Published 15th May 2017

Homework. Nobody likes it, but it’s a necessary part of any learning journey. The question is, how do we convince our students that homework is a necessary evil?

Quite simply, we camouflage it so it doesn’t seem like homework.

When you think about it, there are a whole range of activities that you can get your students to do for homework which can be fun and challenging at the same time; activities that your students will want to do in their free time and so won’t even realise that what they are doing is for the purpose of learning.

1. Reading

Reading is the perfect way to improve students’ vocabulary and grammar. Hopefully it is something they enjoy doing in their own language so doing it in English shouldn’t be too much to ask. What’s more, reading is a great homework activity because it is so flexible. You can give the students reading tasks which suit their individual preferences. If your students are younger, let them read stories. If your students are older, maybe they would prefer reading the news or current event sites.

2. Show and Tell

Ok, not really show and tell, but a slight variation on the activity. Ask your students to bring something related to English into class. This could be anything – a newspaper article, a song, a picture. Whatever they bring into class, they need to present to the class and explain what it is they have brought in. What’s nice about this homework activity is that not everyone should do it on the same day so your students will only be given homework once in a while, meaning they won’t get bored with the activity.

3. Research

For older students, research can be done for homework which can be utilised in the classroom. If a question comes up during a lesson – linguistic or otherwise – you can task your students with finding out the answer. In the next lesson, the students can discuss in groups what they found out.

As you can see, there are a lot of different options for homework besides grammar exercises and vocabulary worksheets. The key to helping our students use English in their lives outside the classroom is to show them how it can relate to them personally, and these alternative homework ideas will do just that.