How important is homework? – Vladimira Michalkova

I recently asked my students what they think about homework and how effective it can be. The result was a lovely informal discussion and lots of great ideas. After all, homework  (as part of learning and life) should be about students and not about me as a teacher. One of my students said:

“Every homework that is not done is a bad one.”

No matter how harsh it may seem, I do agree with him. Just think about it. If a student doesn’t do homework, it is probably boring, irrelevant or too difficult and frustrating.

As a teacher I have inspiration and encouragement as my main goal and so it means I can’t make my lessons fun and exciting and then give my students boring routine homework to fill  in and hand me back next time. Learning is a natural, life-long process and most of it happens outside the classroom and that’s why I think homework is important if it is interesting, meets students’ expectations and needs and is even better when students don’t even think about it as homework they have to do.

Thinking of homework I keep in mind:

  • there is a life outside the classroom walls – do not separate it from learning
  • build on students’ background and prior knowledge
  • include their personality
  • make them curious
  • homework can’t be a burden for anyone (students, teachers or parents!)

And maybe a little more advice from me:  Do not give homework and then ignore the efforts your students have made. That’s the first thing. Then there’s this: the next time you are about to announce the homework, be creative and avoid using the word itself. Don’t say the word homework. Instead how about saying “I am curious to know what your story is…?” or “Do you think you could find that and share it with us next time?”  If you do this, then it’s not homework. It’s just learning.


About Vladimira

Vladimira Chalyova teaches English as a foreign language at State Language School in Slovakia. She teaches general and business English to adults and teenagers. She is interested in student-centered approaches, developing learners' autonomy and believes that a teacher shouldn't be a slave of course books and that inspiration, motivation, purpose and meaning are essential in learning. She brings colours, crayons and surpr@ise (surprise + praise) to her classroom and just recently also on the canvas.