VIPKid – Preparing for Mock Class (Lower Level)

There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are.

Congratulations on deciding to certify for lower level classes with VIPKid! This certification will allow you to teach Level 2 Interactive (the most popular level with VIPKid!) as well as Level 3. Always remember that there are materials provided in the teacher portal that can help you prepare for, and review, the course curriculum at any time. To get started, here’s what you need to know. Please note, this is current effective March 2019.

Before you begin, I suggest reviewing the VIPKid Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. VIPKid will send this to you before your mock class, and your mentor can also provide you with a copy. This will tell you exactly what your VIPKid mock class mentor will be scoring you on. There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are.

1. Prepare for both lessons. There will be two different lessons (A&B) provided in the classroom.  Your mock class mentor will choose one of the two lessons for you to teach during your mock class, so please be sure you prepare for both!

2. Review the objectives for both lessons.

  • For <u>option A</u>, the goal is to teach the words “ball,” “throw,” and to blend phonemes z/r/s/h (onset) with -ip (rime.) You want to avoid a lot of words that don’t specifically support these objectives
  • For <u>option B</u>, the goal is to teach the nouns “kite” and “doll” and the verb “fly.” You will also be teaching target sentences “Do you fly a kite? Do you throw a ball? Do you swing in a swing?” with the goal being to have the student answer “Yes, I ______,” or “No, I don’t ______.”

3. Plan your reward system for both lessons.

Rewards are a hot topic with many teachers. There is a built-in reward system in all VIPKid curriculum. With Interactive Level 2, the reward is interactive, and the student can manipulate the items on the screen as part of their reward. If you ask 100 teachers how they use (or should use) the rewards, you will get 100 different answers. Honestly, that’s one of the great benefits of VIPKid is that students can learn differently with different teachers! My suggestion for the mock class is to build a custom reward that can be used WITH the interactive reward slide. That way, all your bases are covered. An ideal reward system:

  • Is fun!
  • Is visible at all times during class!
  • Supports the learning objectives!
  • Engages the student!

Be creative… if you love it, so will your students (and your mock class mentor!)  For specific ideas on how to get started, check out these posts:

4. Plan your props for both lessons.

It is important to have props that you bring to class to reinforce each lesson. It is recommended that you use at least three props, and at least two different types of props. Here are examples of different types of props:

  • Printed or Drawn (2D) props: flash cards, printed pictures, drawn pictures
  • Realia or 3D props: real items from your home that relate to the lesson, toy versions of items in the lesson
  • Digital props: gifs, google slides images that you display
  • Other props: whiteboard, magnetic letters

You will want to plan your props for both lessons in advance and practice with them on camera. It’s important to practice on camera so you are comfortable holding items closer to the camera or further away. Most laptops allow you to record sessions directly from your built in camera which is great for you to watch yourself and adjust.

Similar to rewards, find and use props that YOU enjoy. If you are excited about them, your students will be. Here are some ideas to get you started:

5. Anticipate Possible Errors

As you are planning your props, it’s a good time to anticipate what errors a student might make. If you are in a live mock class with a mock class mentor, I promise they WILL make mistakes just to ensure you catch them and are comfortable correcting them. If you are recording a demo, you will want to pretend that your student made a mistake to demonstrate how you could correct an error. Props are a great (and positive) way to help correct errors.

Here are a few ideas on common errors you might anticipate in each of your certification classes:

6. Plan your TPR for both lessons.

TPR is one of the fundamental building blocks of ESL. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally, so it is important than you plan TPR and practice it. When I was first preparing to become an ESL teacher, I followed a three step process.

  1. Plan. I reviewed each slide and practiced different TPR techniques that I could use on each one. This got me comfortable making the motions.
  2. Practice. I practiced this TPR any time I had the chance. (My prime platform was my shower!) I didn’t memorize it all, but I got used to the common gestures I planned to use. The more you make the movements, the easier they will become.
  3. Preview. I recorded myself using my webcam practicing my TPR. That helped me get used to how big my gestures needed to be while still remaining on the camera. I found out which gestures looked the most precise and crisp and I was able to change those that did not convey a clear meaning. I can’t stress enough how helpful this step is. If you record yourself, your mentor can watch it and give you feedback, but you’ll also be amazed at how much you will notice. For example, even just waving goodbye looks so much better when you hold your hand stiff with your fingers together! The only way you can know this is by watching yourself in action!

7. Download the Teacher App and update your laptop’s flash and Chrome. VIPKid recommends using the Teacher App for all classroom activities, and it is also my tool of choice. If there is a problem, teaching through the Chrome browser is a good alternative, so have all of this updated and ready before you begin.  It also wouldn’t hurt to restart your computer or ipad.

8. Allow yourself time to go into the classroom and practice before you begin. VIPKid will give you access to a practice classroom, and I suggest using this so you get comfortable in the VIPKid environment. This will become second nature to you once you have taught a few classes, but it’s great to get your feet wet before your certification.

