Summary: In this guide, you’ll learn why you might be asked to film an introductory video and what TEFL employers are looking for – and, more specifically, 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 all the information you need 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 TEFL jobs – the introductory video. Whether you’re applying for a job in a classroom or online, you’ll almost definitely 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/school 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 or a brief 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 forget to make your video unique to you – the employer is interested in getting to know you, not a copy of someone else!
Here are our top tips for filming an introductory video:
You’ve different options here. If your introductory video is for a job application to teach children, you want to try and make things as bright and engaging as possible. This could mean a background of coloured card, or a brightly coloured wall, or a child-friendly English poster (like the alphabet, colours, or numbers) – you get the idea!
If your introductory video is for a job application to teach adults, your background can be a bit more sedate. You could 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.
And don’t play any music – you might feel like it could jazz up the video/make it more lively and fun but, in reality, it just distracts from what you’re saying (which is the important bit!) and can make the video a bit annoying to watch.
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 a base to work from.
It’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll actually only need to speak for quite a short time. This means you can really practise the recording and have several attempts, if you need to. 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. Then, the next time you film, try to avoid these as they can make you appear less confident.
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.
e.g. 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.
e.g. 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.
e.g. 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/teaching online?
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.
e.g. 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.
If you’re looking to teach online, explain why! (Note: because you need extra money isn’t an acceptable answer for an employer!)
Finish the video with a final sentence thanking the employer and providing the best way to get in touch with you.
e.g. 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 few examples of good introductory video that can be used for applying to both classroom and online TEFL positions.
One of our TEFL graduates, Audrey Gillis (USA), has also done a webinar about how to create a great introductory video, which includes an example of her own. Check it out here:
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 and it’s good to go! 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 (right click in My Documents, select New and Compressed (Zipped) Folder). Search online if you’re not sure how to do this, as the instructions are different depending on your operating system.
If neither of these methods 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 via email, who can then watch the video.
There are also several other websites you can upload videos to, such as Wetransfer and Dropbox, and then share the link by email. 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, so make sure you pick the right one for you!
Creating your video
Now you’ve read through this guide and seen our examples, it’s time make your own! Use what you’ve learnt to create a really concise and professional introductory video. And be sure to watch your video through a few times after you’ve finished it, to check it meets the brief. It’s definitely worth it to ensure you make a good impression on potential employers. 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.