Summary: In this guide, you’ll learn why you might be asked to film an introductory video and what TEFL employers are looking for – not to mention, what they’re not looking for! By the end, you’ll understand what to say on camera as well as how to set up and film your introduction. You should come away with the knowledge to put together a professional, well-thought-out introductory video that you can send to employers with confidence.
Topics you’ll cover:
> What TEFL employers look for in an introductory video
> What to do and what not to do
> How to film an introductory video
> Examples of introductory videos
> Practical filming and sending tips
In this guide, we’re moving on to a specific part of applying for jobs, which is becoming increasingly common across the TEFL industry – the introductory video. Whether you’re applying for a job in a school or online, there’s a chance you’ll need to make an introductory video to go with your application. Recruiters like videos because they get to see your manner (and hopefully your smiling face!), hear your voice and get to know you a little bit before a formal interview. They can also help to ensure you have the level of English that the recruiter is looking for.
There are lots of things to bear in mind when filming an introductory video. Often, the employer or recruiter will give you some considerations before you film. These tend to deal with the practicalities of the video –such as the background or what you wear. Sometimes the recruiter will send you an example introductory video to watch before you start. Use this as a model but don’t neglect to make your video feel unique to you – after all, the employer is interested in getting to know you!
Here are our top tips for filming an introductory video:
You’ve got a couple of choices here. You need to either use a plain background, such as a plain wall behind you, or a background that is relevant to teaching, such as bookshelves, a map of the world or some artwork. Avoid filming in your bedroom with your bed behind you – this isn’t appropriate and comes across as unprofessional. The other thing to avoid is glare or lots of dark shadows as it makes it difficult to see you – so don’t film with a window behind you.
In our experience, recruiters and employers want formal attire, similar to what you would wear to an interview. A button-down shirt or blouse is likely to be sufficient paired with dark trousers or a skirt. It’s unlikely the recruiter will be able to see your legs, but it’s best to look smart just in case. When it comes to colour, it’s best to wear a plain block colour instead of a pattern, which might not show up so well on the screen. And avoid wearing the same colour as the wall behind you – you might look like a floating head!
Camera and microphone
The equipment you use will really depend on the type of job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for jobs in a school, the standard of your equipment for this video isn’t too important. The employers just want to get to know you a little bit. However, if you’re applying for an online job, you might want to get a better camera than just the one embedded in your laptop. You might also need to invest in a headset with a microphone, which ensures there is a really clear audio recording. By using a microphone, you’ll help to block out any background noise or echo in your video.
Avoiding background noise is important in this introductory video – you don’t have a long time to make an impact, so it’s best to stop any chance of distraction. Depending on where you live, this noise could be any number of things – from crickets chirping to birds singing, or from a washing machine on a spin cycle to police sirens. Close your windows, turn off any gadgets in your home and try to find a time when the house is empty if possible. If any of this is particularly difficult, using a microphone might really help limit this background noise.
How to film an introductory video
Follow our top tips below, by clicking play on this video:
What to say and how to say it
In this section of the course, we’re going to talk you through each stage of your video, so that you can begin to think about what you’re going to say. Although we really don’t recommend writing a script for your video, it’s a good idea to write some key words and phrases to help you form the basis of your video.
It’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll need to speak for what’s actually quite a short time. This means you can really practise the recording by having several attempts. We recommend rehearsing without filming a few times, then having a few practise attempts while you’re filming. If you make a mistake, just keep on going. Always watch the videos back, watching out for any odd habits you have, such as touching your hair, looking off to one side or saying ‘erm’ a lot.
Employers want to see that you’re friendly and approachable. Give the camera a big smile and a wave as you introduce yourself – a good starter is your name, where you’re from and where you live now, if different. From here, give one line summarising why your qualifications, experience and skills are perfect for this job. Keep it brief though – you’ll expand on these points throughout the video.
My name is Emily. I’m from New York and I currently live in Los Angeles. I’m a creative TEFL-qualified teacher with a degree in History.
