There are not many students that like homework; however, research seems to support the contention that there is a positive correlation between the quantity of homework done and the corresponding student achievement. Research also seems to support the so-called ’10-minute rule’: this rule advocates 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. According to this rule, for example, 1st graders would get 10 minutes of homework a day, 6th graders would get 60 minutes of homework a day, and 10th graders 100 minutes of homework a day. However, a large number of schools either set work beyond these limits or they considered the homework set in these time limits as insufficient.
How should you, as a novice EFL teacher, set homework assignments?
The first thing to consider is the age of the class. The younger the median age of the class the less homework it should be given. As a rule of thumb, the 10 minute rule might be worth using in a slightly modified form: young learners should not be pressured with excessive homework. They could be given 10 minutes of homework on one or two days of the week: a 10 – 15 question cloze test might be suitable or a 40 to 50 word text copy exercise. In contrast, older students, say 12th graders, could be given 120 minutes of homework – but not every day! Once a week would be sufficient: don’t forget that homework has to be marked and discussed in class; lengthy homework assignments will consume future lessons: this could cause problems where a set syllabus has to be completed within a given period. Furthermore, EFL students will also have other commitments which might make excessive homework a burden.
As it concerns the content of the homework, this should be assigned primarily in order to reinforce the work that has been done recently in the class. In assigning homework, you should not set work that requires extensive searching of books, the internet, or dictionaries: any information required should be found easily in the course books. For the student, there is nothing more demoralizing than trawling through a dictionary for unknown words, or grappling with difficult grammatical in order to do the homework
Finally, students who don’t do their homework should not be punished: a quiet word is often more constructive and productive; nevertheless, you should keep a record of those students who don’t often submit homework.