Published 25th October 2018

give homework

Let’s be honest, not many students enjoy doing homework. Who can blame them, when homework usually consists of mindless grammar exercises? But as homework is an essential part of learning a language we need to give homework student will want to do.  The majority of students don’t spend enough time in the classroom for that to be the only time of learning. Homework is there to provide our students with opportunities to practise their English and increase their exposure to the language. It is essential for our students to improve their language.

When should we give homework?

Ideally, our students would have homework every day. If you only see your students once a week then you should try to think of homework which will take them a few hours to complete. This way, they will hopefully be involved with it more than once. If you see your students every day then it should be easy to think of something for them to do after every lesson. For these students, there is no need to give them a novel to write each day. Rather give them homework that won’t take hours to complete. This way you will keep their interest.

What homework should we give?

Obviously we want to give our students homework that they will actually want to do. There’s nothing more frustrating than planning a lesson around homework and then finding out that none of your students have done it. If we want our students to do their homework consistently, it needs to be:

  • manageable
  • doable
  • relevant
  • appropriate, and
  • interesting

In other words, our students need to be able to complete the homework in the given time. The homework needs to be set at the correct level – challenging but not impossible. The homework needs to relate to what has been done or will be done in the classroom. It must be appropriate for your students in terms of their age and cultural backgrounds. This is not only about content but also about the format of the homework. Finally, and possibly most importantly, your students should be interested in the homework. If there is no interest, there is no hope that they will complete it, or even attempt it.

If all of this sounds impossible, try thinking outside the box. There are so many different ways to give homework there’s no need to resort to gap-fill exercises. Think beyond the coursebook. Think of the different media options available to your students. Think of authentic texts and real language.

Ideas for homework your students will want to do

  • Doing online research on a topic
  • Watching a YouTube video
  • Reading a newspaper or magazine article
  • Reading or writing a blog post
  • Having a WhatsApp conversation or group chat
  • Researching a grammar point
  • Reading a book
  • Watching a movie
  • Visiting a museum or art gallery

If you can identify what kind of homework would appeal to your students then half the battle is won. Then you just need to find a way to use this homework to further your teaching aims. Simple!