Updated: Jul 24, 2020
The most crucial point to remember when approaching your ESL interview is that interviews are interactive exchanges between an interviewer and interviewee. You are interviewing the school or agency just as much as they are interviewing you, and by asking questions, you can make yourself seem more informed and professional. So don’t be afraid to ask questions! But what are the most important questions to ask? Well, let’s take a look at a few examples.
1. How many classes will you be teaching, and how many hours prep do you have per week?
This question is important because the answer gives you more detail about the kind of workload you can expect in the role. If you are working 40 hours a week, and for 40 hours of that, you are in-class teaching, then any prep that you will need to do will have to be outside of working hours. Now everyone has their idea of what is an adequate number of teaching hours per week is. If you are working in a home-room position in a kindergarten, for example, you can expect to be in the classroom for almost the whole day, but still only teaching two, maybe three classes a day. But if you’re working in a language center and have six different classes per day, all of which are different age groups and levels, you can expect that a lot more prep work is needed, especially if there is no curriculum to follow, which brings us on to question number two.
2. What kind of curriculum does the school follow? Are lesson plans provided, or do I need to prepare my own?
This question is important because if you do not have a curriculum to follow, you can expect a lot more work. Curriculum planning is not easy, and if the school is not giving you a curriculum to follow, you need to decide what to teach. How do you ensure you’re teaching to the correct level? What subjects are appropriate for what age groups? How do you smoothly transition between topics and scaffold the language over time? Effectively the school is asking you to write a curriculum, and that’s not easy! It takes time, experience, and training to become a curriculum developer.
If a school does not provide a curriculum, then I would consider looking elsewhere.
3. What age group will you be teaching?
Are you teaching the same age group every week? Are you teaching mixed-age groups? Are you teaching both children and adults? Different age groups require a different kind of approach to lesson planning. Knowing the age groups, you will be teaching ensures you understand the prep time you will need and the type of instruction that will be expected from you.
4. Is accommodation provided?
Do you need to share it with someone? How far away from school is it? Is there a transport allowance? Can you opt-out of the apartment without extra costs?
Lots of schools will provide accommodation as part of the teaching contract. But it’s essential to know the exact details! Do you need to share it with someone? How far away is the apartment from school? Is there a transport allowance? Can you opt-out of the apartment without extra costs? There is nothing worse than arriving at your new job and discovering that you will be living with an unexpected roommate, or that your apartment is an hour away from the school.
Another option to consider is to take a higher salary and pay your rent. This way, you can choose your apartment and living conditions. Don’t be afraid to ask if that is an option.
5. Is the school that I will be working at licensed to hire foreign teachers?
This is the most important question that you will ask in your ESL teaching interview, most especially if you want to teach in China.
If you want to work legally in China, then you will need to hold a work permit. To get that, the school at which you will be working MUST have a license. There are many stories of teachers coming to China on a tourist visa, business visa, or a work visa with another school, to later be arrested and deported. China has cracked down on illegal workers over the past few years. To work legally, you must have a working visa for the school at which you work.
If the interviewer can’t tell you that their school is licensed, then consider looking elsewhere.
There you have it, the top five questions that you should be asking in your ESL teaching interview. If you do have an upcoming interview, make sure you prepare by taking a look at the Top Ten Common ESL teacher interview Questions.
Do you have questions you think teachers should be asking in their ESL teacher interview? Share them in the comments below!
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