Talking about your experience and qualifications
As we discussed in the CV course, it’s up to you whether you talk about your educational background or your work experience first. Whichever is strongest for you is the one you should put first. For example, if you have a lot of teaching experience or relevant work experience, talk about this first. If you have a degree, Master’s and a TEFL qualification but no teaching experience, start with this first.
You don’t need to give a lot of detail here but briefly outline the qualifications or work experience you have and the dates and locations. Like in your CV, focus on the transferable skills you have developed rather than your responsibilities if your background is not related to teaching. Make use of any prior experience you have – be it babysitting, lifeguarding or teaching guitar lessons.
After completing my degree at New York University in 2017, I trained as a TEFL teacher through i-to-i. I passed a Level 5 180 hour online course with a weekend practical course too, in which I prepared two short teaching practices. I really enjoyed this experience. Since graduating, I have worked in the university international admissions department. Speaking to students from countries all around the world has developed my communication skills. My job has also helped me to become more organised, especially when it comes to prioritising my workload.
Why do you want to teach TEFL?
When you’ve given a short overview of your background, move on to reasons why you are applying for this TEFL job. Have a think about your personal reasons for teaching English abroad and take the opportunity to show your passion and enthusiasm for teaching! Use the job advert to help you – if the job is teaching children, highlight why you want to do this – matching your interest to your background where possible.
Why are you interested in this teaching context?
In the case that you are applying for online jobs, give the employer a couple of sentences on why you’ve chosen this option and what its benefits are for you and the learners.
I’ve applied for a job teaching children because I would like to inspire the next generation to be able to communicate with people from all over the world. Working with young people as a piano teacher has given me the skills to approach teaching in a child-friendly and fun way.
Why have you chosen that country?
If you’re looking to teach abroad, finish the main body of your video with a brief section on why you have chosen a job in that country. The employer wants to know that you’ve done your research and that you are prepared to adapt to a life in their country. It’s a good idea to talk about the things you particularly like, especially relating to the culture.
I’m very excited to work in Vietnam and experience some authentic Vietnamese street food. I’d love to visit Halong Bay for its beauty and the Cu Chi Tunnels to discover more about the Vietnam war, which I’m interested in because I have a history degree.
Finish the video with a final sentence thanking the employer and providing the best way to get in touch with you.
Thanks for watching – I’m really excited to find about more about working with you. I look forward to hearing from you – please get in touch via email. My contact details are on my CV.
Important things to remember:
In this video, your voice and pronunciation are really important – speak as clearly as possible so the employer can hear your ‘teaching voice’. Avoid speaking too quickly and avoid using colloquial language or slang as the person who picks up your video might not have an expert level of English.
Examples of introductory videos
Below you’ll find a couple of examples of good introductory video that can be used for applying to classroom and online TEFL positions.
Saving and sending
In many cases, you’ll need to submit your video by email to an email address provided by the employer. In this case, simply attach the final file to the email. This tends to work best if you save your video as a .mov file. If the file is too big, try putting it in a .zip file before sending. You can do this by creating a .zip file (right click in My Documents, select New and Compressed (Zipped) Folder). However, search online if you’re not sure how to do this as the instructions are different depending on your operating system.
If this doesn’t work, it might be a good idea to upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo, setting it as private so the world can’t see it. You can then send a private link to the employer who can watch the video.
There are also several websites on which you can upload a video and then share the link by email, such as WeTransfer or Dropbox. Search online for this if you prefer – there are a lot of options. Again, the instructions may differ depending on whether you are using a laptop, phone or tablet as well as the operating system you are using.
Creating your video
Having read through this course, now is the time to make your own introductory video. Use what you’ve learnt in the course to create a really concise and professional introductory video. Watch your video through a few times – after all, you can always reshoot it if you need to. It’s better to do the work now and get it spot on so it’s good to go! Good luck and remember to smile!
When you’ve created the video, you can make sure you haven’t missed out any vital information. Download our Rate your Introductory Video document and check each point against your video.