Homework is a contentious issue in the place and country where I work.

Homework is a contentious issue in the place and country where I work. I have lived and worked in Thailand for 15 years and have had many conversations with parents, teachers, senior teachers and students about the issue. In Thailand, homework is expected by students and parents at all ages from Primary to Secondary. I have been party to occasions where parents have complained that teachers are not giving homework. Students generally hate homework and in my experience teachers give homework because they are required to and not because they feel the students will benefit.

I personally am torn on whether we should give homework. I have read studies (just Google.. ‘is homework beneficial’) that show that homework has no effect on learning however as a teacher I do give homework. I am very conscious however that in the culture I teach students have an inordinate amount of homework from an early age. My daughter is in grade 3 and regularly has a load of between 1 and 2 hours a night. This generally is in the form of solving problems, grammar translation or memorizing vocabulary for spelling tests. As a result of this, when I give homework I try to provide tasks that are useful and creative. I have tried below to provides some examples.

Wherever possible I try to involve parents or family members in homework tasks. I do this to provide examples of the things we have been studying. An example would be to have students replicate an activity we have done in class such as a pairwork dictation, find someone who or a speaking board game. The feedback from this could be done in the next lesson by asking how the activity went or even by asking a family member to comment briefly in a notebook.

Another idea is to ask learner to complete a task and then write about what they did or how they felt when doing this. Recently (inspired by the TV show ‘Derek’) I asked students to do something kind for someone and then write about it. This was amazing and the responses were lovely to read.

When faced with explicit grammar issues a good idea is to provide an audience for the students. Ask them to look in their reference books and come up with their own exercises for students to complete in the next lesson (after you’ve checked them of course).

And finally when students are completing a speaking activity make notes of all the sentences you hear both incorrect and correct. Choose a selection of right and wrong sentences, write them on a piece of A4 and give them out for students to correct if necessary.

I hope that you find these few examples useful and I would welcome any other suggestions you may have.

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