Questions To Ask At An Interview: The Details

questions1.jpgWhat are your responsibilities outside of teaching?

Preparing lessons goes without saying, and it isn’t uncommon for new teachers to spend an hour preparing for an hour-long lesson, so keep this in mind when you ask how many contact hours you will have. A full-time load in many private language schools is twenty-five contact hours a week.

But what is there beyond teaching and preparing?

Is there a book to follow, or do you need to create a syllabus and find materials? Very few teachers enjoy being a slave to a textbook, but the converse – having no set textbook or curriculum to follow – can be even more challenging, especially for a new teacher. It may sound like a cop out, but it is often a relief to be able to say “We have to cover this because it’s on the test” or “Wow, this book gets boring sometimes!” once in a while as opposed to “I’m sorry you think the materials I spent an hour selecting or creating are dull or useless.”

Most schools give regular grammar tests, which may seem contrary to the communicative focus that you’ve been trained in, but students often want both. If you need to give a test, is it already prepared, or do you need to make it? If it is prepared, does it mainly cover grammar or are other areas that you will presumably be teaching – like reading, listening, speaking and vocabulary – tested too?

Some schools ask teachers to be involved in placement testing (which often happens in the time between terms when you won’t be teaching classes anyway), or to be on the premises at set hours, even if you’re not teaching. I’ve never been asked to keep hours like this, but it’s not unheard of.

Finally, paperwork. What’s involved there? While making a lesson plan for yourself for each class is reasonable and almost always helpful, having to turn in a detailed one for every class taught is a bit much. Some paperwork is simply a part of a professional job, but excessive paperwork, especially for an hourly-paid teacher, is pushing it.

While many teachers may prefer not to write tests or be required ot turn in longer lesson plans, these are not totally unreasonable requests for a school to make. Still, but management should be upfront about them and tell you if you ask so you can make an informed choice about where to work.