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Is there an alternative to homework? How do I find out how much English my students know?

Diary submitted by Julia A, Erasmus+ internship in Valencia

  Traditional homework is often considered to be crucial to the learning process of a student. In my opinion, it is as well. Homework allows students to focus on their English learning outside of the classroom, as well as to reflect and practice what they have learned. I have questioned this working at the language school, where the teachers very rarely give any homework to their students (at least at B2-C1 level). This has allowed me to reflect on whether there are alternatives to homework or if it is as important as I once thought.

    When a teacher does a class, especially in terms of grammar and vocabulary, homework is the best way to know whether the outcome is positive. If most students do the homework correctly it shows that they have learned and that the class was successful. For children, I think this is particularly important because it gives them diligence in their studies. If they go home and have to do homework, it keeps them focused and really helps them to learn English. In terms of adults, though, this outcome can vary. I think that a lot of my students worked before coming to class and therefore already had limited time to even attend the classes. In these cases, I think that finding alternatives to homework can be beneficial. For example, one of the teachers often gave out lists for students on TV-shows, movies and talk shows in English. This is a good alternative to homework in my opinion because students will still practice listening and understanding English but in an entertaining way. They can, in this way, select the programs they are most interested in and learn at their own pace. I think this works better with adults because they will show more interest in these types of activities and will simply replace their Spanish programs with English ones occasionally. This can have the same effect if you ask them to read the news or articles in English. My point is: allowing the students to choose what and how to study in their free time can be a good way of replacing traditional homework methods.

    I also think that practicing for exams in class can be just as useful for students as doing homework at home. The outcome of doing it in class or at home is the same. Of course, it takes away time from the normal teaching classes, but finding a balance between the two can be beneficial for the teacher and the student. Making them do the same exercises that you would assign as homework together in class reduces the amount of time it would take them to complete it and promotes student interaction. This can be done through projects or fun activities. 

    To conclude, I still am of the idea that homework can be very beneficial in the classroom, but I have also learned that there can be alternative methods to know how much English the students know and what they have understood from the classes. 

Bibliography:

-Clark, Amanda. “5 Alternatives to Homework (That Help Teachers out, Too).” Classcraft Blog,

Classcraft, 21 May 2019, www.classcraft.com/blog/features/alternatives-to-homework/.

– “Alternatives To Homework: A Chart For Teachers.” TeachThought, 15 Jan. 2019,

www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/alternatives-to-homework-a-chart-for-teachers/.

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