Mock Class Fails – And How To Avoid Them

Want to pass your Mock Class 1 with flying colors? Keep on reading It is so important for you know to know the most common reasons applicants get disqualified after their Mock Class 1. I coach many applicants through the rigorous VIPKID application process, especially those who are reaching out for help after failing their mock class 1. After reviewing the feedback they receive from the evaluator, there always seems to be a few command trends that result in disqualification. You can prepare to AVOID these pitfalls simply by being aware of them and focusing on them during your preparation for your Mock 1 or Mock 2. Have specific questions about the application process? Feel free to e-mail me at and I will be happy to provide you with more information

Mock Class Fail #1: Lack of Pronunciation Correction
During your mock class interview, you MUST pay attention to your student’s pronunciation and correct it immediately. Timely error correction is very important to VIPKID and to the families of the students you will be working with! You will want to focus on correcting the target vocabulary words only, as if you correct every single word your student needs help with you will run out of time during your mock class! When you provide the correction, slow down your speech and enunciate every sound in the word. You may even want to break the word in syllables, have the student repeat, and then say the word all together. Remember, you can want to correct PRONUNCIATION in a positive way- with a smile! Research has shown that in order for student to effective learn and remember another language, they must be feel comfortable and confident. YOU are not only responsible for being your students’ teacher, but coach and cheerleader! If you need to correct pronunciation for younger students, simply smile and repeat the word. For older students, you may say something like “Good try, listen again” or “one more time.” As you say “one more time” hold up on finger and point to your write to signal “time”. This will help them to understand to repeat the word and focus on pronunciation. During the error correction process, the tone in your voice should be positive and supportive! This sounds easy, but many people suddenly turn very serious when providing error corrections. Remember, make your student feel successful and relaxed during the correction. Point to your mouth and you repeat the word, and lean into the camera so the student can see the proper mouth formation. If they are struggling with a specific sound, you may want to emphasize this sound within the word by elongating it. Also, remember you are the English native speaker with “perfect” pronunciation, so be sure to emulate that for your students! No slang and clearly say every sound and syllable within the target vocabulary words.

Mock Class Fail #2: Pacing
It is very important that you complete your mock lesson within the suggested amount of time given for the lesson. What I see happen very often is applicants can very nervous during the mock class. They forgot the target vocabulary words, misplace their props, and get so nervous they forget how to teach the concept. They begin looking down at their notes for guidance and suddenly they have lost track of time. This results in the evaluator stopping them before the lesson is over. My biggest recommendation is to PRACTICE! And when I say “practice”, I don’t mean reviewing your notes 1,000 times each night. Actually go through the lesson with family member or friend and set a timer. Another strategy is to video yourself and go back and critique your lessons. If you lost track of time, was it on a specific concept or slide? Did you fumble of over your words or hesitant? Remember, if you are struggling with time during your practice, chances are it will be even worse when there is a student on the other end interacting with you. A good rule of thumb is to spend about 1 minute per slide. Not a lot of time, right? Here is a great trick to help you move the lesson along at a good pace. If your student (which will be the mock class evaluator during your lesson) is mastering the target vocabulary or quickly understands the concept, MOVE ON! You do not need to complete every example on the slide if the child has demonstrated a solid understanding of it. In order to execute your pacing effectively, know your lesson objectives well. What is the student expected to learn on this slide? How will you know when they have mastered it? If you follow this tip, this will give you more time on slides and concepts your student is struggling with. During your mock class if you are over a few minutes or so, it’s typically not a big deal. However, any more than this can result in disqualification. Remember, prepare, practice, and focus on the lesson objectives!

Mock Class Fail #3: Lack of Props
Imagine you are native English speaker learning a second language. I am your teacher and today’s lesson objectives for you to learn the vocabulary word “cat” in Chinese. First, I simply repeat the word “cat” in German many times and ask you to repeat it. You would know what the word means? Most likely not. Now while I am saying the word, I show pictures of different cats. I take out a stuffed animal cat and point to it. Think about the difference in understanding between simply saying the word and having props to support comprehension of the word. “Props”( are pictures, objects, and realia) are a HUGE component of online English language learning. They bring the vocabulary words to life! During your mock class, you should use at least 2 props to help support your student’s understanding of the target vocabulary words and lesson concepts. Two props I highly recommend you have during your mock class are a whiteboard and puppet. The whiteboard can be used to draw pictures, letters, numbers- it has a million great uses during your lesson! Not much of an artist? Get a magnetic whiteboard and place a photo that match the vocabulary word on it. Puppets are excellent prop that encourages student engagement and helps aid in the understanding of conversational skills.

Mock Class Fail #4: Lack of TPR – Both Instructional and Educational
This mock class fail is closely related to the lack of props. TPR (total physical response) is basically using your body as one big prop! Think about “charades” during your mock lesson and you should have a good idea of how you should teach the vocabulary words! Back to the example of teaching the vocabulary word “cat”. Along with showing your pictures and a stuffed animal of a cat, I place my hands one my head to represent cat ears. I may even make the sound of a cat. Between the props and the TPR I have greatly increased the chances that you will understand and remember this word! However, creating a “cat” by placing your hands above your head is not true TPR until your student copies this action! TPR is all about creating meaning of the vocabulary words by having the student engaged in the actions. Some students pick up this skill right away and others are very shy during your lessons. However, to increase the chances that your student will copy your body movements, you will want to be animated, energetic, and smiling! You may even point to them and give them a few seconds of wait time to complete the action after you model it. Body movements and gestures that are aimed at supporting students understanding of vocabulary is referred to as “educational TPR”. Your goal is to encourage students to mimic these actions! Many of you have probably heard the phrase “Learning by doing”. Well, this is a 100% correct in the ESL world. When students say the vocabulary word, hear it clearly spoken, see a visual, and move their bodies in a way to understand it, they have created a very concrete representation of this word. This increases the chances that they will remember the vocabulary word and apply it! There is a second type of TPR that you will be expected to use in your mock class- Instructional TPR. These are movements to help students understand the directions for the lesson activities. For example, when you want a student to repeat the target vocabulary or sentence pattern, you may place your hands to your ear. This movement signals them to participate with you saying “Please repeat”. Another example of instructional TPR, is draw a circle in the air or one the whiteboard when you want them to circle in the lesson activity to demonstrate their understanding of specific concept. Do they need to copy instructional TPR? No. The goal of instructional TPR Is to make the directions of the lesson activities very clear for the students, allowing them to practice and interact with the target lesson concepts and vocabulary.

Mock Class Fail #5: Lack of training and understanding of ESL skills and strategies
Many applicants fail their mock class simply because they do not have a good understanding of the strategies listed above. It is one thing to read about them, but is certainly another to implement and execute them properly in the classroom. This is where it helps to dialogue with online ESL teachers who utilize them on a daily basis! Having a coach or mentor to support you through the VIPKID application process is a major way to increase your chances of passing the application process! It provides you with the motivation, support, and understanding to develop yourself into an excellent VIPKID and online ESL teacher. I provide free coaching to my applicants and I am happy to share that the majority of them pass their Mock 1 with flying colors! If you would like me to serve as your mentor teacher and coach, feel free to e-mail me at Have more questions about what it’s like to be VIPKID teacher or application process? No worries, I am here to help you determine whether online teaching is a good fit for your personality and lifestyle. Ready to apply right now?! Click the banner to right of this article to get started Happy teaching and good luck in all your online ESL teaching adventures!

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