Published 27th May 2020
Homework is tricky for any student, regardless of their age, the subject or where they are. Because the nature of homework is that it’s done at home, there is no way for teachers to ensure that the homework is actually done. At the same time, parents want to see their children doing homework, to make sure they get their money’s worth from the lessons. So let’s look at some homework ideas for online lessons.
Essentially, the responsibility for doing homework lies with the student, but the onus is on the teacher to make the homework engaging enough that the student wants to do it. Sound a bit like Mission Impossible? Maybe, but here are a few ideas which could help you make homework more enjoyable, and so more likely to be done.
I’m an expert
Whether you are teaching 1-to-1 or a group class, this is a great activity to get your students talking. Let each student choose a topic they are interested in and know a lot about. They must prepare a 2-minute talk on the topic for the next lesson. The other students must prepare a few questions on the topic that they can ask the expert. In the next lesson, the student will give his presentation (which can include images, videos or powerpoints) and the other students can ask their questions if they weren’t answered in the presentation.
Because the students are interested in the topic, they should naturally be motivated to talk on the subject. Then, because they know what they want to say they will be able to focus on their language for the presentation. The other students benefit too in that they practise their listening skills to listen for the answers they want to hear – in other words, they have a real purpose for listening. Plus, if you allow your students completely free rein over the assignment, you never know how creative they could be.
What’s on TV?
The majority of our students enjoy watching TV. Who can blame them, so do we! You can use this to your advantage by assigning a video for homework. This can be a Ted Ed video, a specific episode of a particular series, or even a movie. At the beginning of the next lesson, ask the students to give their feedback on what they watched (What did they enjoy about it? Would they recommend it?). You could also do a quiz on any language in the video or on the content to check their comprehension.
This is an effective homework assignment because students should be motivated to do it, and it is a good listening exercise. If you choose the right video for them to watch, it will expose them to authentic language. Plus, it caters to different levels because if you have weaker students, they can watch the video a few times until they understand what they are watching.
Who Wants To be a Millionaire?
Another great option for homework is anything that involves competition. To incorporate this into your homework we just need to look at one of our favourite TV shows. Choose a specific topic or give your students links to websites you want them to look at. This could be topic-based i.e. the seasons, or language-based i.e. prepositions. In the next lesson, have a multiple choice quiz with 15 questions a la Who Wants To be a Millionaire? The questions should get harder and there should be some sort of reward at the end.
Students love competition and competition can be used to make any activity that much better. If you are teaching a group, the students can do the quiz individually or in groups – depending on how big the class is. If you are teaching 1-to-1, you can give the student clues until they get the correct answer or you could give them time to look up the answers.
The reason we give homework is so that our students are being exposed to language even when they are not in the classroom. While there is a time and a place for grammar and vocabulary worksheets, authentic homework activities that mirror our students’ interest and lives are useful and more likely to be done. Besides, marking homework can be boring, but with these activities even you will be interested in the homework!