Published 27th July 2016
Let’s be honest: homework can be a drag – both for the students and the teacher! The students need to find the time to actually do it (and often end up more confused than when they started) and teachers need to allocate time to mark the homework in class or, if it’s writing, mark it after class.
There’s no denying that homework can be useful. Considering that our students spend more time outside the class than inside, there is a need for more work to be done on their own in order to consolidate and practise what has been done in class.
Unfortunately, though, the way homework is dealt with by many teachers means that the homework is not as effective as it could be.
Which brings us to the question: how can we make homework a useful and effective practice?
1. Give answers with the homework
If you are assigning grammar or vocabulary exercises for homework, give the students the answers as well. This will mean that they can mark their answers immediately and won’t have to wait until the next lesson to check if they are correct. This will help them understand why they got the wrong answers and think about the corrections. It will also mean you spend less time in class going over answers.
2. Make homework fun
Homework doesn’t necessarily have to mean boring exercises. Assign your students homework activities which will benefit the next lesson and which your students will find interesting. If you are going to speak about healthy eating in the next lesson, point them to video clips and online articles about the DVD SuperSize Me in order to prepare them for a discussion. What student wouldn’t enjoy watching videos for homework? Plus, they will have something to say in class.
3. Turn homework upside down
Instead of spending time in class presenting a language structure, let your students read about it for homework – most coursebooks have a grammar reference section that can be used for this. During class the students can compare their ideas on what they understood and you are there to explain any issues they may have. Practise activities can then be done in class so you can check their comprehension and if there are any problems they can be sorted out immediately.
While there is no doubt that homework is a useful activity, there are a few ways you can change it from a boring, compulsory activity into something your students will enjoy doing and will benefit from.