Ask any ESL teacher about the most nerve-wracking aspect of the hiring process (whether online or in-person) and the answer will likely be: the “demo lesson.” The VIPKid demo lesson(s) can seem intimidating to applicants – but, if you follow the tips we lay out here, you’ll be in an excellent position to ace your demo lesson and get the job.
About the VIPKID Demo Lesson
Before we get into tips for nailing it on the first try, let’s first explore what the demo lesson is, why VIPKid requires it as part of the application process, and how the process works.
What Is the Goal of the Demo Lesson?
As a top-10 company to work for across all sectors of the economy (as ranked by Glassdoor), VIPKid is one of the most popular ESL platforms in operation. As such, competition can be tough – which is why VIPKid has the luxury to thoroughly vet its applicants through its demo lessons to get the “cream of the crop.”
However, VIPKid is not alone in the ESL industry in terms of requiring demo lessons from prospective teachers; if you spend time in the field, you will assuredly be asked at some point to perform one as part of the screening process.
The goal of the demo lesson, from the employer’s perspective, is to:
- Demonstrate your commitment to getting the job (filling out an application form is much easier than actually performing a demonstration lesson)
- See how you respond “under pressure”
- Assess how effective future teaching will be (especially in terms of engaging students)
- Identify areas of strengths and weaknesses for future professional development (if they decide to offer the job)
Where Does the Demo Lesson Fit in the VIPKID Interview Process?
The demo lesson comes after you sign up to the site and key in all your personal info (check the VIPKid Requirements to see if you qualify for a role with VIPKid first before applying to save yourself precious time and energy).
So, if you qualify for VIPKid, the next step following the submission of your relevant info is to select your demo lesson option based on two choices of format: the “smart’ and “live” options.
The “Smart Demo” Lesson
This option is way more convenient, which is possibly why the majority of teachers opt for this over the “live” option. In the “smart demo,” you record your lesson on your own device to a phantom student. (Download the VIPKid app for the iPhone from the Apple Store here or for Android from the Google Play store here)
The major upsides of the “smart demo” option:
- Re-record as many times as you want until you feel you get it right
- Do it on your own time (no scheduling)
- You can complete the entire process in as little as 5-10 minutes
The “Live Demo” Lesson
In the “live demo” lesson, you’ll schedule a time to speak with a real person (a recruiter) who will go over your background, interest in the company, etc. before undergoing a 10-minute demo lesson in which the recruiter assumes the role of a young learner.
Although this option is likely to be more time-consuming and nerve-wracking than the “smart demo” option, there are a couple of benefits:
- Negotiate salary, ask questions about the working environment at VIPKid, share general concerns about employment, etc.
- Get feedback on the spot
- Teach to a “real” person (albeit a role-playing one)
In each case, VIPKid will supply the basic materials for the lesson – currently, a set of slides as exemplified here teaching (super) basic vocabulary, grammar, etc.
Demo Lesson vs Mock Lesson
It’s important to distinguish between the “demo lesson” described above and the “mock lesson” portions of the application process.
The “mock lesson” occurs later in later on, after you’ve already passed the demo lesson, the purpose of which being to determine your certification level (either Level 2&3 or Level 4&5)
At this point, don’t worry about the mock lesson; you’ll come to it once you’ve aced your VIPKid demo.
Live vs Smart Demo: Which Should You Choose?
As we outlined earlier, there are important differences between the “live” and “smart” demo options.
Choose the “smart” option if you want the luxury of re-recording lessons, doing the work whenever you want, and getting it done as quickly as possible.
Choose the “live” option if you want a chance to discuss your salary, ask questions about the company, etc., or if you feel more comfortable delivering your demo lesson to a live audience.
How Are VIPKID Demo Lessons Evaluated?
Of course, excelling in your demo lesson depends on first knowing how VIPKid will assess your performance. Here are the official-sounding “Applicant Performance Indicators” (gotta love the HR jargon).
A few highlight areas the VIPKid evaluators focus on:
- Neutral, clear accent (to make sure you are a fluent native speaker)
- Preparation (did you familiarize yourself with the materials and prepare accordingly)
- Extensive use of TPR (more on that later)
- Energy/enthusiasm level
- Professional ambiance — background, lighting, props, etc.
What Happens if You Fail?
First of all, shake off those defeatist cobwebs: you are going to pass the first time. Go into your VIPkid demo lesson with this attitude and your chances of success will multiply ten-fold.
That said, even experienced teachers do fail their demo lessons from time to time.
