While most people don't want to do extra outside of class, there is no denying that having some English input between lessons is a great way for our students to take ownership of their learning and see faster English improvement.
So here are five great homework ideas for ESL students:
Students prepare three short stories about themselves for homework. One is true, the others are false. In the next lesson they tell their partner their stories while their partner asks questions to decide which story is true. Then reverse roles.
A game element is really motivating and this works with many different language levels.
Do you want them to remember new verbs, tense structures or vocabulary? Are you doing a general revision lesson next? Ask your students to revise at home, telling them you’ll put them into teams next week to answer questions. Have each team make up a distinct buzzer sound if you like so they can ‘buzz in’ with the right answer. Winning team gets a prize.
Works best with teens and kids; a neat reason to revise at home and much more fun than an individual test.
Ask a question a week, invite responses and encourage respectful conversation and debate. Be careful; not everyone likes social media and you may choose a more appropriate platform for sharing ideas outside of class.
Collaboration in English outside of class can be stimulating, build relationships and practice real-world English.
A cowboy rode into town on Friday, stayed three days, and rode out again on Friday. How did he do that? (*answer at bottom of the page)
Lateral thinking questions like the above can be fun and all the while, students are reading English. Alternatively, have students practice tongue twisters at home and either translate one from their own language or make one up. Have them share with the class next time.
It is a lot of fun hearing tongue twisters translated from other languages.
There are plenty of great story videos ESL students can watch at home and which are graded for level.
In the example video at the bottom of this blog, you'll see a short past tense story, suitable for low level learners. After watching it for homework, here are two ways you can work on it in your next class:
1. Ask general comprehension questions on the video.
2. Re-create the story as a class, eliciting it from students piece by piece with the help of key words from the story as prompts on the board.
Alternatively divide the class into A and B.
For homework, A's watch one video and B's another. Pair an A and a B up in class afterwards to summarise the stories to each other.
Video is so engaging and it is much easier to get students to watch something than write something.
As teachers, we can help our students by giving homework tasks that are meaningful, relevant and engaging. Also students are more likely to do the work if it will be checked or used in some way in the following lesson.
We hope we have inspired you to choose fun, task-based homework activities that have a solid focus and outcome. Notice, too, how there is always a meaningful follow-up to the homework task in class.
When planning homework tasks, you can also take your inspiration from the real-world and ask students to do things like text each other or listen to English music.
The possibilities for productive homework tasks are endless.
*Answer to lateral thinking question: Friday is a horse.
The Global English 120 hour TESOL Premier course. contains great content on crafting lesson plans and a section on how to give homework effectively.
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