Interviewing for a (tci) language teacher- interview question ideas

My school is hiring a new language teacher and this is really the first time we’ve gone through the hiring process looking for a teacher who aligns (or can potentially align) with our department’s language acquisition philosophy of teaching with Comprehensible Input.

It’s a challenge to come up with interview questions in and of itself, but to come up with questions that get to the heart of who a teacher is and what he/she believes about language learning is the holy grail.  I’m not sure that what I came up with is all that, BUT, I think some of these questions could really spark some meaningful discussion around the interview table.  Feel free to take a look, pick and choose some of the questions for your own interviews, or even for interview practice if you are looking for a language teaching job.   I hope you enjoy.  Please leave a comment below about questions you might use in an interview.  Thanks!


Introductory and Pedagogical Questions:

  1. Tell about yourself as a teacher and as an individual . Please include information that was not included in your paperwork.
  2. Tell us about a recent learning experience for you and the impact it had on you as a teacher or individual.
  3. Tell us about a really great or transformative moment with a class or a student and how that impacted your teaching.  Conversely, tell us about another time that you struggled or were faced  with a challenge and how you would address that issue now.
  4. Describe a time that you were faced with a discipline challenge?  How did you address it?  How would you address it now (would you address it any differently after more experience)?
  5. In your opinion, what are your strengths as an educator?  In what areas do you feel that you would like improvement?  How would you improve upon those areas?
  6. How do you establish rapport in your classroom?
  7. Otter Valley promotes a culture of reflection, inquiry and continuous improvement within the  community of educators. How might your work be indicative of these qualities?
  8. What is your preferred style of classroom management? OR- what does classroom management mean to you?  What does classroom management look like in your classroom.
  9. With our seventh and eighth grade students we embrace a middle school philosophy, which differentiates those classes from our high school classes. How might your work with middle school students differ from your work with high school students?
  10. As we continue to transform our school, moving forward with a variety of topics, we expect our  teachers to work collaboratively. Would you highlight examples of collaboration from your own experience?
  11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  12. Why Otter Valley?
  13. What questions do you have about Otter Valley and its inhabitants?


Language Specific Questions:

  1. Please expand upon your teaching philosophy of foreign language learning and acquisition.  
  2. Can you tell us how much time you spend in the target language in a typical lesson?  Does this, or should this, vary based on the proficiency level?
  3. How do you make sure (assess) that students are understanding you during a lesson?  What do you do when it’s obvious that students are not understanding?
  4. Can you walk us through a lesson that has gone particularly well in a language class, highlighting how you were able to integrate language and culture throughout?
  5. Language teachers often struggle with how to integrate culture into lessons and whether or not that should be in the target language.  Can you give us your thoughts on whether or not you feel culture should be studied in L1 or L2 and an example of how you might approach a rich, complex cultural topic in a novice class (novice, for example)?
  6. What role do you feel grammar and accuracy play in language learning?
  7. Our foreign language teachers have undertaken the task of incorporating technology in a variety of ways. What experience have you had with technology specifically as it pertains to foreign language education?
  8. What is your goal for your students as a language teacher?  What do you see as your role?
  9. How do you think people learn second languages?  How do you think people become comfortable in engaging in conversations in L2?  How do instruction and materials help?
  10. *Do you have any experience travelling with students to another country, or with taking kids on other types of field trips?  Can you elaborate on those and why they were successful?


Follow up French/Spanish/other language conversation.  Possible Questions/Topics:

  1. Tell us about your travel experience to the target culture(s).  How has that shaped or influenced your life?
  2. What inspired you to become a(French)teacher?
  3. How did you first become interested in the (French) language and culture?  How did this experience lead you to wanting to become a (French) teacher?

Starting the year on the right foot- classroom routines

The subject of classroom management is a weighty one.  There is no way to sum up the keys to successfully manage a classroom, and I’m sure that classroom management looks different in different classrooms.  Having said that, here I will touch on just one aspect of classroom management- classroom routines.

Classroom management, sometimes thought of as classroom discipline (but that’s another post for another day), is in the small stuff; it’s in the routines and habits that you establish with your students from day one.  It’s in remembering what those habits are, writing them down, posting them for your students to see, and practicing, practicing, practicing!

Routines establish order, prevent chaos, avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings and therefor circumvent irritability in both the teachers and the students when little tasks end up taking up far more time then they should!

Even at the secondary level, students respond well to routines.  I believe it is just part of our human nature to find comfort in the known.  Establish a protocol for when problems arise- students don’t have their materials, it’s time to put materials away, a student is about to do a presentation, it’s time to transition to a new activity, etc.

Remember, very few people get it right the first time… and we can’t expect all of our students to remember the routines we impose on them the first few tries… it takes practice to turn things into habit!  Many times classroom procedures seem so obvious to us because we’ve been practicing them in our classes for YEARS!  I give my students scenarios, and allow them to practice the routines almost daily the first two weeks of class.

For example, I have a signal for silence in my classroom.  I explain to my students the signal, what it means and why it’s important for all of us.  Then I tell my students to talk.  They usually stare at me for a second in disbelief!  So then I say, ‘talk, talk, talk!  Talk about the weather, what you did last weekend, whatever!”  They usually get the idea, and then once the time seems right, I give them the signal (in Spanish) “three, two, one, attention.”  By the time I reach the last word, I expect silence.   It works like a charm!  But then, if we don’t practice it, they won’t remember after several days go by.  I practice this particular routine/expectation multiple times each day for the first two weeks.

(Allowing them to talk for a minute is also a great brain break after I’ve asked them to speak and comprehend nothing but Spanish for the last 15-20 minutes!)

What are some routines that you establish in your classrooms that are the most successful in classroom management?  Do you find that allowing them to practice them over and over again at the beginning is helpful?

I look forward to your feedback!