Do your students find homework boring? It doesn’t have to be.
Let’s help our students learn between lessons by giving tasks that are creative, engaging and meaningful. So, if you are looking for inspiration, read on; we’ve got some great tasks designed to motivate and inspire:
1. What am I?
Tell students to choose an object at home. They are going to write 5 clues for homework to describe things like size, shape, colour, texture and possibly, what it is used for. Next lesson they read their clues to the class and see how quickly the item was guessed. Variations on a theme include: who am I? This is where students write 5 clues and the class has to guess the famous person’s identity. Prize for best/most inventive clues.
A guessing game is engaging and is appropriate for many different language levels.
2. Choose a song
Music is something most enjoy and is a great way to reinforce new phrases and vocabulary and to look at rhythm and intonation. Here are some ideas as to how you can use it:
a. At home, students choose an English song they like and prepare to show it to their partner/the class next lesson explaining why they chose this song, how it makes them feel, what the song is about and their favourite lyrics
b. The teacher chooses a song and asks students to listen to it at home: asking them to pick out colloquialisms/phrasal verbs/new vocabulary for analysis in class. Ask them to be ready to discuss meaning and to learn the whole song or at least the chorus to sing along in class.
If students are choosing music, set parameters for clean lyrics or no drug references etc. If the teacher is choosing, you can align with a language point or theme if you like. For lower levels, there are plenty of YouTube songs with English subtitles.
3. Text or use messenger to start a conversation
If most of your students have mobile phones and are happy to share contact details, there are great opportunities to chat, collaborate and discuss topics. A group chat could be teacher led with a question a week from the teacher: What do you think about .? Or you could hand it over to students. Be careful to encourage respectful conversation and ensure students will not share personal information beyond the group.
Texting/messaging and group chats replicates real-life English and if used well, can be very stimulating
Give students common proverbs like: Look before you leap, too many cooks spoil the broth, a stitch in time saves 9 and ask them to work out the meaning at home. Also, ask them to translate some from their own language to share next time.
Go through these as a class next time. This idea also works well with tongue twisters, and common idioms like: deaf as a post as a theme.
It is a lot of fun hearing common phrases, proverbs and sayings translated from other languages and generally students love sharing some of their culture in this way.
5. Practice a play
Dialogues and stories are a great way to practice real, spoken English and can be very stimulating. It is up to you how much drama and preparation you want to bring into it, but at its simplest level, you can get some free ESL dialogues/1 act plays from the internet, assign roles and have students practice their part at home, encouraging them to be expressive. This intermediate level play script set in a clothes shop, for example, has an accompanying recording and lesson plan. Check it out here at OneStopEnglish. A variety of folk tales scripts for teens can be found here at Reader’s Theater Editions.
I suggest looking at the play as a class in the lesson beforehand, checking understanding of the theme and key words. Shy students can act their play out in pairs/small groups rather than in front of the class.
We hope we you are inspired to try something new with homework and that your students will enjoy the tasks you give them. We’d love to hear your ideas for homework tasks below.
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