9. Set up your “classroom.” You do not need to spend a lot of money to do this, but you will want to put some thought into where you will be doing your mock class certification.

  • The background that will be visible in the video frame should create a learning atmosphere. VIPKid defines this as having visible props, an uncluttered, designated area, and having a space optimized for teaching.
  • You will want to be sitting or standing an appropriate distance from the camera so you can be clearly visible at all times, and your camera should be at eye level so it feels as though you are making eye contact with your student.
  • Lighting should be balanced with no shadows or significant glares on you or your props.

10. Review the application performance indicator (again.)  This is so important, it bears repeating.  There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are. I was new to teaching in a formal class environment, and new to ESL, but I prepared extensively using this tool, and My VIPKid Interview Results were great. I passed my mock class certification the first time. I say this not to brag, but to help reassure you if you are feeling uncertain or overwhelmed.

The preparation time doesn’t have to be extensive, just intentional.  I hope that this guide helped you get ready for the process, and I would be happy to personally guide you as your mentor.  If you are interested, please apply using my referral link or add my referral code (AMELI0055) to your application.

Good luck!

 

VIPKid – Teaching Vocabulary and Target Sentences

Whether you are completing an express demo lesson, a mock class, or are teaching a class, VIPKid always includes target vocabulary words and target sentences. These will be identified in your lesson (or interview) objectives, and you will find a style of teaching that helps you teach these consistently and easily.  Below are a few of my helpful hints.

Know the objectives.

I know this sounds obvious, but you should always be sure you are familiar with the target word and sentences.  For example, I recently taught a lesson about parts of the face. In each lesson, the student learns two new vocabulary words like eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc. The target sentence for each is “I _____ with my _____.”  Simple, right?

Remember that we are teaching children a new language, so misplacing even one word can be detrimental. In the example above, my target sentence was “I taste with my mouth.” At one point, I accidentally said, “I eat with my mouth.” While this is true, to someone trying to learn the word “taste,” this could suddenly confuse them.  So know your vocabulary and your target sentences.

Repeat each new vocabulary word at least two times.

Before introducing context and sentences, it’s important for the student to hear and repeat the vocabulary word alone two times.  Clearly say the word (with TPR), and have the student repeat it. Do this again before moving onto the target sentence.

Give your student enough time to respond.

Remember, an ESL student might take more time to process and prepare than we do, so be sure you allow time for the student to respond. You can nod encouragingly to be supportive while not speaking to interrupt their thoughts.

Use TPR.

Even if you are using props, TPR is still a very important part of learning new vocabulary. ESL learners benefit by linking action with speech, so do not omit this step! I usually try to vary the TPR to give the student as much visual context as possible, so I might use one motion the first time I said the word and a different motion the second time I said the word.

Use props.

Any time you can use a prop or realia to help reinforce new vocabulary, this is helpful. This could be a printed or digital picture, a gif, a real object, a toy, or something on your whiteboard. You will find the props that suit your classroom style that fit with your students’ preferences! If you use a prop early when teaching a word or a sentence, if a student struggles to remember it later, you can show them the same prop to help trigger their memory.

Adjust to your student.

If a student is struggling to repeat an entire sentence, you might need to break it up into manageable portions. A sentence that my students often struggle with is in the unit about having fun with friends. The sentence is “I swing on the swing.” For some reason, my students often struggle, so when we practice it, we start with “I swing” and once they repeat that, I add “on the swing.” Once they can say both individually, then we combine them.

Be sure to correct errors.

Don’t be afraid to correct errors. Pronunciation, omitted words, and grammar are all very important to students and their parents. Remember, you can correct them in a positive, upbeat way but they are here to learn English, so make sure you aren’t supporting bad habits!

Don’t get bogged down.

Sometimes a student really struggles with a word or a sentence. You have a finite amount of time to complete the lesson, so don’t feel that you have to stay on the slide until they have reached perfection. Teach, correct, and practice, but if they simply aren’t getting it, move on. They will have ample time in upcoming slides and lessons to keep practicing the concept.

I hope this is helpful as you are getting started. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments! If you are just thinking of becoming a VIPKid teacher and would like some help with the interviewing process, feel free to use my referral code.  I would be happy to help you.

 

 

VIPKid Techniques – TPR

Whether you are preparing to interview, planning for your mock class, or looking for ways to improve your teaching effectiveness, TPR is a term you’ll hear over and over through your VIPKid career.

What is TPR?

TPR stands for “Total Physical Response.” In layman’s terms, it’s using gestures and actions to demonstrate words. There are two main types of TPR that you’ll need to use in the VIPKid classroom:

  • Instructional TPR: Instructional TPR includes actions that you don’t want the student to repeat, but that help you let the student know what to do. Examples of common instructional TPR include:
    • Cupping your ear when you want them to speak
    • Making a circle with your finger when you want them to circle
    • Pointing to your mouth when you want them to focus on how your mouth is making a sound
  • TPR: Standard TPR includes motions that you want your student to repeat to help in understanding or memory of a word. Examples include:
    • Standard letter motions (for example, a crooked finger that looks like a snake is used to represent the sssss sound.)
    • Motions that reflect the word you are demonstrating (for example, imitating an elephant trunk with your arm)

Why is TPR important?

