Get Creative! Adjust Demo Material for Different Levels
–Written by Amber Kennedy
A common pitfall in demo teaching is relying too heavily on the material. It’s possible to stick too closely to the slides, use predictable questions, and forget to challenge and surprise your clients—which can lead to an inaccurate level placement, a lost sign-up, or a poor rating. With new 25-minute demos, consultants may find that the material is mismatched to the client’s level of English, which may cause panic.
However, for a good demo consultant, the material is merely a jumping-off point. Let’s talk about how to adjust and extend material for different students’ needs—and have fun doing it!
Uh oh! The client can’t answer “How are you?”, but the 25-minute material’s vocabulary includes “aquarium”! Or maybe the student sounded confident introducing themselves, but now is struggling to count to ten. Here are some tips.
- Slow down. If you bulldoze through the slides, you might finish them all, but you might also lose your client. Instead, select and teach a few short, simple concrete words from the material. Use mime, props, and TPR consistently. Focus on the student’s pronunciation, sounding out each syllable.
- Teach spelling, and short question-and-answer forms, eg. “What’s this?” “It’s a…”
- Play simple games to consolidate new vocabulary, eg. Hangman.
- Draw on the whiteboard, use Manycam and props to teach or review colors and numbers.
The client speaks clear and confident English—but your slides are on animals and colors! What do you do?
- Relax. Having an advanced student is a gift! Take the opportunity to get to know your client as a person and establish rapport. Remember it’s not just a lesson, it’s a conversation. Encourage them to open up and express their personality.
- Word association. Use vocabulary words in slides as a jumping off point. eg. Cat: “How many words can you think of to describe cats? I’ll start—cute.” Red: “What red things can you think of?”
- Use the slides to prompt entertaining questions. eg. Bird: “Would you like to fly like a bird? If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why?”
- Ask them to make sentences with vocabulary items – then help them improve their sentences by making them more detailed and creative. (“Can you use an adjective?”)
Let’s look at how to adjust the same material for different levels.
Teacher circles image of the sun, uses Manycam or prop eg. sunglasses.
Teacher (TPR: “say”) Sunny. (TPR: “listen”)
Teacher: Sunny, sunny, sunny.
Student: Sunny, sunny sunny.
Teacher: Good job!
Teacher circles image of the rain, uses Manycam or prop eg. Umbrella.
Teacher (TPR: “say”) Rainy…
Teacher: How’s the weather in your city today?
Student: It was cold today. I had to wear a jacket.
Teacher: Brrr! Do you prefer hot or cold weather?
Student: I prefer cold weather.
Student: Because I don’t like humidity. It doesn’t feel good. It’s very uncomfortable.
Teacher: Let’s make a sentence.
Teacher writes on the board: I prefer cold weather, because I find humidity very uncomfortable.
Student: repeats sentence aloud.
Teacher: Great! Now let’s play a game. How many words related to weather can you think of? I’ll start: climate…
As demo consultants, you are already exceptional teachers—it’s well within your capability to play with the material. The most important thing is to relax, enjoy the challenge, and above all, to make sure the client has fun.
Good luck, demo consultants!