Hi there! In my previous post I talked about why doing homework is important for students of any age and level, and here I’d like to offer a few tips on how to encourage your students to actually do it!
- Make it relevant
This is probably the most important thing about setting homework. If students can’t see the point in doing it, they almost definitely won’t. Especially if they’re older and no one’s at home to make them do it.
Make it a revision sheet on the new vocabulary or grammar, ask students to find out about something in the news or set it up as a pre-reading for your next lesson. You could even set a Kahoot! quiz as their homework as it’s interactive and (sometimes) fun.
- Highlight why homework is important
For example, by telling them that if / when they go to University, they will spend a lot of time studying on their own and homework is a ‘starter’ to that type of work.
Future jobs might expect their staff to learn new skills outside of working hours and homework is another way of preparing for these tasks.
- Check their homework at the start of each class
If you set homework but never check it, students will very quickly pick up on this and will stop doing it all together.
Whether you check it as a class, or take it in to mark yourself and then return it to them, it doesn’t really matter. As long as they know that you will check that it’s been done. Personally, I like to check homework as a class so that I can address any issues that arise as a group.
- Give them a reasonable time limit
If you’re teaching an older group (adults, for example) they may have responsibilities outside of school, such as children or work. Whilst one night may be more than enough time to complete the work set, can they reasonably complete it with all of the other things they might be dealing with at home? Check in with your students about this and proceed fairly. This will also show that you’re human!
- Make it as interesting as possible
Although not every piece of homework is going to be wonderful, if you can set work that students will enjoy, they are far more likely to do it. Why not set an interview task based on the vocabulary or grammar that you’ve been studying? Ask them to use a family photo and write about it or to research a topic they’re interested in.
- Ensure they have the tools they need to complete it
If you haven’t studied a certain topic, it’s unwise to give students homework based on that, at least without explaining why, as they might feel as if you are trying to ‘catch them out’.
If it’s a pre-reading or listening task, encourage students to highlight new words or phrases, reading to talk about them in the following class. If it’s a revision task, make sure they understand what they are supposed to be revising (e.g. Past simple, family vocabulary).
Talk them through the homework before the end of the class, so that they are well prepared to complete it at home.
Thank every student who attempts or completes the homework you’ve set.
Every time. Even though they should be doing the homework, thank them anyway.
I’ve noticed that ‘singling out’ those who don’t do their homework makes no difference at all, but praising those who do complete the work is extremely beneficial and boosts morale for everyone.
Teachers, if you have any other ideas please feel free to leave a comment or connect with me over on Twitter!
Students, do you agree with any of these points? If no, why not?