Homework holds many negative connotations. While there may be people that eagerly anticipate homework assignments, they are few and far between. Some students may be upset that they have to take work out of the classroom; however it is not merely done to satisfy a teacher’s desire to torture students. Homework has myriad benefits, and if appropriately assigned to meet students’ needs, in terms of quantity and content, it can vastly improve the learning experience.
While I am still recovering from the feeling of dread that accompanied my childhood homework assignments, as I grow older I’m beginning to gain an appreciation, and continue to see the benefits and importance of homework. This is especially true in language learning, where it is necessary to cover reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Homework is critical in ensuring progression in all four of the aforementioned, categories, as classroom time is not enough.
The first and most obvious advantage of assigning homework is that it increases the amount of time a student spends with topics that were introduced in the classroom. While there are some students that are internally driven, and are constantly seeking out new ways to improve their language ability, the majority of students require a push now and then, and assigning homework helps keep their learning consistent outside the classroom. Of course time is no guarantee of progression, since other factors are equally important – the quality of homework, a student’s engagement and passion – but putting in the time to learn a new language is a crucial first step.
Another benefit of assigning homework is that the time spent exploring and studying material outside the class will help generate questions, and allow students to figure out where they need to focus their attention. Students may feel shy, or not fully comprehend concepts during class time. Assigning homework allows students to explore topics, and form questions privately before the next class.
While I am still recovering from the feeling of dread that accompanied my childhood homework assignments, as I grow older I’m beginning to gain an appreciation, and continue to see the benefits and importance of homework.
While sessions with a teacher will form the backbone of the learning plan, there are limitations. Homework can take advantage of different mediums, which aren’t available inside the classroom, and can increase a student’s passion in language learning by allowing them to explore topics they are interested in. Homework assignments should be complementary, not monotonous.
I’m sure we can all remember times when life gets in the way. Assigning homework helps students prioritize, since it is much more likely they will fit it into their busy schedules if it has been assigned. While it seems cruel, students, if fully committed, will appreciate this in the long run. It is unlikely that students would like to explain why they couldn’t finish their homework, especially in a group setting where others have completed their work.
Finally, students will simply progress faster if they complete homework on a regular basis. If students are completing their homework assignments it means less repetition in the class, which allows for more topics to be introduced and a better experience for all.
There are many reasons to assign homework, yet the benefits are contingent on it being appropriate in both quantity and content, and individualized to meet the student’s needs. As long as you have spent the time to ensure that homework assignments are appropriate, you will be able to share these benefits with your students, and both language learners and teachers will have a smoother ride down the sometimes-bumpy road of grasping a new language.
What about you? How do you motivate your students to get homework done? Let us know in the comments section below!