How To Easily Ace Your Online Demo Lesson

For newbie ESL teachers, your demo class can be a daunting experience. To make it easier, we have a few useful tips and tricks to help you pass your upcoming demo lesson

If you’re eager to start teaching English online, you may find that there’s one obstacle that you’ll need to overcome - the dreaded demo lesson. Unfortunately, there’s no way of getting around this, as it’s a crucial part of the application process. Companies use this stage to observe your teaching style and personality, two vital components that they use to determine whether you’re a good fit or not.

For newbie ESL teachers, this demonstration can be a daunting experience, so to make sure that you ace your demo class, here are a few useful tips and tricks for your upcoming demo lesson.

What is an online demo lesson?

The first step to acing your online demo lesson is understanding what a demo lesson is. The purpose of this lesson is to demonstrate to your desired online teaching company what you have to offer in terms of your teaching abilities and qualities. It’s a great way for recruiters to assess how well you’d do within a virtual classroom setting and whether you’d be a good fit for the company. It’s also a fantastic way for you to get to know what’s expected from you when you’re teaching with the company.

You'll do the demo lesson via the company’s online platform or a conferencing tool, such as Skype. Before the scheduled class, the recruiter will usually provide the material and give the age of the student. A demo lesson will range between 8 to 20 minutes, but it's usually the latter. Depending on the company you've applied to, your demo will either be live or recorded.

Live vs Recorded

More and more companies are moving towards recorded interviews when it comes to the demo lesson. But each option comes with its pros and cons. A live demo will feature a recruiter who pretends to be a young learner, and you will need to teach the lesson as best you can with the lesson material provided. A live demo lesson can offer real-time interaction, but it can feel more daunting with a recruiter present. With a recorded demo lesson, you’ll need to use your imagination and pace yourself as you pretend there’s a student in the class. A recorded demo may allow you to feel less pressure and would have the option to re-record before clicking submit.

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Now that you understand the basics of your demo lesson, here are a few tips that will help you ace your demo lesson:

What to do before your online demo lesson

Research the company

Because this is an online position, many people have the misconception that this isn’t a “real” job, which is definitely not at all the case. Researching the company will allow you to get a feel for what the recruiters are looking for during the demo lesson, ensuring that you wow the recruiters and ace the demo. In this case, YouTube is your friend. There tons of videos online detailing the process of the demo lesson for specific companies from TEFL teachers. Glassdoor is also a great website to utilize when researching what other teachers experienced during this stage of the process.

Workspace and background

Since the students won’t physically be with you in the classroom, you’ll need to create an atmosphere that gets students excited to learn English. Your passion and energy is a great way to do this, but so is your teaching space. Recruiters will pay particular attention to your background and workspace, so make sure that you’re all set up in a quiet area of your home - no loud noises and interruptions. Lighting is another vital point to pay attention to, especially if you find yourself teaching in the early hours of the morning. Position your lights in a way that doesn't cast any shadows and allows the recruiter (and students) to see your facial expressions. A great way to achieve good lighting is to move a lamp closer or by investing in some lighting equipment.

Creating a fun background with colourful visuals and educational decor is an excellent way to impress the recruiter, and allow your students to feel as if they're in a real classroom. Classroom decorations could include anything from flashcards to world maps. There are a few online companies that have specific requirements when it comes to creating your background.

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Review the materials

There are only a handful of companies that will ask you to create a lesson plan for your demo, but this is the perfect time to utilize your TEFL lesson planning skills. However, most companies will provide you with the lesson material. When reviewing the material, you should keep the topic, how old the student is, and their proficiency level in mind. With this knowledge, you can plan and organize how you’d like to structure the lesson within the given time. Remember, online companies want to see your teaching style, so create a plan that allows this to shine through.


Props are an important factor in any virtual classroom. It allows you to engage and have fun with the students while checking their understanding. Adding a few props to your lesson is a great way to showcase your teaching talent, and will help you to feel more prepared. It's best to keep it simple. Most companies ask that you have two relevant props for each lesson, so there's no need to go out and buy a ton of stuffed toys. For example, if you’re teaching a class about fruit, you could use an apple or banana laying around your home or create your own flashcards. Any tool that will help them visualize what they’re learning is perfect!


Once you’ve gathered all your props and created a plan for your demo lesson that you’re comfortable with, it’s time for practice, practice, and more practice! You want to make sure that you’re confident in how you’ll present your demo, so practice it on friends, family and anyone that will listen! Another great way to gain some feedback is by recording yourself. Grab your teaching materials and props, and pretend that you’re performing the real thing - this is also an excellent way to get comfortable in front of the camera. Demo lessons range between 8 - 10 minutes, so it’s a great idea to keep a timer handy to ensure that you’re not over or under time.

What to do during your demo lesson

You’ve practiced until you’re blue in the face. All your props laid out in front of you, and you’re ready to ace this demo lesson.


It may seem obvious, but this can often slip your mind when you’re nervous and having to pretend the recruiter is a 5-year-old student. Introducing yourself is an excellent icebreaker too and will help you to make the lesson a little more personal by using the student’s name throughout the class.

Make sure you give the student a chance to speak

Companies want to ensure that the student is getting the most from the lesson, and this means giving the student plenty of time to speak. Dust off your TEFL skills and utilize them. Try and engage the student, use lots of TPR, and plenty of repetition when necessary. Your recruiter may not look like a 5-year-old girl from China, but you’ll have to pretend for the sake of the demo and make sure you use language that caters to their proficiency level. This can be a bit tricker when conducting a recorded demo lesson, but make sure you give your “student” enough time to answer.

What companies are looking for

Here are a few things to keep in mind when practicing and conducting your demo lesson.


Along with your teaching style, your personality should be on full display during this demo. Make sure you smile and engage the student by using plenty of TPR (total physical response) and props. Unfortunately, a lot of applicants fail at being consistent with their TPR, so make sure that you keep that going to help keep the student’s attention. When it comes to props, most companies only require you to have two, but make sure you’re using them when it’s relevant. When conducting the lesson, it’s also important to remember to use transitional sentences. This can be anything from “good reading” or “great job” when moving on to the next slide or task.


What’s the old saying - dress for the job you want. Your demo lesson is similar to a job interview, so make sure that you dress professionally.

Technical requirements

One of the first things the recruiter is going to check is that you meet all the technical requirements. Along with your lighting and background, the recruiter will also be checking whether your internet is stable. Some company platforms don’t perform well when using WiFi, so make sure you double-check the internet speed requirements. You’ll also need to make sure that your sound quality is good. This means no noise and a good quality headset with microphone - no iPod earphones.

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Unfortunately, not all demo lessons are successful. If you find that you did not pass the demo, don’t feel discouraged. Instead, use this as an opportunity to get back on the saddle and do better. Ask the recruiter for some feedback, and how you can improve. Take note of these pointers so you can do even better next time!

We hope that these tips have helped encourage you to ace your demo lesson and to help you feel more comfortable and confident while looking for online teaching jobs.

Happy teaching!