in groups of four or five. Demonstrate the action with one or two particpiants (2 minutes) and leave 8 minutes for intensive practise of course participants. After the activity is over, give a short feed-back on mistakes participants made and ask them whether they liked the game. When asked why you chose a game to practise the structures you can hint at the high amount of practise and students' involvment they provide and the fact that you believe that language structures must be practised orally several times before the students achieve accuracy.
Good luck.

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