ESL Teachers Ask: What Kind of Homework Can I Assign Over a Long Break?

ESL Teachers Ask
What Kind of Homework Can I Assign Over a Long Break?

Claudia Pesce
by Claudia Pesce 19,218 views

"I have read your suggestions for homework assignments, but I am a little out of ideas right now. I have students from ages 16-18, and they are trainees in our company.
I would like to give them a bigger homework assignment over the holidays; they have more than 2 weeks time until we start in the New Year again. Do you have any ideas?"

When it comes to assigning homework you can go the traditional route and hand out copies of worksheets to complete, or you can take the more creative homework route. But what do you do when you want to assign homework over a long break, like the Christmas holidays or Spring break? Give them an even bigger pile of worksheets to complete? Well, you could do that....or you could try these ideas!

8 Ideas for Longer Homework Assignments

  1. 1

    Choose a theme for the assignment

    Instead of giving your class a bunch of random worksheets to complete, choose one theme they could revolve around. For example, a good theme for beginners is “All about Me”, since in all likelihood most of what you’ve covered so far are things like introducing yourself and talking about likes, dislikes and routines.

  2. 2

    Review the goals they’ve achieved

    Why assign homework over a long break? You’re obviously not teaching anything new. This is a great opportunity to review what they’ve learned so far. But instead of focusing on reviewing a list of verb tenses and grammar points, focus on reviewing the goals they’ve achieved. For example, for beginners the list of goals could be:

    • Learned to introduce yourself
    • Learned to talk about yourself and your family
    • Learned to talk about likes and dislikes
    • Learned to talk about habits and routines
    • Learned to ask for help, directions and make requests

    The homework you assign should be able to not only solidify these concepts, but also help your students see just how much they can do now, which they were unable to do before.

  3. 3

    Pick a format

    So you have a theme and a list of objectives they’ve met. Now comes the hard part. You’ll have to choose a format for the assignment. These are some possible formats:

    • A set of worksheets compiled as a booklet
    • A journal/diary
    • A recorded file
    • A multimedia format

    Let’s look at each one separately.

  4. 4

    The homework booklet

    The hardest part is compiling the set of worksheets you’ll use to match your theme and list of learning objectives. You might have to design your own. Then, there’s the issue of the huge pile of worksheets you’ll have to correct after the break. But it’s the most straightforward way to review what they’ve seen so far and the most similar to the kind of work they are accustomed to doing.

  5. 5

    The journal/diary

    Students may be given topics to think about and write as journal entries. You may choose to assign a topic per day or a series of topics that match each of the learning goals they’ve achieved, which they can pace themselves to complete.

  6. 6

    The recorded assignment

    These days it’s very easy for students to record voice messages on their phones or computers. Vocaroo, for example, allows you to record a message and download it as an MP3 file, which your students can send by email or burn into a CD and turn in as their homework assignment. This may work just like journal, but instead of writing their entries, they can record them.

  7. 7

    The multimedia assignment

    Another great format for an extended homework assignment is the interactive mural. If you use for example, each of your students may create a mural they can share with you over the course of the break – no need to turn it in once they come back. Give them a list of assignments that include pictures to add to their mural, short written descriptions, websites they’ve researched, or pictures they’ve drawn. Students add to their murals on a day-to-day basis following your outlines for the assignment, which you may check online.

  8. 8

    Mix and match

    You can use any you feel comfortable with, but what I would do is combine several formats. For example, in my homework booklet, I would include worksheets to complete, journal entry type of written assignments and instructions for a recorded task. You can also do the same with the mural instead of the booklet. In my opinion, the more variety you include, the more engaged and motivated your students will be to complete the assignment over the break.

Naturally, you’ll want them to enjoy their holiday! And you too! Design your homework assignment so that they only need to work for a few minutes each day. As long as you target the major objectives achieved, even the short amount of time they spend on their homework daily will give them the chance to review and stay in touch with the language.

Have you ever assigned homework over a long break? How did you handle it?

* This question was sent in from a real ESL teacher, just like you! If you need any advice on a particular topic, share your question in the comments below. Or tweet your question to @busyteacher_org with the hashtag #ESLTeachersAsk. Your question might get picked and featured in an article!

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