Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

Homework Compromise


A compromise solution for giving homework

Teachers, have you checked out the Student Stuff section of the blog? In it, you’ll find a lot of good ideas—particularly for homework.

A lot of ESL teachers don’t give homework for two big reasons.

“Students don’t do it, and then the next lesson plan is useless.”

Fair enough, but homework is essential to learning. Unless you’re with the students twenty hours a week, you really don’t have time to do all the review and repetition that they need. Moreover, when you give up on giving homework, the students give up on doing it. You hurt your best students—the ones who would have done it.

So, why not give the homework and just have them hand it in?

“When students hand it in, then there is too much stuff to mark.”

Well, that kind of negates the first point, but what’s still needed is a way to give homework that the next lesson doesn’t depend on and doesn’t require so many hours for teachers to correct.

Try this As homework, direct the students to an ESL website and give them a simple task. At the beginning of the next class, give them a quiz that they can’t fail if they visited the site.

Call this the fishhook method. Once you get the students to the sites, you’re hoping they’ll be hooked. Even if they only need to stay for a couple of minutes to be able to pass the quiz, many will stay for much longer.

Here are seven sites and possible homework/quiz ideas. Write down the name of three games. Describe one of the stories from the site in three sentences or less. Practice the present perfect. Write three present perfect sentences. Choose a sound and practice. Which sound did you practice? Choose one interesting thing on the site and describe it. Watch a video and write a three sentence description. (send them to a specific article) What were three words in the crossword puzzle?

August 5, 2010 - Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , ,


  1. Thanks for the websites.

    I always give homework to my students. Homework makes a difference to learners’ learning process. The students who complete the homework can see their own improvement by the end of the course. The ones who didn’t even attempt to do the homework always end up failing my exams. is a good website for homework, but it’s more suitable for upper intermediate learners.

    Comment by Annet | August 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Agreed. What kind of homework do you usually give? Any suggestions on getting lesser-motivated students to do it?

      Comment by Stuart Mill English | August 15, 2010 | Reply

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