The best approach to ESL homework

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When a teacher teaches an adult something, particularly English, the question is, should we give homework? The answer is …of course!

This seems a strange point to make, however there are many schools of thought here.

For children homework is essential as it guides them as to what is important to remember and revise, as well as that the child learns discipline and shows they can create or practice alone without the teacher present. All good qualities for the future.

But when we are talking about adults doing homework, it has a different context. Generally it is more to do with making sure you are ready, making sure concepts are consolidated and reviewed, and if the student loves the course, then giving them a chance to do even more than they expected.

The main difference is more on the part of the teacher and their follow up. For children, discipline is important to make sure good habits are formed, but when it comes to adults, the teacher is always in a quandry. Should they make an example of those who don’t do their homework? Should they make a point of marking everything up or down depending on how much time they spend outside of the class? Often for the teacher of adults, they make it important but not compulsory. They are more concerned with making sure the person gets the most out of the course they are attending. They will be paying often from their own pocket, so the teacher wants to make sure the students get value. What they do at home is up to them.

Then there are the other schools of thought that teachers should always impress upon their adult students to do homework, as homework is the way to make sure you get more out of your course than just those few hours.

The main difference is that the children are more focused on getting to learn English and speak and write fluently, whereas the adult is more focused on passing an important exam.

So what do you think? Should teachers make homework compulsory or optional for adult students. Or simply ask them to try to speak and read and write whenever they can in real life outside the class?

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