Fortunately, the company is pretty good about giving detailed feedback to applicants who fail so that their next attempts will likely be more successful.
VIPKID Demo Lesson Tips: How to Pass the First Time
Here are a few tried-and-true tips for passing your VIPKid demo the first time.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Regardless of the activity – whether it’s performing a bit of classical music on a piano, playing football, or teaching English as a second language – the old adage that “practice makes perfect” holds universal truth.
To slightly modify an old tidbit of folk wisdom, familiarity breeds comfort. Laying the cognitive framework for how you will go through your lesson by practicing will render you more confident when the time for the actual demo lesson comes around.
Try rehearsing with a friend, for example, who will play the role of the bright-eyed student.
Dress to Impress
While the temptation to dress casually (given the digital nature of the demo) may be strong, you should consider that you are attempting to convey a sense of professionalism. Wearing “smart” dress is part of the overall image you are crafting as a dedicated, serious teacher.
Of course, you can always wear whatever you like from the waist down – the main thing is to focus on what’s in the video frame.
Praise and Reinforcement
Behavioral scientists have long understood the importance of positive reinforcement in the learning process, particularly as it relates to language acquisition.
In Teacher Rylee’s video (that we break down in the following section), you’ll notice that she repeatedly encourages her phantom student (named “Lily”) and uses her name as she does so.
VIPKid’s recruiters will specifically look for these behaviors in your demo lesson.
Phrases to use:
- “That’s great, ”
- “Way to go, ”
- “Nice job, ”
Total Physical Response (TPR)
Total Physical Response (TPR) is a well-trodden teaching technique based on the psychological mechanisms that underpin new language acquisition. In its simplest conception, TPR calls for the use of physical gestures that are associated with new language content – as Bridge phrases it, the “pairing of movement and thought.”
Here are a handful of practical ways to employ TPR in your VIPKid demo lesson:
- Physically smiling while saying “smile”
- Cup your hand over your ear while saying “listen”
- Give the thumbs up while saying “good job” (or similar encouragement per the previous section)
Background, Props, Lighting
This is really just an extension of the “dress to impress” theme we explored earlier. While you may not think about it, consider the impression that your background makes on the observer of your demo lesson (and your actual students, once you start teaching):
- Is the environment inviting? Is the light warm?
- What objects or props are in the background? Can you visualize anything in the frame that one might expect in a “standard” classroom – whiteboard, maps, inspirational posters, etc.?
- Does the totality of objects in the video frame convey an image of a responsible, engaged, committed teacher?
Particularly, if possible, record your demo lesson with a whiteboard in the background – not only is it practical for jotting down letters (and perhaps concepts) during the demo lesson, it also conveys a universally “conventional” look associated with learning environments.
Most importantly, perhaps, is to remember that you are teaching children – so create the proper “set” accordingly.
Check out Teacher’s Michael setup for a sterling example.
Successful VIPKID Demo Lesson Examples
We all like to emulate success – monkey see, monkey do, etc. Let’s take a look at some of the most pristine examples of excellent demo lessons.
Here is Teacher Nancy Taylor:
What Nancy does right:
- Tactical deployment of icebreakers (an essential tool for grabbing young students’ attention early on)
- Innovative reward system
- High energy level throughout
Or consider Teacher Erin:
Skipping to the 8:30 mark, Erin effectively mimics the behaviors that VIPKid looks for in successful demo classes, including employing TPR, using a clear voice, and conveying enthusiasm. She also explains how to develop and utilize your own reward system in teaching.
Common Questions about the VIPKID Demo Lesson (FAQs)
Let’s run down a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding VIPKID demo lessons.
Do I have to do a demo lesson for VIPKID?
Yes. This is a standard requirement for every applicant in the VIPKid interview process.
Is the VIPKID demo lesson easy?
If you follow the tips here and, most importantly, relax, then yes.
How should I prepare for my VIPKID demo lesson?
Peruse the list of “Applicant Performance Indicators” above, set up your background to reflect a welcoming, professional teaching environment, rehearse your lesson, and take a deep breath.
The Bottom Line on Acing Your VIPKid Demo Lesson
To recap, follow these five basic tips and you’ll position yourself to impress your VIPKid recruiter and land the job:
- Rehearse your lesson beforehand (several times, if need be, until you are maximally comfortable)
- Dress professionally, just as you would in an in-person interview or demo lesson
- Extensively use praise and positive reinforcement throughout the lesson to encourage the student
- Employ total physical response (TPR)
- Create a professional-looking teaching environment with proper background, props, and lighting suited to a digital classroom