Homework - to give or not to give
Ideas for homework - for teachers; how to approach doing homework - for students; Personal experience - Regina Batdalova.
Someone once said: “If a student can do their homework without mistakes, they don’t need it. If they can’t do it, it won’t help them”. Although somewhat controversial, the statement has some truth to it. Not every task will be equally useful, and at times it may be even redundant, and homework for the sake of it is absolutely unnecessary. So, what kind of assignments should we give and how should we approach it? Let’s delve into this intriguing subject.
Every exercise, task and activity, be it in or outside of classroom must serve a specific purpose and be meaningful. Homework is a continuation of the lesson, and it should abide by the same rules. Think what every task you give will help your student with and whether they really need to do it.
Not all students will have the same amount of time they can dedicate to studying at home. It may be wise to ask your students and give only as much as they will be able to do. It will also serve an additional purpose of a spoken binding agreement between you and your students, and may encourage them to actually get round to doing it.
What kind of homework should you give?
Productive skills take longer to develop and master, and while speaking is harder to achieve, writing can be easily arranged. You may say that students hate writing, and this is precisely the reason why you should encourage them to do it. We often feel reluctant towards things that we find challenging, while these are usually the areas that need more of our attention. One way to ease your students’ suffering is to give them small tasks - just a paragraph to start with. For lower levels, such as Pre-Intermediate, there are fantastic journaling apps such as Q365 and Loopify, which provide writing prompts in a form of daily questions.
Ask your students to put their thoughts to paper following a discussion or a debate, practice writing emails to each other putting you in copy or activate their imagination by giving them a story they need to finish at home - these are just a few ideas. Find more here.
“Modern times require modern solutions” reads a recent meme, and we fully agree. How can students practice speaking when there is nobody around to do it with? The answer is simple - Voice messages. Most common messengers have this feature and we encourage you to utilise it for your own purposes. Give a few questions as a homework and ask students to send you a voice message with their answers. Lower levels may be allowed to note down a plan before doing it, but higher levels should try answering without any preparation, on the spot.
All course books feature texts to read and of course they may be given as a homework. However, they are not always appealing, or require certain teacher’s guidance. We suggest reading fiction. There are a lot of graded readers for all levels, but starting from B1 level, students can read unadapted books.
Apart from books, you can send articles to your students. Studies suggest that people consume information best when it is given in small portions. So, the best articles to send your students are listings - texts divided into paragraphs with headings or subheadings. There are plenty of educational and entertaining listings, and your students may find themselves being carried away clicking link after link and reading more they originally intended. More about it here.
Grammar and vocabulary
The most common type of homework seems to be a grammar exercise and a list of words to learn. But you can get creative even here, just use modern tools. Quizlet is a fantastic website for learning vocabulary, but instead of creating same old word-definition sets, consider a gap-filling exercise. You only need to write a sentence with a gap in the definition section and then select the “Learning” mode only leaving “multiple-choice” and “writing” types of tasks in the settings. Example here.
Amazy is not only a great platform for planning and teaching lessons, but it’s also great for giving homework to your students. When you share a lesson through “invite a student” it creates a copy of the lesson in “shared” that both you and your student can edit. The blocks you can add to the lesson include a Word Counter, where you can set the amount of words you students should write, and a Record which allows students to record their answer for you to listen to. Check out this Amazy lesson with short 15 minute revision tasks for a student.
Do you always give homework to your students? How do you encourage your students to do it? Have you ever given them any creative tasks?
Best Tips & Tricks for Doing English Homework
English homework can sometimes become tedious, and most of us never look forward to doing it every day. As an English language student, you could face other additional challenges. Imagine only have to speak English only when you are in class and not use your knowledge or apply it to the subject every time.
As an English student, you may attend a class that teaches a different language or using a foreign language to talk to your peers or teachers. When you get to the bus, you may have to speak the English language to the person sitting next to you or the bus driver. You may also want to buy food as you go home, and therefore you have to speak English to the cashier, and your peers are also texting on WhatsApp about going to the club later, all in English. You, therefore, never have to seek a break from that subject that you’re constantly learning. It is at this moment where you have the free time to find help with English homework online.
Learning different languages in such settings can be advantageous because you will learn faster than individuals who go to class once every week. It will also become your second nature to speak English because you interact with people who are doing it all the time. You’ll also get done with whatever you have in front of you. Read naturally and use it fluently within the best contacts instead of looking for accuracy. Here are some great tips you can use to motivate yourself to attempt your homework daily.
Set some time for homework in the evening or afternoon
Ensure that you are always sticking to the time that you set aside to do your homework. Don’t wait until it’s bedtime for you to attempt the task because that’s when you will not be thinking correctly, and you’ll end up making a lot of mistakes because your brain will be tired.
Understand that homework supplements learning
If you’re not in the learning mode, then English homework assignments will not assist you the much you want. You need to develop the best conditions that will boost your learning. It may involve ensuring that you have eaten before attempting your homework, that you have drunk enough water, and you’re not tired.
Set rewards and goals
You can promise yourself that after you work on your homework for 1 hour, then you can join your friends outside and go out for a drink or watch a favorite movie, or visit the shower for a long bath.
Attempt the most challenging questions first
When you first begin doing your homework, you’ll be in your best condition when it comes to concentration, but you’ll mainly become low when it comes to motivation. Ensure that you scrap that out of your way so that when your attention begins to fade away, the reason for you to achieve your rewards will shoot, and you will feel as if the activity you are involved in is much easier.
Concentrate on the homework benefits
If you struggle while trying to find motivation, you need to look at the benefits that the homework will bring you. All in all, you shall have set a goal for yourself. If you yearn to learn the English language, it means that every single step that you take is to achieve that goal. Ensure that you give yourself up talks to remind yourself that you have a dream that you need to succeed.
Do you do your English homework? What exercises do you like more? Which ones do you find most difficult?
Hi, everyone! My name is Regina, I’m a CELTA certified teacher and I have been working in this field since 2006. Apart from that, I am also a teacher trainer, helping new and less experienced teachers get more confident and creative with their lessons.
My students always “leave” the class with the homework given. Yes, the volume and the type of tasks differs from student to student. Sometimes it even might be just “look through the lesson’s notes” (for very busy ones). Otherwise, you will start the next lesson with recalling what you were doing before, as all lessons are usually linked.
One of the goals of homework is to go over the lesson’s material again outside the classroom, without a teacher and peers, as well as to process either grammar or vocabulary once again. Therefore, the exercises that students need to do mainly resemble the activities that have been done in the class, with some minor challenges though.
Moreover, on average, learners have 2 lessons a week, i.e. only 3 hours speaking L2 against 168 hours in L1. Well, it’s not rocket science to figure out that it’s not enough to achieve good results. Hometask gives an opportunity to spend time being exposed to L2, that is extra time besides lessons.
Also, it’s worth mentioning, that not only students benefit from taking time and working on their own at home, but also myself. While checking their homework (definitely, before the lesson) I can get a clear picture of how well the target language is learned and how much time should be allocated to revising and/or mastering it. If I spot some repeated errors, we’ll revise the material together (guided discovery) and redo the exercise.
Thus, speaking about extra time outside the classroom instead of doing their hometasks, learners may either watch movies or shows in English, write emails to their foreign colleagues/partners. This, on occasions, may substitute homework.
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