How to Teach English in Korea & Mock Teaching Interviews

Last Updated on May 12, 2018 by Christine Kaaloa

Video: How to Teach English in Korea & Mock Teaching Interviews

So you’re applying for a teaching job in Asia. Maybe you want a job with a private English school or a university and the school just got back to you.  They are interested in you as a candidate! Yay.

But now they’re asking for a mock teaching interview… uh, what’s that?

Yes, I’m considering job searches in Asia again. I thought I’d follow up with a post on how to teach English in Korea (or Asia) and the occasional job test requesting for a mock teaching interview. This is not for all teaching jobs but just those where they want to see a sneak peek of your ability to get before a classroom and actualize a lesson.

Job hunting teaching jobs in Korea & Japan

This post isn’t about the debate between teaching in private vs public schools. Recently, I interviewed for a teaching job at a private academy in Japan. AEON is a huge franchise with a chain of academies throughout Japan and they were having global interviews. It was the first time I’ve been asked to perform not only one, but two mock teaching classes!

It’s not common for academies to ask for a mock teaching interview as one of their initial interview process. Nor is is standard that they ask for you to commit to a entire day of surprise training, evaluations and orientation; …and then a two hour interview the second day, where you’re finally told that your role isn’t only as an educator, but a salesperson helping the academy fulfill their monthly marketing quota. That last bit was it in a nutshell. I was  floored.. and a tad annoyed. I could feel all of two days, drain out of me, within the 5-10 minutes this nutshell was being revealed.

I know there’s a lot of private academies  in Korea and Japan that are business-minded. I also know many native English teachers, who have wonderful experiences with them. But from rants I’ve read in forums and after this experience, private academies are my last resort.

If you’re reading this, then you want to know:

1) How can I teach English in Korea and Japan if I don’t know the language ?

When I first got into my EPIK program, I got many questions from friends and family, asking me how I was going to teach in Korea if I couldn’t speak the language. Going through a week of EPIK orientation, I learned that knowing the language is not necessary for teaching English. Not knowing the country language forces the students to speak English.  Some programs, you may teach with a co-teacher; other programs, you’re on your own. Either way, there are ESL tips and tricks you can use in my video.

If you’re at the stage of wondering how to get a job teaching and applying for jobs, then I’ve compiled a list of some of the articles I’ve written on this subject.

Read A day in a life of an EPIK teacher

2) What if a school asks me for a mock teaching interview?

So a university or school you applied for likes you, wants you to perform a mock teaching class as part of your interview and now you’re freaking out. Valid. Doing a mock teaching interview is an uncomfortable process; especially if this is your first one or you’ve never taught before. Teaching a class of judges and pretending like they’re beginner students is not the same as teaching real “beginner” students. It’s not natural but you’re supposed to act like it is.

Witnessing “teaching hopefuls” nervously teaching before a mock class for the Japanese academy job, made me cringe for them.  Some interviewees were so nervous they spoke softly; others looked as though they wanted to shrivel up and crawl under a rock. All of their discomfort showed. Many forgot to smile or tried to have fun with their class. The pressure of stage fright swallowed their personalities and probably dissuaded many from trying again. Most of all, this was not  typical for an academy job (to my knowledge, not even the JET Program asks for this). Although I found this an unfair test, I think if you’re not the type that can speak in front of eight people, then you might want to re-evaluate being a teacher. In some public schools you have to teach in front of as much as 30 students.

Read Surviving Job Interviews for a Korean university

3) When will I be asked to perform a mock teaching class?

Mock teaching interviews are commonly asked of university teaching job applicants.  Often, you’re asked to perform, only if the school is interested in you. Some will ask you do it via Skype if you can’t attend in person. I’ve done it both, in person and via Skype.  Personally, I think doing a mock teaching class in person feels easier as it’s more organic and natural. If you’re asked to do a mock teaching interview for an academy, I still feel it’s an unusual request.  Academies generally prefer to hire they hire young and enthusiastic teachers, who either have a background in teaching, a TEFL or have a flexible and energetic personality that can be trained. If you’re being asked to mock teach for them,  research them first and check to see what other folks’ experiences were. Similar to detecting travel scams, you have to keep on your toes, ask questions and feel out what’s right. .

