Homework – is it a waste of time?
When students lack the support to do it well.
If we don’t plan for success, we’ll have a lot of correction to do.
When students are so overwhelmed with studies, they are too tired to do it well.
When it’s learning by rote.
When it’s just easier to copy off your friend tomorrow..
Or when mummy will do it..
When the work benefits from collaboration
When we haven’t actually planned how it links with what is done in class or considered its value.
When students are well prepared in class to do it on their own.
Writing a composition - Have you?
pretaught useful vocabulary
reviewed grammar to be used
drawn up plans together
When they see a point in doing it...
Letters to teacher
Preparing input for next lesson e.g doing research, collecting materials, rehearsing dialogues for taping
Part of an ongoing scheme of work e.g. extensive reading, a project, portfolio work
When the medium is appealing
When homework tasks can be chosen
When parents can help and encourage their children at home
When parents are trained/advised how to help their children
When it’s a pleasure to do
Checklist: does the homework:
maximize use of time?
provide pre or post lesson support
allow for personalisation?
Why do we learn a new language?
ü To be able to express our ideas in it
ü To be able to understand others
ü To have access to language arts through it – songs, literature, film etc.
ü To increase our ‘knowledge capital’
ü To study abroad
ü For pleasure
ü To pass an exam in it
Washback effect - the extent to which a test influences teachers and learners to do things they would not otherwise necessarily do
Dangers of exam driven classes:
Practice tests ad nauseum
Lots of individually done exercises
No learning taking place
Sense of failure
Idea of ‘finishing English’
WE have to:
Continue to develop skills and language as well as examination techniques
Challenge and engage students
Keep students motivated – in the short and long-term
Ensure students see connections between class work and exams
Plan exam preparation lessons accordingly
Recognise question types
Know what is required to do well
Avoid common pitfalls
Ability to study on their own
Make an ‘educated guess’
Be confident and prepared!
Writing – assessment criteria
Organisation and cohesion
Appropriacy of register and format
• Once upon a time……….
• I regret to inform you……………
• In conclusion, it must be stated that………….
• She grabbed the gun and pointed it at Dillon.
• The windows are large and look down onto a flower-filled garden
• All this can be yours for only $999, if you call this number…………
• Add two tablespoons of sugar and stir………
• I look forward to your prompt reply…
Predict – before listening
You hear a woman talking to her son.
Why is she talking to him?
A to give him a warning
B to give him permission
C to make a suggestion
What feature of the cable car makes it particularly good for seeing wildlife in the rainforest?
a. the speed at which it moves
b. the height at which it travels
c. the distance that it covers
What is the main aim of the cable car project?
a. to educate local people
b. to persuade people to save the rainforest
c. to raise money for other conservation projects
What is the advantage of the project for the local people?
a. They can use the land if they want
b. They can sell forest products to visitors
c. More work is available to them
Problems speaking in exams:
Not used to speaking in English
Worried about making mistakes
Don’t understand examiner
Don’t have sufficient vocabulary for task
Make lots of grammar mistakes
Make one word responses
Speaking integrated with other skills
Speaking planned in the lesson
Regular varied speaking tasks
Lots of opportunities to speak together
Pair and group work
Focus on fluency not just accuracy
Focus on phonology
To prepare for exams effectively:
Make clear to students what skills / strategies are needed to do well
Break down and practise individual skills
Reduce the stress
Make it success-oriented
Make it fun – why not?
Face to face with the five language skills
Pronunciation impacts on:
Speaking: comprehensibility & confidence
Listening: e.g. Who hasn’t finished? / Festival …
overloaded by extensive listening
Writing: sound spelling relationship e.g. I slept under a ‘shit’
Reading: sub-vocalization leads to poor processing of input /bad memory of what is read
Robin Walker, English Teaching Professional, January 2014
Sound plays an important role in recalling a word from its meaning…we often have a feeling about the sound on the word… the left pre-frontal cortex is activated when subjects correctly retrieve a word
The Learning Brain, Blakemore & Frith, Blackwell
Share / brainstorm ideas (spidergrams)
Set a research task for homework
Ask students to interview each other on the topic
Show a relevant clip from youtube
Tell students something about the topic
Ask students to predict the text from title/pictures
Ask students to set own questions