On Assignment (An ESL Interview)

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I recently completed an assignment as part of an interview process for an ESL teaching position. This is the first time I was asked to do something like this and I enjoyed completing the assignment immensely because it put my teaching to good use and also demonstrated my abilities. It really gave me a chance to shine.

The assignment was divided into several parts, but basically had me comment on a student’s writing and come up with sample activities.

I’d of course done this before many times in my own teaching, but now I was able to show the employer my approach. The assignment also gave me a chance to take a more active role in the interview process, which made me happy.

I’m still waiting to hear back, but no doubt, the assignment gave the hiring committee some tangible evidence of my abilities, which is why this works well for the employer, too. If I was the one hiring, I would want to see the candidate in action. There were times looking for work as a journalist where I had to provide samples of my articles as part of a portfolio. Completing an assignment like this is a bit different because it really caters to what the employer is looking for and hopefully reflects the type of teaching they want to see and the kind of students they have.

For example, if the employer has adult students looking improve their English in a professional setting, your teaching lesson may take more of a professional tone. Likewise, if the employer has newcomers looking to better integrate into Canadian culture, you may create a lesson with Canadian content that addresses their learning needs, and, of course, language proficiency level.

This assignment gave me an opportunity to test myself, as well, and see if I could do the work they were hiring for. Plus, it was fun. All in all, it was a win-win situation for everyone. That’s why I think that every employer should make assignments a part of their hiring process—especially in teaching.

Have you experienced a similar interview process as a job candidate? What do you think are the pros and cons of this type of interview process?

My name is Svjetlana Vrbanic—Lana—and I am a newly certified adult ESL teacher. I completed a degree in English and worked as a teacher and newspaper reporter/editor. Work has allowed me to travel from Labrador to Alberta and enjoy many great experiences. I was born in the former-Yugoslavia, but lived in Toronto most of my life. I can speak Serbo-Croatian, but primarily use English and love sharing what I know with students from all over the world. I like to have a good time and enjoy pursuing interests like cooking, running, volunteering, learning about health and psychology, and spending time with my niece, two rambunctious Jack Russell terriers, and a shy, but loveable cat. I am excited to blog about my experiences which will hopefully inform and entertain, as well as help support a vibrant teaching community. Wishing my colleagues many happy adventures in teaching.


5 thoughts on “On Assignment (An ESL Interview)”

  1. Thanks for this, Svjetlana!
    I used to bring a binder that had sample lessons and activities in it to showcase my experience and skill set….buuuuut I always forgot to show it! Instead, it just stayed there on the table being that thing everyone looked at but never mentioned. When I’d leave the room, I’d inevitably think “ahh I forgot to show them this– it would have been perfect for that question when…”

    But when they ask you to complete an assignment, you HAVE to showcase it and it gets you prepared in such a contextual way.

    1. Hello Tamsin,
      Thanks for you comment. A portfolio is always good, but an assignment is much more targeted to what the employers are actually looking for. It also gave me an opportunity to see my own chops in that context. I’ll always have samples of my work handy, but won’t mind doing an assignment. Might pose a problem with someone who has time issues. Perhaps that may be the downside. Or, just not at their best at that time.

  2. An assignment is great but I think someone who might not be feeling their best that day or who is overly nervous perhaps out of anxiety caused by a deep need and desire for the job could be at a severe disadvantage. I like the idea of a portfolio. For me it is about living up to the standards we expect of our students especially since the introduction of PBLA. And it provides a store of material that one can tap into at will at a later point. Besides it’s something one could feel proud about.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Avril. I also considered that the applicant might not be at their best if they are having a bad day or week. A portfolio can really highlight someone’s best work, even over the course of time, to show growth or changing perspective.

  3. I am currently completing my TESL certification through CCPLAR. I have moved to the second stage of my application and I am considering the interview option. I would really appreciate it someone could give some tips on how I could prepare for it.

    Thank you,

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