How to: Teaching Online Demo Lesson

You’ve completed your online TEFL Course, got the additional training in teaching English online and have a couple of job leads from some really exciting online teaching companies – well done you! But now it’s time for the dreaded online demo lesson..

You’re anxious and probably thinking to yourself “this is so awkward” or “why do I have to do this?”. Well, your potential new employer just wants the chance to get to know you a little better and understand your teaching methods. Teaching demos don’t need to be stressful, but that’s easy for us to say. Here’s our best advice on how to smash your online teaching demo and get hired to teach English online ASAP!

What is an online demo lesson?

Firstly, what is a demo lesson? Well, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. You’ll be expected to host a demonstration lesson, it’ll be like-for-like how you’d teach online if you were to land the job. For example, you’ll use their platform if they have one, if not it’ll be hosted on some video conferencing software that they recommend, they’ll provide you with any materials that you need and you’ll be expected to prepare your lesson beforehand – just like any normal lesson.

Your online employer will always tell you the length of the lesson, the level and age of the students and any other important information in advance so you can be as prepared as possible. Teaching demos can range from 5 minutes to 25 minutes.

Woman using laptop to host online demo lesson

What your employer wants to see

Your potential employer will be looking out for any number of specific criteria – from your facial expressions and what you’re wearing to how you’ve prepared for your lesson, your classroom management skills, teaching techniques and how you communicate with your students. It’s time to put your TEFL training to good use!

What you’ll need

Many online companies will send you the materials you need for your lesson in advance, though we have heard of some companies that send them on the day. Either way, you’ll be given time to prepare before your demo lesson.

Demo lesson students

Usually when you’re holding an online demo lesson, you won’t be teaching a real class or real students, the company will often put you with a ‘fake’ student, who will often be an experienced teacher within the company.

This can sometimes seem really weird as the experienced teacher will often change their mannerisms, accent and might even act a completely different age. This is to recreate the most realistic lesson for you, but if you’ve never done an online demo lesson like this before, it can be really off-putting and distracting. Our best advice is to ignore it and just pretend that you’re actually speaking to a child – even if you’re not!

Young girl using iPad for online English lesson

How to prepare for your online demo lesson

Prepare your workspace

The last thing you want when it comes to holding your online demo lesson is technical issues, interruptions or loud background noise. Get yourself set up in a quiet, private area of your home and do a couple of test recordings to check your camera, microphone and headset work as they should. You need to make sure that your students will be able to see and hear you properly with no distractions. Check out out teaching online equipment page for a full list of everything you might need to teach English online.

Write a proper demo lesson plan

It’s a great idea to write up a demo lesson plan, even if your interviewer doesn’t require it. No one else needs to see it, but it’ll give you the chance to plan and organise everything you want to cover off within your allotted time. You can find heaps of free lesson plans ideas online to help you, but for first-time TEFLers, you can use what you’ve just learnt on your TEFL course to help ensure the lesson will be logical. There’s a dedicated module within all of our TEFL Courses that teaches you how to develop and structure an effective lesson plan – pull out your notes from the course and use them.

Prepare your materials

We’d recommend spending a lot of time reading through the materials provided by your school and adapting them to your teaching style. If you can, print them off, scribble all over them with your notes and have them to hand during your online demo lesson.

Create props

Props are super fun and engaging for online lessons. Plus, you’re going to need them sooner or later, so why not create them now? Not only will it make you feel more prepared, it’ll also look really impressive to your interviewer and will show that you’re dedicated to teaching English online. Props can be super low-cost and easy to make. For example, if you’re teaching a young student about animals, you can print of some images of animals and write what they are underneath to help them visualise and learn.

Teaching online props

Research the company

In today’s digital world, it’s super easy to research your company and find out what they want from your demo lesson. A simple YouTube search for ‘online demo video’ or ‘online demo lesson’ and your company name will throw up lots of videos from other TEFL teachers who have been through this exact process. You can also search forums such as Reddit or company review sites like Glassdoor to find further anecdotes about what other people went through and what you can expect.


Ever heard the saying ‘practice makes perfect’? Well it really does! Once you have your online demo lesson planned out, why not try it out on some friends or family? You can even try it on your own. Set up your workspace as you would for your real demo, get all of your material and props laid out in front of you and start recording. The more time you spend in front of the camera and familiarising yourself with the material, the more comfortable you’ll feel when it comes to holding your demo lesson. Plus, this will give you change to downloading any relevant teaching software and play around with the inbuilt tools.

During the online demo lesson

Make proper introductions

Make sure you introduce yourself and ask your practice students for their names. This might seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re nervous, you don’t always remember to do the obvious things. Let your student know who you are, tell them your name and start off with an icebreaker to put both yourself and your student at ease.

Illustrate your TEFL skills

It’s time to let those TEFL skills shine! Highlight the classroom management skills and teaching techniques you were taught throughout your TEFL Course. This means pair-work if you’re teaching a group class, monitoring when necessary and tidy board-work. Don’t be afraid to give meaningful and constructive error correction and feedback to your students. You’re the teacher after all and it’s what you’re there for, plus your interviewer will be looking for it.

After the online demo lesson

After your demo lesson, you should get some feedback from your interviewer. This might happen immediately after, or it might be sent by email within a couple of days of your demo. The feedback should tell you whether or not your lesson was successful. If it was successful, you could either be successful in landing the job, or you might have other steps to take to secure your position.

If you’re not successful, your interviewer should tell you why and will give you advice on how to improve for next time. Take the time to read through your feedback carefully and make some action points and areas for you to work on. Don’t be disheartened if you weren’t successful, this was your first demo lesson and a great learning curve – take what you can from this experience and move forward.

Happy TEFLing!


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