  • It’s fun! Especially with younger students, TPR makes learning fun! Kids (and teachers) enjoy fun in the classroom, and TPR is a great way to do it!
  • It helps them understand. If they are struggling with comprehension, actions can help them understand your intended meaning.
  • It helps them remember. I still remember my mom helping me study when I was younger. She would do crazy actions that I might laugh at, but then the next day during my test I would visualize her doing them.

How do I get comfortable using TPR?

It doesn’t always feel natural to use TPR motions.. So how do you get comfortable? You might laugh, but I practiced in the shower. I use video conferencing frequently during my day job, and so I also began using (toned down) TPR on those calls. Anytime I could gesture to illustrate something, I would do so, just to see how it came across on video. If you have kids at home you can practice with, that’s also a great option because you can see how children respond and participate! Whatever option you choose, PRACTICE is the key to becoming comfortable!

I encourage you to watch as many videos as possible to help you get familiar with different TPR techniques.  If I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me or comment below! If you are looking for a mentor to help guide you through the process, feel free to reach out to me and use my referral link to get started.

Good luck!

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Is VIPKid worth my time?

If you are just starting your journey with VIPKid, or you’re considering whether or not to apply, this is probably one of the first questions you will ask yourself.

 

The answer is YES!

When I first clicked on the link to learn about VIPKid, I had several questions. I was afraid to start something when I didn’t know if it would be worthwhile.

Will I like it?

One of my biggest fears is that I wouldn’t like teaching in this format. Would I be able to connect with the students in a “virtual classroom?” Would I get bored with the materials? Would I be too sleepy to enjoy my classes?

I’m happy to report that I LOVE teaching with VIPKid!

  • Technology: In today’s digital world, it’s just as easy to connect with a child over the airwaves as it is when you’re sitting right next to them. As an added bonus, they are as excited to get a glimpse into our world as we are into theirs! Technology has not been an issue at all, and even when there have been a few hiccups, we all laugh about it and work together to get them solved.
  • Content: The materials are great! One of my favorite things about the VIPKid curriculum is that it’s easy to customize the material based on your student. If you have a beginner student who is struggling, you can simplify or adjust how they interact on each slide. If you have a superstar student who is finding the lesson too easy, there are plenty of opportunities to extend the lesson and make it more interesting and engaging for them. If your student is on-level, you can use the lesson plan as-is. Every single session is different because every single student is different.
  • Hours: YAWN. I am not a morning person! For years, even as an adult, I had a rule that no one could call me before noon because I might be sleeping. If you had told me then that I would be waking up in the wee hours of the morning to teach, I would have laughed in your face! Because I live in the United States, the prime teaching hours are early morning (which are evening/after school hours in China.) The hottest hours (known as PPT timeslots) are 6:00 am, 6:30, 7:00, and 7:30 (central time.) As a general rule, I open 5:30 – 7:00, and I use the last 30 minutes to complete feedback on my classes before I begin my day job. Since I began teaching, I’ve found my eyes popping open around 4:30 am because I’m excited to begin! I don’t need that much time to prepare, but it’s nice getting my day started on such a positive note.

Will I be good at it?

This was a big concern for me, because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. Because I don’t have elementary school classroom experience, nor do I have formal experience teaching English as a second language, I was worried that I would not be good at it.  The only thing worse than not enjoying teaching would be if I wasn’t helping the kids!

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help new teachers. As I’m sure you’ve seen, there are plenty of teachers with posts like these, videos, and more since referrals are such an easy way to earn extra cash! But VIPKid also has great resources available. There are many workshops available on almost any topic you can imagine. There are specific tools and techniques that you can learn to make you more effective. We’ll dive more into TPR (total physical response), modeling, props and “realia” and more in other posts. You will also get feedback from your interview and mock classes, so you can continue to improve.

Will any parents hire me?

So VIPKid has said I’m qualified to teach, but what if no one chooses me? I imagined months of sleepless mornings as I tried to build up my client base, and I worried that I would get lost in the sea of VIPKid teachers who are already teaching.

I’m happy to report that in my first month of teaching (only part time, remember) I taught over 20 students with many more booked. Each week more of my available timeslots are filled and I get more advanced bookings. My students quickly became a mixture of repeat students, new students, and trial classes, and more parents began following my profile. In that first month, I also got my first two “five apple” ratings!

So yes, parents will hire you. I’ll share specific tips and tricks for getting bookings, but just know that the process does work.

I was very happy that my initial worries and questions were quickly addressed. If you have any questions of your own, please reach out! I’d love to help. You can contact me here or ask me questions in the comments. If you’re ready to get started, I’d love to be your mentor, so please consider using my referral link when you apply and let me help you along the way!

“The most fruitful and worthwhile thing I have ever done has been to teach.” – Harvey Dunn