5 Ways to give meaningful ESL homework

So, students don’t like homework, do they? Yet, if students only see English, or whatever language you’re teaching them, in class, then they’ll never advance. So students have to do homework. Here’s some types of homework that you can give your students that will be meaningful and useful, yet not too much or too boring.

1) Workbook/Worksheets

You can either assign pages from a workbook or makes copies/print worksheets and give them to your students to work on at home. For a class that meets 2 hours a week, I suggest giving 1-2 worksheets a week. For a class that meets 3 hours a week, I suggest giving 2-4 a week. For 4 hours, 3-5 pages.

2) Reading

This is a great option for homework, especially for more advanced students, but can be utilized as early as level 2 (once students are familiar with all present verb tenses). Reading not only helps students with vocabulary, but helps cultivate their subconscious intuition for word order and word choice. Plus, reading can be really interesting if you pick the right story for your class. For level 2, I suggest 1-1.5 pages of reading per week. For level 5, up to 4 pages per week.

3) Writing

You can have them write essays, fake e-mails, or short stories. Just make sure you take the time, out of class, to review the stories and offer corrections or else they will realize they don’t actually have to do it.

4) Bring something to class

I personally don’t use this homework method as much, but I know teachers who do, and with success. You can have students bring in real world examples to use in class, like articles or songs. Just be prepared to adjust whatever activity you plan on doing with the items in case everyone forgets. In general, I find assigning and providing homework has the best results rather than leaving it up to them.

Homework should be about practice, not busy work and if you give too much homework, you risk it, at the very least, feeling like busy work and your students will lose respect for homework and stop doing it.

5) Project or Presentation 

Give your students a topic or a theme for a project or a presentation to prepare at home and present in class. Depending on the length and level of preparation you want, you can assign this for the next class or a couple weeks out.

This can be useful for beginner, as well as advanced, classes. For example, I usually assign my students to create a presentation about another country’s popular features when studying “there is/are”. This is pretty basic grammar, but my students always impress me with the quality of their presentations.

Make sure you review homework in class, or out of class and return as soon as possible, so that students know they need to do the homework. If you never review it, they will realize there is nothing forcing them to do homework and most will stop.

Anything else to add? Write a comment! I’m always up for more suggestions!

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