Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Most Pointless Homework Exercise...

Comparatives and Superlatives with my class of pre-intermediates tonight.  I always find this fun to teach, probably because it has such visual and kinaesthetic potential in the classroom.
Tonight I divided the class into two groups. I indicated a most and least side of the table. Then the race was on for the groups to order themselves from most to least according to the adjectives I read out. Some were obvious (tall, long hair) while some involved more discussion (young, sporty).  Once groups had organised themselves accordingly, the rival group had to use their positions to make sentences using the adjective in its comparative and superlative form, e.g. Andrej is the tallest in the group.

So the French have decided to boycott homework, dismissing it as “useless” and “tiring”.
Having to sit and encourage my six year old daughter to struggle through half an hour’s of spelling and maths homework every night, I would be inclined to agree. A couple of weeks ago I took the homework situation up with her  class teacher.  A rather bizarre exchange followed in which she ensured me that she personally “hated” homework, but that it was what the parents wanted.  Not this parent.

In the ESOL class, I tend not to give homework on the basis that learners have such busy lives with work, family and language learning commitments. On the rare occasion learners request it I have (lazily, guiltily) given them photocopied pages from the Headway workbook or a Stop and Check Test.  I feel guilty because I know full well that by using a little imagination I could easily dream up a meaningful homework task that takes advantage of the English speaking environment the learners live in.  Correcting workbook gap fills is as useless and tiring for the teacher as it is for the learner anyway.

The challenge starts today.  Tomorrow’s entry will include ten meaningful homework tasks for learners in the ESOL classroom.

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