4) How much time am I given for a mock class?

Generally, you get 5-10 minutes to perform your teaching before the school’s English department (and potentially, a group of fellow applicants).  The time allotted affords you at least two activities to showcase your teaching and creativity. This is part of your interview.

5) What should I bring to a mock teaching interview?

Bring a printed copy of your lesson and materials you’ll be using. You’ll want to create materials of some sort to help visualize your ideas or to help the lesson feel more active and engaging. Your materials don’t have to be perfect, because you’re performing a sketch of a class.

6) What should you wear for a teaching job interview?

Professional attire. Conservative and neat. Appearance is everything. Keep it simple, clean, straight-forward  and modest.  If you have tattoos visible, make sure they’re concealed. Korean and Japanese  institutions generally have negative stigmas about tattoos. Men: Wear a suit with tie. Women: Wear a suit with slacks or modest skirt and low heels. No low cut blouses or jangly jewelry. Tips: If you’re wearing a black suit, throw a bit of upbeat color into either your tie or blouse so that you don’t look like an undertaker.  If for any reason, you need to remove your suit coat, do so after you’ve introduced yourself and made your initial impression.

7) What are they looking for in mock teaching interviews?

You can call it an interview or an audition.  You’re being judged on…

  • teaching style
  • personality
  • how well you perform and interact with students.
  • techniques or methods you teach a lesson without lecturing or speaking too much.

Note:  These are criteria based off of having taught in the Korean public school system and my understanding of what’s commonly observed and judged  The public school system has semester evaluations and schools and teachers are (in a way) graded anywhere through evaluations, students, other teachers.   While I have been offered a university job teaching English before, I’ve not been hired by a university off of a mock teaching interview yet..

8) Where do you find teach abroad jobs?

Teach Away (my recruiter for EPIK)
Footprints Recruiting (large well-known recruiter, which could work for or against you)
Dave’s ESL Cafe

9) How does one create a lesson plan?

 If you’ve taught at a private academy, then you may not know how to create a lesson plan. Many times, the textbooks have master key manuals to help you teach the lesson or to show possible activities for you to do. Public schools and universities can require a little more creative lesson planning and for you to document them.
There’s no one way to do a lesson plan. I’ve seen different versions. However you choose to create your less out, below is a skeletal breakdown and guideline of how it should flow.
Main points evaluators want to see are 1) your timeline of activities for the lesson, 2) the minutes you’ve allotted per activity and 3) to how you’ll develop the content and what teaching materials you’ll use (ie. textbook, flashcards, whiteboards, etc…)

A General Outline of a Lesson Plan

Greeting & Warmup


-W hat the class will have learned by the end of the lesson


– The lesson or lesson review



-Final activity which will consolidate the lesson for students. Students integrate what they’ve learned.

My lesson plans in Korea

Teaching in Korea, I learned the format below, which my co-teacher required for end-of-the-year evaluations. I’m not sure if this is standard for the entire school system or only for our school. As technical, academic and module-ish it looks, it’s helped me to understand what the teaching aims are and how a class is structured to meet a goal.   Here’s more sample lesson plans and tips online at Wikihow.
creating a lesson plan, lesson plans in asia, lesson plans in korea
Sample lesson plan for a Korean public school. This is not necessarily “the” format for all lesson plans,  but the one I learned when teaching and which embraces all the guidelines necessary of a lesson plan

Have you ever experienced a mock teaching interview? Any tips or advice you’d like to share with others about how to teach English in Korea?

how to teach english in korea

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Korea, Learning & Working Abroad, Teaching English